The Premier League’s top six sides all have wildly different priorities this summer. For Manchester City and Liverpool, it will be about tweaking where necessary to ensure that the incredible consistency that saw them engage in one of the most impressive title battles in English football history can be maintained.
Tottenham will be looking to play catch-up after 18 months without a new signing, while Chelsea and Arsenal will be giving their managers license to further shape their respective squads in their image.
And for Manchester United, well 90min’s ?Scott Saunders put their situation into context when he named an ?entire squad of 18 players they have been linked with in the infancy of the transfer window.
With their respective summer intentions in mind, then, here are the dream (if mostly unrealistic) options for each of the Premier League’s heavyweights.
Estimated Cost: £110m
As already touched on, ?United need a fair bit of investment this summer, and crystallising the solution to their troubles down to a single signing is a pointless endeavour, since there are so many areas in which they are not very good.
The position in which they are most in need, however, is their defence. The 54 goals they shipped over the course of the season put them in 11th in terms of their defensive record, so more than anything, that is what needs addressed. Just look at the difference Virgil van Dijk has made at ?Liverpool since arriving 18 months ago.
If we’re talking dream central defensive signings, and taking realism even somewhat into account (by which I mean not suggesting Matthijs de Ligt, because behave yourselves) then Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli is the standout contender. The 27-year-old has been a rock at the heart of the Serie A side’s defence for years, and you could make a case for him as the best central defender in the world who doesn’t represent the Netherlands.
Estimated Cost – £26m
With Aaron Ramsey gone and Mesut Ozil potentially going, ?Arsenal are perilously close to a situation in which Granit Xhaka is given creative responsibility from midfield. There is a strong chance they will desperately need someone in there who can contribute to goals.
After the season he has had for Ajax – with 21 goals and 24 assists in all competitions – there are few better options available than Hakim Ziyech at present. And with a reported release clause of around £26m in his contract, he’s an option that may actually fit within Arsenal’s limited budget before a player needs to be sold.
He has title winning experience, has featured heavily in Europe, and at 26, he has enough time left in his career for Arsenal to get five or six good seasons out of him. He ticks every single box.
Estimated Cost: £620m?
It’s been a long time since ?Spurs last signed a player, but despite that, they actually look in decent shape. A pretty sharp dip in form saw them fall comfortably out of the title race in March, but regardless, they finished in a Champions League place and have the final of that competition to look forward to next week.
Could they go another window without signing a player? Probably. Will they? Not a chance, surely. Of all the players linked, Real Madrid winger Marco Asensio – who Mauricio Pochettino is a huge fan of – looks the most exciting. Possessing pace, creativity, versatility, and with youth on his side, he has the look of a signing that could really help take Spurs to the next level.
They were, however, ?told to stump up a rather silly €700m
Estimated Cost: £40m?
?Chelsea, obviously, are staring down the barrel of a two-window transfer ban, but that doesn’t really keep in line with what we’re doing here, so we’re going to plow ahead and imagine they’ll scam their way out of it somehow, and make a signing or two.
What they will need is an out and out goalscorer who fits within Maurizio Sarri’s system. And while it may seem like there are more exciting options there, there is a strong case for Milik.
He has netted 20 goals in 46 matches this season after spending much of Sarri’s time in Naples out with injury, establishing himself as one of Serie A’s most prolific strikers. And he is just 25. While everyone else is falling over themselves for Nicolas Pepe, Timo Werner, Luka Jovic and the likes, Chelsea would be wise to move decisively for the Napoli target-man before his stock rises further.
Estimated Cost: £70m
Liverpool will likely not be spending much money this summer, or so the word goes from the club, but what if it’s all a ruse and they are actually planning on another £150m spending spree? (It’s hard to spin a backup goalkeeper or a backup left-back as a ‘dream signing’ so work with us here.)
In the unlikely event that the Reds do decide to splash the cash, then another forward to rotate with Roberto Firmino is what is needed, and the most exciting option out there at present is Benfica’s Joao Felix.
The 19-year-old has netted 20 goals in his debut season in Portugal, and would serve as the long-term replacement to one of the front three, with the ability to eventually surpass the levels that the red-hot trio are performing at. Which is crazy, really. This is proper dreamland stuff, considering the price on his head, but let me dream.
Estimated Cost: £60m
?City don’t need much this summer. They are well stocked in almost – almost – every position. Whatever morsels of weakness they have shown this season, however, came when Fernandinho was sidelined, because try as they might, none of their multitude of midfielders have the skillset to step into his shoes.
Given that the Brazilian is 34 and probably only has one season remaining at the height of his powers, that will be a concern of Pep Guardiola, and he will want a long-term solution tied down. He made no secret of his efforts to land Jorginho last summer, only to be rejected for Chelsea, but this time around, Atletico’s Rodri could be the subject of Guardiola’s advances.
Atletico have suffered from a ‘difficult’ season – second place in La Liga and going out of the Champions League to Juventus – and look set to lose every first team player on their books. Rodri, who has been a star performer at the base of midfield, and is only 22, looks as if he will be one of them. His possession-based yet physical skillset would fit City like a glove, so the signing would make sense for a multitude of reasons.