The transfer window for the Barclay’s Premier League is always one of the most entertaining times of the footballing calendar. Even to just debate the massive amounts of money being thrown at bloated transfer values is in of itself entertaining, but with FFP now seemingly being fully instituted, that means a transfer summer such as this that much more interesting, especially with it being a World Cup year.
Whether or not you subscribe to the notion that clubs should purchase players so that their rivals do not, or even just for the sake of spending, it is hard to argue with the fact that this summer’s transfer activity will be fueled by how closely run the title race was this past season. The difference between Manchester City and third-placed Chelsea was only four points, with fourth-placed Arsenal only an additional three points behind. Add into this equation the confirmation of Louis van Gaal as Manchester United’s new manager and the expected rearmament program which is to take place at Old Trafford will no doubt add another contender for the title next season.
This is not intended to discuss the host of players that each of the top seven clubs have been linked with, but rather which player each of these clubs truly need to add the most value to their XI. That said, let’s get started.
Manchester City – Steven Caulker (CB; Cardiff City)
It is actually tough enough to go through their title winning side and truly narrow it down to one player that could make everything that much better for the blue half of Manchester. There is no need to name names as everyone knows just how strong they are, but moving forward, would it not hurt City to invest in a top class CB to partner Vincent Kompany? For me, a transfer move for Steven Caulker fits the bill for a number of reasons; 1. Being only 22 and still impressionable, that makes him the perfect longterm center-back signing to learn from the captain. Strong in the air in both defending and on set pieces, has a bit of pace about him for a central defender and, most importantly, he’s English (City don’t have many of them) and would come at a reduced price given that Cardiff were just relegated. From dropping to the Championship to partnering a title-winning captain in a title-winning side that still has plenty of potential? How could he say no, and City shouldn’t either.
Liverpool – Matthias Ginter (CB; SC Freiburg)
In the long run, I don’t see Brendan Rodgers being the type to pay over the ends for a player when it comes to bloated transfer fees, but acquiring a center-back that is worthy of the position at Anfield is an absolute must. For all their slick attacking football, Liverpool lost the league because of the 50 goals they surrendered. Martin Skrtel had a solid season, but it was Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho that don’t quite measure up to be his partner at the back. For me, Liverpool need to make Matthias Ginter a transfer priority. Again, being so young (only 20) he can far more easily adapt to a new league and new surroundings because he is not quite set in his footballing ways yet. For someone his age, he is also very mentally mature on the pitch, strong with his positional awareness and has an excellent work rate. Being a solid passer as well in being that he can be deployed in midfield, he would have the ability to start Pool on a counter from the back. He fits the bill for Anfield and his club would not be able to turn down the 15million or so required to purchase his services.
Chelsea – Diego Costa (ST; Atletico Madrid)
They had the best defensive record in the Premier League this past season, have fantastic attacking players, but despite the reported potential player clear out, especially from midfield (rumors on David Luiz and Ramires no longer being required), Chelsea truly need a striker. At the end of the day, they could not post the amount of goals that both City and Pool did. So many times this season Chelsea failed to find the net in crucial matches which ultimately cost them the title (Aston Villa and Crystal Palace come to mind) and despite creating a host of chances, they did not have a lethal finisher that they crave. Though it was widely reported that Diego Costa was all but signed for the Blues, that has not officially been announced yet and a potential snag has risen in the deal, but he is still the man for Jose Mourinho. Absolutely lethal in the box and up to 25 yards out, he loves to get forward and find space for service to be provided to him, and when you have Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian behind you, you’ll have all the service in the world. A transfer move for him would easily net them a 20 goal scorer in the league, but he would certainly flirt with 30 – sign him up.
Arsenal – Morgan Schneiderlin (CDM; Southampton)
Truth be told, what doesn’t Arsenal need right now? Bacary Sagna looks to be out the door to Manchester City, so they’ll need to replace him. They certainly need a striker who is a better finisher than Olivier Giroud, and they could do with a proper winger as they lack depth in that department. But if you are honest with yourselves, what Arsenal truly needs is a first rate defensive midfielder. The Gunners have never been the same since Patrick Vieira left the club, and to an extend Alex Song as well. Who Arsenal need, is Morgan Schneiderlin – an excellent tackler of the ball, strong in the air, reads the ebb and flow of the game quite well and has fantastic awareness, heck, he even had a passing rate of 89.3% this past season. And if that isn’t enough, he’s French, and we all know how happy that makes Arsene Wenger. But in all honesty, having an excellent holding player behind Aaron Ramsey would allow the Welshman even more time to push up the pitch where he has been absolutely fantastic. Ramsey is the current key to Arsenal success and a transfer move for a player like Schneiderlin would help that key unlock even greater things for the Gunners.
Everton – Romelu Lukaku (ST; Chelsea)
15 goals and 6 assists in an overall very strong season for the Toffees – Romelu Lukaku is arguably one of the most under-appreciated assets in the entire League. With Chelsea doing whatever it takes to bring Diego Costa to Stamford Bridge, it is highly unlikely that Lukaku will want to remain at the club unless he is their first choice striker. A transfer move for the big Belgian by Roberto Martinez makes the utmost sense, as the strikers they do have at the club are no where near the quality they’ll need if they intend on building on their successful season. Lukaku loved playing for Everton, formed very strong chemistry with those around him and even loves Martinez – the stumbling block here is going to be the fee required to bring him back on a full-time basis. Everton just do not have the money for a permanent move, and with Gerard Deulofeu’s loan coming to an end, they will also have to address that position as well as center midfield but perhaps another season lone for the player would be in the works as long as a future fee could be agreed upon for the season after – or maybe Everton just need to hack the matrix and magically give themselves an extra 30million pounds in the bank.
Tottenham – Roberto Firmino (AM; TSG Hoffenheim)
Many may not know who this brilliant young player is, but it won’t be before long that this Brazilian’s name will be on the lips of millions outside of Germany. Hoffenheim finished 9th in the Bundesliga, but had the third best offense in the league with 72 goals scored in 34 matches (they surrendered 70, now you know why they finished mid-table) and Firmino is one of the main reasons for their attacking success. 16 goals and 11 assists in 33 appearances for the 22 year old who can be deployed at either striker, left wing, attacking midfield or central midfield would give Spurs a transfer target that is flexible in his deployment, but also a player who is fantastic on the ball, helps out with defensive contributions, has an eye for a pass and is a strong finisher. One of Spurs’ biggest problems this past season was having creative players contribute extensively to the attack who were not named Christian Eriksen and Firmino would easily slot into the XI at White Hart Lane. A transfer move for him would not be cheap, but it probably would not be more than 20-20million pounds either, and he would be worth every single penny.
Manchester United – Kevin Strootman (CM/DM; AS Roma)
Forget Toni Kroos, forget William Carvalho and for the love of god forget Cesc Fabregas – the man that is needed at United is Kevin Strootman. Despite currently dealing with a long-term injury that will keep him out of the World Cup for the Netherlands, Strootman was arguably one of the best central midfield players in the world up until his injury. If he was healthy for the World Cup, the Dutch would be going to the final, he is that good. While he prefers to play in a deeper central role, much the same as Michael Carrick, with Louis van Gaal as the new coach, it would not shock me if United switched to a 4-3-3 and thus the ability to have Carrick and Strootman in the same midfield is a complete reality. 5 goals and 6 assists in 25 matches from a defensive midfielder is quite solid, but it is his work rate is fantastic and he is an accomplished passer and an even better tackler. A transfer swoop for Strootman and then his deployment along side Carrick would then make the move for Kroos completely worthwhile, but not before. But LvG usually gets his way, so unfortunately Kroos will be deemed as the priority, though it should be the other way around.