Every Premier League Club's Biggest Need in Final Week of Transfer Window
Time flies when you’re having fun. After a summer that’s given us an exciting World Cup in Brazil and a transfer window more extravagant than ever, it’s almost time to focus solely on league football for a few months: The final week of the summer transfer window is upon us.
Since the season ended in May, we’ve seen big-money transfers all over Europe. We compiled the top transfer need of every Premier League club earlier this summer before the transfer window opened, and as we approach the final week of the transfer window, how have the 20 clubs done to address their needs? What do they still need to do?
Here’s a guide to every Premier League club’s biggest need in the final week of the summer transfer window. Let us know your thoughts and picks in the comments below.
Arsenal: Defensive Midfielder
Arsene Wenger has recruited smartly and quickly this summer: The signings of Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina combine for an overall strong window for Arsenal.
Encouragingly for Gunners fans, Aaron Ramsey has picked up where he left off last season, with two goals in his first two matches this season, while Debuchy and Chambers have integrated well with the first team almost immediately after their arrival.
Yet they have yet to bring in the steel that they so sorely need in the midfield—a top defensive midfielder, our suggested top transfer need for the Gunners in our list earlier this summer, still hasn’t arrived.
Sami Khedira, a reported target earlier this summer, now appears to be staying at Real Madrid, after Carlo Ancelotti claimed that he would not be leaving Los Blancos, according to The Guardian.
But this might still change during the final week of the transfer window: According to Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph, Wenger has admitted that he is considering signing a defensive midfielder in the wake of Mikel Arteta’s injury. Watch this space.
Aston Villa: Striker
Aston Villa fans would be forgiven for feeling just a bit frustrated at their club’s business so far this summer: Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson, Aly Cissokho and Carlos Sanchez don’t exactly make for an inspiring group of signings.
In fact, a look at their squad shows that there is a dearth in genuine quality across the first team—with the exception of captain Ron Vlaar, who turned in an impressive World Cup campaign with the Netherlands earlier this summer.
With Christian Benteke still out with injury—though, according to the Daily Mail, he may be on track to return to first-team action by the end of October—what Villa lack most, and have lacked most for a whole summer, are reinforcements up front.
If they start the season with an injured Benteke as their only senior striker—Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor are less out-and-out strikers—then Villa will have plenty to be apprehensive about this year.
Burnley: Central Midfielder
Against Chelsea and Swansea City thus far, Burnley seem to have equipped themselves well at the Premier League level, but ultimately a lack in first-team quality showed in the end as they succumbed to two consecutive losses.
As one of the newly promoted teams to the Premier League, Burnley may not be too concerned just yet, given the respective statures of their opponents thus far. But as they look a few fixtures ahead—September and October see them take on Crystal Palace, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City and West Ham United—they will recognise the need to secure results and points against clubs at a more similar level.
They have pulled off some decent signings—Michael Kightly and Matthew Taylor provide experience, pace and some creativity—but their biggest transfer need is still at the centre of the park. It’ll be a tough year ahead for them if they don’t strengthen this area.
Chelsea: Central Defender
Put simply, Chelsea have enjoyed a brilliant transfer window by all accounts: In Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis, Jose Mourinho has strengthened a few key areas of his squad with some top-class additions—and club legend Didier Drogba is back at Stamford Bridge, this time as a back-up.
Opponents across the Premier League and European levels would be forgiven for fearing the very prospect of facing the Blues this season, such is the completeness and all-round strength of their squad.
Mourinho has a legion of outstanding options in all positions starting from goalkeeper—Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech make for the best goalkeeping duo in the world without question—to the midfield, where Fabregas adds class, vision and guile to an already frightening collection of stars.
There is no longer any pressing need for acquisitions in any position at Stamford Bridge—Chelsea arguably have the best squad in the league—but if we had to pick one, it’d be in central defence, where John Terry ages yet another year and Mourinho may need to rethink the Terry-Gary Cahill partnership for the next campaign.
Yet Branislav Ivanovic provides excellent cover across the back four, while Kurt Zouma is a top prospect waiting in the wings. Central defence is far from a pressing need—but Chelsea already have a squad ready to excel for years to come.
Crystal Palace: Central Midfielder
One of the shocks of the summer in the Premier League was Tony Pulis’ departure from the Crystal Palace hot seat, reportedly due to his frustration at the club’s failure to sign his transfer targets this summer (via BBC Sport).
To that end, only three players have been signed so far by the Eagles, yet all three—Fraizer Campbell, Brede Hangeland and Martin Kelly—bring a respectable level of Premier League experience and quality to the Palace first team.
Now with a few decent options across their attacking positions and their defence strengthened as well, it’s time for Palace to look at reinforcing the midfield, especially as they prepare for life without Pulis, who so successfully instilled a tough-to-beat mentality and reputation at Selhurst Park last season.
Mile Jedinak continues to be an impressive performer, but he will need support in the centre of the midfield if Palace are to extend their stay in the Premier League this season.
Everton: Central Defender
Whisper it quietly, but Everton have been one of the more impressive clubs in the top flight this summer—Roberto Martinez has brought in two of the loan stars who were cornerstones for his team last season in Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku, while Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu also represent exciting bargain deals.
Not only do Barry and Lukaku’s signings represent a continuation of Everton’s resurgence under Martinez, but they are also endorsements of the 41-year-old’s impressive and ambitious project at Goodison Park, and Besic’s addition as a highly rated defensive midfielder only serves to add to the hype.
It’s now hard to pinpoint any area of outstanding weakness across Martinez’s squad, which is testament to his excellent work in rebuilding this Blues side.
So just like we did for Chelsea, we’ll highlight a potential area of concern when it comes to age in central defence: This time it’s the ageing pairing of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka that Martinez needs to think about. But there’s no urgent rush just yet.
Hull City: Striker
Steve Bruce has also enjoyed a relatively decent summer in the transfer market, but his prized acquisition—Robert Snodgrass at £6 million from Norwich City—has been cruelly ruled out for six months with a knee injury, according to The Guardian.
Snodgrass’ injury is a major blow to Hull City, particularly given that Bruce has already signed Jake Livermore, Tom Ince, Harry McGuire and Andrew Robertson—all potential first-team options—this summer. Replacing Snodgrass’ impact, goals and assists from the wing will be a tough prospect for Bruce.
But perhaps even tougher still will be the challenge of replacing the encouraging strike partnership that Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long shared for only half a season. Southampton’s £12 million bid was simply too good to refuse, but Bruce will now need to search for a first-team striker to either partner Jelavic or provide a quality alternative.
Leicester City: Central Midfielder
With the signings of Matthew Upson, Marc Albrighton and Leonardo Ulloa, Leicester City now find themselves with more options at the back and up front.
Of course, there is still a glaring lack of top-level quality across Nigel Pearson’s squad—David Nugent’s miss from a one-on-one against Thibaut Courtois just this weekend showed the gap in class and composure.
But now Pearson must set his sights on the midfield, where he lacks genuine options for the first team, never mind the bench. Marc Albrighton will prove a good signing, especially on a free transfer, while Riyad Mahrez may steal a few headlines this season, but it’s the centre of the midfield that needs urgent attention.
Liverpool’s return to the Champions League has coincided with the sale of star striker Luis Suarez and a subsequent summer spending spree that has taken them past the £100 million mark in terms of transfer outlays.
They’ve brought in eight players to massively strengthen their squad across the park, with a ninth—Mario Balotelli from AC Milan for some £16 million—set to be concluded this week, according to Sky Sports.
Make no mistake: Brendan Rodgers’ side still has plenty of room for improvement—as our report card for the Reds squad shows—but Liverpool fans should have plenty of reason for encouragement and excitement as they start the season with a much deeper and stronger team than the last, and with much of their core still intact.
While a defensive midfielder has long been considered a priority position for Liverpool, the reality that Rodgers still looks heavily to Steven Gerrard to wield his influence from a deep-lying playmaker role means that this need may be left until later to be addressed.
As such, what Liverpool need most now is a goalkeeper capable of providing first-team competition to Simon Mignolet. Pepe Reina’s departure to Bayern Munich means that Brad Jones is now the regular No. 2 at Anfield—and to say that any injury to Mignolet during the season will be disastrous may be an understatement.
Manchester City: Goalkeeper
Like Chelsea, Manchester City have added well to a squad that was already world-class: By bringing in Fernando, Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala and Bruno Zuculini, Manuel Pellegrini has had his eyes on both the present and the future.
As such, he has strengthened his midfield considerably—try outmanoeuvring a midfield trio of Fernando, Fernandinho and Yaya Toure—and his defence is now up there with Europe’s best, with Mangala about to usurp Martin Demichelis as Vincent Kompany’s regular partner at centre-back alongside an embarrassment of riches in the full-back positions.
Edin Dzeko’s new contract is a reward for his underrated endeavours, while Stevan Jovetic has seemingly resurrected his career at the club with an encouraging preseason campaign. City now boast a team that on paper should be nailed on as title favourites every season (though Mourinho will now demand more than a say in that after this summer).
So what’s left?
Just as Roberto Mancini was reportedly looking for an upgrade to Joe Hart, as former assistant manager David Platt told Al Jazeera (h/t the Daily Mail), Pellegrini also made his move for a goalkeeper to provide competition, bringing in Willy Caballero from Malaga this summer.
Yet Caballero’s own performance in the comprehensive 0-3 Community Shield loss against Arsenal wasn’t entirely encouraging either. Hart has started the campaign as No. 1, but he’ll want to get back to his best if he’s to avoid City snooping around for a potential addition again.
Manchester United: Defensive Midfielder
If Tony Pulis was frustrated enough with Crystal Palace’s lack of transfer activity to walk away from Selhurst Park, then surely Louis van Gaal will be just as, if not more, annoyed at Manchester United’s inaction this summer.
Even if Angel Di Maria does end up signing from Real Madrid, he would constitute only the fourth first-team signing at Old Trafford this summer, and all four signings will have come at massively inflated prices: Di Maria at a reported fee of more than £60 million (via the Daily Mirror), Luke Shaw at £30 million (Sky Sports), Ander Herrera at £29 million (Daily Mail), and Marcos Rojo at £16 million (BBC Sport).
Yet apart from Rojo, who can play in a more central defensive position, none of United’s signings have the ability to strengthen an increasingly soft core, especially in the middle of the park.
It is a defensive midfielder that the Red Devils still badly need—Herrera isn’t one by trade, while both Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher don’t have the steel or pace to perform there, and Marouane Fellaini has already proven to be out of depth in that role.
Newcastle United: Central Defender
Who would’ve thought Newcastle United—with just the one permanent signing last season—would sign a whopping seven players this summer (nine, if we include Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles, who have immediately been loaned back to Nottingham Forest)?
Alan Pardew has had his patience rewarded a year after what must have been an immensely frustrating summer ahead of the 2013/14 campaign, but in Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere, he might just have found a few good gems this time around.
The midfield now looks a lot stronger, and with the return to fitness of a few players across the forward lines, Newcastle may not end up fretting about the end of Loic Remy’s successful season-long loan at St. James’ Park last season.
Instead, Pardew should turn his attention to the centre of his defence, where Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson haven’t proved the most sturdy and reliable of defenders. After a summer of encouraging transfer business, it would be a shame if the Magpies’ coming campaign were undone by the last position they need to seriously consider upgrading.
Queens Park Rangers: Central Defender
For a club that’s earned an unwanted reputation of paying over the odds for players past their peaks, Queens Park Rangers have actually signed well this summer: Stephen Caulker, Jordon Mutch, Mauricio Isla and Leroy Fer would be a decent quartet of transfers for many a Premier League club.
Yet it’s their last signing that has sparked the most concerns. Our article earlier in the summer highlighted that central defence was QPR’s biggest need—back then, it was Richard Dunne and Clint Hill who needed upgrading.
Fast forward a few months, and now Harry Redknapp has a defensive liability named Rio Ferdinand to deal with. Caulker may have been a decent signing, but Ferdinand has been past his best and rapidly deteriorating for the past couple of seasons, and it’s showed during QPR’s first two fixtures.
Redknapp has constructed a side that looks more than decent on paper, especially in the midfield and forward areas. Now he needs to address his back four; otherwise, they will be the architects of an unwanted downfall yet again.
Southampton: Central Defender
Much had been made of Southampton’s high-profile player exodus earlier this summer, but the disquiet has been dampened considerably in recent weeks as the Saints have embarked on a spending spree of their own with the money that has arrived in the coffers this summer.
By all accounts, Southampton have done some decent business: Dusan Tadic and Fraser Forster have already looked instant hits, while Graziano Pelle has naturally taken to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. Ryan Bertrand and Shane Long add Premier League experience as well.
With Morgan Schneiderlin still at the club and James Ward-Prowse growing in importance and stature, as well as Jay Rodriguez to return from injury, the Saints will actually start September in decent shape, despite all the fuss that’s been made towards their selling exercise.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s impressive defence last season has significantly changed, with a new goalkeeper, and two first-team options having departed St. Mary’s. In come Maya Yoshida and Bertrand to take Dejan Lovren and Luke Shaw’s places, and the Japanese international doesn’t look at complete ease in a starting role.
We may yet see new signing Florin Gardos sooner or later, but Ronald Koeman would do well to keep scouring the market for central defensive reinforcements just in case.
Stoke City: Striker
Mark Hughes has added wisely this summer, with the free transfers of Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell standing out as two bargain buys. A loan move for Victor Moses may yet be fruitful, while the surprise signing of Bojan Krkic turned heads.
Yet for all of Stoke City’s work to strengthen their forward lines, theirs remains a strike force that’s just not very prolific. At 33 years of age, Peter Crouch should no longer be a focal point of Stoke’s attack, but Hughes doesn’t seem to have a replacement or successor identified just yet.
Mame Biram Diouf might add pace and power to the attack, just as Bojan may add flair and technique, but together with Marko Arnautovic, none of them seem to be good bets to be regular scorers for the Potters in the Premier League this season: Crouch hit eight last season, and their second-highest scorer was Charlie Adam with seven.
So while he has many options across the front line and wide attacking areas, Hughes should still consider looking out for any potential upgrades.
Sunderland have added seven players to their squad this summer, with all capable of stepping into Gus Poyet’s first team right away. Jack Rodwell, a £10 million signing from Manchester City, might finally have a platform for him to shine.
With the bulk of their defence settled—Patrick van Aanholt slots into the left-back position from Chelsea—and the midfield strengthened with Rodwell’s arrival and an existing roster of underrated technicians, what’s left now is for Poyet to look at signing a striker.
Last season, Sunderland witnessed the woeful goal-scoring form of Jozy Altidore, while both Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher have been big disappointments. So short were the Black Cats up front that they had to recall Connor Wickham from his loan spell at Leeds United, and he proceeded to play a key role in their dramatic survival in the Premier League.
Whether Wickham’s exploits last season were down to his ability and potential or the dearth of quality strikers at Poyet’s disposal in the Sunderland squad, the Uruguayan will be keen to avoid a similar situation this season.
Swansea City: Winger
Remaining true to his predecessors, Garry Monk has picked up some potential bargains from the transfer market this summer: Gylfi Sigurdsson's return from Tottenham Hotspur and Federico Fernandez's arrival from Napoli are masterstrokes, while Bafetimbi Gomis and Lukasz Fabianski on free transfers may yet prove useful.
Tottenham, of course, signed two of Swansea's most important players of last season, bringing in Ben Davies and Michel Vorm from the Liberty Stadium, but the overall strength of the Swans squad has by and large kept at around the same level.
Ki Sung-yueng's return from a season-long loan at Sunderland will serve Swansea well this campaign, as his technique and composure on the ball will make him a welcome outlet in the midfield alongside the more brash and direct Jonjo Shelvey.
But while Swansea have on the whole evolved as a side since their debut season in the Premier League three years ago, they've kept the same starting wingers in Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer.
As effective as they can both be, and as much as they've both improved over the past few seasons, for Swansea to better their attacking play, Monk will need to look at upgrading his wingers.
Tottenham Hotspur: Striker
Tottenham Hotspur have signed four players this summer, yet with the exception of Michel Vorm, who will be No. 2 to Hugo Lloris, all their signings are meant both for the present and for the future.
In Ben Davies, Spurs have a hot young prospect to compete with Danny Rose at left-back, while Eric Dier has already hit the ground running, scoring two goals in his first two games as a Spur. DeAndre Yedlin, meanwhile, has signed after impressing at the World Cup, and has his best years ahead of him. The right-back will join his new team-mates in time for next season, as per The Guardian.
As ever when it comes to Spurs, their shortage is up front. Emmanuel Adebayor has started the season as the main striker, and while Roberto Soldado is the default alternative up front, he is reportedly interesting AC Milan as a replacement for Mario Balotelli, according to the Daily Mail.
Mauricio Pochettino could do with an extra striking option. If Soldado does leave, an additional striker becomes a must.
West Bromwich Albion: Striker
Alan Irvine has replaced outgoing defenders Billy Jones, Liam Ridgewell, Diego Lugano and Steven Reid with the exciting Andre Wisdom, on loan from Liverpool, and Joleon Lescott, on a free from Manchester City.
Add Craig Gardner from Sunderland in the midfield, and West Bromwich Albion have done well to strengthen some key positions. And as the summer transfer window draws to a close, Irvine will be setting his sights on a new striker to partner hotshot forward Saido Berahino, who has started the season with aplomb.
Sure, the Baggies have just signed Georgios Samaras from Celtic on a free transfer, as confirmed by The Guardian, but Irvine's only other option up front is the unprolific Victor Anichebe.
They'll need more goal threats than that.
West Ham United: Winger
Andy Carroll's injury notwithstanding, it is indicative of the change in Sam Allardyce's approach to a more attacking setup that he has signed two forwards with different playing styles in Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate.
Add Cheikhou Kouyate and Aaron Cresswell, both of whom have impressed in West Ham United's first two games of the Premier League season, and Big Sam should be satisfied with his efforts in the transfer market thus far.
Yet for a side that relies heavily on deliveries and goal contributions from the flanks, that Ricardo Vaz Te is still a first-team regular at Upton Park should be cause for concern, given his at-times sloppy play and propensity to concede possession.
With the exit of Matt Taylor and Joe Cole, Allardyce may look to the flanks for further reinforcement, especially when Carroll is back from injury: Stewart Downing, Vaz Te and Matt Jarvis are just not good enough.