Where YOUR Premier League club needs to strengthen for 2017/18 – and one player they could sign
The FourFourTwo calendar informs us that it's now officially June. That means fans of Premier League clubs should have only one thing on their minds: watching the Champions League final with frightened awe towards teams so much more competent than any in The Best League In The World.
Apart from that, though, it’s also the beginning of hunting season. Transfers are already flying in under the radar (Watford made Tom Cleverley’s loan permanent!) and, in some cases, very much on the radar (did you hear about Bernardo Silva?). However, we can still expect to see at least another hundred new faces joining Premier League clubs this summer. Who will they be? More to the point: who should they be?
Even in a scary Champions League-less world, Arsenal’s transfer goals are the same as ever
Arsene Wenger has a new contract, but Arsenal still need a world-class centre-forward and a reliable midfield enforcer. The year is 2014.
Even in a scary Champions League-less world, Arsenal’s transfer goals are the same as ever. Number one: a striker more ruthless than Olivier Giroud, whose deficiencies, and cringe-worthy goal celebrations, preclude regular starts despite his impressive strike rate of a goal every 100 Premier League minutes.
Number two, and most pressing (no pun intended): a central midfielder who wins the ball and wins it fairly. Francis Coquelin has regressed and Mohamed Elneny is mid-table fayre. Crucially, Granit Xhaka has been far better with the ball than without it, and Arsenal didn’t pay somewhere between £30m and £38m for another midfielder who can pass but not tackle. At least, they didn’t intend to.
Porto’s Danilo Pereira would cost a similar sum but better suit the role. While being reduced to tears by a referee doesn’t exactly scream ‘Patrick Vieira’, he's since toughened up. With stamina, a firm tackle and an astute reading of the game defensively, the 25-year-old is ready for the Premier League. He scores a few, too.
Harry Maguire, relegated with Hull, has admirers higher up the table – though not much higher, seeing as Bournemouth finished ninth
The Cherries begun quickly and efficiently, extending Steve Cook’s contract and paying £10m for Asmir Begovic to replace 37-year-old Artur Boruc in goal.
Now they must locate a centre-back to partner Cook. Bournemouth missed Nathan Ake following his return to Chelsea, with Simon Francis’ errors multiplying since his move from right-back and Marc Wilson yet to be entrusted with a Premier League appearance.
Harry Maguire, relegated with Hull, has admirers higher up the table – though not much higher, seeing as Bournemouth finished ninth – but could be persuaded by the promise of regular football. At 24, with potentially a decade at the top level to come, he’d justify a club-record fee.
Promotion hasn’t persuaded David Stockdale to sign a new contract yet and he’d be a reliable No.1 for several clubs
Promotion hasn’t persuaded David Stockdale to sign a new contract yet and he’d be a reliable No.1 for several clubs, although Chelsea are supposedly looking for the next Ross Turnbull.
Brighton, then, need a new goalkeeper, because even with a new contract offer, Niki Maenpaa is strictly back-up. Could Mattia Perin be persuaded to swap a relegation battle in Italy for a relegation battle in England? The Genoa glovesman is currently injured but deserves his reputation as one of the league’s best goalkeepers. He offers both experience and potential: even with 140 Serie A matches under his belt, he doesn’t turn 25 until November.
Sean Dyche selected the same back five in 29 of Burnley’s first 34 Premier League matches last season
Sean Dyche selected the same back five in 29 of Burnley’s first 34 Premier League matches last season, with injury or suspension forcing a single change in four of the other five. While stability is positive, they also need depth.
An upgrade on 89-year-old Paul Robinson as Tom Heaton’s understudy would be welcome, and there isn’t a single viable alternative to Matt Lowton and Stephen Ward in either full-back position. Most worryingly, Michael Keane has more suitors than Homer’s Penelope and his departure would leave only James Tarkowski or Kevin Long to partner Ben Mee at centre-half. Neither truly convinces.
The Championship offers some value. Barnsley’s Marc Roberts (£5m) has already piqued Burnley’s interest. Cardiff’s Sean Morrison would cost about the same. For guaranteed quality, however, Burnley should consider spending £10m of any Keane kitty on Pontus Jansson at Leeds, where left-back Charlie Taylor is also available on a free.
Chelsea also require a new back-up goalkeeper but not, as some suggest, a new centre-back
Everything depends on whether Diego Costa leaves. If he does, Chelsea need a world-class striker who can net 20 goals in his first season. Fifteen in the league for Real Madrid at a rate of one every 89 minutes suggests that with regular starts, rumoured mega-money signing Alvaro Morata is capable of that.
If Costa stays, Chelsea may still need another striker, albeit one who doesn’t expect to feature so often. Michy Batshuayi is currently the Blues’ only back-up, assuming that Loic Remy leaves and teenager Tammy Abraham is sent on loan for another season (this is Chelsea, after all). In that case, Lyon’s Maxwell Cornet, 20, could fit the bill.
Chelsea also require a new back-up goalkeeper but not, as some suggest, a new centre-back: they already have young players who can provide cover, and we don’t mean Michael Hector. If they aren’t loaned out again, Andreas Christensen and Nathan Aké can step in. It’s a big ‘if’, though.