Tuesday 16 July 2019

Assessing what might happen as Premier League big hitters splash the cash in the richest transfer window yet

Christian Eriksen, Matthijs de Ligt and Eden Hazard
Christian Eriksen, Matthijs de Ligt and Eden Hazard
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

The starting gun was fired on the new Premier League season as the fixtures were released on Thursday and this summer the drama in the world's richest league is set to start earlier than ever.

With England's top six clubs now firmly detached from their rivals on the pitch and boasting a financial archest to ensure that divide remains in place for years to come, the next two months could see record aplenty broken in a transfer scramble that looks certain to be the most lucrative in the history of the game.

Last summer proved to be a relatively quiet transfer window for England's Premier League elite, with Manchester United's modest spending backed up by no new arrivals at Tottenham and Chelsea forced into action as they signed keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga following the exit of Thibaut Courtois.

Liverpool's capture of keeper Alisson Becker and Manchester City's move to sign Riyad Mahrez were significant deals, but we can expect much more movement from the Premier League's big hitters before the transfer deadline of 5pm on Thursday August 8th.

Here is your guide to the big six clubs in English football, with their dominance of the Champions League and Europa League last season confirming the Premier League is now the undisputed powerhouse of the European game.

MANCHESTER CITY

Status: Domestic treble winners aiming to maintain their dominance

Budget: £150m

Linked with: Harry Maguire (Leicester), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Felix (Benfica)

With Manchester City's financial structure under investigation by FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League, Pep Guardiola plans to reshape his raging squad may be affected by concerns over potential punishments for over-spending.

Replacing departed talisman Vincent Kompany will be a key priority, yet a move for Leicester defender Harry Maguire would be expensive and they may turn their attention to Tottenham centre-back Toby Alderweireld, who is available for a cut-price £25m.

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Vincent Kompany will move to Belgian club Anderlecht as player-manager

Sporting's Bruno Fernandes and Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix are also expensive options, with City's ambitions in the transfer market likely to be influenced by the threat of punishments that could come their way later this year.

LIVERPOOL

Status: Newly crowned as European champions

Budget: £100m

Linked with: Memphis Depay (Lyon), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)

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Ajax and Holland star Matthijs De Ligt (Tim Goode/PA)

With the exits of Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno already confirmed by Liverpool and defender Dejan Lovren likely to join them on the departure list, Jurgen Klopp's wage bill will be given a sizeable trim this summer and that opens the door for some big-name arrivals.

Cover for Andy Robertson at full-back will be a priority for Klopp, with rumours linking Liverpool with a bid for in-demand Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt likely to come to nothing as his wage demands are inflated by interest from Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

Liverpool will look add to their forward line following the departure of Sturridge, with FC Porto forward Moussa Marega and Athletic Madrid's Antoine Griezmann among those being linked with a move to Anfield.

CHELSEA

Status: In a state of flux following the exit of Eden Hazard and imminent exit of boss Maurizio Sarri

Budget: Under a transfer embargo

Chelsea have not faced a summer of uncertainty like this since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, with the transfer embargo imposed on the club potentially crippling in a summer that has already seen the sale of star turn Eden Hazard.

Blues legend Frank Lampard is expected to be handed the task of working with a squad that relied on Hazard to carry them to a third place finish and Europa League glory last season, with the club's youth team set-up likely to become vital if the club fail to get their transfer ban lifted.

Lampard's status as a Chelsea legend ensures he would be a shrewd appointment in a season that would need ambitions to be diluted, with a top four finish an ambitious target given the crisis that has engulfed a club being overseen by an absent owner whose own ambitions are unclear.

TOTTENHAM

Status: Trying to make signings to convince manager Mauricio Pochettino to stay

Linked with: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Ayoze Perez (Newcastle), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)

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Gareth Bale (Nick Potts/PA)

Budget: £100m

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is waiting to see whether his club will start spending again after their failure to make a single signing in the last two transfer windows and if they don't respond to those calls, his future at the club will be in huge doubt.

Defender Toby Alderweireld can leave the club if a £25m is lodged, while key midfielder Christian Eriksen has hinted he would like to complete a move to Real Madrid, with doubts over the future of full-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose.

It is a mix that needs to be handled with caution by Tottenham chairmen Daniel Levy, with a couple of marquee signings and a new contract for Eriksen needed to ensure Pochettino remains in place.

ARSENAL

Status: In need of a rebuild after a stuttering season

Linked with: Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Joachim Andersen and Dennis Praet (Sampdoria)

Budget: £50m

Arsenal's cost-cutting approach was highlighted by the club's decision to allow Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey to leave the club on a free transfer, with manager Unai Emery expected to be working with a modest budget as he looks to reshape his defence and midfield after a disastrous end to last season.

Failure to clinch a top-four finish and a heavy defeat in the Europa League final against Chelsea highlighted the flaws in Emery's squad, with too many of his big-name stars failing to spark when the pressure was applied.

A move for World Cup-winning striker Mario Gotze seems unlikely due to his wage demands, with Sampdoria centre-back Joachim Andersen and his attacking team-mate Dennis Praet more realistic targets for an Arsenal side that lack the financial muscle to compete for top stars.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Status: In radical need of a squad make-over under boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Linked with: Harry Maguire (Leicester), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)

Budget: £150m

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Harry Maguire is on Manchester United’s radar again (Mike Egerton/PA)

With keeper David De Gea and star names Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez facing uncertain futures at United, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be relying on the club's executive vice-chairman to manage his transfer strategy after that club failed in their efforts to identify a Sporting Director.

That prospect should send a shiver of trepidation through Solskjaer as his predecessors in the United job have had their efforts undermined by Woodward's incompetence in the transfer window, with a host of targets failing to arrive at United under a transfer guru who only seems to get deals over the line when he outbids rivals.

United appear to be targeting young talent this summer and are keen to finalise a deal for Crystal Palace fullback Wan-Bissaka, yet it is a change of culture in a squad that has failed to live up to its reputation that Solskjaer needs to oversee. It may prove to be an impossible task do long as proven failure Woodward retains such a prominent role in transfer decisions.

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