Premier League Summer Preview

The 2014-15 Premier League season may be over, but top flight clubs have little time to rest. Promoted clubs AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich must ensure they have a squad that can compete at the top level, Chelsea will strengthen as they look to defend their crowd, and a pivotal summer is in store for both Merseyside clubs. Here is an analysis of every team, who could be leaving them, and which types of players they will need to add in the forthcoming transfer window.

AFC Bournemouth

Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe

Having guided Bournemouth to promotion just a month ago, manager Eddie Howe has already brought in 4 new players. Artur Boruc, who joined on loan from Southampton last season, has signed on a permanent deal, while new boy Adam Federici will provide competition. Howe has also added pace to the wide areas, with Christian Atsu joining on loan from Chelsea and Josh King a surprise arrival from Blackburn Rovers. Liverpool’s Rickie Lambert has been linked with a move to Dean Court, and his strength, ball control and intelligence could make him a perfect partner for the speedy Callum Wilson. Otherwise, Bournemouth do not need to make too many changes to a squad that deservedly won the Championship title last season.

Arsenal

The absence of a solid holding midfielder has been a problem for Arsenal for many years, though strong post-Christmas performances from Francis Coquelin suggest the Frenchman may be the answer. Arsene Wenger has also struggled to find a top goalkeeper, which Arsenal have not had since David Seaman departed. Another David, Ospina, has been a calming presence since coming into the team in January, but he is yet to prove himself as somebody who can steal his side points when they have an off-day. The number one priority for Arsenal will be to sign a quick, skilful and clinical striker, with Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette heavily linked. Not since Robin Van Persie left in 2012 have Arsenal sold a player for more than £15 million, that fee having been received for an out-of-favour Thomas Vermaelen, so Gunners fans can rest assured that key men will stay.

Aston Villa

Top clubs will have their eye on Christian Benteke this summer. The Belgian has scored 49 goals in 100 appearances since joining Aston Villa from Genk in 2012, and has been at his prolific best under Tim Sherwood. Benteke is not just a goalscorer, though, he makes a vital contribution to the team with his work rate, aerial ability and hold-up play. If the 24-year-old does leave, it should be for no less than his 32.5 million release clause, and if so, Tim Sherwood should demand that the money is re-invested in the team. As well as possibly needing to replace Benteke, the Villa boss will want to bring in a new goalkeeper, bearing in mind Brad Guzan’s fall from favour and Shay Given’s advancing age. He may also want to add depth to an injury-prone defence, which has faltered at times this season. However, Villa have had a positive start to the summer, as winger Scott Sinclair has agreed a permanent deal.

Chelsea

Oscar

Oscar

Although they never truly found the ‘wow factor’ in the second half of the season, it was largely Chelsea’s teamwork, industry and clinical finishing that won them the Premier League title. Manager Jose Mourinho is likely to sign another deep-lying midfield player to partner Nemanja Matic, which may mean Cesc Fabregas moves into a ‘number 10’ role, where the Spaniard seems to flourish. A man who could suffer as a result is Oscar who, although hardworking, has not truly impressed since his good performance at Swansea in January. Otherwise, Chelsea’s squad does not need many changes. Kurt Zouma has performed well enough to suggest he can be the long-term replacement for John Terry, and Loic Remy is an able deputy to Diego Costa.

Crystal Palace

Having been in the relegation zone in January, Crystal Palace have achieved an impressive 10th place finish after 10 league wins from a possible 18 under Alan Pardew. And yet, the man who joined from Newcastle mid-season is still keen to add to his squad, stating his intentions to sign 4 first team players this summer. He may want another centre-back to partner Scott Dann, given that Damien Delaney’s performances have been mixed and Brede Hangeland has reached the twilight stages of his career. Pardew must make a judgement call on whether Pape Souare’s recent development, over the course of just 9 league appearances, is enough to make him first choice at left-back next season. He will need to sign a winger, given that Yannick Bolasie is wanted by top clubs, and Jason Puncheon’s transition to a central role has proved successful.

Everton

After a disappointing 11th place finish, Everton must improve next season to avoid falling into long-term midtable mediocrity. Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz have performed poorly, but their summer departure mean the Toffees need another centre-back, with Manchester United’s Jonny Evans linked. Martinez will be keen to sign Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon on a permanent deal, the winger having added much-needed pace and width during his loan spell at Goodison Park. A problem for Everton is that they do not have much cover for striker Romelu Lukaku, which may be a factor behind his below par performances. Ex-Wigan man Arouna Kone has failed to impress, so Martinez should be on the lookout for a forward who can provide genuine competition up front. This could be Everton’s most pivotal summer since 2004, when David Moyes transformed a team of relegation contenders into one that finished in the top 4. No pressure, Roberto.

Leicester City

Robert Huth’s arrival on loan from Stoke in the latter stages of last season was a key factor behind Leicester’s revival, and Nigel Pearson will be desperate to sign the German on a permanent deal. Paul Konchesky has struggled in the Premier League due to his lack of energy, and may be moved on, with Jeffrey Schlupp looking a more effective left wing-back. If Konchesky does leave, Leicester may need cover at wing-back, perhaps a more defensive minded player than Schlupp. Esteban Cambiasso’s discipline and reading of the game makes him an important player for Leicester, but he is yet to sign a new deal, meaning Pearson may have to find a replacement for the Argentine. Leicester have a relatively old squad, which means they are likely to keep their key players from the eyes of the elite.

Liverpool

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling

Liverpool’s recent problems dictate that Everton are not the only Merseyside club with an important summer ahead. For a start, the Reds must decide the future of their manager, Brendan Rodgers, a task made more significant by the rumoured interest from Jurgen Klopp. Whichever coach is in charge must handle the Raheem Sterling debacle, and lead the club’s first pre-season tour without Steven Gerrard for 17 years. Perhaps most importantly, they must sign a dynamic forward. Liverpool’s problems last season were largely down to the departure of Luis Suarez, and the prolonged absence of Daniel Sturridge. The new boss will have to trust that the players signed last summer will improve after a year of settling in, and dedicate much of the budget to signing a goalscorer that can turn Liverpool’s fortunes around.

Manchester City

Finishing 2nd and getting knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona would be regarded as a good season by most football supporters, but for a club with Manchester City’s resources, it represents a year of underachievement. With boss Manuel Pellegrini not guaranteed to stay on, whoever is in charge must inject some energetic, young players into an aging team. The future of Yaya Toure yet to be decided too, so City need to sign a more dynamic, tactically astute midfielder capable of taking his place, at least long-term if not immediately. Sergio Aguero has struggled with injury in recent years, but that problem might now work in Manchester City’s favour, and help them keep their prolific Argentine away from the watchful gaze of the two Spanish giants.

Manchester United

Louis Van Gaal will embark on his first full summer as Manchester United manager, with last year somewhat complicated by his involvement with Holland at the World Cup. The Dutchman may be about to lose a top goalkeeper in David De Gea, but Victor Valdes should have enough experience to adequately replace his Spanish custodian. Right-back is a problem, with Antonio Valencia struggling on the defensive side of his game, and at least one centre-back may leave, Jonny Evans the most likely candidate. Manchester United’s results last season suffered hugely when Michael Carrick was out, yet the team’s reliance on a 33-year-old may concern Van Gaal, who may seek another disciplined midfield player. With Falcao having left, Van Persie likely to follow suit, Hernandez unfancied and Wilson yet to prove himself, there may be scope for another forward to sign, adding backup for Wayne Rooney.

Newcastle United

Newcastle United’s awful run at the end of last season could be a blessing in disguise. With the Magpies in danger of going down on the final day, owner Mike Ashley promised a summer of investment, which he surely would not have done had Newcastle finished midtable. All eyes are now on Ashley, the pressure is on him to stick to his word, and it is the unexpected relegation battle that has brought to light the long-standing problems at Newcastle. A key challenge will be to keep hold of Daryl Janmaat, arguably the best player last season, while the passion of Jack Colback and Paul Dummett make them key components of the team. Otherwise, sweeping changes are needed at Newcastle, and the implications of that statement may extend wider than the playing squad.

Norwich City

Nathan Redmond

Nathan Redmond

Even though Norwich only won promotion via the play-offs, one might argue that, at this stage, they are better prepared for the Premier League than the teams who went up automatically. 16 of the 17 players who started 10 or more league games for Norwich last season have top flight experience, which says a lot about the quality available to Alex Neil. Most of the players at the club are older than 25, so perhaps the only player the club will need to work hard to keep is 21-year-old Nathan Redmond, who has the potential to play at a higher level. Barring the absence of a left-footed winger, there are no glaring weaknesses in the squad. If Norwich kick-off their first game in August with roughly the same group of players, they will have had a successful summer.

Southampton

Southampton sold 5 key players last summer, and went on to have one of the most successful seasons in the club’s history. However, one would expect that their aim now will be to keep hold of their main men, notably right-back Nathaniel Clyne and midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. Should the latter leave, Southampton’s recruitment team do have their eye on another midfielder, Feyenord’s Jordy Clasie, who was the subject of a £5 million bid in January. Centre-back Toby Alderweireld had a successful loan spell at St Mary’s last season, although he has returned to parent club Atletico Madrid, meaning another centre-back may be needed. Although the club replaced key players remarkably well last year, they could do with a quiet summer this time around.

Stoke City

Stoke City have achieved an impressive top half finish once again, but unless owner Peter Coates is planning a momentous summer budget, this summer will be more about keeping their squad together than adding to it. Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic may leave the Britannia this summer, although an underwhelming campaign from the Bosnian suggests that will be no great loss. Jakob Haugaard has already signed from Danish club FC Midtjylland, and will compete with young Jack Butland for the number one jersey. Robert Huth’s departure has been made more likely by the fact that centre-back Phillipp Wollscheid, 26, has signed permanently on a 3-year deal. Peter Crouch has been linked with a re-union with Tony Pulis at West Brom, which could leave Stoke needing one more forward. Most importantly for Stoke, they must extend the contract of tenacious midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, who was one of their stand-out players last season.

Sunderland

Wes Brown

Wes Brown

Dick Advocaat has quit as Sunderland manager. Deciding to listen to his wife, and wisely so, the Dutchman has retired from football, leaving his old club in need of a 6th boss in just over 2 years. Sam Allardyce is the bookies’ favourite to take Advocaat’s place, but whoever does come in needs to improve Sunderland’s defence. The likes of Wes Brown and John O’Shea are long past their best, while Santiago Vergini has had a very poor season. One player to keep could be Sebastien Coates, who spent last season on loan at the Stadium of Light, but with Liverpool unwilling to renew his contract, he could be available on the cheap. Sunderland’s midfield has plenty of steel and industry, but a concerning lack of creativity, which is a factor behind the team’s goalscoring troubles. If the Black Cats improve their defence and bring in a new playmaker, they will have had a good transfer window.

Swansea City

After enjoying an impressive first full season in charge, Garry Monk’s main priority will be to keep hold of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and centre-back Ashley Williams. The pair have been among Swansea’s best players this season, contributing to the team’s impressive total of 13 Premier League clean sheets. The only area of defence Monk may want to strengthen is left-back, as more competition may be needed for Neil Taylor. The 26-year-old has not tended to offer much in attack, and the players linked such as Christian Fuchs or Franck Tabanou may prove more creative. Swansea could find themselves needing a replacement for deep-lying midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung, who has reportedly attracted the interest of Arsenal. With around £30 million received for Wilfried Bony in January, the Swans should have a fairly generous budget this summer.

Tottenham Hotspur

The highest placed team to concede more goals than Tottenham last season was Leicester City. That statistic does not reflect particularly well on the Spurs defence, so major changes will surely be seen at the back. Mauricio Pochettino has begun the process by bringing in Austrian centre-back Kevin Wimmer who, although unknown, ought to be an improvement on the likes of Federico Fazio, Vlad Chiriches and Younes Kaboul, with the latter two likely to leave. Otherwise, Tottenham’s summer will be about keeping hold of forward Harry Kane, who took the Premier League by storm last season. By contrast, one player Tottenham fans will not be too sad to see leave is Erik Lamela, who Juventus reportedly want to sign for a very hefty fee of £25 million. Based on his performances over the last 2 years, that would be an offer worth taking.

Watford

Despite having led Watford to promotion just a few weeks ago, manager Slavisa Jokanovic has left the club due to a disagreement with the board during contract talks. It looks as though Enrique Sanchez Flores, the man who guided Atletico Madrid to Europa League victory in 2010, will take over. Should he be appointed, his first task will be to improve the defence. Although young centre-back Tommie Hoban had a promising campaign in the Championship, there are question marks about whether Watford’s defenders will adjust well enough to the Premier League, so more experience may be needed in this area. Flores will also be keen to secure a permanent deal for tough-tackling Crystal Palace midfielder Adlene Guedioura, whose loan signing last season was a key factor behind the club’s promotion. With Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra having scored 57 goals between them last season, the Hornets do not lack firepower. They just need players at the back who can help them keep the goals out.

West Brom

Saido Berahino

Saido Berahino

West Bromwich Albion’s star man is Saido Berahino. At 21 years of age, the forward is a shining light in an otherwise competent but one-dimensional team. Tony Pulis has advised Berahino to put his development first and stay at the Hawthorns for first team football, but if a bigger club comes knocking, it is hard to see the young star resisting the call. Chris Brunt’s move to left-back has proved successful, meaning West Brom need another winger, ideally one who can provide a counter-attacking threat. Joel Campbell’s stock has fallen slightly since his impressive World Cup display for Costa Rica, but his all-action style of play may be more suited to the Premier League than La Liga, and he could prove a reasonable acquisition. Furthermore, the likes of Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye may be moved on this summer, which leaves room for another target man with physical qualities.

West Ham

Sam Allardyce has left as West Ham manager this summer, but former player Slaven Bilic, who led the Croatian national team for 6 years with a degree of success, is currently odds-on to take the hotseat. With Winston Reid having signed a contract in March, the need for the new manager to sign a centre-back is less urgent. Right-back Carl Jenkinson impressed last season, and getting him in on another loan deal would be a good bit of business, with parent club Arsenal open to offers. Otherwise, West Ham need an attacking midfielder to replace Kevin Nolan, who is long past his best, and another forward who can cover for injuries up front. West Ham’s training will begin on 22nd June due to early Europa League qualifiers, so the board will need to get their new manager in quickly.