From overhaul to tinkering: Big 6 transfer plans set in EPL
One club is in desperate need of an overhaul. Another cannot sign any players at all. Others might just decide to tinker around the edges.
The transfer window is in full swing and it promises to be another important offseason for the Premier League’s so-called “Big 6.”
Here is a look at the requirements and restrictions facing Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester United before the window shuts in England on Aug. 8.
The champions are expected to target two main areas: Left back and central midfield.
Pep Guardiola’s trust in Benjamin Mendy is wavering because of the France left back’s poor injury record and his off-the-field indiscipline. Oleksandr Zinchenko, who joined City at age 19 in 2016 as an attacking midfielder, ended last season as the first-choice left back but City will want a specialist in that position after two seasons of players filling in for Mendy.
City also needs back-up to holding midfielder Fernandinho, who has been an unsung star in recent years but just turned 34, to stay fit for a full season. Guardiola may choose to sign a more attacking midfielder and use Ilkay Gundogan as the back-up anchorman to Fernandinho, or buy a ready-made defensive midfielder.
It could be an important offseason for City, which could soon be hit with a transfer ban by FIFA for breaking rules related to the protection of youth players and third-party ownership.
Juergen Klopp has built a fairly complete squad at Liverpool and there are very few areas which need strengthening.
It may be that he just looks to add depth in certain positions, notably left back where Andrew Robertson is without specialist cover following the departure of Alberto Moreno at the end of contract.
If goalkeeper Simon Mignolet leaves to get first-team opportunities, Liverpool will need a back-up to Alisson.
One of the club’s greatest ever players, Eden Hazard, has left for Real Madrid and another winger, United States international Christian Pulisic, has already been signed.
Otherwise, Chelsea’s transfer policy is very much up in the air for two reasons: The club is currently banned from registering any new players for breaking youth transfer rules — an appeal has been filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport — and there is uncertainty over who the manager will be next season.
Maurizio Sarri has been heavily linked with a return to Italy at Juventus, with Frank Lampard the favorite to replace him as manager. Lampard, Chelsea’s record scorer, is currently at second-tier Derby County alongside his assistant Jody Morris, who used to be a youth-team coach at Chelsea.
If the one-year transfer ban isn’t lifted, Lampard and Morris would be suited to getting the best out of the club’s youngsters who could move into the first-team reckoning.
After failing to sign a player in the past two transfer windows, Tottenham will surely be active this offseason as coach Mauricio Pochettino looks to freshen up his squad.
Where Pochettino strengthens may depend on which of his top players leave. Playmaker Christian Eriksen has said he “might want to try something new” and left back Danny Rose said he doesn’t know if he’ll be at the club next season. Right back Kieran Trippier has been linked with a move away.
So, full back seems to be an area of concern for Tottenham, while central midfield needs bolstering — whether Eriksen moves or not.
Missing out on qualifying for the Champions League was a huge setback for Arsenal, making the club a much less-attractive option to potential signings.
Turbulence among the backroom staff — head of recruitment Sven Mislintat left at the start of the year and Darren Burgess, director of high performance, is also expected to depart soon — could also lead to a lack of direction in transfer strategy.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery requires a second goalkeeper to replace the departed Petr Cech, a central midfielder following the exit of Aaron Ramsey to Juventus, and some new faces in defense, the team’s weak point for years.
Arsenal will need to be resourceful as it shops around at a lower level than in past years.
Where to start with United, which could have its busiest offseason since the departure of Alex Ferguson in 2016.
The futures of many high-profile, senior players — Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and David De Gea, for example — appear up in the air, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemingly ready to plot a new course regarding the club’s transfer strategy and sign young and hungry players who aren’t at the elite level.
Daniel James, a 21-year-old winger, has already joined from second-tier Swansea and Crystal Palace right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, also 21, has been the subject of offers from United.
Solskjaer needs a central midfielder to replace Ander Herrera and might also be in the market for a center back and a center forward. Much hinges on whether Lukaku and Pogba, in particular, stay at the club.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80