Still to come...
With the transfer window closing earlier this summer, clubs have nine days left until their squads must be finalised for the first half of the season.
Some, such as Brighton and West Ham, have been on shopping sprees that would make Dale Winton jealous, while fans of clubs like Spurs, Burnley and Palace must be starting to wonder if their clubs have mislaid the chequebook.
But where does your team need to strengthen? We’ve done a stock-take at every Premier League club and worked out who needs what.
With Arsene Wenger gone and Unai Emery swiftly installed as his successor, Arsenal have been uncharacteristically swift and efficient with their transfer activity this summer and look pretty much ready to go.
The defence is well-stocked, Lucas Torreira could be the holding player they’ve needed for the last decade, and Petr Cech will face stiff competition for his place from Bernd Leno.
But it’s hard to shake the feeling that they could do with a little more up top. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are fine options, but there’s not much beyond that: Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Lucas Perez are simply not of the quality they need from their backups.
Bournemouth (centre-back, holding midfielder)
Things have been quiet down in Dorset so far this summer, although the additions that the Cherries have made should (hopefully) address two deficiencies.
Left-back Diego Rico has been signed from Leganes, while talented attacking midfielder David Brooks has been prised away from Sheffield United. Brooks in particular is interesting and his signing should aid Eddie Howe’s quest for a more productive midfield – although how much pitch time he’ll actually see is unknown. Possession is good; possession with a purpose is better.
Still, security without the ball will likely remain an issue at Dean Court. A physical midfield ball-winner would be a welcome arrival; so too another centre-half.
Last season, many doom-mongers relegated the Seagulls before a ball had been kicked on account of their modest transfer business but Chris Hughton has already added eight names to his squad.
The highly-rated Yves Bissouma will add some thrust to a midfield that could occasionally look one-paced last season, and record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh should be a threat from out wide, arriving as top scorer from the Eredivisie. Florin Andone has arrived from Deportivo to compete with 34-year-old Glenn Murray, but the Romanian is unproven in the Premier League – something he shares with Jurgen Locadia, who arrived in January. Goals might remain a worry.
Apart from a bit more cover at centre-back, though, there aren’t any pressing needs at the Amex.
Given the scale of Sean Dyche’s overachievement last year, it’s really difficult to highlight any one area which needs improving. That seems to be a fair summation, too, given that the club are one of just two Premier League sides not to have signed a single player. Quite rightly, Dyche isn’t moving with any urgency or panic.
It would be encouraging to see something happen, though, because Burnley could do with some variation – particularly in their attacking positions where their approach, although effective, has become quite predictable. No need for any revolution obviously, but evolution is key to continued progress.
As with the other promoted sides on this list, it’s not really fair to pre-judge players who, in the main, have no experience of the Premier League. One trend from last season which is worth contemplating, though, was the shortage of goals: Cardiff had the joint-best defensive record in the Championship, but of all the top-six clubs only Middlesbrough scored fewer.
The signing of Bobby Reid from Bristol City should help that to an extent, and Kenneth Zohore performed well in 2017/18, but Neil Warnock is still without the kind of goalscorer needed to make survival anything less than an agonising struggle.
With Chelsea very much in a period of transition, their requirements depend largely on who leaves.
Jorginho is an excellent addition from Napoli, and should help the team adapt to Maurizio Sarri’s more proactive style of football, but if Eden Hazard or Thibaut Courtois are sold, Chelsea will find themselves desperately short of star power.
Perhaps their greatest need remains the obvious position: is Alvaro Morata really a reliable goalscorer, and can Michy Batshuayi actually provide consistent reinforcement? Not on the evidence of last season, so it would be a surprise if at least some investment wasn’t made in that area.
Crystal Palace (attacking midfielder, full-back)
Less what they have to buy, more what they must not sell: what would this team look like without Wilfried Zaha? He’s an exceptional footballer, but he’s also woven into so many different phases of Palace’s play that losing him would require almost a complete rebuild.
Roy Hodgson could really do with an improvement at full-back, specifically on the right side, and more creativity from central midfield (with Ruben Loftus-Cheek now back at Chelsea and Yohan Cabaye departed) would help, but this summer begins and ends with Zaha.
Having ditched Sam Allardyce in favour of Marco Silva, Everton’s top-six aspirations of this time last season could be back on. The former Watford manager has raided his old club for Richarlison, and Ademola Lookman has returned from his loan at RB Leipzig looking hungry for goals. Finally, Everton will have some thrust from wide positions.
Further back, though, things look less encouraging. Michael Keane remains unconvincing as a starting stopper, Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka have both seen better days, and Mason Holgate is a work in progress.
Quietly, Slavisa Jokanovic has had an excellent off-season. The out-of-contract Ryan Fredericks has moved to West Ham and he will need replacing at full-back (Young Boys’ Kevin Mbabu is apparently a target), but Jean Michael Seri might just prove the coup of the window and Alfie Mawson is a terrific addition.
Goals might be a problem, though, so it's a good thing that Aleksandar Mitrovic’s move from Newcastle has finally been completed – the Serb was really the catalyst behind last season’s promotion. Loan signing Andre Schurrle will help in that regard too, but they're still lacking some firepower.
They’re set. A series of loan moves have been made permanent: Jonas Lossl, Terence Kongolo and Florent Hadergjonaj have all joined on a full-time basis.
Ramadan Sobhi has also been plundered from relegated Stoke, while David Wagner has again supplemented his squad with lesser-known players, such as Monaco’s Adama Diakhaby and Juninho Bacuna from Groningen, who should provide an injection of technique to the midfield.
The Terriers didn’t survive last season because of individual quality, but through what they were as a whole – and Wagner is absolutely right to resist signings that could potentially disturb that chemistry. For this kind of team, volume and options are probably more important than stars.
How do you replace a player like Riyad Mahrez? Leicester haven’t (yet). While the capture of James Maddison from Norwich should help in the creativity department, the Foxes might have to put Manchester City’s £60m to use if a direct replacement is preferred to repurposing Demarai Gray.
More likely, Puel will be trying to rebuild a team that isn’t so reliant on one man’s brilliance and to that end problems have been solved all over the pitch: Ricardo Pereira has joined to take Danny Simpson’s place and Jonny Evans has been signed to replace the departed Robert Huth.
But the Foxes need more cover at the back: Wes Morgan isn't what he used to be, Aleksandar Dragovic's loan is over and Yohan Benalouane is no reliable alternative. Another cultured stopper to complement Harry Maguire and Evans is a must.
Sorry Dejan Lovren, but Liverpool still need another centre-half. Virgil van Dijk arrived to tremendous effect last January and Alisson is a substantial improvement in the goalkeeping department, but – with Joel Matip injured in pre-season and Joe Gomez too fragile to rely upon – whatever remains of the budget should be focused on curing that one remaining weakness.
Liverpool have had a tremendous summer, clearly, but it’s too obvious a weakness for it not to be addressed.
Manchester City (central midfielder)
It almost seems absurd to suggest Manchester City require any reinforcements to a midfield that already includes Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho, but an injury to the Brazilian could potentially leave them looking exposed. It’s an area that Pep clearly wants to bolster as well, although with Jorginho choosing Chelsea instead, their only cover currently comes in the form of Fabian Delph.
Elsewhere, though, they appear to have it all – a glut of dynamic, impactful playmakers; a pile of influential wingers; and two of the very best forwards in Europe. With Benjamin Mendy fit again, they also possess the best full-back pairing in the country (with Kyle Walker) and are well-stocked at centre-back too. Oh, and did we mention they’d signed Riyad Mahrez?
Manchester United (centre-back)
To hear Jose Mourinho speak, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he needs an entirely new starting XI before his team is to be ready for the new season. Beyond his habitual fatalism and ceaseless demands for more money, United actually haven’t done enough so far. Both of the players signed this summer (Fred and Diogo Dalot) will begin the season injured and, as yet, no improvements have been made to a fragile defence.
A deal for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld seems a possibility, but only if United are willing to pay through the nose for a player who Daniel Levy seems intent on squeezing every last penny from.
Newcastle (central midfielder, forward)
Another summer of Ashleyism on Tyneside means Rafa Benitez is staring down the barrel of a second season without a goalscorer.
The Magpies can’t begin another year without someone who can provide at least 10 goals a season, so reports suggest a deal has been agreed to sign Mainz's Yoshinori Muto – a striker who has never managed to score more than eight times in a Bundesliga season. Salomon Rondon is another option, but his wages could be a stumbling block.
A new stopper would be welcome, as would another midfielder (in addition to free-agent pick-up Ki Sung-yueng), but rather worryingly Benitez has apparently again been told that he’ll need to sell before buying. Where does the money go at Newcastle?
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 (attacking midfielder, forward)
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.
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. Mauricio Pochettino has promised that there will be additions, but at this late stage they’re likely to be very hit and miss.
On the positive side, this squad’s 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.
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.
The bigger question, though, is whether Javi 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)
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.
But 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.
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...
Do not underestimate just how good Wolves often were last season; they arguably arrive back at this level as Premier League-ready as any promoted side in history.
Add into that team Rui Patricio, who has been Portugal’s 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 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 probably even better than at least one of that trio.
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