With the impending closure of the transfer window drawing ever closer, clubs around the country are scrambling (some more than others) to find their final pieces of the puzzle for their squad. Whilst many have acted early in the market, others have typically left their dealings to the last minute, leaving an interesting few days ahead. Regardless of prior activity, one certainty is that every club will be keeping one eye open, just in case an opportunity arises. This is certainly the case for the top six clubs in the Premier League. As ever, the race for the top four is almost impossible to predict. With Arsenal and Chelsea entering the season with new managers and Tottenham with a new stadium, anything could happen. The final few days could be crucial.
What Transfers Do the Top Six Need?
Manchester City strolled to the Premier League title last season, with many predicting a similar outcome to reoccur. The depth of City’s squad is remarkable. Guardiola has the luxury of fielding a full-strength team, whilst omitting the likes of Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva.
The £60 million acquisition of Riyad Mahrez has added further quality to the already dazzling array of attacking talent within Manchester City’s armoury. Where they perhaps lack depth, however, is in defensive midfielders.
Guardiola has highlighted this as a key area they will look to invest in. Should Fernandinho pick up an injury, it is difficult to find a replacement of similar quality. City had identified Jorginho as a key target, however, the midfielder opted for a move to Chelsea instead.
Manchester United have been slightly more active thus far, sealing the services of Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant. United’s business is far from complete, however. United have clearly identified a central defender as their top priority.
Reports suggested that Toby Alderweireld’s move was all but complete. However, it has emerged that Harry Maguire and Jerome Boateng are now key targets. United will require a world record bid (for a defender) to capture the services of Maguire. Alderweireld’s price tag is certainly not cheap either.
The obvious conclusion would be to include Anthony Martial in a swap deal with Tottenham. The player wants to leave and the Mourinho is reportedly happy with his departure. United are not keen on letting Martial leave for a rival, however. Whilst time is decreasing quickly, it would be a shock should United not bring in one central defender in the coming days.
For a number of Tottenham fans, it has become a case of anyone will do. Previous reports had suggested a financial war chest would be granted to Pochettino subsequent to his loyalty and success. It was also said that transfers would be wrapped up before the start of the World Cup.
This sounded to be too good to be true, and was. Now the only team in the Premier League yet to make a signing, Tottenham must act fast if they are to bring in fresh faces. The primary areas of concern lie in central midfield, a worthy understudy to Harry Kane and a replacement should Toby Alderweireld depart.
The current name on everyone’s lips is Jack Grealish. The young Englishman seems to have been on his way all summer. Aston Villa’s new ownership foiled a reduced price move, however, interest is still there. Tottenham have also been linked with Martial, Wilfried Zaha and Lewis Cook. One of the above would be welcome, whilst two would significantly increase the quality of the squad and reduce to the tension of the fans.
Liverpool have arguably had the most successful summer out of the top six. The majority of the squad exited the World Cup prior to the semi-finals, allowing for a relatively extended pre-season.
Liverpool also addressed their needs early on, bringing in big names to fill the gaps. Jurgen Klopp’s primary objective was to bring in a top-class keeper, of which they lacked last season. This was achieved through the big money purchase of Alisson.
Naby Keita, Xhedran Shaqiri and Fabinho have also been brought in. The £75m January acquisition of Virgil Van Dijk also means Liverpool now look strong throughout the whole pitch.
Perhaps the only weak point is a suitable replacement for Roberto Firmino, should the attacker pick up an injury. Liverpool have Daniel Sturridge, Divok Origi and Danny Ings to their disposal, although none appear to reach the required standard.
Liverpool appeared on the verge of capturing French attacker Nabil Fekir, although the deal broke through late on. Should Liverpool act in the final days of the window, expect some of their attackers to be moved on, as well as potentially one brought in.
New manager Maurizio Sarri has brought in highly rated central midfielder Jorginho and Robert Green, in a rather bizarre transfer. Tiemoue Bakayoko had previously failed to fill the void left by Nemanja Matic. Sarri will hope this gap will now be closed.
However, further gaps have appeared, with Thibaut Courtois seemingly eager to leave for Madrid, as well as a distinct lack of quality up front. Whilst Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are capable squad players, they are arguably not prolific enough to mount a serious title challenge, or even break back into the top four.
World Cup winner Giroud is clearly effective, however, failing to generate a single shot on target during the World Cup highlights their issues. The final few days will be hugely important for Chelsea. They will be desperate to keep both Courtois and Hazard, whilst the search for a striker may also be on.
Arsenal are set for an intriguing season with a new manager at the helm. Unai Emery has identified Arsenal’s attack as their strong point, strengthening in all other departments.
Midfielders Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi have also been brought in. A strong defence will be key for Arsenal, whose attacking prowess is undeniable. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang impressed after his January transfer and will be looking to push on. Arsenal’s squad is looking fairly complete. They will be looking to offload more than they buy in the coming days.