As Premier League neutrals we are getting giddy about the new season for lots of reasons - here are five for each title contender. Firmino. Coquelin. Ozil. Rooney, SAS. Aroused now...
Rio is far from the finished article, but there is no doubt that he is intended for punditry stardom. Once you try and forget that awful 'merked' business, he's earned his shot...
What's been said: "I'm a great believer in giving young players opportunities...You have to keep your eye on what the industry is doing - what's new. And your recruiting as a manager can determine whether you keep your job. Everton needed a new direction when I came in and, as a coach, you have to find ways you can keep developing" - David Moyes.
The budget: Depends on who leaves, and what sort of 'splash' Moyes wants to make. The best guess is something in the region of the £30-40million bracket. Unless they really do think they can bring back an old friend...
What's needed: There weren't many bright sides to Sir Alex Ferguson's departure for most Manchester United fans - the sweating, shaking uncertainty that most of us have suffered for years is theirs now, and something they're unlikely to welcome with open arms. However, one happy by-product of the old boy shuffling off upstairs is that his apparently blind spot when it comes to the United midfield might be gone, and...they might buy one now. And Moyes does know one of the most coveted central midfielders around rather well, with Marouane Fellaini thought to have a release clause of about £24million in his Everton contract and be keen for a big move. Cesc Fabregas has also been mentioned, which would be a good move for the reasons Sarah Winterburn laid out here, but also because the combustion in north London would be pretty funny too.
Elsewhere, it's difficult to tell what's going to happen based on the gossip columns. They are continually linked with central defenders like Ezequiel Garay, but that seems to make little sense given that's one area they are pretty well stocked. A new left-back looked a no-brainer this time last year, but since then Patrice Evra's form has returned - spending north of £15million on Leighton Baines would thus seem vaguely pointless, for if they're after a back-up/replacement for Evra, a man younger than 28 would seem appropriate - Luke Shaw or Swansea's Ben Davies, for example. What is perhaps more pressing is the need for another winger - Nani looks likely to leave, and with Ashley Young disappointing, Ryan Giggs continuing to defy time and Wilfried Zaha raw, a reliable wide man might be handy.
Ferguson seemed keen on a new striker, despite the options already available, but this is where it could get interesting. The future of Wayne Rooney is probably the biggest and first issue Moyes will deal with, after Rooney asked to leave United in Fergie's final days. Nobody really knows what Moyes will do, with speculation ranging from 'He'll go! Moyes will want to make a statement' to 'He's staying! Look - he's in a few posters'. The question of where he'll go is not one that has been answered in a satisfactory manner, so even if Moyes isn't that keen, he might be 'stuck' with Rooney. And then there's Cristiano Ronaldo, subject of much Mancunian swooning and a ludicrous 'campaign' to get him to come 'home'. Of course, by the time you read this, he may well have signed a new Real Madrid deal, so in all likelihood it's a moot point.
What's been said:"Myself, Mike and Derek all agree we should have bought one more senior player in here. For whatever reason, it did not happen. We have learnt from that, and that is what comes from the luxury which is the security of the owner. The owner has great faith in my ability and I have to reward that with what I think when we make an error and say we have made a mistake" - Alan Pardew.
The budget: Nobody is really sure, and there is a fear that a big chunk of the summer transfer budget was spent in their January shopping spree.
What's needed: The above quote is actually from December, but it is illustrative of the job Newcastle have to do this summer, after the sluggishness of last year almost proved very costly indeed. In truth, they probably need strengthening throughout the side - Fabricio Coloccini's uncertain future (he was persuaded to stay until the end of the season in January, but still seems keen on a move away) means they'll need at least one new central defender (Alex Pearce would be a cheap/free option), while another full-back or two might be handy. The decline in form of Chieck Tiote does suggest that a centre-midfielder or two would be required, but a solution for that would be to drop Moussa Sissoko back from the 'number ten' position he played in last season and replace him with Hatem Ben Arfa.
That would of course require at least one reliable winger to allow Ben Arfa to shift inside, which they probably need anyway - indeed, they could do with two, with Tom Ince and Mathieu Valbuena both mentioned - and all of this is before you consider Papiss Cisse. The Senegal forward was their only reliable striker last season, so there are two ways this could go - either someone will come in for him (and there is already talk of interest from Germany and Russia) or a player will have to be signed to support him. Andy Carroll could perhaps be the answer to both questions. As well as it being a potentially popular move with some sections of their support, it might actually be prudent for the team - it's where he feels most comfortable, and Newcastle do have a liking for a long ball. Logic!
What's been said: "It's our responsibility to try and work as hard as we can which is what we are trying to do. It is not always easy as there are 19 other teams in this division trying to do the same, but hopefully we are successful in some of the work we do. We are delighted how we finished and there's no doubt we have a good and competitive squad but if we can add to it then it will be beneficial to us" - Chris Hughton.
The budget: History suggests not a huge amount, but having been prudently survived in the Premier League for a couple of years, Norwich are a side that are presumably reasonably financially secure, so could thus use the increased television money due this year to really make a few moves.
What's needed: A striker will be top of the list. Even with the forthcoming arrival of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Norwich's striking options look slim, with Grant Holt's first season looking like a top-flight outlier, while Lucciano Becchio simply isn't a Premier League player. Indeed, their two main problems last season were drawing too many games and not scoring enough goals - only QPR and Stoke scored fewer. The good news for Norwich is the Van Wolfswinkel signing suggests they are moving away from their 'buy from the Championship and hope for the best' transfer policy of recent years and perhaps looking a little further afield. Celtic isn't that far afield, but talk of another move for Gary Hooper has surfaced again.
Beyond the forward line, another winger, someone else to play in central midfield and some defensive cover should see them right. It does depend slightly on what their ambitions are - do Norwich see themselves as a side happy to survive, or perhaps push on further and aim for the top half of the table? Indeed, in order to address the goal problem, why not make an ambitious play for an attacking midfielder who can score, much like Southampton did with Gaston Ramirez last year? Of course, they might not have the resources that the Saints do, but a little ambition goes a long way...
What's been said: "We want to maintain the core of our players and our squad. Next year they will perform a lot better and be a lot more settled because they've already had that one year under their belts. The players that do join us hopefully will add more quality and strength to us as well" - Mauricio Pochettino.
The budget: It seems Nicola Cortese has won his argument with the Liebherr trust that owns the club, so expect some similar cash-splashing to last summer.
What's needed:They're quite an exciting team, are Southampton, with the young and vibrant core of a hugely promising team that could only need a few additions to make them really special. And the good news is both Pochettino and Cortese seem to have the ambition and money to do just that.
Those additions should come in some fairly obvious places - a new goalkeeper is probably required, despite some slightly more stable performances from Artur Boruc as the season progressed, and at least one central defender should be recruited, preferably two. Indeed, the signing of Cagliri's Davide Astori might well be done and dusted fairly soon, which would be quite a coup. Some more quality further up the pitch would be handy too, if only to freshen things up and keep the likes of Jay Rodriguez thinking, and there is talk of an imminent deal for Uruguayan winger Gonzalo Bueno. Another striker as an insurance policy against Rickie Lambert potentially being Grant Holt MkII might be sensible as well.
Beyond that, keeping the talent they already have will be the priority. Chelsea are consistently mentioned as suitors for Luke Shaw, while Manchester United could come calling if they think a younger back-up/replacement for Patrice Evra is required. Last season's stand-out performer Morgan Schneiderlin is also likely to receive some attention, with a side like Arsenal the most logical destination.
What's been said: "Stoke have been in the Premier League for a number of years now and have the understanding of what it takes to win Premier League games. It's not a case of wiping away the hard work of previous seasons. I'd like to make then a little bit more offensive but we're not going to chuck the baby out with the bathwater. It's about steady progress" - Mark Hughes.
The budget: Peter Coates and his Ray Winstone-enhanced millions always supported Tony Pulis, so it's difficult to imagine Hughes won't be given a rather chunky wedge to spend, even if he did wazz away a similarly generous budget at QPR last season.
What's needed: With Pulis gone, Stokies are dreaming. They're fantasising. Their heads are spinning at the prospect...gulp, it almost feels too naughty to even say it out loud...the prospect of a full-back. A proper full-back. Not a centre-half with a passable left foot shoved out there - a genuine, bona-fide left-back. One that might overlap and cross and stuff. We don't want to instil false hope here, but since Pulis didn't sign a single specialist in this position in his eight years in charge, it's easy to see why they might be getting giddy. Erik Peters of PSV Eindhoven is the early favourite for this honour, if the rumour pages are anything to go by.
Beyond that, some general defensive cover might be handy, as would another winger and a striker that, you know, scores some goals. Stoke found the net only 34 times in the league last season, with Jonathan Walters finishing top scorer with a whopping eight. There's talk that Peter Crouch could be ushered out of the door, making room for a proper centre-forward. Asmir Begovic could leave, but as Coates confirmed this week, they signed his replacement, Jack Butland, in January.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter