With the World Cup moved from its usual summer spot to be played in Qatar this winter, it has felt like a long few weeks without Premier League football. That being said, it has meant that football fans’ gaze has been even more intently fixated upon the transfer window. With less than a handful of weeks left until Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park to kick off the new campaign, each club’s squads are beginning to take shape.
Following last week’s part one, this post will assess how each of the remaining ten top flight clubs could line up, taking into account players signed and sold, as well as rumoured signings and players that could realistically join their ranks.
Despite a semi-final run in the inaugural Europa Conference League and finishing eighth in the Premier League, last season felt like an underwhelming one for Leicester City. They should be commended for both these achievements, especially when you consider the injury troubles they endured, but it has felt almost as if things have gone slightly stale at the club.
Brendan Rodgers’ men could do with an injection of new signings to galvanise the squad, but they are yet to make a single signing this summer. They will be enthused by the returns of James Justin and Wesley Fofana, who missed large chunks of last season, but the squad still needs additions. Youri Tielemans’ future is at risk of becoming an unwanted saga. The Belgian’s performances last season were not what the club have come to expect and the general consensus was that his mind was elsewhere. He has been linked with Arsenal, Manchester United, and Tottenham, but none of these moves have materialised as of yet and it appears that those clubs have pursued alternative targets. This leaves Tielemans in limbo and it is now a real possibility that he is a Leicester player when the season starts.
The club have been linked with Levi Colwill; the centre back unlikely to get the opportunity he craves at Chelsea. Another player linked is Orkun Kökçü, and the 21-year-old Feyenoord midfielder could prove to be a very good signing should he make the move. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall would potentially be a little hard done by to not make the starting 11 after an impressive season last year, but with Kökçü, James Maddison, and perhaps even Tielemans, all competing for the positions ahead of Wilfred Ndidi he may have to settle for slightly less game time. The right midfield position is something of a problem position for the Foxes, with Ayoze Perez failing to make the position his own. Benjamin Bourigeaud of Rennes could offer a solution at a reasonable price. Bourigeaud can play out wide or in attacking midfield and offers goal threat, with 12 goals last season.
Liverpool acted early in the transfer market this summer to secure the signings of Darwin Nuñez from Benfica, Fábio Carvalho from Fulham, and Calvin Ramsay from Aberdeen. It is likely that Nuñez is the only one of the three who could slot straight into the starting 11, with Carvalho a rotation option in midfield initially and Ramsay back up to Trent Alexander-Arnold following the departure of Neco Williams.
The major change in the squad is that Sadio Mane has made the move to Bayern Munich. After Diogo Jota and Luis Díaz’ arrivals, the front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamad Salah that had served Liverpool so well had become a less common sight. Salah signing a new long-term contract is huge for the club and he will remain the jewel in the Reds’ attack. However, the Anfield faithful are likely to now become accustomed to a front three of Días, Nuñez, and Salah. The club do have the luxury of allowing Nuñez time to adapt to his new surroundings, though, with Firmino and Jota two very capable strikers.
The only position truly up for grabs in the backline is the right centre back position. Last season, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate shared the role partnering Virgil Van Dijk and are likely to do so once more. Jordan Henderson’s role is likely to be reduced, although he remains a key figure in the squad and his leadership skills are worth their weight in gold.
Erling Haaland had all of the biggest clubs in the world pining for his services. Earlier this summer, the Norwegian put an end to the speculation and followed in his father’s footsteps by signing for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s team have largely played without a recognised centre forward since Sergio Aguero’s departure last summer, with almost all of the attacking players in the squad acting as a ‘false nine’ at some point.
As well as Haaland, Argentine striker Julián Álvarez has joined up with his new side; having signed in January before spending the remainder of the season back on loan at River Plate. This represents a clear change in shift from Guardiola and, with the sale of winger Raheem Sterling, perhaps we should expect to see a tweak to the way City play in the coming season. It may well be that, despite City’s brilliance, Guardiola believes an elite level striker could make the marginal difference to secure the elusive Champions League title the club so desperately crave.
Kalvin Phillips has also joined from Leeds United but it is expected that Rodri will keep the holding midfield role while the England international is bedded in. Oleksandr Zinchenko will be following Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal, which leaves the club a little light at left back. The man they are rumoured to want to rectify this is Marc Cucurella of Brighton. Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker would likely start the season as the favoured fullbacks even if this signing is to be confirmed. After a year to settle, and now a striker to pick out, it could be a very big season from Jack Grealish.
It appears that, after years of mismanagement, Manchester United are finally listening to their manager when identifying transfer targets. The first signing of the Erik ten Hag regime was 22-year-old, left back, Tyrell Malacia. The Dutch fullback is a relatively unknown quantity in England but has had an impressive start to his career at Feyenoord and has five Netherlands caps to his name.
United’s rumoured targets this summer have almost exclusively fit into the category of either being Dutch or playing for Ajax. Ten Hag clearly wants players he trusts brought in which will allow him to implement his philosophy more quickly. Lisandro Martinez has come in from Ajax, having been named their player of last season. The Argentine can operate at either centre back or as a pivot in midfield, but it is thought that ten Hag has signed him with his defence in mind. It will be interesting to see how this works out, as Martinez is only 5 foot 9. Ten Hag has confirmed that Harry Maguire will retain the captaincy, and the England international has been playing at right centre back in pre-season which again lends itself to the idea that the left-footed Martinez will play as the left centre back.
The situation concerning Frenkie De Jong’s future is a messy one. The midfielder is owed an enormous amount in wages by Barcelona and the club want to sell him in order to raise funds and are trying to convince the midfielder to effectively write off the owed wages and move to United. De Jong, understandably, is not keen to do this and is reportedly content to stay at Barcelona. Ultimately, though, the club need to sell and this means that a move to Manchester is still very much on the agenda for De Jong. Christian Eriksen’s free transfer means that the club are less reliant on Bruno Fernandes as the creative force, which they will hope will see the Portuguese midfielder play with more freedom and feel less burdened.
With Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly taking his future into his own hands and looking to force an exit from the club, United are a little short up front. Darwin Nuñez chose Liverpool over a move to the Red Devils and the only real link since has been RB Leipzig’s Brian Bobbey; a player who spent last season on loan at Ajax. Therefore, it would not be a surprise to see a front three of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial start the season. Three players with a huge point to prove.
With a huge overhaul anticipated by most for Newcastle United following their new-found wealth, it has been a relatively quiet summer for the club. Perhaps it should not be surprising though, as once it is common knowledge that you have money to burn negotiations suddenly become much more difficult. This is not to say they have not been active in the market at all, just that the influx of talent expected has not quite materialised at this stage.
Nick Pope has signed from relegated Burnley to provide a safe pair of hands in goal, while last season’s loanee Matt Targett has made his move permanent. The signing of young Dutch defender Sven Botman represents signs that the club won’t hesitate to flex their financial might when it comes down to it, beating AC Milan to the 22-year-old’s signature.
With the defence the recipient of incomings thus far, fans will be concerned that the squad is still lacking further forward. Injury-prone Callum Wilson and Chris Wood are currently the two feasible options up front which will be a worry for Eddie Howe. There have been links with Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata in recent weeks and the Colombian could well be a sensible addition up top. Nicolas Pepe does not feature in Mikel Arteta’s plans and could be available for a snippet of the £72 million that Arsenal paid for him. The Ivorian winger will have a point to prove and could become a hero on Tyneside if he can live up to some of his huge early potential at St James’ Park.
The turnaround that Steve Cooper oversaw at Nottingham Forest last season was nothing short of remarkable. The side went from the relegation zone to promotion via the play-offs, playing a very attractive brand of football along the way. Despite this, Cooper will have known better than anyone that his side needed additions.
Dean Henderson has joined on loan, having seen his career stall as second choice to David De Gea at Manchester United. Moussa Niakhaté has signed from Mainz 05 and should slot in as an assertive presence at left centre back. With last season’s loanee Died Spence joining Tottenham, the club have brought in two full backs. Neco Williams has signed from Liverpool to play on the right, while Omar Richards joins from Bayern Munich to play on the left.
Forest are also looking to raid Huddersfield Town, who they beat in the play-off final, and secure the signings of Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo. Brennan Johnson looks a real talent and will be an integral member of the side next season, while Jesse Lingard’s arrival has come somewhat out of the blue. The 29-year-old should add some real quality to the Forest attack, as well as plenty of experience.
The signing that will have Forest fans most excited, though, will be Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi. The 24-year-old cost £17 million from Union Berlin, and scored 15 goals in 31 Bundesliga games last season. Cooper has also made no secret of the fact he wishes to add a striker with Premier League experience to his side. Having scored 11 league goals in both of his Premier League seasons at Norwich, the club could do far worse than to see if they can get Teemu Pukki on board.
Southampton fans were told in January not to expect any real change in approach to signings following the takeover of the club. Whilst the approach of buying young players with large potential is one that has been continued from last summer, it does look as though Sports Republic are being far more proactive in the market than the previous regime.
Already this summer the club have signed 20-year-old goalkeeper, Gavin Bazunu, from Manchester City following an impressive loan spell at rivals Portsmouth last season. Promising young central defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, also 20, has signed from VFL Bochum to add to the defensive ranks. With Poland international Jan Bednarek a player who could leave, Bella-Kotchap could find himself partnering Mohammed Salisu when the season begins.
The Saints have appointed former Manchester City head of academy recruitment and talent management, Joe Shields, to the role of head of senior recruitment. This move has been a key factor in the signing of highly-rated, 18-year-old, central midfielder Roméo Lavia and the club hope that Shields can work his magic once more to convince City striker Liam Delap to be the man to lead the Southampton attack.
Southampton have not just signed young players, though. Long-term target Joe Aribo has signed after another strong season for Rangers and provides an exciting option in midfield who can play wide too, whilst ‘keeper Mateusz Liz also joins to provide back up. The club have also shaken up their coaching staff, with a new team brought in to provide support Ralph Hasenhüttl and provide some fresh impetus. The appointment of Ruben Sellés as lead coach has led to talk of Hasenhüttl potentially deviating from his favoured 4222 formation and switching to a 433. This could make the team more solid, while allowing Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, and Aribo to compliment one another in a midfield trio.
After years of Daniel Levy keeping his wallet firmly closed, Tottenham Hotspur have loosened the pursestrings. It is highly likely that this was a demand from Antonio Conte and Levy has realised his best chance of success is to appease the Italian manager. It feels like Conte is building a team that he can really challenge with and they suddenly look like a team for which top four should be the absolute minimum.
Djed Spence and Ivan Perisic have signed, providing Conte with the dynamic wingbacks that he desires, and should give Spurs another dimension in attack. Yves Bissouma has made the move from Brighton and is one of the best ball-winners in the league, as well as being very tidy in possession. His introduction to the squad also gives Conte more options to pick a midfield best suited for his opponents, with Oliver Skipp back fit a bonus too.
Clement Llenglet has joined on a season-long loan from Barcelona and will compete with Ben Davies for the left centre back position. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two share playing time in that role, perhaps with Llenglet preferred against opposition where Tottenham will have more of the ball due to his ability to pick a line-breaking pass.
The signing of Richarlison feels like a key one. The Brazilian was almost solely responsible for keeping Everton in the league at times last season and his arrival means that Spurs finally have a player who can provide Kane a rest if needed. He can play anywhere across the frontline and this is one of the key reasons he was signed. It really is a toss up between Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski for who starts, with the Swede edging it in our lineup due to his impressive performances at the tail-end of last season.
West Ham United
West Ham United had an unbelievable season last season. The club were in the hunt for Champions League football almost right until the season’s climax and got to the Europa League semi-final. Fans’ only frustration was the failure to strengthen the squad in January to stand them in good stead for the push on both fronts. These frustrations seem to have continued, with the club acting slowly to address the lack of squad depth the summer.
David Moyes is not one to spend money for the sake of it which is admirable, but many associated with the club feel he can be a little too indecisive with his recruitment. The club has desperately needed a striker to take the load off of Michail Antonio for some time now and yet he is still the only recognised striker at the club, despite only becoming a centre forward in the latter stages of his career. Armando Broja is one striker linked with a move, but Chelsea seem to be toying with the Albanian’s future. The more exciting addition would be Gianluca Scammaca of Sassuolo, who scored 16 Serie A goals last season. The Hammers are said to be very interested in bringing the Italian to the London Stadium, with his sizeable transfer fee not too much to put the club off.
Jesse Lingard’s future had become something of a circus, and Moyes still very much wanted the man who spent the second half of the 2021/22 season on loan at the club to return following the expiration of his Manchester United contract. West Ham fans were tired of the drawn out nature of the Lingard situation, but it does feel like midfielder would have been sensible to move to the club where he enjoyed so much success in that recent loan spell. Instead, the club may have to look to Manuel Lanzini to pull the strings behind the main striker.
Alphonso Areola has turned last season’s loan into a permanent move and should now be looking to dislodge the ageing Lukasz Fabianski in goal. Moroccan central defender Nayef Aguerd has also signed and his addition means that the club now have very good options at centre back, with Kurt Zouma, Craig Dawson, and Angelo Ogbonna all very capable. It is likely this will mean that Issa Diop can leave if a suitable offer comes in. Flynn Downes has come in from Swansea, but the central midfield options are still a little light. Left back is another area where a new signing would be very welcome.
Wolves were widely expected to experience difficulties last season, following the departure of Nuno Espírito Santo as manager and goalkeeper Rui Patricio to AS Roma. However, Bruno Lage came in and adapted instantly; as did José Sa in goal. After initially trying to implement a back four, Lage was not too stubborn to revert to the back three that the players knew so well and enjoyed success with it. In Lage’s first season as a manager in England he guided the club to a 10th place finish, improving on the previous season where the club finished 13th.
Wolves have an established core of players that they trust. The likes of Conor Coady, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho are the spine of the team. You could also put Raul Jiminez in this category, although the club will be looking at options up front. Jiminez has, understandably, not been the same since his horrific fractured skull injury and only managed six league goals last season. Subsequently, the Molineux side have been linked to 6 foot 7 Nigerian striker Paul Onuachu from Genk. The giant centre forward scored 23 goals last season and could improve Wolves’ goal threat.
Nathan Collins signed from Burnley for a record transfer fee for an Irishman after impressing with Burnley in Ben Mee’s absence, despite their relegation. Neves looks set to stay, although rumours of a move away seem to be a constant occurrence every time a transfer window opens. Adama Traore is back at the club after Barcelona opted not to sign the winger permanently, and it will be interesting to see whether Lage looks to reintegrate the Spaniard into the squad or continue with the players who did well in his absence last term.