With the Premier league season nearing its climax, transfer talk has been dominating the headlines in the recent weeks. Considering their knack of attracting the most popular footballing talents across the globe, Premier League clubs are set to splash the cash once again.
Having been decimated in the Champions league this season, the English heavyweights will be looking to bolster their ranks with proven quality this summer in an attempt to salvage some of their lost pride in Europe.
One of the key weaknesses exploited in this year’s Champions league is the deteriorating quality of midfielders in the Premier League. While the likes of Fabregas, Matic and Ramsey etc continue to produce for their clubs more often than not, imbalanced midfields have plagued the Premier league’s elite when it comes to European competitions.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG did not just beat the likes of City, Liverpool and Chelsea (last season’s top 3 sides), they outfought, outplayed and out-thought their Premier League opponents in an embarrassing European campaign.
Looking back at the period of 2005-2010, when English football dominated the Champions League, one of the highlights of those successful sides were strong & reliable foundations in the midfield. Whether it was the likes of Alonso, Mascherano, Scholes or Lampard, Makalele and Gerrard, the Premier League was flush with quality central midfielders.
With time, the inclination towards securing top attacking talents has left the league with several quality attackers but few players who could walk into the midfield of a top class European side such as Barcelona, Bayern or Real Madrid.
In order to reclaim their position amongst the European elite, Premier League clubs will have to identify their weaknesses better and address them during the summer transfer window. The way modern football is shaping up; games are won or lost in the midfield. The worrying lack of quality central midfielders in the current top four means they will never truly compete with the likes of Bayern, Madrid or Barcelona.
Here are five midfielders who could address the midfield problems for Premier League sides.
The Lyon midfielder has been one of the finest midfielders in Ligue 1 over the last few years. Gonalons, who has been plying his trade as a defensive midfielder in France for 6 seasons now, has been linked with several moves over the last few years. His strong positional sense, intercepting abilities, tackling and reliable passing make him an asset for any Champions league level side.
Teams suitable for: Arsenal, Manchester City.
The Dortmund midfielder is likely to be one of the many players who could be a part of the mass exodus, following the announcement of Klopp’s departure. Bender has been a key figure in Dortmund’s success over the years and the tough tackling midfielder is exactly what most Premier league teams need.
Teams suitable for: Manchester United, Manchester City.
The French International has been turning heads across Europe with his performances in the Ligue 1 and the Champions League this season. The powerful midfielder is composed on the ball and his combative nature makes him an ideal presence for midfields lacking in defensive cover and a physical presence. High work rate, positioning and reading of the game are some of the key features of Kondgobia’s game.
Teams suitable for: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United.
Imbula is one of most complete modern central midfielders around Europe at the moment. The French midfielder is only 22 years old, but his maturity and intelligence belies his years. His composure on the ball, flair and incisive passing coupled with his work rate and defensive contribution makes him a superb addition to any Premier League midfield.
Teams suitable for: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal.
Xhaka is arguably one of the top 3 central midfielders in the Bundesliga right now and has been phenomenal this season. At the age of 22, Xhaka is a complete central midfielder and can play in a number of central midfield roles. Whether the situation demands a box to box tenacious powerhouse, a destroyer breaking up the play or a composed midfield presence, Xhaka has done justice to every role with his versatility.
Teams suitable for: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City.
Who would be your priority midfield signing for this summer?