There’s just six weeks until the start of the new Premier League season. Sadly it seems inevitable the season will begin in a bio-secure environment, with no fans present. Despite the ongoing pandemic the season will start on 12th September and in a short summer each club is currently laying out their plans for next season. Here’s a quick guide to what each team’s priorities should be as they prepare for 2020/21.
Keep the Momentum Going
Premier League history is littered with champions who provided a meager defence of their title, Jurgen Klopp will be desperate for his side to avoid a similar fate. Klopp does have form for avoiding the limp sequel by retaining the Bundesliga title with Dortmund back in 2013. Klopp would be well advised to tap into James Milner’s experiences with Manchester City who failed to do so after their first two Premier League titles.
Sign Thiago Alcantara
Liverpool’s defence and forward line are the best in the country, but perhaps the one chink in their armour is their lack of a tempo setting midfielder. That makes the link to one of the best passers of the ball in world football very enticing. Thiago would provide something different in Liverpool’s midfield blend and surely Klopp would love to put one over on Bayern!
Extend Pep’s contract
City did win titles before Pep but it’s hard to see them retaining their current standards if he leaves next summer. Guardiola has thus far pushed back on extending his contract but City will hope the lifting of their European ban strengthens their hand in keeping him in Manchester beyond 2021.
Accelerate the Succession
City made a horrendous mistake last summer by not replacing Vincent Kompany. That remains City’s biggest priority this summer but they also need to start seeking replacements for other veteran players in Kyle Walker, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan. The club already has replacements for David Silva and Fernandinho in Phil Foden and Rodri, but the succession plan needs speeding up.
Get a Sporting Director
Remember when Ed Woodward promised United would appoint a sporting director before a permanent manager…over 18 months later he hasn’t signed one. United’s problems in recent years are largely down to poorly planned recruitment. Last summer Woodward baulked at Leicester’s valuation of Harry Maguire, wasted the summer trying to haggle and eventually paid the fee he was originally quoted. As a consequence Maguire missed all of pre-season and although January saw the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, the Ighalo move smacked of recurring problems. Until a sporting director is in place, it’s hard to believe United won’t continue making mistakes.
Solve the Goalkeeper Conundrum
David De Gea has regressed alarmingly since his peak whilst Dean Henderson has been exceptional during his loan at Sheffield United. Team’s who don’t know their best goalkeeper don’t challenge for the title and it’s difficult to see either player settling for playing cup football. Solskjaer has to make a big call this summer and surely Henderson will get the nod, that means trying to selling on De Gea and his huge contract.
Back Steve Bruce
The takeover is off, Mike Ashley is still in control and neither Rafa Benitez nor Mauricio Pochettino will be riding into Tyneside this summer. Steve Bruce was hardly a popular appointment and the football his side produced less than scintillating, but he has proved a steady hand at the helm. Bruce needs to be backed this summer both in the transfer market and in retaining his better players. Ashley’s track record suggests that’s unlikely to happen, but if he still wants £300 million for the club, he cannot risk Newcastle dropping into the EFL.
Add Some Firepower
Jonjo Shelvey was Newcastle’s top scorer this season with six Premier League goals, the lowest return for a Newcastle top scorer in the Premier League era. Joelinton always looked a panic buy, Andy Carroll is famously unreliable and Dwight Gayle isn’t prolific at Premier League level. Allan Saint-Maximim and Miguel Almiron can create chances but Newcastle desperately lack a player who can put them away.
Find Dean Henderson’s Replacement
The young goalkeeper has been a vital player over the last two seasons but by Chris Wilder’s own admission Manchester United probably won’t extend his stay to a third. Finding a long term number one is by far the most pressing need for Wilder and the newly acquired Wes Foderingham isn’t the answer.
Reinforce the Defence
Last summer The Blades’ recruitment focus was in attack, giving Chris Wilder a stable of forwards to contribute goals and assists, whilst January saw them add Sander Berge in midfield, but this summer the focus should be on reinforcing the defence. Chris Basham and Enda Stevens enjoyed exceptional seasons last term, but both are over 30 and it would make sense to recruit long term successors whilst the defence remains a strength.
Replace Pierre Emile Hojbjerg
The Dane has made it clear he’s going this summer and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s biggest priority should be seeking his replacement to partner James Ward-Prowse in midfield. The preference will be for an energetic midfielder who will fit with Hasenhuttl’s style of pressing, young Schalke midfielder Weston McKinnie has been linked with a move to St Mary’s.
Sign Kyle Walker-Peters
The Tottenham full-back proved a hit during his loan spell at St Mary’s and doesn’t appear to be in Jose Mourinho’s plans. Making the U-20 World Cup winner’s move a permanent transfer looks an obvious fit for Southampton and an upgrade on the departed Cedric Soares.
Get More out of Tanguy Ndombele
Few players flopped as badly as Tottenham’s record signing last season. Injuries didn’t help Ndombele’s cause and the midfielder quickly found himself in Mourinho’s crosshairs. Unlike some of Mourinho’s previous employers, Tottenham cannot afford to write off a £65million investment and getting the best out of the midfielder has to be a priority for Spurs this summer.
Keep Toby Alderweireld
Jan Vertonghen has left, but Spurs must keep his longstanding defensive partner Toby Alderweireld. It was odd to see Jose Mourinho who coveted Alderweireld at Manchester United, take a long time to warm up to the Belgian defender at Spurs. Now he’s back in the first eleven, Alderweireld will be paramount to Mourinho’s hopes of building a solid defence next season.
Keep Filip Krovinovic
Much like Leeds, newly promoted West Brom’s first order of business has to be to retain last season’s loan stars. Top of the list should be Croatian midfielder Krovinovic. The Benfica midfielder played a key role last season and is clearly good enough to contribute at Premier League level, with Slaven Bilic clearly keen to retain the services of his countryman.
Sign a Central Defender
Semi Ajayi excelled last season and Kyle Bartley is a solid Championship defender. However, West Brom conceded 45 goals in the Championship, compared to Leeds’ 35 and Brentford’s 38. West Brom’s defence will inevitably coming under greater pressure at Premier League level and adding another central defender should be a high priority for the Baggies this summer.
Back David Moyes
When you move from David Moyes to Manuel Pellegrini back to Moyes it’s hard to believe West Ham have had a coherent plan. That has to change this summer and the club’s infamous owners now need to back the man they previously ushered to the exit door. Moyes clearly does know what he wants and who fits with his style, the board must back him this summer, surely?
Move on the Deadwood
West Ham have spent a lot over the last two years but the recruitment has been woeful and now Moyes needs to move on those who aren’t part of his plan. That probably means expensive aquistion’s Felipe Anderson, Sebastien Haller and the ever injured Jack Wilshere moving on. Finding a buyer will be a challenge but West Ham can’t afford to have their most expensive signings sat on the bench or in the treatment room.
Keep Adama Traore
Traore was the breakout star of the Premier League season and won himself a berth in Spain’s senior squad. However both Manchester City and Liverpool have taken an interest and although Traore has three years left on his contract, Wolves would be well advised to offer the 24-year-old an improved deal.
Replenish the Striking Options
Rumours have 26 goal striker Raul Jimenez leaving Molineux this summer, whilst Patrick Cutrone and Rafa Mir are staying out on loan. Wolves have been linked with Braga striker Paulinho should Jimenez leave. However, even if Jimenez stays Wolves need to add another reliable striker to their frontline, if they are to seriously challenge for Champions League football.