Three transfer priorities for EVERY Premier League club this summer
Signing Youri Tielemans
It really is that simple. Quite how Monaco managed to alienate Tielemans to such an extent that a mid-table Premier League were the best club to come in for him is unclear. But Leicester are in danger of having used Tielemans too well, thus alerting clubs across Europe of his potential use. It’s no exaggeration to say that making the loan deal permanent would be the signing of the summer.
Helping Jamie Vardy
Vardy continues to astound against the top six and his energy levels show no sign of dropping, but it would be nice to give him a little help. Kelechi Iheanacho no longer justifies Leicester’s patience, Shinji Okazaki is leaving and Islam Slimani’s return from a loan spell at Fenerbahce is unlikely to end with a return to the team. Get rid of all three and buy two.
Keeping Ben Chilwell
As Sky Sports' cameras entered the field following Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Leicester, they picked up Pep Guardiola congratulating Ben Chilwell for his performance and the thought struck. Guardiola targeted Chilwell last summer but Leicester rejected all interest. They may well be forced to attempt the same strategy between now and August.
Depth for the front three
Divock Origi could currently hold out realistic hope of winning the majority vote if he stood to be Mayor of Liverpool, given his goals against Barcelona. But Jurgen Klopp knows that he has been fortunate to call upon each of his front three for most big games this season. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané have appeared in 106 of a possible 111 league games this season, and Klopp cannot bank on a repeat next season. Sell Daniel Sturridge and buy another high-class forward.
Replacing fringe players
There isn't much surgery required on a squad that has improved beyond all expectation and recognition in 2018/19, but that improvement highlights those who have been left behind. Alberto Moreno, Loris Karius, Sturridge and Adam Lallana could all feasibly be sold and replaced with two or three players who are more likely to push for starting spots.
A central defender?
We’re stretching now. Virgil van Dijk has been named PFA Player of the Year, Joel Matip has been sensational since the turn of the year and Joe Gomez is one of England’s brightest young stars. But Dejan Lovren turns 30 this summer and has endured infamous form issues at Anfield. If Liverpool had the chance to sign an excellent young prospect (*Matthijs de Ligt klaxon sounds*), surely they would be foolish not to do it.
A central midfielder
Fernandinho has been majestic during Guardiola’s reign, but he turned 34 last week and the high-intensity pressing will surely soon take its toll. With Ilkay Gundogan still reportedly determined to leave for a club where he is guaranteed to start every week, City will buy a central midfielder this summer. Ante Palaversa is on loan back at Hajduk Split, but he is one for the long-term. Declan Rice, anyone?
Deciding Vincent Kompany’s future
If we assumed that John Stones and Aymeric Laporte would be Manchester City’s omnipresent central defensive pairing, Guardiola changed tack in 2019. Kompany made eight of his 12 league starts after Christmas and four of them in April and May. With the riches at City’s disposal, surely it makes sense to keep him for another year even as a non-playing leader?
Benjamin Mendy has wasted his chance. It's uncomfortable to tell footballers how they should behave, but Guardiola has given the Frenchman plenty of chances to indicate that he is taking it seriously. If there’s one thing Guardiola demands, it’s total commitment to your craft. As mentioned in the Leicester section above, Chilwell strikes as the perfect replacement.
MORE MAN UNITED
A sporting director
Manchester United’s problems won't be solved by a sporting director, but it will at least ease the pressure on expert-businessman-but-amateur-football-decision-maker Ed Woodward. United need a figurehead to face their footballing matters and work alongside the head coach to create a long-term plan for United’s team, rather than reactively throwing money on individuals.
Clearing out the deadwood
Far easier said than done, given that Manchester United have always been high payers and so hardly motivate underperforming or ageing players to yearn for pastures new. But if United had their way, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian, Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez would all leave this summer. That would free up a ridiculous £890,000 per week in wages.
A central defender
A tale of woe. Phil Jones has been given a long-term new contract despite nobody really being convinced that he’s the answer. Chris Smalling hasn't been good enough for a club of this stature for years. Eric Bailly seems to have fallen completely out of favour after a series of injuries and patchy form.
Victor Lindelof has come good, but still isn't as proficient as Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea or Tottenham’s best central defender. Toby Alderweireld strikes as the obvious answer, but United certainly need a flagship defensive leader.
Keeping Rafa Benitez
We could easily have just written the manager’s name three times here, because this club’s ability to move forward over the summer depends entirely on keeping their best manager since Bobby Robson. If Benitez was allowed to depart, the goodwill that has carefully been accrued between manager and fans would be destroyed. There's already too much mutiny elsewhere.
A new owner
The nuclear option, but this summer provides the best possible chance of an interested party making a formal offer to Mike Ashley, and Ashley accepting it. The last 12 months have generated rumours and deliberate PR leaks that only grind Newcastle further into the ground. With Premier League safety secured again, supporters will desperately hope that the end of Ashley’s reign is in sight.
A defensive midfielder
On the pitch, there are priorities galore. Salomon Rondon’s move must be made permanent, Miguel Almiron’s creativity should be supplemented by another winger, while there are fringe players who have to be moved on. But with Ki Sung-yueng failing to have much of an impact, Isaac Hayden wanting to move city and Sean Longstaff battling back from a long-term injury, another central midfielder is a must.
ON THE NEXT PAGE… The promoted hopefuls – and the Champions League finalists