Manchester City suffered their second top-flight defeat of the season at West Ham as Eliaquim Mangala's struggles continued. Will Demichelis return for the Manchester derby?
Tim Stannard looks at six storylines that could unfold in Saturday's clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Will Messi break Zarra's La Liga record?
What's been said: "There are six (Premier League) teams who are competing at a different financial level to the others. What is true is not always you need the money to achieve your aims" - Roberto Martinez.
The budget: Four years of a negative net spend would suggest the same again.
What's needed: David Moyes admitted his squad was getting older without taking any real resonsibility but that's the problem Roberto Martinez will inherit at Everton, where five of the current first-choice XI are over 30. He can add some youth, pace and a little more excitement further up the pitch simply by putting in a call to his old friend Dave Whelan and asking for Callum McManaman, Arouna Kone and James McCarthy (the sale of Marouane Fellaini for £24m will pay for that little lot and still leave a little pile of change) but it's in defence that Martinez faces his biggest task.
Sylvain Distin (35) and Phil Jagielka (30) are desperately in need of some younger competition, especially with Johnny Heitinga (29) desperate to play some football elsewhere. Buying defenders has never really been Martinez's forte so Everton fans had better hope that he's been keeping a few sneaky aces under his hat in that department. He may also wonder whether a £15m-rated 28-year-old left-back is really worth more than the £15m he would generate. Evolution or revolution? How brave are you feeling, Roberto?
What's been said: "It's not easy because you need a lot of money to buy players and if eight or nine players are leaving the club we need five or six to come into the club. Hopefully we will be able to do that or we will have to be very creative again" - Martin Jol.
The budget: Negligible again.
What's needed: If David Moyes thinks he had an ageing squad, he should cast a glance towards Craven Cottage, where Bryan Ruiz was the only player under the age of 30 who started more than 20 Premier League games last season. That's an astonishing statistic and shows the difficult job faced by Martin Jol, who was given around £6m of the money raised by the sales of Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey last summer. Having so little money and such a small squad basically means he's shopping in the free transfer or very cheap basket usually inhabited by the over-30s (Derek Boateng, Martin Stekelenburg and Sascha Reither have already signed this summer) when what they really need is youth and sell-on potential.
"I would love to have some 23 and 24-year-old players, like Mousa Dembele, to build them up and try to build up your own funds," says Jol, but that seems unlikely because players in that age bracket generally come with a £5m price tag and an element of risk. We do know he will probably buy at least one winger and one striker (Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is one underwhelming suggestion) this summer but any other signings may simply be the dregs that are left when everybody else has their pick. Don't be surprised if there's a loan signing or two from QPR's bloated ranks. How old is Jermaine Jenas these days?
What's been said: "The sustainability of the club is important and our plans will be for the future. We will need to make sure we do not do the same as a lot of clubs - spend a lot and end up back in the Championship" - Hull City owner Assem Allam.
The budget: A figure of around £15m has been mentioned.
What's needed: A whole new XI? Looking at the Hull squad, it's difficult to pick out even one player who is good enough to play in the Premier League. There are cases than can be made for Robbie Brady and Ahmed Elmohamady, but there is no case to be made for the likes of Alex Bruce and Paul McShane. This is a team chock-full of Championship players which desperately needs an injection of quality. Unfortunately, like at Palace, there's unlikely to be much money in the pot for that injection so Steve Bruce will find himself shopping in the bargain bin.
He needs to spend a fair whack of his budget on potential goals and - having been thwarted by the Jordan Rhodes price tag - that could see a £4m move for Burnley striker Charlie Austin, along with other Championship footballers (Albert Adomah, Kasper Schmeichel), relegated Premier League players (Adam Le Fondre, Jobi McAnuff) and former Bruce players unwanted at Sunderland (Titus Bramble, Lee Cattermole). It all adds up to a long old season and not a whole lot of fun for Hull fans.
What's been said: "I believe there will be money to spend, in the areas that we want to improve, and that is going to be very important for us. The players have given everything this season. We are where we are and for us to improve we need quality - and that will take investment" - Brendan Rodgers.
The budget: Rumoured net spend of £20m.
What's needed: To sell Luis Suarez or not to sell Luis Suarez. That's the £40-50m question. If the rumours are true that Brendan Rodgers has only £20m to spend as the club tries to service large debts, then it's a no-brainer because this Liverpool side needs more than £20m of work to seriously compete for a Champions League place. If Suarez stays, that £20m will barely stretch to a new striker/winger (Iago Aspas) and a centre-half (Kyriakos Papadopoulos?) so ideas about signing Shakhtar Donetsk's £20m-rated attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (who would add much-needed goals from midfield and end an over-reliance on Steven Gerrard) and his ilk are pie in the sky.
The club showed in January that a fair amount can be achieved with £20m (certainly more than was achieved last summer for £28m) but a hell of a lot more could be achieved with £60-70m if a big European club was willing to take a punt on the Uruguayan. Suddenly a specialist left-back becomes a possibility along with an attacking midfielder and a genuine finisher to replace Suarez. Is it worth losing your talisman to sign three or four players worthy of a top-four push? Brendan Rodgers and the rest of his committee may have the Premier League's biggest decision to make this summer.
What's been said: "The way we want to work is identify the positions we want to improve, identify the candidates and then work on that. We're at the closing phase with several of them but the closing phase can take one week or sometimes three months. We've been analysing the positions we want to improve and the market since the start of November. So we know what we want and we're ready to go for the players that we want" - City chief executive Ferran Soriano.
The budget: Budget? What's a budget?
What's needed: It's difficult to feel too sorry for Roberto Mancini but he must be watching Manchester City agree fees for Jesus Navas and Fernandinho and crying 'but I had to buy bloody Scott Sinclair'. City have clearly decided that the mistakes of last summer would not be repeated and they have moved early and with no little ooomph to almost sign the width (Navas) and central midfield quality (Fernandinho) that they lacked last season. Moves for Isco and a top-quality striker (Mario Gomez, Edinson Cavani, Stevan Jovetic) will presumably be forthcoming just as soon as they have a new manager.
There's little wrong with City's defence that a little cover wouldn't solve. Kolo Toure has already gone and his bit-part role (and second-hand car sales business) will need filling by someone younger and possily cheaper. Whether Joleon Lescott wants to stick around to sit on the bench in a World Cup year is another issue to be dealt with by Pellegrini, Soriano and whoever else has a say at City. But that will be way down on a list of priorities, the bulk of which should be completed by the end of June if they continue at this pace.
Come this way for part one of our transfer guide...