Analysis, insight and pundit views on what every Premier League club needs to do in the transfer market this summer...
Friday 7 August 2020 15:10, UK
Other than persuading Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to sign a new contract, the key area for Arsenal this summer is midfield. The Gunners are looking to recruit both a defensive midfielder and a box-to-box number eight. Frozen out since the defeat at Brighton, Matteo Guendouzi appears to be heading out of the Emirates, while Mesut Ozil's future remains shrouded in doubt.
Arsenal will also consider signing a new centre-back if they can offload some of their fringe squad members - Sokratis, another player frozen out after the restart, is likely to depart even after Shkodran Mustafi suffered a long-term injury.
Aubameyang scored 22 goals and the Gunners' captain's goals won his side 20 points so persuading him to sign a new deal at the Emirates Stadium is paramount.
Creativity is another area Arsenal need to improve. They were only 15th in the league for shots on goal with 406, while no Arsenal player features in the top 20 in the Premier League for chances created.
Mikel Arteta on defensive shortages: "We have lost Calum Chambers the week after I arrived here, we lost Pablo [Mari] as well for three months...we will have to address that."
On signing more creative players: "That is one of the areas we can improve, but also, how important those players are will depend on the way we are going to attack, because some different teams do it differently."
On this summer's transfer plans: "You can see how [Liverpool] built their squad and there is no magic, you need to improve the squad with quality, quality players. And we need a bigger squad to compete in this competition. That is the challenge."
Sky Sports' Charlie Nicholas: "This has been a tough test for Mikel Arteta, but I think Arsenal have realised they have got to go all out and sort the defence out. If the defence is sorted, they can start moving up the table. Some players need moving out of the door, Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi - these players have to move on, and Arsenal need to freshen things up.
"The defence is key to the rebuild, they have been rebuilding for seven, eight years, this period in particular has been awful for Arsenal fans, but I think Arteta knows the right path to take."
Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol: "Mikel Arteta has made a promising start but he needs major backing in the transfer market from the owner. He's changed the culture at Arsenal and made progress on and off the pitch. Arsenal are a good team but to be a great team again, they need to spend to close gap to the top sides."
Following their final-day escape from relegation, Dean Smith is looking to strengthen in a number of areas during the summer. Significant funds are available for a centre-forward and possibly for a winger as well.
Much depends on the future of Jack Grealish, but Villa are also in the market for a defensive centre-midfielder, a right-back and a back-up left-back.
And if Tyrone Mings leaves, a replacement left-sided centre-back will be sought.
Jack Grealish was involved in 34.1 per cent of Villa's goals this season and the club now faces a battle to retain their talisman, amid interest from Manchester United and other top clubs.
But with top-flight football guaranteed, Villa could also command top dollar for their prized asset and go again in the transfer market in an attempt to stabilise, having already spent £152.7m (including add-ons) on transfers this season.
A key area of focus should be to bolster their defence, which conceded a league-high 608 shots this term.
Dean Smith on transfer plans: "I'll sit down with the CEO and owners. We need to be smart in the market now. People had questioned the amount we'd spent (£130m) but we had such a big turnaround."
On Jack Grealish: "We've got billionaire owners and he'd cost a lot of money."
Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett: "There will be money to spend on the squad further in this transfer window. The club don't want to sell Jack Grealish but they will if a big money offer comes in for him so they're feeling pretty secure and relaxed about it right now. They've got a bit of time because the window doesn't close until October to get the players in that they need and want.
"I think they need to strengthen down the spine of the Aston Villa team, they certainly need another striker and another number eight if you like, a box-to-box midfield player and probably a centre back as well and we don't know about Pepe Reina's future either. The list can go on and on, even though they spent £140m last summer."
Sky Sports' Gerard Brand: "I think the first priority in the window will be the wide players. Anwar El-Ghazi has been average at best and Trezeguet, although he has had a purple patch of vital goals since the restart, I don't believe he has the quality to be a regular Premier League starter.
"After the wingers, it's the strikers situation. I don't think any Villa fans will want to see Wesley, Ally Samatta or Keinan Davis as their starting striker next season. Thirdly, it's a central midfielder and this has been switched a lot during the season. It tends to be Conor Hourihane or Marvelous Nakamba battling it out for the spot next to Douglas Luiz and John McGinn."
Brighton, who have already signed Adam Lallana on a free transfer from Liverpool, are planning to strengthen their options at the top of the pitch, looking for a winger and a centre-forward.
The club is likely to commit significant funds to both positions, especially on the centre-forward where they're budgeting to spend in excess of the £20m they spent on Neal Maupay last summer from Brentford.
Tactically, Brighton are evolving at a rapid rate. Their total of 18,205 passes this season ranks eighth in the league and just short of Tottenham's total.
In addition, the Seagulls are now the league's top runners with 4,281 km covered during the campaign - the equivalent of a direct trip from the Amex to Quebec in Canada.
It's no wonder Adam Lallana fits into Graham Potter's plans under this style, and the 32-year-old will be looking to improve their statistics for converting that passing possession into shots at goal.
Graham Potter on Ben White following the defender's season-long loan at Leeds: "He's our player, he's got a long contract with us. I have known Ben for a while, I have been aware of him, wanted to try and sign him when we were at Swansea...he's our player and we're looking forward to working with him."
On Lallana: "Adam is a really exciting signing for us."
Sky Sports' Charlie Nicholas: "I thought they'd be a team questioning themselves when we started back, because of a lack of goals, but they never really got dragged in... I'd look at Graham Potter and think he doesn't need to add too many new players."
Sky Sports' Nick Wright: "Adam Lallana should fit perfectly at the Amex Stadium. They will need to recruit more players to get on the end of his passes, but there is already a lot of potential in the squad and they will be stronger next season having had a year to adapt to Graham Potter's style.
"Attacking reinforcements will be the priority given they only scored 39 goals last term, but Potter should also consider bolstering his defensive options with players more suited to playing out from the back. Ben White fits the bill in that regard having spent a year under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds."
As is usually the case with Burnley, the club are working to a strict budgets. However, significant - measured against Burnley's typical spending habits - will be committed on a winger while the club are also looking for young back-up centre-back to provide competition to Ben Mee and James Tarkowski.
Burnley set a new club record by winning 15 Premier League games and equalled their points record of 54, while losing only twice in the final 16 games of the season.
But, for all the positives, the squad is shallow. Sean Dyche has called for contract situations to be addressed after losing Jeff Hendrick, Joe Hart and Aaron Lennon when their deals expired and recruitment is required.
The situation is best summed up with their league-low 44 changes to starting XIs this season, in addition to using the fewest number of substitutes - by some distance.
Dyche has never shuffled his pack too frequently, but one senses the stats below are increasingly borne from necessity, instead of preference.
Sean Dyche on the summer ahead: "We'll see about [the transfer market]. It'll be interesting. Resources are helpful but they don't guarantee anything. All I can do is offer the things I think are appropriate and good for the club and the team, the reinforcements I think we need, and that's the guidance a manager can give. I know the guidelines of the club, the financial framework, but we are in a very healthy state financially. As long as I know what the challenge is, I'm happy to manage."
On contracts: "It is important (to get the contracts sorted). But at the end of the day I can't sign the contracts."
On his own future: "I just get on with my work here as I always have done and I will do until things change whenever that day is. As I have said many times - things change in football, either you go somewhere or people have enough of you and want you out."
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds: "It was a fine season for Dyche's side who lost just two of their last 16 games and equalled their best Premier League points tally of 54. But a glance at their bench during the restart shows just how difficult Dyche found it to select a group of 18 players let alone the 20 players that clubs have been allowed to name as part of the bolstered matchday squads.
"To improve on 10th place, Burnley must quickly address the issue of a number of players being out of contract next summer, and Dyche is keen to avoid a repeat as he looks to keep the club progressing. But key to Burnley's success has been stability, and tying down the ambitious Dyche at Turf Moor could prove to be their best business this summer."
Chelsea are willing to listen to offers for up to 10 first-team players, including goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho and Antonio Rudiger.
The Blues will try to sign a goalkeeper this summer because Frank Lampard is not convinced Arrizabalaga has a future as his long-term No 1 at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are looking at a list of goalkeepers including Jan Oblak, Andre Onana and Nick Pope.
Chelsea have already been active in their transfer planning for next season, bringing in Hakim Ziyech from Ajax for £33.3m and paying £45m to RB Salzburg for striker Timo Werner. Talks are also continuing about a deal for Kai Havertz - the midfielder wants to move to Chelsea and only an agreement about the transfer fee is holding up the deal.
Frank Lampard dropped Kepa Arrizabalaga for the final game of the season and is reportedly looking to sign a replacement this summer.
In fact, xG data reveals the Spain international has conceded 12.5 goals more than expected during his two seasons at the club - more than any other stopper in the league.
Frank Lampard on the importance of securing Champions League football: "We know that the economics of the Champions League are big, we know that. We know the prestige, top players want to play in the Champions League.
If we're looking to recruit in certain areas then I think it may help. We want to have a better year next year. We'll try to better ourselves in any way possible."
On Kepa Arrizabalaga: "I have long, hard thinks about everything, not just individual positions but how we are as a team. I don't want to pinpoint it on Kepa. [The] Kepa decision [dropping him against Wolves] was a choice, probably in recent form and recent situations [it's] a tough time for him."
On Kai Havertz: "He's a top player but we won't comment on other players at other teams."
Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher: "Chelsea will go no further unless they change the goalkeeper. I know they keep buying a lot of attackers but you see how many goals they have conceded. I think a lot of that is down to the goalkeeper...it is an area that - if they want to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City - they will have to rectify in the summer."
Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp: "I am sure Frank Lampard will be looking in pre-season trying to get a new goalkeeper. If you are sure about your goalkeeper, he starts every game. So, Frank doesn't think he is the right man. But it isn't easy to find good goalkeepers."
Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol: "Roman Abramovich is re-engaged again with Chelsea, he has got his hunger back and is really backing Frank Lampard, he wants to take the fight to Liverpool and Man City next season. And he knows that to be the best, you have to buy the best and he is in this incredible position this summer where he has got a lot of money at a time when a lot of Chelsea's competitors do not have much money to spend."
Regardless of what happens with Wilfried Zaha, Palace may prove to be one of the busiest Premier League clubs during this summer's window.
The club plan to commit significant funds to a number of positions. Their three key targets are a centre-forward, a winger and an attacking midfielder - and Palace have a type in mind too: players in their early 20s who have the potential to develop and gain in value.
In addition to those three primary targets, all of which are expected to be expensive investments, Palace are also in the market for a young centre-back and a left-back.
It will be no surprise to see Palace targeting younger players during this transfer window. The Eagles' starting XI had the highest average age of any team in the Premier League at 29 years and 336 days.
That may also be a key factor in why Roy Hodgson's men rank bottom in the league for sprints, and only Wolves covered less distance.
Attacking players are also on the agenda at Selhurst Park. Palace also failed to score more than twice in any of their Premier League games this season. It's the eighth time a team has gone through a whole campaign without doing so, while Palace are the first to do so while avoiding relegation.
Roy Hodgson on the summer ahead: "We need some investment in players, in particular, forward players because we've been really short in that area all the way through my time here. Investment is needed and players, younger players perhaps, rejuvenation, fresh faces coming into help us out in those front areas because our problem is we don't score goals. That's the priority and it's been the priority for a long time."
On Zaha: "It's a dilemma for the club and a dilemma for him if he is so set on leaving. If he feels he just does not want to be with us any more, that would be sad. We still like him very much, we can't make him like us."
Sky Sports' Charlie Nicholas: "This team needs a lot of changes, it's very old. It needs a bit of money."
Sky Sports' Nick Wright: "Palace's end-of-season collapse underlined the need for a refresh at Selhurst Park. The squad is old and tired and there is room for improvement in practically all areas. Replacing Zaha will be a major challenge - the 27-year-old started all but one of their Premier League games this season - but even if he stays there is still a need for fresh attacking impetus.
"No Palace striker has reached double figures for goals in the Premier League since the 2016/17 campaign, and Christian Benteke - the last man to achieve the feat for the club - has offered little evidence that he can get back to that level. It's time to bring in someone who can - and surround him with dynamic young players who can take the club forward."
Carlos Ancelotti's budget will be focused on a high-energy box-to-box number eight and a left-footed winger - Everton could commit as much as £40m to fill the two positions.
The club are also seeking a quick centre-back, but any further investment will likely be dependent on how many players they can sell and the funds raised.
Everton collected just seven points from losing positions last season. Only relegated duo Norwich (0) and Bournemouth (five) as well as West Ham (also five) retrieved fewer from a deficit.
The Toffees have aspirations to break into the top six but against the league's traditional big six clubs, they collected just one win from 12 games; their total of eight points places them in 16th position in the division.
Until an apparent inferiority complex and the lack of resolve is addressed, European football back at Goodison will remain a pipe dream.
Ancelotti will look to build his team around Richarlison, who was involved in 36.4 per cent of Everton's goals (16) - the sixth-highest individual contribution to a team's league tally.
The Brazilian was the club's joint-top scorer on 15 in all competitions with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but much more output will be demanded from midfield with Bernard's tally of three placing him next on the list.
Carlo Ancelotti on an important summer ahead for Everton: "We are working on this. We know and everyone knows the squad has to be improved. We have time to think about this and we have improve it before new season starts.
"We know the market is open until October 5 but I don't know if it's possible to have the squad ready when we start in the middle of August. It will be the best scenario possible."
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds: "It was a disappointing end to an underwhelming season for Everton, beaten on the last day by relegated Bournemouth to complete a pretty miserable record against the bottom three. Prior to that loss, Carlo Ancelotti had only suffered defeat away from home against Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Wolves but the final day served as a reminder that this current Everton squad are capable of losing to just about anyone.
"Having finished 12th, their lowest position in 16 years, a busy summer lies ahead, and the form of Jordan Pickford has added to the manager's concerns. With Maarten Stekelenburg having returned to Ajax, Ancelotti will be in the market to find competition for England's No 1.
"Djibril Sidibe's loan from Monaco came to and end this week but the future of Jonjoe Kenny, who impressed during his own loan spell at Schalke last season, is still unknown.
"Ancelotti and club director of football Marcel Brands will be holding a transfer summit to map out how extra quality can be added to the squad between now and early October."
Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor: "Ancelotti is already a man down with the retirement of Leighton Baines, and what a career at the club. Baines' contribution to Everton over the years reminds you of a time when the club got their recruitment right.
"In recent times, Everton have struggled to replicate the consistent activity in the transfer market. Ancelotti and Brands have got to ensure that recruitment is right and we know the areas that they're looking to strengthen. Throughout this whole season, you've seen what Everton have been lacking, in particular a physical presence and a box-to-box midfielder in the same mould as Idrissa Gueye.
"They've lacked that destructive influence and we know that Everton have been in talks with Southampton over Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg but we also know that his mind is set on a move to Tottenham.
"Napoli's Allan is another name Everton keep getting linked with, someone Ancelotti worked with, but at 29 the figures being quoted are a lot for a player who has little or no resale value. It would go against Everton's transfer strategy.
"There are other areas that need addressing: firstly, a right winger. We're being told they're interested in Sassuolo's Jeremie Boga but again they face stiff competition for the former Chelsea man.
"They also want a centre-back with pace to provide more competition for Mason Holgate, Michael Keane and Yerry Mina. We know about Gabriel Magalhaes at Lille but still that situation is unresolved."
Fulham were last of the sides to gain promotion from the Championship, but manager Scott Parker will have been planning for that possibility for the past month, fully aware that he would need to have all his ducks in a row given the even sharper turnaround for play-off winners.
He would have had devised two separate lists of transfer targets, and he will be delighted with the nicer route he will look to work through over the coming weeks.
Fulham spent over £100m the last time they sought to build a squad capable of staying in the Premier League but all that achieved was a losing culture: a more focused approach is needed this time around. Parker will already know his core group, but how much he can add to that will define their latest top-flight adventure.
In total, 56 per cent of teams promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs suffer an immediate return to the second tier - a fate the Cottagers suffered two years ago.
That season, Fulham registered a net spend of £100.8m on transfers and are unlikely to afford a similar splurge for the campaign ahead. That was a record figure for a newly-promoted club - until Aston Villa splashed £152.7m net this term.
So the challenge is colossal, but possible. Just look at this season: Villa survived after play-off promotion and Sheffield United finished ninth without an excessive spending spree.
Scott Parker on needing to do things differently this time around in the Premier League: "There were mistakes last time. We need to do things differently. I want to try and enjoy what we've done so far. We all understand that and will learn from those mistakes. What we're trying to build here is some core foundations that get you far in life."
Sky Sports' Simeon Gholam:
Fulham arguably had a better starting line-up last time they were promoted in 2018, but the issue then was they had such a small squad that recruitment was essential. A lot of money was spent and it had to be, but it came with little reward and a dismal relegation.
It will be interesting to see if those who left to go on loan following their relegation - such as Jean Michael Seri and Frank Anguissa - rejoin Scott Parker's setup or remain determined to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
They have already snapped up the likes of Ivan Cavaleiro, Anthony Knockaert and Bobby Reid on permanent deals, after all three started the season on loan at Craven Cottage - but Parker will be keen to tie down Harrison Reed to a permanent deal, after an impressive season for the Southampton loanee.
Lessons do need to be learned from their last promotion. It remains to be seen how much money will be available to Scott Parker and defensive recruitments are a necessity - particularly a centre-back and a right-back.
Sky Sports' Liam Rosenior:
"They definitely need to strengthen. When you get promoted, you want to keep your way of playing and I'm sure Scott's very strong on his philosophy but you need good defenders in the Premier League.
"There are players who can hurt you one-v-one, so it will be about finding a defensive strength and solidity as that was their undoing the last time they were in the Premier League."
Ahead of their return to the top flight, Leeds are not expected to spend huge sums this summer although they could splash in excess of £10m in three different areas - a centre-forward, a winger and a centre-back.
They also require a new keeper, but it's likely that a smaller fee will be spent on that position.
Leeds are back in the top flight after 16 years away. They were a Premier League mainstay until relegation in 2003/4 and dropped to League One - where they spent three seasons - in 2006/7.
After being pipped to automatic promotion by Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United in 2018/19, they finally clambered out of the Championship again at the 10th attempt.
Leeds conceded 10 fewer goals than second-placed West Brom and on-loan Ben White was a standout performer, making more interceptions than any other player in the league and more ball recoveries than any team-mate.
Andrea Radrizzani on his ambitions: "I have a clear vision. I need to first secure the team in the Premier League for the next three years, to stay there. If we stay there for three years at least then I think we can have a very bright future and stay just behind the top six. That's my goal."
On the impact of the pandemic and the need for fresh investment: "We have enjoyed fantastic success but the impact of Covid-19 is also hitting the club financially. So we will need additional investment to be competitive."
On the potential of Leeds breaking their transfer record: "Which is our transfer record? [£15m winger] Helder Costa? Yes, I think we could break it soon."
Sky Sports' Simeon Gholam: "First things first is that any player that arrives will have been analysed at length by Marcelo Bielsa and his team to ensure they fit his structure and system. Those expecting an 'upgrade' for Patrick Bamford up front may be sorely disappointed as the front man is so vital to the way Leeds play, and he is only likely to be replaced by a player who can do the same job.
"A centre-back will be essential if they fail to re-sign Ben White either permanently or on loan from Brighton, and that will be a huge gap to fill. It is good news for them, however, that the vastly-improved winger Jack Harrison is likely to come back on loan from Manchester City for a third season.
"Expect signings to be minimal - and expect most of any new arrivals to take a while to be integrated into first-team plans, too. Particularly with the shorter summer for them to prepare. Some depth is needed, but Bielsa likes to manage a small squad, and with eight less games in the Premier League season than in the Championship, the group may become even more tight-knit."
City have steadily strengthened their squad since winning the Premier League title and could spend big this summer despite their late slump in form costing them a Champions League berth.
City have set aside significant funds to strengthen in three positions: First, Brendan Rodgers has been working closely with his head of recruitment Lee Congerton to find a striker to play alongside Jamie Vardy. Second, they have struggled to replace Riyad Mahrez since his departure to Man City and are keen to recruit a wide-man who can play on either flank. And third, Rodgers wants a strong box-to-box number eight to work alongside James Maddison.
At the back, Leicester have looked at several centre-backs in the last two windows after Harry Maguire's departure for Old Trafford. This time, the position will be a priority.
Finally, City will look to bring in a left-back if, as expected, Ben Chilwell leaves.
Leicester were gunning for third spot when the league was suspended but capitulated after the restart and lost out on Champions League qualification on the final day.
Incredibly, the Foxes spent 92.1 per cent of the season in the top four, while Manchester United managed only 6.2 per cent and still pipped them to the post.
Key injuries played a major role in their downfall, with key creator James Maddison sidelined along with the full-backs Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira.
But Rodgers now has a Golden Boot winner among his ranks in Vardy, while Wilfred Ndidi excelled once again by breaking things up midfield - topping the league for tackles and interceptions.
Brendan Rodgers on his plans: "[We need to improve] the attacking element of the team. We've obviously been hurt in this last period, with three of the back four out of the team, and that speed and quality will affect any team at this level. But generally, I'm pleased with how we defend. We would like to add more creativity and more attacking thrust at the top end of the field."
Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett: "Brendan Rodgers has said throughout this season that they are a young team who are learning, but what the lockdown period has emphasised is the lack of resources at the King Power Stadium.
"Rodgers has a very good starting XI, a very good 13, but...if they get injuries, they do not have the strength in depth to cope. I know Brendan Rodgers is talking to the bosses at Leicester to get more depth [into the squad]. He was frustrated that they didn't sign a centre-back last summer when Harry Maguire left and the club were quite pragmatic, they said that there wasn't value in the market and they weren't going to overpay for James Tarkowski or Nathan Ake, who were two of the names in the frame.
"They will still take that practical viewpoint but Leicester now have Europa League football coming next season with even more games and so to that end, they desperately need to strengthen the squad and get more players of quality in to replace those players in the starting XI if they're injured."
How do you improve on greatness? One area of widespread speculation already is the depth of cover behind Liverpool's front three. The sale of Dejan Lovren to Zenit Saint Petersburg in a £10.9m deal and Adam Lallana's departure to Brighton already means there are places available in the Liverpool squad, while Xherdan Shaqiri is also expected to depart.
Then there is cover required at left back. The Reds are interested in signing Jamal Lewis from Norwich as they look to bring in competition for Andy Robertson.
Liverpool won the Premier League title with seven games to spare, the earliest title win in English top-flight history in terms of games remaining.
Jurgen Klopp invited professional surfer Sebastian Steudtner to deliver a rousing speech to his squad following their Champions League triumph last year - intended as a stark analogy for his players to overcome the last outstanding achievement: a league title.
And so the analogy became a reality. But now Liverpool must go again, perhaps in the hunt to retain their crown and reclaim Europe in the same season, or even begin a run of domination comparable to the 1970s and 1980s.
However, there isn't much room for improvement in league points, perhaps only consistency and a drip feed of young talent to keep the conveyor belt fresh.
Meanwhile, Klopp has openly admitted he has reduced the distance covered by his teams over the years, but he still demands unrivalled intensity with a chart-topping 3,980 sprints.
Jurgen Klopp after the end of the season: "I am happy with my squad 100 per cent...If other teams invest I have no idea, they may know more about the future, I don't know. But the main difference between us and other teams this year was consistency. You saw how tight the game was against Chelsea when we won 2-1 I think, but they are 25 points or so behind us."
Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher: "Liverpool's squad is fine in most areas. But l think there's a couple of glaring areas where it should be better than it is."
Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor: "They have to improve because if you look at the likes of Chelsea at the moment, Man City are going to improve, Man Utd have had a run that has taken them into the Champions League once again.
"So Liverpool know they have to be better next season and if they are not going to do so much in the transfer market, then the Liverpool squad know they will have to raise their levels once again.
"Jurgen Klopp has said they are not necessarily going to do too much business in the transfer window, although there could be the odd addition. But then there are the other improvements to the players they have already got. We saw with Naby Keita's performance, if you can get those kind of performances out of him consistently, that is an improvement Liverpool could make.
"And Klopp talked to us after the game about Curtis Jones and he could not help let it slip that he is ready now, they are very excited about what he can produce for Liverpool Football Club. Adam Lallana is leaving a space and Jones can more than fill that and become an influential member of that squad as there is a lot of excitement at what he can achieve in a red shirt. And he is taking on the No 17 shirt next season, which of course in the early years was Steven Gerrard's."
Manchester City's rebuilding drive looks set to continue, as they consider as many as five more signings this summer.
Key to their remaining recruitment lies in defence, with deals for both a left-back and second centre-half - most likely Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly - still some way off.
Further up the pitch City face the potentially impossible task of finding long-term replacements for two Premier League legends in David Silva and Sergio Aguero. Inter Milan's Lautero Martinez remains their number one choice to fill the No. 9 shirt.
Manchester City finished the season with more goals than any other team for the third season running. Their total of 102 was 17 more than Liverpool. In contrast, City have conceded two more than their Merseyside rivals.
So City's 18-point deficit is clearly the result of weaknesses at the back. For all the flowing, attacking football, Guardiola's side are shipping almost one goal per game - the same ratio as his inaugural season before the serious rebuild.
To put a figure on it: the defence is currently 35 per cent less efficient, compared with last season.
Much was made of how City failed to replace Vincent Kompany after his departure from the club, but it was the serious injury to Laporte which exposed the cracks.
Without Laporte, City's weaknesses were laid bare. Even with Laporte, a natural partner is missing.
Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Eric Garcia have been tested, but Guardiola has still preferred to play veteran midfielder Fernandinho as one of the pair. Fellow midfielder Rodri has played there, too.
Pep Guardiola on the summer ahead: "If you bring in eight or nine players, which is impossible, you change a lot, the mentality or the freshness or the way you want to play. But I think 80 per cent or 85 per cent or 90 per cent of the team will be the same so it depends on the people who are here."
Sky Sports' Micah Richards: "City are looking at various players for the summer, but for me they need a leader at the back to play alongside Laporte. That's no disrespect to Nicolas Otamendi and Stones, I'd still have Stones around to try and win back the manager's confidence.
"Going forward it hasn't been a problem for City. They've been scintillating at times, but then you just know that there's going to be some sort of uncertainty at the back without Kompany's leadership.
"At left-back, I think with Benjamin Mendy getting a run of games, and with a good pre-season under his belt, I do believe he can nail down that spot and rotate with Oleksandr Zinchenko, because I like him too. You need two good players in every position."
Manchester United's interest in Jack Grealish has "cooled" and instead, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is concentrating on his key summer transfer target - Jadon Sancho. It now looks unlikely United will try to sign Grealish in this transfer window, even though Solskjaer is a big admirer of the Aston Villa captain.
Meanwhile, United's focus has turned to Sancho who, as an out-and-out winger, they feel better fits their squad. It's clear that Sancho is keen on a move to Old Trafford, but Dortmund are at this stage standing by their £100m-plus valuation.
Having missed out on Erling Haaland in January, Ed Woodward has been willing to provide funds for a new centre-forward although the recent development of Mason Greenwood has eased pressure.
United are also looking for cover at centre-back alongside an attacking midfielder to avoid increasing reliance on Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
There have been question marks over David de Gea after a spate of mistakes but United still conceded the third-lowest number of goals and ranked fourth best for clean sheets.
Manchester United didn't lose a Premier League game after signing Fernandes for £47m in January and the Portugal international really found his groove after the restart.
At which point, Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer also appeared to nail down his preferred XI with an unchanged side in five successive games - a run last achieved at the club 27 years ago.
A third-place finish was an exceptional feat after spending only 22 days in the top four all season, while the emergence of Greenwood contributed to a league-low average starting XI age of just 25 years and 96 days - suggesting more is to come.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on his hopes for the window: "The club know what I feel we need and we are going to try and pursue it. Let's see where we end up. I think we've shown that this team is going place."
On David de Gea: "David is mentally strong enough to know his job is to perform in training the next day and be ready for the games. We are going to stick together."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville: "I don't think this Manchester United team at this moment can challenge for the title next season. It needs more additions and more of the right additions. I think that Ole needs three or four more of those as a minimum before he can even think about getting up into third or second place.
"My concern isn't really for the front three or the midfield three, it's the depth and the drop that you have beneath that talent. When I say that Manchester United need a centre-forward, that's not me saying they should sell Anthony Martial. They need a centre-forward because Manchester United should have two or three great centre-forwards. They should have two or three great wingers. Not just one in each position."
..."The first XI is ok but the squad needs four or five more. The last time Manchester United finished in the top three was under Jose Mourinho and they spent £170m that summer. United need to invest money again but do it correctly this time. The squad needs improving, the team needs improving. First and foremost, they need to improve the first eleven."
Sky Sports' Paul Merson: "I don't think they need Jadon Sancho at £90m or £100m - they need another centre-half, in fact they probably need two centre-halves as cover for Harry Maguire.
"Maybe they need a centre forward but I don't think you win the league with Anthony Martial playing up front - even though he's been brilliant and scored goals. But where are you getting a centre forward from? Every club in the world wants one. If they have the money, I'd go £120m for Harry Kane. If they get him and centre-half, they'd be massive players in the Premier League next season."
Sky Sports News' James Cooper: "There's no doubt their number one target is Jadon Sancho...But it's going to be really difficult, complex, difficult-to-structure deal, bearing in mind I don't think Manchester United will put a £100m cheque on the lap of Borussia Dortmund.
"I think they also want a bit of cover at centre back - the likes of Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are not what Ole is looking for in that position - and ideally as well perhaps an attacking midfielder that complements the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba."
Recruitment plans could have changed significantly had the Saudi-backed takeover gone through - but after months of waiting for a decision from the Premier League, the group has pulled out.
For now, Steve Bruce continues to plan for next season. Most of his budget will be spent on landing a young centre-forward and a left centre-back - with both costing up to £20m. The club is also targeting a young central midfielder as well as a left-back and, like so many clubs, a winger.
Newcastle averaged just 37.8 per cent possession across the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, their lowest in a single campaign in the competition on record (since 2003-04).
They were also heavily reliant on Allan Saint-Maximin - winning just one of 12 games where he did not feature - while midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was their top scorer with six goals; £40m striker Joelinton managed only two league goals.
Steve Bruce on Newcastle's recruitment plans: "We've got one or two irons in the fire right now - let's hope we can pull them off. We've got competition, but I think that will be the case right through the summer. As soon as the window opens, we'll go to work. Things are not on hold. We need that decision [over the takeover] to be made, but the only thing I can do, along with Lee [Charnley, Newcastle's managing director] is to keep planning as best we can, and that obviously includes the transfer market."
Sky Sports' Paul Merson: "If you're Newcastle, you might spend £200m and it still might not break you into the top six. It probably wouldn't, so why would you keep on spending now if you were Ashley?
"The name of the game for Newcastle is to minimise spending and to stay in the league. It's all well and good saying you need to show ambition, but how much is that going to cost? £300m? £400m? Arsenal are eighth!
"If you're the owner of a club and no one likes you there, are you going to spend £400m to move you up two more places? If it doesn't go right, you could get relegated.
"When Rafa Benitez left, the feeling was that Newcastle would struggle but Steve Bruce has done an unbelievable job. But if I was Ashley, I wouldn't be spending the sort of money needed to just become a top-half team."
Chris Wilder said after the season-ending defeat at Southampton that he needs significant recruitment to strengthen a tired squad which lacks competition in a number of positions.
Key to United's recruitment will be the loan market - most notably, they hope they can extend the loan from Man Utd of keeper Dean Henderson for another season.
While Wilder is also hoping to bring in a right wing-back and a right-sided centre-back, the biggest outlay will be on a striker - possibly via the overseas loan market, with a view to a permanent deal.
Outside the relegation zone, only Brighton, Crystal Palace and Newcastle scored fewer goals than Sheffield United; Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset were the Blades' join-top scorers (six). Wilder's system prizes high-quality chances but the Blades' 353 shots and 114 shots on target were the lowest in the league.
Overlapping centre-backs became a talking point in the early stages of the season, but Blades' stopper Henderson stole the headlines in equal measure.
The Manchester United loanee had a save percentage of 74.2 per cent - bettered only by Hugo Lloris (79 per cent) and Emiliano Martinez (78.6 per cent), while xG data suggests he also prevented 7.5 goals during the campaign.
Chris Wilder after the final day of the season: "It's a feeling like we had when we first got into the Championship, we just faded away towards the back end of the season. We have to come stronger next year, we have to recruit well in the summer, we have to improve the players we've got here, and bring better players in if we want to be an established Premier League football club... we have to recruit well and improve on the players and bring better players in to compete."
Sky Sports' Kate Burlaga: "Chris Wilder has said himself that Sheffield United need individual upgrades but life after the restart - when injuries to the likes of Jack O'Connell, John Fleck highlighted just how stretched a small, exhausted squad had become - means depth and competition as well as quality is required.
"Cover on the right side of defence is needed; Chris Basham and George Baldock have stepped up impressively but have challenging roles in the Blades' unique system, while a significant void must be filled in goal if Dean Henderson does not return for a third term. The Manchester United loanee has been key behind a defence that conceded the fewest goals of a promoted side in the history of the Premier League and though Wes Foderingham has been signed on a free transfer, with Simon Moore likely to depart, securing a No. 1 is a priority.
"With Sander Berge earmarked for a deeper central midfield role and John Lundstram's longer-term future unclear, the right side of midfield is ripe for reinforcing. How Wilder looks to evolve his side tactically next season will be fascinating; the Blades boss has been flexible in-play but will he revert more regularly from a flat midfield three - certainly vindicated this term - as his seeks to see his side pose a greater attacking threat? While David McGoldrick, treasured at Bramall Lane, is used to dropping deeper to link play, a fresh creative spark in the No. 10 role would be welcome.
"Wilder is adamant that the 'top of the pitch' is key. Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset were the club's joint-top scorers with six goals each and while the manager has rotated young forwards finding their way alongside older heads like Billy Sharp, finding a mobile forward with a ruthless streak - plenty with bigger budgets are after those - is the significant challenge."
Southampton look set to be busy over the 10-week window.
Tottenham are edging closer to a deal to sign Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton and are thought to have offered £15m for the Denmark midfielder. If he does depart, club will commit significant sums on a replacement.
Similar transfer budgets exist for a winger - who can play in a front three and a left centre-back, with the manager understood to be keen on Eintracht Frankfurt's Austrian centre back, Martin Hinteregger.
The Premier League returned after a three-month suspension and some teams came back stronger than before, led by pressing kings Southampton, who saw a 71-per-cent improvement in points-per-game form to finish in 11th.
Danny Ings was central to their success up top, winning 17 points from his 22 goals and topped the league for his 43.1 per cent share of overall team goals.
But the Saints also frustrated top teams with their high press and ranked behind only Liverpool and Manchester City for possessions won in the final third, while midfielder James Ward-Prowse ran further than any other player in the top-flight.
However, the south-coast club did produce a peculiar record with their results - winning 31 points on the road and only 21 on home soil.
Ralph Hasenhuttl on the summer ahead: "I don't want to discuss individuals, but I can agree that, yes, we are busy on working to bring players in, because it is a short break and we want to bring players in as soon as possible.
"But until we have anything fixed, there is nothing to say about any names."
Sky Sports' Matt Le Tissier: "The professionalism of the players has been an absolute credit to the manager and the football club. When you look at what we've been capable of in the past few weeks - we've just played Manchester City at home, Manchester United away, Everton away.
"Unbeaten with five points, you look at that and think if you take that form into next season, what can we realistically achieve? From what I've seen, I'd expect a top-half finish from this group."
Sky Sports' Nick Wright: "There is much excitement about what Southampton could achieve next term following their strong finish to the campaign, but there are certainly areas in need of strengthening.
"Hojbjerg, a leader and midfield all-rounder, will take some replacing, for a start, but reinforcements are also needed in defence - Saints conceded 60 Premier League goals in 2019/20 - and in attack, where the scoring burden currently falls squarely on the shoulders of the 22-goal Danny Ings. No one else in the squad managed more than five last season.
"Hasenhuttl will hope there is more to come from Che Adams, who finished the season strongly. But as well as finding a reliable strike partner for Ings, he'll need midfielders and wingers who can add to the goal total."
At this stage it doesn't appear that Jose Mourinho plans a major overhaul of his squad.
Top of his list will be a back-up number nine to provide cover for Harry Kane.
Another priority will be a defensive midfielder and a right-back along with a young back-up goalkeeper.
Spurs ended up with a mediocre standing but it could have been far worse. The main issue for Jose Mourinho to address this summer is the dip in goals.
The reason? Well, the goals have been drying up for three successive seasons, but, chances have become rarer since the departure of playmaker Christian Eriksen - so a creative midfielder could, or should, be on the list of targets.
Jose Mourinho on his plans for the summer: "The main thing is to keep our very good players and after that improve the squad. Are we going to buy 10 players? No. Are we going to buy players for £100m? No. We are going to improve. We are going to keep the structure of this team because we have absolutely no interest in seeing one of our fundamental players leave."
Sky Sports News' Lyall Thomas: "Tottenham need to strengthen defensively after a season of leaking poor goals, costing them points, and that is exactly what they are looking to do this summer.
"Jose Mourinho wants a new centre-back, preferably to play as the left one of the two - and a left-footer would be ideal, although there are fewer of those options available. Min-Jae Kim has been linked but he is staying at Beijing Sinobo Guoan for now.
"Mourinho also wants a new right-back - someone physical and powerful - and a new defensive midfielder now that Eric Dier has moved to centre-back. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is the top choice and the club are edging closer to a deal to sign him from Southampton. Geoffrey Kondogbia is another they have been tracking.
"Spurs are also looking again at backup striker's to Harry Kane, after missing out on Olivier Giroud in January. Sky Italy have previously reported they are among the clubs keen on Arkadiusz Milik at Napoli."
Premier League new boys West Brom are looking to recruit across the squad. Their top priorities are a goalscorer and a box-to-box midfielder.
In defence, they are presently looking for a centre-back, right-back and left-back, too.
More than a third of the goals West Brom conceded were from set-pieces; only Cardiff conceded more than the Baggies' 16 from dead-ball situations. In fact, among the Championship's top six, only the Bluebirds allowed their opponents more shots from outside the box than the Baggies' 204. A case then for defensive reinforcements alongside some organisational work.
Slaven Bilic on his approach: "We have a good team, we have breadth, we need quality. We have to do something similar to Sheffield United, not like Aston Villa, and not like Norwich. We need to invest but in quality. The majority of the guys we have counted on here are going to play in the Premier League because they deserve it. Over the whole season, the players have been fantastic. I really believe that some of them will be more suited to the Premier League."
Sky Sports' Simeon Gholam: "The first area that needs to be addressed for West Brom is up front. They spent big money on Kenneth Zohore last summer - but he didn't make any kind of impression - while Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin have a lot to do to prove they are still cut out for Premier League football.
"Another centre-back may help, too. Semi Ajayi was excellent in their promotion push but Kyle Bartley and Ahmed Hegazi won't convince for me back in the top flight. Slaven Bilic may look for a central midfielder, too, to provide some competition to Romaine Sawyers and Jake Livermore, while full-back is also an area he may look to strengthen. Kieran Gibbs endured injury problems last season and the rest of their options in those areas are untested at Premier League level.
"In wide and creative areas, they possess the brilliant Matheus Pereira, Matty Phillips has shown he can excel in the Premier League in the past and Kamil Grosicki could be a good alternative. They do, however, need to convince West Ham to either let them take Grady Diangana on again, or find a suitable replacement. They didn't look the same without the young winger when he was out injured last season."
As always, it seems, West Ham look likely to be busy this summer.
David Moyes looks likely to strengthen across the defence ahead of the new season and targets include a left wing-back, a left-footed centre-back, another centre-back and a young right-back. Moyes would also like to inject more speed into his forward line with funds available to bring in a pacey centre-forward.
West Ham are also on the look out for a box-to-box midfielder.
West Ham soared to safety with their impressive post-lockdown form, powered by eight goals from Michail Antonio and the creative Jarrod Bowen.
But the standout issue for the Hammers was seeing out results after getting their noses ahead. In total, they lost a league-topping 26 points from winning positions.
David Moyes on his plans for the summer: "I think you have got to remember that the club spent £200m [recently]. We'll try and add to it if we can, if we can't we'll go with what we've got and there are a lot who can improve and a lot who have since lockdown."
Sky Sports' Nick Lustig: Much of what West Ham will be able to do in the summer transfer window will depend on player sales. Though manager David Moyes will want to put his own stamp upon the squad, it may not be possible unless he is able to shift the likes of Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Fabian Balbuena and Arthur Masuaku.
"West Ham have spent over to £200m over the past two seasons and it has been made clear to Moyes that he will have to supplement his transfer kitty through player sales. Moyes is keen to strengthen his defensive options, however the emergence of young full-back Ben Johnson may help save him from spending the majority of his budget in that area.
"Winger Grady Diangana is expected to be given a chance to cement a first-team place next season following a superb campaign on loan at West Brom, while midfielder Josh Cullen may also be handed an opportunity to prove himself to Moyes during pre-season.
"West Ham and Michail Antonio have both been transformed since the 30-year-old was pushed forward into a central striking role, but despite this, Moyes remains keen to add to his attacking options.
"Sebastien Haller has struggled since his big-money move from Eintracht Frankfurt and lacks the pace, which Antonio possesses, to get in behind an opposing defence. Albian Ajeti, who has failed to start a Premier League match or score a goal since joining from Basel last summer, is expected to leave.
"Jarrod Bowen has been a revelation since joining from Hull City in January and Moyes will once again look to the Sky Bet Championship as he aims to bolster his squad, with the likes of Eberechi Eze, Ollie Watkins, Antonee Robinson and Said Benrahma on his shortlist."
Wolves' top priority is a high-class centre-back, young and preferably left footed.
Nuno Espirito Santo hopes to add strength to his squad by bringing in both a No 8 and a No 9, although neither are likely to be automatic first-team choices. They also hope to bring in a promising young keeper, who it's hoped could progress to become their No 1 in years to come.
Wolves matched their seventh-place finish from last season, the first time that the club has finished that high in consecutive top-flight campaigns in almost 60 years. This was also their record points tally in the Premier League era.
With 26 goals in all competitions, Raul Jimenez has enjoyed the best season in front of goal by a Wolves player since the days when all-time top scorer Steve Bull was lighting up Molineux.
Jimenez has combined for more goals with Adama Traore than any other partnership in the Premier League this past season, with the winger's dribbling being a feature of the team's success. Traore completed 183 dribbles in the competition - the most by any player.
Nuno on how coronavirus could affect Wolves' plans: "Football is part of an industry inside society, so it will be a huge impact regarding the transfer window, the timings, the values, players, transfers, all these things will be new. So, us as a club, we have to prepare ourselves.
"I don't expect big amounts of money will be involved in the transfer window. Not only in football, in society, there are a lot of things we have to look at, knowing there are a lot of people in need, so it's up for us to make a step forward."
Sky Sports' Adam Bate: "Nuno prefers to work with a smaller squad than most but Wolves will surely dip into the transfer market this summer even if they are able to hold onto key players such as top scorer Raul Jimenez and the phenomenon that is Adama Traore.
"Wolves have a flexible group that has seen Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker drop back to fill in among the back three but last summer's loan signing of Jesus Vallejo suggests that Nuno is keen to strengthen defensively even if that particular transfer was not a success.
"Joao Moutinho has not missed a Premier League game in two seasons but Wolves will be mindful that they cannot count on that consistency forever. A more attack-minded midfielder could give Nuno more potency when switching to 3-5-2, while a robust alternative to Jimenez would be worth considering. There would be a void without him.
"Of course, much will depend on whether the club is in Europe again. Wolves need Chelsea to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final if they are to play Europa League football next season, while the prospect of Champions League qualification is still there too - that's the reward for winning the Europa League."
The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5. A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms.
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