We’ve got two weeks remaining of the summer transfer window and with the first game of the season done and dusted, managers and chief executives will be taking a look at their squads and how they can improve them between now and September 1st (AEST).
There isn’t a single club which has tied off all its loose ends transfer-wise yet, so here’s what every club needs to do between now and the end of the window to be best prepared for the new season.
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OBJECTIVE: Sign another defender and creative midfielder
Where to start with Arsenal? An awful start to the season doesn’t look like improving and the club’s shambolic recruitment policy over the years has again come home to roost during the transfer window, firstly with the £50m signing of Ben White and then with the fundamental inability to replace departed players. Mesut Ozil was long gone before he actually finally departed earlier this year but he hasn’t been replaced. That would be a good place to start before moving onto another centre back, a new right back and another midfielder. There’s a lot to do before the window closes.
TARGETS: James Maddison (Leicester City), Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid)
OBJECTIVE: Fill the Jack Grealish void
Unlike Arsenal, Aston Villa have mastered this transfer window, holding firm on Jack Grealish until their price was met while also signing the players they wanted to replace him – or play alongside him, if he did indeed stay. It was a poor start to the new era against Watford and the team will take time to readjust. Another attacker will help Villa ease into their new dawn.
TARGET: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
OBJECTIVE: Add Premier League experience
It was a great start to the season from Brentford in front of a raucous crowd experiencing Premier League football for the first time and the high of that will carry them through the first the few weeks and months of the season. But when results start to turn in the cold winter months, the youthful optimism they brought up with them could fade and that’s when they will need to lean on some Premier League experience to carry them through.
TARGET: Gary Cahill (free)
OBJECTIVE: Spend the Ben White money
No, not before Arsenal return with the receipt after realising they overpaid. His departure won’t have affected them too much, with those who watched Brighton religiously last year insisting he was just their third-best centre back. But they do need to reinvest in the squad. A goalscorer would be top of the list, someone who can be relied upon to get 10-15 goals a season to guide Brighton away from their annual relegation scare.
TARGET: Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)
OBJECTIVE: Sign someone, anyone
Burnley don’t really sign players. Not ones to strengthen the first team really, anyway. They’ve spent around £12m so far this window, £1m last year and £20m the year before. They have one of the smallest budgets in the Premier League and continually punch above their weight but eventually something is going to give and relegation looks more and more likely every year. Their hands may be tied, but a bit more of a creative spark if they can afford it would bolster their survival hopes again.
TARGET: Matheus Pereira (Al Hilal)
OBJECTIVE: Shift some of the deadwood
Chelsea have had a strong few consecutive transfer windows now and have close to a complete squad to challenge for the Premier League title again. There could even be another defender to come if you are to believe the reports. But focus must now turn to slimming down a bloated squad. Players like Emerson, Ethan Ampadu, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Baba Rahman, Davide Zappacosta, Ross Barkley, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy are all still on the books and all need to be shipped out either on loan or preferably permanently. Tammy Abraham’s move to Roma should just be the start of the work.
TARGET: Recoup more than £60m in transfer fees.
OBJECTIVE: Replace the lost experience
Crystal Palace have seen manager Roy Hodgson retire with Patrick Vieira taking up his first Premier League job in his stead. But he’s lost a truck load of Premier League experience from his squad to help him. Andros Townsend, Gary Cahill, Scott Dann, Nathaniel Clyne, Wayne Hennessey, James McCarthy, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanhold, Connor Wickham and Scott Dann have been stalwarts of this Palace squad for a number of years and all left after their contracts expired. Their experience needs to be replaced to help the younger players, and Vieira, grow.
TARGET: Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
OBJECTIVE: Get on with midfield overhaul
Rafa Benitez has come into the Everton fold in a largely unpopular move given his previous work experience, but his signings so far have been fairly underwhelming with just Andros Townsend, Asmir Begovic and Demarai Gray arriving thus far. Benitez wanted a midfield overhaul but that hasn’t happened yet and despite the opening day win over Southampton, he needs to get a move on before the window shuts at the end of the month.
TARGET: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
OBJECTIVE: Add another creative midfielder
Okay, so after conceding five goals to a rampant Manchester United on the opening day, the obvious answer is defenders, but attack is the best form of defence for Leeds, as they proved last season. They were without defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips for the trip to Old Trafford, who would surely have made the difference, and his return will help shore up those midfield holes. Leeds scored 15 goals from set pieces last season and a creative player in dead ball situations would only improve them in that area.
TARGET: Willian (Arsenal)
OBJECTIVE: Keep hold of James Maddison
Leicester have lost key players every season for the last few years and keep only getting stronger the following one. They’ve not lost anyone so far this time around and must keep it that way if they’re finally to break into those top four places. Arsenal are sniffing around James Maddison and after tying Liverpool target Harvey Barnes down to a new contract, keeping him must be their next priority.
TARGET: Keep James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi and Harvey Barnes
OBJECTIVE: Replace Gini Wijnaldum
While all those around him are spending on big-name signings, Liverpool have been surprisingly quiet so far, with just the one signing in Ibrahima Konate to beef up their centre back options. They will be hoping Thiago can rediscover his Bayern Munich form and that Curtis Jones’ development continues but adding another midfielder to cover the departed Georginio Wijnaldum seems like it should be top of their list. It’ll be a great opportunity for younger players to grow if the hole remains unfilled, however.
TARGET: John McGinn (Aston Villa)
OBJECTIVE: Sign Harry Kane
While not every hot take from the opening weekend should be taken as gospel, Manchester City’s need for a striker is clear. They managed without it last season and won the title at a canter but their rivals have only got stronger and it may not be enough again this year. Signing Harry Kane would mean they don’t need be involved in the Erling Haaland scramble next year and would be the last piece in the puzzle of world domination, you would think. All signs suggest the deal isn’t as dead in the water as Spurs would have you believe, so watch this space.
TARGET: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
OBJECTIVE: Sign a defensive midfielder
The pieces are all falling into place nicely for Manchester United and this is the season for a genuine title charge, even if they will likely fall short. A defensive midfielder is still needed – as is another right back – but both are unlikely to come in during this window with all signs suggesting business is closed until next year. Declan Rice at West Ham will be an expensive target next year but with Erling Haaland available a more price-friendly alternative would be Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi.
TARGET: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)
OBJECTIVE: Sign a goalscoring midfielder
Newcastle are working on a tight budget as owner Mike Ashley attempts to sell the club again, and that means he isn’t likely to sanction much spending other than what is needed to avoid relegation and retain the value of the club for potential bidders. However, to do that, an attacking midfielder is needed to join Joe Willock, who arrived from Arsenal last week. It appears like it will be another frustrating year for Newcastle fans however.
TARGET: Andreas Pereira (Manchester United)
OBJECTIVE: Keep Todd Cantwell
Keeping Todd Cantwell amid interest from Liverpool and Aston Villa will be key for Norwich City’s chances of surviving this Premier League season. His creativity and understanding with Teemu Pukki will be imperative for Norwich, with the knowledge that he probably won’t stick around for another relegation like he did last time.
TARGET: Keep Todd Cantwell
OBJECTIVE: Stop selling their best players
Danny Ings, Ryan Bertrand, Jannik Vertergaard and Mario Lemina have all left the club in a bizarre move from the owners to allow such key players to leave – the first three all to Premier League rivals as well. James Ward-Prowse is their last remaining big asset not to be sold off and with Aston Villa sharking around for him, they will do well to keep their captain. They have to if they want to spend another season in the Premier League.
TARGET: Keep James Ward-Prowse
OBJECTIVE: Keep hold of Harry Kane
It’s pretty simple for Spurs, and the whole of the rest of the Premier League – and world football – will be hoping they do it. According to reports, there is already a movement from Premier League clubs to avoid selling to Manchester City due to their huge riches and European dominance, hence why Aston Villa tried to sell Jack Grealish to Manchester United instead when they were informed of City’s interest. Spurs will be encouraged to do the same in keeping hold of their prize asset and with little more than two weeks remaining of the window, replacing him would be an expensive and extremely difficult thing to do.
TARGET: Don’t answer any phonecalls from Manchester City
OBJECTIVE: Don’t unsettle a settled squad
Watford are like a house of cards. They put Aston Villa to the sword on the opening day with a fine 3-2 win and looking impressive in doing so. Adding or removing a card (or player) could see the whole thing collapse, such is the volatility of the club. Managers come and go more frequently than anywhere else in the country at this squad so keeping the good feelings going is more important that anything for the Hornets. Don’t ruin it with unnecessary signings or sales – or a new manager – before the window closes please.
TARGET: Don’t change your manager
OBJECTIVE: Get the band back together
West Ham were brilliant during the second half of last season. Much of that coincided with the addition of Jesse Lingard on loan from Manchester United. Not only did he bring goals and assists to the Hammers, but also really improved the squad dynamic off the pitch which made them an even better team on it. With less than 12 months remaining on his United deal, he is available at the right price and West Ham should fine the cash to pay it. That and keeping Declan Rice are the two best bits of business they can do between now and the end of the transfer window.
TARGET: Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
OBJECTIVE: Keep Adama Traore
For Wolves and their relationship with super agent Jorge Mendes, every year has seen a brand new squad refresh with young Portuguese players coming and going regularly with Mendes playing the puppet master. With Nuno Espirito Santo gone after an underwhelming season, Bruno Lage has the chance to take over a settled squad and improve it from the foundations laid by his compatriot. Keeping someone like Adama Traore, who perhaps didn’t hit his potential regularly enough under the previous regime, will be key to Lage’s success.
TARGET: Reject any interest in Adama Traore