Premier League targets
With the transfer window set to close before the 2018/19 campaign gets under way, Premier League clubs cannot afford to hang around as they seek to strengthen their squads for next season. In this slideshow, we’ve picked out one ideal (and realistic) summer target for every top-flight team…
Arsenal: Steven Nzonzi (Sevilla)
Forgive Arsenal fans for sounding like a broken record: Nzonzi has long been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium, but the transfer never materialised. Granit Xhaka was supposed to be the answer but opinion on the Swiss remains divided, so new manager Unai Emery would be wise to seek a steely midfielder this summer.
Emery signed the Frenchman for Sevilla in 2015, so he clearly rates the ex-Stoke man. Nzonzi spent much of last term trying to get away from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to tempt him to north London in the coming weeks.
Bournemouth: Patrick Roberts (Manchester City)
Buying young players with the goal of developing their abilities is the modus operandi down at Dean Court, and Roberts presents another opportunity for the Cherries to follow their well-established pattern.
The winger has just finished an impressive two-year loan spell at Celtic, and his future surely lies away from the Etihad Stadium. Although his 2017/18 was disrupted by injuries, the 21-year-old's first season at Parkhead showed his quality in the form of nine goals and 14 assists in 32 league games.
Brighton: Nick Powell (Wigan)
It may seem odd for a Premier League outfit to target a player who has only recently gained Championship status, but Powell’s contribution to Wigan’s promotion from League One warrants attention.
Tipped for the top after a move to Manchester United from Crewe in 2012, his progress was hamstrung by a litany of injuries and perceived poor attitude. Yet the 24-year-old had a superbly productive season for the Latics – scoring 15 times from midfield – and has shrugged off lingering injury doubts.
Burnley: Tom Lawrence (Derby)
Burnley enjoyed a phenomenal season last time out, confounding the critics who tipped them for relegation by qualifying for the Europa League. Their success was built on a miserly defence, and it was notable that the Clarets scored the fewest goals of any team in the top 10 in 2017/18.
Sean Dyche will be keen to strengthen his attacking options as his side prepare to do battle on multiple fronts. Derby's Lawrence would provide invention and enterprise on the flanks, and the Manchester United academy graduate’s incisive dribbling would offer an extra facet to Burnley's attack.
Cardiff: Luke Freeman (QPR)
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff combined defensive steel with a direct approach to defy the odds and secure promotion in 2017/18. But a team generally needs more than that to succeed in the Premier League, and former Arsenal academy prodigy Freedman would add some much-needed invention to a side who will need to invest if they’re to avoid an immediate return to the second division.
The 26-year-old midfielder provided 12 assists in a poor QPR team last season, and could be a target for a number of Premier League clubs looking for a relatively inexpensive option in attacking areas.
Chelsea: Jean Seri (Nice)
Chelsea’s midfield needs bolstering this summer; Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko have failed to make a good impression since their arrival before the start of 2017/18, and Cesc Fabregas is not the creative force he once was.
Dynamic playmaker Jean Michael Seri would be an ideal foil for N’Golo Kante – the Ivory Coast international has been a standout player for Nice over the last two seasons, and looks destined for the exit this summer. The midfielder was devastated when a proposed move to Barcelona fell through last summer, but a switch to Chelsea wouldn’t be a bad alternative.
Crystal Palace: Jay Rodriguez (West Brom)
Rodriguez’s versatility marks him out as an ideal signing for Palace manager Roy Hodgson, who has called for greater squad depth ahead of next season. A significant injury crisis made life difficult for the former England boss last term, but there’s still a lack of quality in reserve in Palace’s pool of attackers.
Boosting his side’s forward options with Rodriguez's sharp finishing and movement would go some way to easing Palace’s burden on star man Wilfried Zaha, who looks set to stay at the club despite interesting Manchester City and Tottenham.
Everton: Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle)
Everton's 2017/18 was plagued with defensive misery: Ashley Williams and Michael Keane were disastrous, Ramiro Funes Mori was injured, and Phil Jagielka – still an admirable performer at 35 – is... well, 35.
Lascelles would be a sensible acquisition. He’s still only 24 and is coming off the back of his best season yet, while even the £30m Newcastle are supposedly demanding is well within Everton's price range. Next season the Derby-born stopper will surely get an England call-up if his good form continues – and the Toffees will hope he belongs to them when that day comes.
Fulham: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle)
Fulham’s ambitious Premier League dream was given fresh impetus when the Cottagers secured the Serb’s services on loan in late-January. The 23-year-old found the net 12 times in 20 appearances for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side and was instrumental in their mighty end-of-season charge to promotion via the play-offs.
Mitrovic settled quickly and immediately offered an improved focal point up front compared to Rui Fonte, who didn't start a game from mid-February onwards. Fulham will target the Serb as a priority to help cement their place back in England’s top flight, but they’re already facing competition from other top-flight sides.
Huddersfield: Ollie Watkins (Brentford)
David Wagner must recruit to ensure the Terriers’ odds-defying survival isn’t a one-off. To achieve this, the Terriers need a pacey and direct winger to provide purpose in the final third.
Ollie Watkins, 22, could represent a shrewd acquisition. Not only is he proficient in the final third – scoring 10 league goals and assisting four more for Brentford last season – but is a young, ambitious and industrious wide man who would adhere to Wagner’s pressing demands. Town were often blunt in attack last time out and will need more firepower to ward off second-season syndrome.
Leicester: Alfie Mawson (Swansea)
The Foxes poached Harry Maguire from relegated Hull last year, and the same approach could be beneficial again. Mawson was Swansea’s standout performer last season and would be an ideal replacement for Wes Morgan, who turns 35 next season.
A Mawson-Maguire combination would do more than provoke sentimental approval from the Three Lions brigade. Both are physical and combative, but marry this with an astute reading of the game and are adept at bringing the ball out from the back.
Liverpool: Alisson (Roma)
An ambitious one – Roma are reportedly holding out for £80m for their net-minder – but Jurgen Klopp will surely be seeking a new No.1 as a priority next season. Even before Loris Karius's Champions League final horror show, the Reds had suffered from their weak situation between the sticks, so it’s vital they improve in that area ahead of the new season.
Alisson proved himself as a dependable performer for Roma en route to the Champions League semi-finals, and keeps out Ederson as Brazil's No.1. The Giallorossi will be loath to lose him, but the Reds must do all they can to land the 25-year-old.
Manchester City: Jorginho (Napoli)
Pep Guardiola has made no secret of his desire to replace Yaya Toure and find a long-term replacement for 33-year-old Fernandinho. The graceful Jorginho excelled under Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, assuming a deep-lying midfield role in the Italian's 4-3-3 system.
Guardiola is an evident admirer, and described the midfielder as “marvellous” when Manchester City beat Napoli 4-2 in the Champions League last season. Although the Partenopei are said to have demanded £60m+, money is hardly an obstacle for City – and this one makes sense for all parties.
Manchester United: Alex Grimaldo (Benfica)
Jose Mourinho has already completed deals for Fred and Diogo Dolot this summer, and a new left-back should be next on his list of targets. Benfica man Grimaldo would be the perfect acquisition: the 22-year-old is the archetypal modern full-back, capable of getting up and down the flank and contributing in the final third.
He’s also got excellent delivery from out wide and can take a mean set-piece, something which would add another dimension to United’s attack. Mourinho clearly doesn’t fancy Luke Shaw and Ashley Young isn’t a natural full-back, so Grimaldo would make a huge difference on the left-hand side of United’s defences.
Newcastle: Salomon Rondon (West Brom)
With Ayoze Perez top-scoring on just eight league goals last season, and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s future seeming to lie elsewhere, a new striker is a must for the Toon this summer.
Rondon would be a perfect focal point for Rafael Benitez’s frontline – and best of all for the cash-strapped Spaniard, a relegation release clause means he's available for £16.5m. The Venezuelan may not have bothered Premier League goalkeepers as regularly as he would have hoped, but he’s also adept at holding up the ball, winning headers and running the channels.
Southampton: Danny Ings (Liverpool)
One of the main reasons Southampton were dragged into a relegation battle last season was the absence of a genuine goalscorer: only Watford and Crystal Palace had a better expected goals ratio in the Premier League’s bottom 10, which shows conversion rather than creation was Saints’ problem.
That’s why a move for Ings would make sense. Having netted 11 times for relegated Burnley in 2014/15, the Englishman has the pedigree of a consistent scorer and now needs regular playing time after an injury-hit spell at Anfield.
Tottenham: Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)
Toby Alderweireld’s impending departure means Mauricio Pochettino will be on the hunt for a new central defender, and a name constantly linked with Spurs is Ajax’s De Ligt.
The 18-year-old’s maturity belies his tender age – he was the youngest ever captain in the Eredivisie after donning the armband in January 2018 – and also his national team's youngest debutant since 1931. A product of Ajax’s youth academy, De Ligt is a gifted technician and boasted an impressive 90% pass accuracy last term.
Watford: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Troy Deeney remains a hero at Vicarage Road, but there are signs that his powers are on the wane. The Watford captain found the back of the net just five times in the Premier League last term, by far his lowest tally since the Hornets’ promotion back to the top flight.
Andre Gray and Stefano Okaka also struggled to fire under both Marco Silva and Javi Gracia, so a new striker should be on the agenda this summer. Abraham tailed off after a positive start at Swansea last term, but another loan spell could do him – and Watford – good.
West Ham: Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough)
The Hammers' defence needs bolstering, and top of new manager Manuel Pellegrini’s wish list will be a central defender. Boro's Gibson wouldn't be a bad first port of call; a polished player who was vital to his side's play-off push last season, and who will surely not want to spend another season in the second tier, even if Tony Pulis’ side are among the favourites for promotion next term.
The 25-year-old will command a fee of around £20m, but it’s a price worth paying – and within West Ham’s budget. Gibson is exactly the sort of commanding leader they’re crying out for at the back.
Wolves: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Wilshere has already announced he will leave Arsenal this summer, although his destination is not yet clear. The 26-year-old has been dogged by injuries in recent seasons but he made 38 appearances in all competitions last term, and would add both creativity and Premier League experience to the Wolves engine room in 2018/19.
Crystal Palace, Everton and West Ham are among the clubs thought to be monitoring Wilshere’s situation, and Wolves would be wise to throw their hat into the ring as they target a mid-table finish in their first campaign back in the top tier.
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