What the biggest spenders need as the transfer window opens

Date published: Friday 1st July 2016 1:38

With the transfer window officially open for business, TEAMtalk looks at what the likely biggest spenders require over the next two months.


Kostas Manolas and Radja Nainngolan: Linked to Chelsea

Antonio Conte may still be involved with Italy at the Euros but the new Chelsea boss will be in regular contact with officials at Stamford Bridge given the work required this summer. The Blues could find themselves looking for an entirely new spine and Conte has been linked with seemingly half the Italy squad.

There were doubts around the future of Thibaut Courtois but with neither Real Madrid or Barcelona desperate for a new keeper, the Belgian looks likely to stay – for now, at least. Asmir Begovic may not be so willing to stick around, though, especially given the recent links with Diego Lopez, who has fallen behind 16-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma at AC Milan.

John Terry earned a new contract but Conte is clearly keen to bring with him an established centre-back. The Italian coach is unlikely to be as desperate as Jose Mourinho was to bring in John Stones, with Kostas Manolas, Marquinhos and Leonardo Bonucci all linked.

Nemanja Matic’s form plummeted last season, with rumours rife that he’s already looking to follow Jose Mourinho out of the door. Roma are not letting Radja Nainggolan leave easily, so N’Golo Kante could be a quicker fix, given the Leicester enforcer’s buy-out clause.

Conte is likely to spend most of his transfer kitty on his attack. The Blues are a top-class forward short, even before Diego Costa’s likely return to La Liga. A £33.2million deal for Michy Batshuayi is almost complete, but the Belgian is not ready to be the first-choice focal point for Chelsea’s attack. Batshuayi’s arrival looks likely to end what possibility there was of a return to Stamford Bridge for Romelu Lukaku, but Conte is very much on the tail of Alvaro Morata. The Spain striker’s participation at Euro 2016 is over and can now focus on his club future, with Real Madrid buying back his registration from Juventus before looking to sell him on for a hefty profit.



Manchester United

Paul Pogba: Stayed at Juventus over the summer

Like Chelsea, United require rebuilding through the middle but Mourinho has a head start on Conte, his permanent successor at Stamford Bridge.

Eric Bailly will report for pre-season training next week after signing from Villarreal, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Manchester-bound to complete his free transfer signing. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan surely to follow early next week, Mourinho is at least halfway through his recruitment drive.

Centre-back Bailly is far from the finished product, though, so the Red Devils remain in the market for a more experienced defender to partner Chris Smalling. Links with Raphael Varane refuse to go away – a deal that would make a great deal more sense than one that would see United chuck a fortune at Everton for John Stones, who like Bailly, has a lot of developing still to do.

Despite Ibrahimovic’s arrival, Ed Woodward is still desperate for another Galactico signing. Paul Pogba would fit the bill and Mourinho would happily welcome the Juventus midfielder back to United given their lack of steel in the engine room. Pogba, though, is understood to prefer a switch to Real Madrid but may be persuaded by his agent to make a stop at Old Trafford for a few years before inevitably moving to La Liga a few years from now.

Matic and Kante are also rumoured to be of interest to United and Mourinho will surely switch his attention to the base of his side once Zlatan and Mkhitaryan are on board.


Manchester City

John Stones: Defender prefers move to Manchester

Pep Guardiola will be unveiled officially this weekend but recruitment is only half the job for the new manager. With 11 first-teamers over 30 years old at the end of last season, there is a lot of deadwood to be cleared.

But City can’t wait for that to happen before adding to their already-bulging squad. Guardiola needs perhaps three new members of a back four; at least one central midfielder; a winger; and a striker.

Nolito can play in two of those positions and Ilkay Gundogan is an astute signing, providing he can stay fit. But lots more work needs to be done.

John Stones seems a better fit for City than United, but he needs a fit Vincent Kompany next to him. Can the skipper be relied upon? Guardiola would no doubt like to upgrade the full-backs, especially since Pablo Zabaleta’s best days are behind him, with a move to Roma very tempting.

With all the work that is required ahead of him, Joe Hart might have thought his position was relatively safe. But Guardiola is rumoured to be unconvinced and the England keeper’s displays this summer won’t have furthered his cause. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is often linked, though if Barca aren’t looking to sell, then the lack of available quality elsewhere might earn Hart a reprieve. For now.



Gonzalo Higuain: Napoli striker linked with Manchester United

Arsene Wenger has tried to do business early and has been successful in plugging the midfield gap with Granit Xhaka. The pursuit of Jamie Vardy failed and the Arsenal boss must now find a way to bolster his forward line, despite other targets being aware that they weren’t the Frenchman’s first choice.

Morata and Gonzalo Higuain and consistently talked about for Arsenal, so to is the perma-linked Karim Benzema. Certainly in Higuain and Benzema’s case, that is the quality the Gunners need to be targeting. Olivier Giroud is a fine striker, but he sits in the category under top class. So too does Vardy. Wenger now must commit to spending big on a striker who can supply the firepower needed if the Gunners are to make a title charge in what appears likely to be the manager’s final season in charge.

With doubts over Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on top of Danny Welbeck’s injury, a new wide forward may also be required. So too a centre-half. Laurent Koscielny deserves consistent quality next to him. Can Gabriel or Per Mertersacker provide that? Probably not.



Mario Gotze: Set to stay at Bayern Munich despite Liverpool interest

Jurgen Klopp moved quickly to bolster his rearguard with the signing of goalkeeper Loris Karius and centre-back Joel Matip. A winger arrived in the form of Sadio Mane too, and though Liverpool may have overpaid slightly, if the Senegalese former Saint is a success, who really cares?

Now Klopp needs a midfielder and a left-back. Emre Can has performed admirably as a defensive midfielder but he can offer much more in an attacking sense. With Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen not up to the standard Klopp requires, a dog is required for the centre of the park to protect a back four that was too often exposed last season.

At left-back, Alberto Moreno is infuriatingly inconsistent. Accomplished going forward; so often negligent at the back. Jonas Hector fits the bill and would be the third arrival of the summer from the Bundesliga as Klopp shops in a familiar market.

Liverpool also need marquee names – at least one, and Mane isn’t that. For too long the Reds have relied on recruiting players with plenty of developing still to do and it has got them nowhere. Now, with a manager capable of attracting big names, Klopp must be allowed to spend big. Mario Gotze is the obvious name, and though he appears reluctant, Bayern are not being subtle in their desire to see him leave and the push will become a hefty shove as September draws closer.


Ian Watson

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