With domestic seasons now over, clubs have started to shift their focus on the summer transfer window. With June now in full swing, teams across Europe have the chance to bring in new faces. Summertime in football is fairly daft at times but the constant flow of transfer rumors and completed transfers keeps supporters on their toes.
Here’s a list of one player that each of England’s top four teams should buy this summer:
Let’s start off with the champions of England. Chelsea were a dominant force in the league this season, and despite criticism about their style of the play, fully deserved the trophy. The Blues have a strong squad and their transfer dealings this summer will mainly depend on which players are sold. The most pressing area that needs work at the moment is the center-defensive midfield position. Chelsea have Nemanja Matic as one of their two starters in that position (in the team’s 4-2-3-1 formation), while Ramires, John Obi Mikel, Cesc Fabregas, and Kurt Zouma have constantly switched off as the second holding midfielder. While Jose Mourinho’s defensive midfield system rarely had a problem last season, it must be noted that only Matic and John Obi Mikel are true holding midfielders. Zouma is a center back, while Ramires is more of a box-to-box midfielder/winger. And of course, Fabregas is much more of an attacking midfielder. This creates a problem when Nemanja Matic is injured or suspended, which luckily did not happen much this season. Most Chelsea fans though will remember the team’s loss to Newcastle last December, a game in which the experience of Matic was greatly missed (Matic was suspended this match due to accumulation of yellow cards).
Chelsea should seek a young center-midfielder and should look no further than Giannelli Imbula. The 22-year-old has been superb for Olympique Marseille this past season and shows the potential to be one of the top holding midfielders in Europe. Following Marseille’s failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, Imbula could be purchased for cheap.
2. Manchester City
Manchester City had a poor season for their standards but managed to finish the campaign in second place. There is a debate as to whether Manuel Pellegrini deserves to keep his job but it now appears that he will be given another season. Regardless of their managerial situation, it is easy to assume that City will be delving into the transfer market this summer. It will most likely be their defense that sees the most change. The Citizens had the highest goal difference in the Premier League this season, and that was primarily due to their superb attacking front led by Sergio Aguero and David Silva. With Aguero contributing 26 goals as the league’s top scorer, City reached a total of 83, outscoring the second top scorers Chelsea by 10 goals. The problem for Pellegrini’s side was at the back. Their defense was in shambles for much of the season and there was no consistency. Vincent Kompany was surprisingly poor, while Eliaquim Mangala was unpredictable. Pablo Zabaleta had his worst campaign in over three years and neither Gael Clichy nor Aleksander Kolarov could nail down the left-back position. Who would have thought that Martin Demichelis would be City’s only consistent defender?
City’s priority this summer must be to purchase an established center back. Mangala is certainly one for the future but, after his problems this season, the team needs a reliable defender to partner Kompany or Demichelis in the center. Sokratis Papastathopoulos would be a great addition for City. After Borrusia Dortmund’s failure to secure Champions League football, the Greek may try to force his way out and Manchester would be an obvious destination. Sokratis has always been a dependable center back and he would be very helpful for City next season.
The Gunners began the 2014-15 campaign in mediocre fashion but picked it up in January and ended in third place. The signings of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck were influential while Mesut Ozil had a much-improved season. Arsenal’s midfield is looking very strong while the arrival of Gabriel Paulista in January has fortified their back four. Arsene Wenger’s goal for the summer should be to find a striker.
While both Sanchez and Welbeck can play as striker, they are more suited for other roles. Sanchez is certainly at his best as a winger while Welbeck plays his finest games as the player behind the striker. The issue for Arsene Wenger is that Olivier Giroud is his only pure striker.
Giroud has many of the skills needed in a top-class attacker; he is great in the air, strong on the ball, and has a good shot. Nonetheless, few fans would classify the Frenchman as a top 10 striker. Giroud lacks the killer instinct in front of goal and his consistency is poor. If Arsenal are going to end their EPL trophy drought, they will certainly need a new striker. The Gunners don’t necessarily need to bring in a top 10 attacker but they will want a player who will compete with Giroud on a regular basis.
Christian Benteke would be perfect for Arsene Wenger’s side. The Belgian has already established himself in the Premier League and is one of the most aggressive strikers in Europe. Benteke will probably be leaving Aston Villa this summer and the Emirates would be the perfect destination for him.
4. Manchester United
After spending £173million on players last summer, it will be interesting to see what United do this summer. Louis Van Gaal’s side were able to finish fourth, an improvement from their 2013-2014 campaign, but there were many problems over the course of the season. Van Gaal’s three-man backline experiment was a failure for United while the team’s attack was surprisingly poor. Despite the additions of Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria, the Red Devils only managed to score 62 league goals, their second lowest tally in 23 years. Falcao scored four, while Di Maria’s three goals and 10 assists suggests an adequate season for a man who has achieved so much. Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney scored 10 and 12 times, respectively, but both were inconsistent.
While there are always calls for United to bring in new defenders, their most pressing goal should be to find a striker. Falcao has returned to his parent club Monaco and certainly won’t be coming back, while Angel Di Maria may be departing after just a year. The fact of the matter is that Van Gaal only has 31-year-old Van Persie and Wayne Rooney as his established forwards, and only the former can be considered an out-and-out striker. United must bring in a top 10 finisher this summer if they are going to win the Premier League next season.
Gonzalo Higuain is a perfect target for the Red Devils. He is a proven goalscorer and has tremendous pace and strength. The Argentine has shown his worth at Real Madrid and Napoli, and is ready for some time in England. The 27-year-old also has lots of experience in the UEFA Champions League, which will certainly benefit United next season (assuming they qualify to the Group Stage).