Two weeks to go: where every Premier League club still needs to strengthen
It’s been a good summer on the south coast. Monolith centre-half Jannik Vestergaard has arrived, so too intriguing winger Mohamed Elyounoussi and promising goalkeeper Angus Gunn. All were necessary additions and each one should make Southampton stronger.
The principle issue last season, though – one which very nearly caused relegation – was a lack of goals. Dusan Tadic (six) has now been sold, top scorer Charlie Austin (seven) started just 10 games in 2017/18 and Manolo Gabbiadini’s future is tenuous. A centre-forward is a must before the window shuts.
Tottenham (Forward, attacking midfielder)
Nothing has changed – literally. No one in, no one out. Spurs haven’t quite sat on their hands, but they look like they’ve been astonishingly complacent so far. Toby Alderweireld is still at the club and outgoing deals for Danny Rose and Mousa Dembele are yet to be concluded.
More troublingly, rumoured targets have been and gone. Daniel Levy’s delaying tactics look to have cost the club Jack Grealish, at a reasonable price at least, and nothing has really come of reported interest in Wilfried Zaha or Anthony Martial either.
On the positive side, while this squad did need to improve, its actual issues are few and far between. A second forward to back up Harry Kane remains important, so too a credible alternative to Christian Eriksen. Failure to add either will almost certainly prove costly at some point.
Mauricio Pochettino has, in recent press conferences, promised that there will be additions, but at this late stage they’re likely to be very hit and miss. Pochettino wanted the business done early. It wasn’t. Eventually, this has to change.
It’s been an understated summer by recent standards. Ben Foster has returned to Vicarage Road, while Gerard Deulofeu’s loan move from Barcelona has been made permanent. To less fanfare, full-backs Marc Navarro and Adam Masina have joined from Espanyol and Bologna respectively and, as usual, a whole host of players have returned from loan. There’s also the possibility of Javi Gracia finding a use for the likes of Adalberto Penaranda and Isaac Success.
The bigger question, though, is whether Gracia will keep faith with Andre Gray. His price tag mandated a certain amount of faith last season, but he buckled under the weight of expectation and still doesn’t look entirely comfortable in the Premier League. The top scorer last season was Abdoulaye Doucoure – from central midfield – so that makes a compelling case for attacking reinforcements.
West Ham (None)
Yep, they’re done. West Ham have thrown the kitchen sink at the transfer market, acquired all sorts of flashy names and should, in theory, be one of the sides to watch this season.
As ever though, there’s a caveat: how do all these pieces fit together? Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson will both want to play from the right side of midfield and, when fit, Michail Antonio will presumably have designs on that role too. Elsewhere, Jack Wilshere will have to be accommodated – possibly at the expense of Mark Noble – and you’d presume that it will take Manuel Pellegrini a couple of months to settle on a properly balanced side.
They’ve certainly addressed all of their concerns – Fulham right-back Ryan Fredericks should also prove a good addition – but everything always looks good in pre-season.
One of the advantages of the old transfer deadline was that it allowed newly-promoted managers to have a quick taste of Premier League life before, if necessary, dashing back into the market. Not so this year.
But maybe that’s not such a problem for Wolves. Arguably, they arrived back at this level as Premier League-ready as any promoted side in history, and the first mistake would be to underestimate just how good they often were last season.
Add into that team Rui Patricio, who has been Portugal first-choice goalkeeper for some time, and Joao Moutinho, whose class we’re all familiar with, and they’re almost good to go.
Depth was always a priority for the new campaign, though, and Wolves needed bolstering beyond their strong starting XI. Nuno’s system requires three centre-backs, and they could do better than what’s beyond Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett – and perhaps even better than at least one of that trio.