Football365’s transfer guides: Part three

Date published: Thursday 2nd June 2016 8:11

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Jose Mourinho Football365

The first transfer guide of the summer can be found here. The second is right here.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED

What they need
Not a lot and yet a great deal; this United side is probably four or five players away from a title challenge. “I think they need a top centre-forward, a centre-half and possibly a bit of creativity in midfield,” says Paul Scholes, but we would add some steel and width too. Links to Joao Mario and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang make sense, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic ticks two near-empty boxes labelled ‘winning mentality’ and ‘star quality’. United need to make some noise and fast this summer; the fans want to see ambition and they want to see goals. Another season where no player registers more than six Premier League assists would not be tolerated.

What they’ll probably get
John Stones looks likely but it’s difficult to see the logic there – though he was the more impressive of the pair for England against Australia on Friday, United fans would rather see a genuine leader in defence rather than two players racing to their first brainfade of the match; Jose Mourinho built his impervious Chelsea defence around John Terry and United lack that kind of defend-at-all-costs chest-thumper. Talk of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and Aubameyang is fanciful; Mourinho and United both have lure but not when their rivals are the biggest clubs in Europe. Zlatan looks like a no-brainer – as does Willian as he is already Mourinho-ready – while Saul Niguez could be the player that United fans only really start to appreciate after six months. It’s difficult to see them getting a ‘wow’ signing that’s not a free transfer asking for £300,000 a week. Nobody would ‘wow’ at Sadio Mane.

What’s been said
“I won’t be signing any player from Portugal” – Jose Mourinho, May 30. Any more clues, Jose?

 

MIDDLESBROUGH

What they need
No team conceded fewer goals in the Championship but six scored more, so nobody was surprised when Boro kicked off their summer with a move for Ajax winger Viktor Fischer. He will clearly not be the last attacking player to arrive, with Spain, Portugal, Holland and France being scoured for strikers – Deportivo’s Lucas Perez is one name linked. A goalkeeper and right-back will be on Aitor Karanka’s shopping list as well as perhaps some experience in central midfield; Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton are nobody’s idea of a Premier League pairing.

What they’ll probably get
Probably a couple of unknown (to us) £15m strikers that we will have us scurrying towards transfermarkt for details, but they should not be afraid of picking up a couple of free transfers with Premier League experience – a return for James Morrison makes a great deal of sense, while Stephane Sessegnon has a clever creativity that Boro will miss if they don’t sign Gaston Ramirez on a permanent deal. A phone call to Norwich asking about Timm Klose may also be a shrewd move; Daniel Ayala and Ben Gibson should relish the competition – though it looks like that might come from Martin Skrtel. Oh and Jose, if you’ve got no use for Andreas Pereira…

What’s been said
“We’ll have to pay more for players and pay more for salaries, because if we’re going to be competitive the money that comes in will have to be the money that goes out. But it’s a great problem to have. We’re very pleased to have that problem. There’s a levelling out in footballing resource because of the TV rights. It gives the smaller clubs much more muscle and much more power and I think we’ve seen quite a bit of that this year with Leicester” – Steve Gibson, May 8.

 

SOUTHAMPTON

What they need
Considering Ronald Koeman’s recent links with Everton, the similarities between the Dutchman’s potential suitors and his current club are obvious. But where the Toffees have previously refused to play the role of a ‘selling club’, Southampton have embraced their place in the natural order. After a sixth successive season of improvement in league position, Saints will be keen to build on their existing squad as opposed to selling their most important individuals. Keep four or more of Koeman, Fraser Forster, Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane, and the foundations of a successful summer will be laid at St Mary’s.

What they’ll probably get
Recent reports suggest the most important battle – keeping Koeman as manager – has already been won. In terms of the playing staff, there is no real weakness in the Southampton starting XI – providing there are no departures. Aside from replacing any possible outgoings, the lack of squad depth must be addressed. That Steven Davis has started the second-most Premier League games for Saints as a right winger, a No 10 and a left winger, as well as the fourth-most in central midfield, encapsulates the issue. This is a particular problem in forward areas, with only Manchester United and Stoke scoring fewer league goals of any top-half team last season. Manolo Gabbiadini and Simone Zaza have both been linked, and would help in that regard. A mooted loan return for Calum Chambers would benefit all parties; Maya Yoshida and Ryan Bertrand should not be central defensive back-ups for any side with upward aspirations.

What’s been said
“Of course you like to keep everybody in. It will be difficult. After this season again we have to be prepared to lose some players and then it’s all about what we need to sign to keep the strengths in the team and the club” – Ronald Koeman, May 16.

 

STOKE CITY

What they need
A striker. My oh my, a ruddy striker. Five different players started Premier League games as a centre-forward for Stoke last season; the two most regular were Jon Walters and Joselu, who both started ten. Only five sides scored fewer goals, and no team had fewer individual goalscorers (nine, joint with Watford). Walters scored five in 27. Mame Biram Diouf scored five in 26. Joselu scored four in 22. Peter Crouch did not score in 11. A commanding centre-half to partner Ryan Shawcross is also a necessity, while a winger to compete with Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri – or to replace the former – will be sought.

What they’ll probably get
Saido Berahino seems a sensible purchase for all involved. But would a striker with 23 goals in 98 Premier League games solve the problems in attack? Mark Hughes would do well to source more goal threats in different positions; Stoke were the only side not to boast a league goalscorer from defence last season. Arnautovic – the only player to reach double figures for the Potters in the league last season – looks likely to leave. Norwich winger Nathan Redmond would prove an exciting, experienced and cost-effective replacement. Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund or Marc Bartra of Barcelona would be delightful additions at centre-half. A move for Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel shows ambition, but is central midfield really a position which should take priority?

What’s been said
“If the right player becomes available, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we would do it again [break their transfer record] in the summer. It’s a little bit early to be saying there are developments on things but it’s fair to say we are fine-tuning what our targets will be. There won’t be any developments on that side, I don’t think, for a little bit of time but it doesn’t mean the work isn’t being done” – Tony Scholes, May 25.

 

SUNDERLAND

What they need
Someone who fits the criteria of scoring goals and not being named Jermain Defoe. Just seven players scored more than the former England striker’s 15 league goals last season; Sunderland’s next highest scorer was Fabio Borini, with five. The 33-year-old was also the only player to provide more goals and assists than Adam Johnson, which is quite something. An experienced, first-choice goalkeeper for Jordan Pickford to learn from would be another port of call. Aside from that, for a team that spent more weeks in the relegation zone than any other, and finished 17th, two points clear of the drop zone, Sunderland do not really need a great deal of work. The defence has been sufficiently Sam Allardyce’d, as has the midfield.

What they’ll probably get
If previous summers are an accurate barometer, then a fleet of average players and random names will arrive, and the club will be consigned to the Championship by October before sacking their manager, eventually replacing him, and scrapping their way to survival, beating Chelsea in April en-route. Considering Allardyce’s track record, as well as his January transfer window, repeating such a scenario for yet another season seems unlikely. Sunderland appear to be shopping the market of a mid-table club, with Neven Subotic, Diafra Sakho, Andre Ayew and Steven Caulker all linked. Expect a mix of Premier League experience and imports from France and Germany.

What’s been said
“We have secured the financial side of being in the Premier League which was most important this season. What that gives us in terms of spending power, it is the same for everybody. It is about how wise we spend it, find players we need, like we did in January. The next set of recruitment is crucial for the football club, so we are not cheering or doing a lap of honour for having avoided relegation” – Sam Allardyce, May 11.

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