It’s the middle of May. Saturdays and Sundays are now empty on weekly basis. Social media ITKs are seemingly spouting out transfer rumours via a random generation machine, getting a random player, team and transfer fee and sticking it into an article. It’s here. It is officially transfer silly season.
The season just gone saw the most dominant display this country had ever seen by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, breaking records for most goals, most wins, biggest goal difference, getting 100 points and even the biggest winning margin, finishing a massive 19 points ahead of cross-town rivals Manchester United. Now the red side of the Manchester plus the rest of the top six need to make sure that they can at least try to remotely challenge Pep’s army. Mind you, Manchester City can not afford to do what Chelsea have done in recent years, and not sufficiently continue to strengthen their squad, as hard as it may seem.
Each of the top six teams has players that need to come in and out the club, and we’re going to focus on the one that should come into the respective club, and who should leave.
Out: Joe Hart
Manchester City’s team is utterly littered and spoiled for choice when it comes to midfielders who catch your eye with the likes of De Bruyne and David Silva, but there is one that often goes under the radar. Fernandinho is someone who often isn’t in the limelight compared to his other teammates, but he chooses to stay out of it, despite his ability and performances permitting so. Acting as an anchor for Pep’s midfield, he is used to break up play and be a destroyer, however, has the passing ability to initiate attacks and direct the team into the final third, which he does time and time again. The only problem? The man is 33. The solution for Guardiola is simple, acquire Jorginho. Jorginho is a 26-year-old defensive midfielder who has been spoken about by myself, in an article about Manchester United. The Italian is someone who is Pep’s dream, an athletic regista ilk player who is great at acting as a defensive shield, but also possess an amazing passing skill set. He would provide the City midfield with the perfect balance of attacking and defensive assets, and with his passing ability, would have no problem slotting right into the base of the sky blue midfield. The Napoli man is rumoured to join Manchester City for a fee of around £55m, which is pennies for Manchester City and for a player so perfect for Pep Guardiola it’s a surprise he didn’t manufacture Jorginho in a lab somewhere, a fee that would no doubt pay its dividends ten times over.
Funny how quickly life can change in two years right? Two years ago Joe Hart was playing in Champions League semi-finals against Real Madrid, undoubtedly first choice at Manchester City, about to go to another international tournament with England and was about to link up with one of the greatest managers of his generation, Pep Guardiola. Now he’s endured two woeful loan spells in Turin and East London, not even selected for the upcoming world cup and his Manchester City career is long over. The towering shot-stopper desperately needs a new lease on life, with a year left on his contract, he may be looking at treble of loan spells before he is finally rid of his Pep Guardiola induced nightmare.
In: Riyad Mahrez
Out: Daley Blind
How on earth are we in the year 2018, and still talking about Riyad Mahrez’s potential departure from Leicester City, two years removed from his PFA player of the year award from their title-winning season and Champions League performances which cemented him as one of the Premier League’s best? After being denied move after move for years by Leicester City, it seems the Algerian is finally off, and I believe he should end up at Manchester United, despite the strong links to Manchester City. Jose Mourinho’s team have a comedic imbalance on the right flank, as they have not had a natural right-winger at the club for years. Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard have all occupied the RW spot but with no success. The introduction of Mahrez into the team would allow the team to have a much more balanced style of play and also relieve the pressure on the other attackers as well as open up more space, as everyone won’t be trying to occupy the same space. The Algerian is a very direct winger and an excellent playmaker, as well as someone with great work ethic, as shown by his exploits in Ranieri’s 4-4-2 system in which Mahrez did his fair share of defensive work. The Leicester man would cost between £50-60m and for a man who had just hit his peak years, it’s a no-brainer for Jose Mourinho if he wants to win the Premier League.
Daley who? You’d be forgiven for thinking that Daley Blind had already left Manchester United with the surprising lack of action that the Dutch international was awarded last season, with just 17 appearances, and only 7 of those being in the Premier League as well as an ankle injury ruling him out for much of 2018. Despite being a good utility man who can operate at centre-back, left-back and even in midfield, he is far too small to quench Jose Mourinho’s thirst for big tall players, which is a shame as he is a good player to have around. At 28 and with a year left on his contract it is in his and Manchester United’s best interests to part ways after four years.
In: Jan Oblak
Out: Daniel Sturridge
Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool in the time he has been in charge, showcasing an amazing brand of football, having intensity like a raged terrier and getting to the Champions League final against all odds. Despite all of this he still has nothing to show for it except for three runner’s up medals, something he has grown all too accustomed to in his career. Losing finals to Manchester City, Sevilla and Real Madrid, all have one common denominator; goalkeeping errors. whether it’s the Fernandinho and Coke incidents from Simon Mignolet or the latest instalment of mess ups from Loris Karius in the Champions League final with two huge errors, there has been a huge deficiency between the sticks at Anfield since Pepe Reina left the club. In order to eradicate that problem, I believe the answer is Atletico Madrid man Jan Oblak. The 25-year-old has been immense over the past 2 years, showing why he is so sought after in Europe. He’s in arguably the best defensive set up in Europe at Atletico Madrid, which has helped him raise his game no doubt. His release clause is rumoured to be around £87m, which may be a little steep but with how Liverpool are rapidly progressing under Klopp, it’s hard to see why Oblak would refuse, given the chance.
Daniel Sturridge, Anfield’s forgotten man. Injuries have extremely hampered the once golden boot runner-up in the past four years, as he turned from star man to barely an afterthought at Liverpool. This coupled with Jurgen Klopp’s disinterest in the Englishman due to his style of play not suited to Klopp’s high pressing style has made Sturridge obsolete, despite scoring in a European final for Liverpool in 2016. Going out on loan to West Brom in the second half of the season proved fruitless, as he was ruled out with an injury after his third game. Daniel Sturridge is also despite the recent years, still one of Liverpool’s highest earners following a bumper contract after his exploits in 2014 so getting rid of him makes a lot of sense for Liverpool, as much sense as it makes for Sturridge to seek pastures new.
In: Wilfried Zaha
Out: Moussa Sissoko
It was the same old story for Tottenham last season, a season of what-ifs and narrowly missed opportunities. They lost in the FA Cup semi-final by Manchester United even though they took the initial lead within the first 10 minutes of the game and were knocked out in the round of 16 of the Champions League by Juventus 4-3 on aggregate. Both of these shortcomings highlighted Spurs’ key issue; their lack of squad depth. Despite their purchase of Lucas Moura from PSG in January, Tottenham still lacks true quality on their bench a lot of time, as past Alli, Eriksen and Son, there isn’t much. I think Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha would be the perfect fit for Tottenham. Good enough to get into the side, he would provide healthy competition for players like Son, who himself is vying to start. The Ivorian winger is also very direct and loves to take on defenders with his dribbling and pace, the latter which Spurs often lack when not playing natural wingers. Zaha would also be able to remain in London which is good for him, as well as give him the chance to showcase his talents on the European stage, something he was unable to do at Manchester United. He would cost around £40-50m to take from South London to North London but with Levy apparently promising Pochettino a sizeable war chest this summer, this is a deal they should get done.
How on earth is Moussa Sissoko still a Premier League footballer in 2018? He moved to Tottenham on the summer deadline day of 2016 for £30m following relegation with Newcastle and a decent 30 minutes in the Euros final with France, which he lost. Sissoko has been nothing short of woeful for Tottenham, yielding one goal in his two seasons at the club, and offers nothing to the team when bought on. What did Tottenham expect from a man who scored 13 goals in his 4 seasons in Newcastle, and down tooled in each season? The Frenchman was linked with a loan love out of the club in January and if Tottenham do really wish to elevate themselves to higher reaches, they must cut ties with talentless mercenaries such as Moussa Sissoko.
In: Thomas Meunier
Out: Danny Drinkwater
Winning two titles in four years is pretty good. Two comedic titles defences is not. Although not as bad as Jose Mourinho’s fabled 3rd season in charge where Chelsea finished 10th, Antonio Conte tried his hardest to emulate his predecessor, finishing 5th. Chelsea’s team consists of average players who are carried by a few world-class players, I.E. Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois. This is highlighted most so at RWB, where they have Victor Moses and Davide Zappacosta. Moses, an average winger has been played at wing back since Conte’s arrival and although initially impressed, is now a mere weak link. Zappacosta, who was bought as a poor panic buy, has performed as such, bar a fluke goal against a team that sounds like it’s worth five pence. To improve their right side, they should acquire the services of PSG and Belgium right back Thomas Meunier. Adept at playing at wing back and right midfield, Meunier is an athletic attacking player who could help Chelsea down the right side with his crossing, dribbling and link up abilities. Rumoured to want out of Paris due to Dani Alves locking down his spot, the Belgium international would cost Chelsea around €30m, which is a snip for a player of his age at 26 and ability.
Another chapter in the Antonio Conte book of ‘players he didn’t want to buy but the club bought anyway’ is Danny Drinkwater. He was brought to West London in a deal worth £35m on deadline day to no fanfare from the fans, who only saw it as a pure panic buy. It was clear that Drinkwater was not good enough to play for Chelsea and amassed only 22 appearances for the Blues, with 12 of them being starts, in which he got 1 goal. Although the former Manchester United man could prove to be a decent player for Chelsea, at 28 he is unlikely to break into the Chelsea team and will want first team action so it is best for Chelsea to let him go, just a year after getting the former Premier League winner.
In: Steven N’Zonzi
Out: Danny Welbeck
An Arsene Wenger less Arsenal. What a crazy time we live in. Wenger came to a 5th place Arsenal competing in the UEFA cup and left Arsenal in 6th place competing in the Europa League, didn’t do much did he? Unai Emery takes over from the Frenchman after his 22 years of service and what a mighty job he has on his hands. Arsenal’s squad has a lot of issues bar their attacking outlets, none more so than at defensive midfield, which Wenger himself failed to rectify. Not since Alex Song, who left in 2012, have Arsenal had a natural and quality DM in their side and the man they should be looking at is Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi. The 29-year-old is a tall yet mobile midfielder, able to shield the back line and mop up any loose balls due to his excellent reading of the game and timing. With former boss Unai Emery now at the Emirates and the man himself saying he would be open to coming back to England, it’s a transfer that would do wonders for Arsenal, and allow their creative forwards the license to do as they wish. The former Potters man is rumoured to cost around £35m, which is a baulking fee for a 29 year old, but one that would be huge dividends for Arsenal and Unai Emery.
Danny Welbeck. A man who divides opinion across the footballing world. Welbeck has had a funny old-time at Arsenal since moving in a deadline day move from Manchester United in 2014 for £16m. He’s had the highs such as winning the FA Cup twice but has had lows such as two long-term long terms injuries which have kept him out for nearly seasons at a time. Since he arrived at Arsenal he has seen three strikers come through the door, Lucas Perez, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Although all have had varying degrees of success, according to reports, Emery plans to use the latter two as his main strikers and is willing to give Lucas Perez a chance following his loan spell back to Spain. With Danny Welbeck approaching 28, no prospects of regular first-team football and a year left on his contract, he may consider leaving the club. Letting Welbeck go makes sense for Arsenal too. Although a decent player on his day, his injury record coupled with him unlikely to gain a starting berth up front means letting him go could bring in a decent fee, as well as frees up wages.
Overall, should all the top six teams make these ins and outs, they all stand in good stead to try to push Manchester City to the league title and in Manchester City’s case, in their bid to dominate English football like no other.