F365’s summer transfer guide: Liverpool, Man City Man Utd and…Villa

Date published: Wednesday 29th May 2019 8:31

This is part three. Arsenal to Burnley is here, Chelsea to Leicester can be found here

 

Liverpool

What do they need?
Not much. Jurgen Klopp’s main focus this summer will be reinforcing the squad he already has while replacing some of the stand-ins who depart at the end of their contracts or are otherwise allowed to leave. With Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge heading off, quality back up at left-back and wide in attack will be required, especially if reports that Xherdan Shaqiri may go are correct. Simon Mignolet could also vacate the bench, leaving an opening for a back-up keeper. The only area ripe for swift and vast improvement is the creativity of Klopp’s midfield. The one area where Manchester City outperformed Liverpool was in their clashes with the rest of the top six, with Pep Guardiola’s side picking up 25 points against their biggest rivals, six points more than Liverpool. The addition of a lock-picker in midfield would immediately enhance Klopp’s XI, but such players are not readily available, and nor do they come cheap.

What will they get?
Not much. Liverpool have been linked with all sorts of attacking players – 12 in this not-so-shortlist – but many of those names are expected to go for big money, which Klopp has said he does not expect to spend. The manager is more likely to focus on the development of one of last summer’s big signings, with more expected of Naby Keita in a creative sense. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return from a year on the sidelines will also be taken into consideration so a big-money attacking recruit would be a surprise. In fact, the identity of any signing would probably be a surprise because Liverpool have managed to keep their other targets under wraps. Lloyd Kelly was thought to be of interest before the left-back joined Bournemouth from Bristol City and though Ryan Sessegnon would tick a lot of boxes, the Reds apparently believe the Fulham teenager is heading for Tottenham.

What’s been said:
“I don’t want to talk exactly what we will do, but I don’t think this is a team at the moment where we have to spend the big money or whatever. The best way to do it is bring together a group of players, try to develop them altogether and then stay together for a while.” Jurgen Klopp, March 15

 

Manchester City

What do they need?
The same as last summer: a defensive midfielder. Pep Guardiola has been searching high and low for Fernandinho’s successor while doubts over Ilkay Gundogan’s future intensify the need to bolster their engine room. Guardiola could afford to take a back step once Jorginho went to Chelsea last summer but a year on, the urgency has increased. Pep loves splurging on a defender and he might get the opportunity again. The manager has several concerns about Benjamin Mendy but reports suggest the France left-back will get another chance while City look for cover at right-back instead. Vincent Kompany’s departure coupled with Nicolas Otamendi’s rumoured desire to move on would surely see Guardiola move for a central defender. In attack, Riyad Mahrez retains the faith of the manager while only an exit for Leroy Sane, which City would prefer to avoid, would see them dip into the market for a forward player.

What will they get?
Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri is widely reported to be Guardiola’s choice to challenge and eventually replace Fernandinho, with City said to be more willing to match his £61million buyout clause than pay whatever it might take to land Saul Niguez or Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele. At centre-half, Matthijs De Ligt seems ready-made for City but Guardiola appears happy to let Man Utd and Barca slug it out after cooling his initial interest. With John Stones and Aymeric Laporte doing the business, City may opt for a defender at the opposite end of the career spectrum to their departing veterans, though Harry Maguire may be too tempting to ignore.

What’s been said:
“We plan early, we execute quickly and I think relatively well. There is no surprises, the way we approach every pre-season is consistent. We know our requirements early on. We start our scouting very early. We start our conversations between the football director, the manager. We start our budgeting project early. Before the season is over we know exactly what we need. We’ve already starting planning and we’ve already made the necessary approaches” – chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, May 27.

 

Manchester United

What do they need?
A plan, for starters. Definitely a right-back, a centre-back, at least one midfielder and a wide forward. Maybe a goalkeeper too if David de Gea decides eight years is long enough to be playing behind that defence. All in all, half a team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and whoever else is making the recruitment decisions – that issue is as important as any matter on the pitch this summer – may have to improvise as it becomes clear how many of their flops they can bin.

What will they get?
The current hierarchy seem to change tack with each passing week so if they aren’t clear on where United might be come August 8, how are we supposed to know? Despite all the talk of Jadon Sancho over recent months, it seems likely that Swansea winger Daniel James is on his way to Old Trafford, while Sean Longstaff appears to be the cheaper alternative to Declan Rice. United would like to sign Matthijs De Ligt and Ed Woodward is desperate for such a coup but the club are right to be suspicious of Barcelona in this instance. Harry Maguire might also have a better offer. If De Gea goes, then reports suggest United won’t buy a replacement and will instead give Sergio Romero his big chance after a club career spent as a back-up. What chance Gareth Bale ending up at Old Trafford towards the end of the window? Given how important this summer is for the club and the increasing likelihood of under-delivering on their obvious objectives, it would be typical of Woodward to panic and offer Real Madrid a way to shift Bale off their books.

What’s been said:
“United is a club that has money, and that has to be spent in a reasonable way. People who know me, know that I will use that in a good way. We have a plan with the club, they have scouted players for longer than I have been here, and we have players that we need to keep. We will not spend money just to spend money.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, March 29

 

Aston Villa

What do they need?
Villa’s first job once the hangovers have cleared is to assess their loan players. Four of their starting XI at Wembley were borrowed from elsewhere with another loanee Kautney Hause coming off the bench. Premier League rules state no club can register more than two loan players so Villa must decide who they want to keep on a more permanent basis. Promotion also puts their expiring contracts in a different context, with Glenn Whelan, Tommy Elphick, Albert Adomah, Mile Jedinak and Alan Hutton all approaching free agency. All of those decisions will form the basis of their recruitment decisions though owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens aren’t short of cash. At least one central midfielder is required in addition to another striker, regardless of Abraham’s situation. Neil Taylor also has little competition at left-back once Hutton departs.

What will they get?
Villa have permanent options on Hause and play-off final goalscorer Anwar El Ghazi and the right to match any offer Bournemouth might receive for Tyrone Mings. Given Mings’ impact at Villa Park, Smith will be keen to turn that deal into a permanent one. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to assess Axel Tuanzebe in pre-season but the Manchester United defender might be more attainable than Tammy Abraham, who is keen to give it a shot at Chelsea, especially if the Blues cannot address their striker shortage on the transfer market. If either is to return, presumably it will be on loan and it won’t be long before the start of the season. Promotion probably puts Villa towards the front of the queue for Luton left-back James Justin. Whoever comes in, co-owner Wes Edens has already stated that analytics will have a bigger influence than the simple judgement of any individual.

What’s been said:
“We’ve got a lot of building to do still in the market during the summer but there’s huge potential with the owners that we have and hopefully we can take it on.”

 

Ian Watson

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