The transfer window is now in Full Swing and next season will be upon us before you know it. And at (almost) every club, that means someone who desperately needs to move on and re-energise a stalled career or just Escape Their [Insert Team] Nightmare.
Here is one such player for each Premier League club who needs a transfer, apart from the three promoted clubs because even we aren’t such bastards as to tell players who’ve just got promoted that this isn’t for them and they should probably f*** off back to the Sky Bet where they belong. It’s just mean.
Arsenal – Emile Smith Rowe
Arsenal don’t really want to sell him and he doesn’t really want to leave. Understandable on both fronts but surely not the best plan for a player whose path back to the first team isn’t going to get any easier if Kai Havertz joins the scrum of players ahead of him in the pecking order.
“It was tough [not playing], but we were in a title race and I understand the manager isn’t going to change the team if we’re winning every game.” That’s all well and good, Emile, but you still didn’t get much of a look-in after Arsenal conspicuously stopped winning every game. Go to Villa, on loan if need be, and gain the honour of becoming the first Arsenal player to shine under Unai Emery.
Aston Villa – Philippe Coutinho
Good vibes abound at Villa currently, but not from Coutinho who is the chief hangover of the Steven Gerrard Unpleasantness on an alarmingly long and no doubt chunky contract. Still three years left on that bad boy for a player whose last three Premier League appearances came in 4-2, 3-1 and 4-2 defeats. He didn’t feature once in the final 15 games of the season, during which Villa lost only twice to secure European football.
As with all current expensive Premier League mistakes, a Saudi move appears one obvious solution but there’s also talk of interest from Fenerbahce which feels absolutely correct and appropriate. Almost a pleasingly retro feel about Turkish interest in a Premier League flop now. This is Barclays heritage.
Bournemouth – Mark Travers
Nothing wrong with being a second-choice keeper but hard to do it when you’ve had a taste of being the No. 1. Admittedly, Travers’ taste of being a Premier League No. 1 was to concede an awful number of goals – 32 in 12 games – but still. At 24, it doesn’t really seem like sitting on the bench and playing a game of Carabao or two here and there is the best thing for him or anyone. A Championship loan or something.
Brentford – David Raya
Easy one this, because he’s said it himself. “I’m 27 now and I feel like I’m at the point in my career when I want to make that step up. There are options out there but it’s not just my ambitions, the club also needs to let me go.”
The likeliest of those options to ‘step up’ from ninth-placed Brentford still seems to be eighth-placed Spurs. “I have ambitions to make the next step in my career. I want to try to win titles and to compete in Europe in the next couple of years,” he added to set up the most open of goals for us all, for which we thank him.
Brighton – Robert Sanchez
We’ll try not to make this just goalkeepers, but while there may be the odd Brighton star who would like to get out while the going’s good – Your Moises Caicedos mainly – Sanchez is the most obvious who needs to move having lost his place in the Brighton goal to superior baller Jason Steele. There will be more games to go round at the Amex next season but even so, the Brighton bench is no place for a Spain international goalkeeper.
Chelsea – Marc Cucurella
There are all manner of players Chelsea themselves need rid of to trim their bloated squad and get costly contracts off the books and, well, would you look at that. By sheer happy coincidence there are all manner of Saudi clubs desperate to do just that. N’Golo Kante has pretty much gone already, with Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly and Hakim Ziyech all set to follow. How opportune.
But in terms of Chelsea players who need to get themselves out of dodge, hard to look past Cucurella. Had a torrid first season at Stamford Bridge, is surely not going to be Poch’s first choice; he only fits one position in a Pochettino 4-2-3-1 and in a Europe-less season will feature only when Ben Chilwell is injured. That is admittedly quite often but still. Newcastle have been linked. You’d be up for that, wouldn’t you? In his position?
Crystal Palace – Jairo Riedewald
He’s been a mainstay of our ‘needs a move’ and ‘forgotten man’ features for at least a year now and still has another 12 months left on the Crystal Palace contract extension he was given in 2021. He has played a grand total of 97 minutes of Premier League football since the opening day of the 2021/22 season, when he got a whopping 77 minutes of a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea. His only other brief appearances of that season came in further defeats to Liverpool and West Ham.
Fared slightly better last season, in fairness, with Palace picking up three wins in his six appearances. How much of that was down to the influence of Riedewald’s combined tally of 18 minutes’ work across those three games remains open to some debate.
Everton – Dele Alli
If Dele Alli plays seven more games for Everton, they have to pay Spurs £10m. We don’t think Daniel Levy is counting on that cash coming in to be honest. Who knows what happens next for Dele after a disastrous and injury-plagued loan spell with Besiktas but there are few things we’d like to see more than an unlikely renaissance.
Fulham – Joao Palhinha
But will it be Manchester United, Liverpool or West Ham, who we must conclude have quite rightly allowed Europa Conference League glory to go right to their heads as they eye up a transfer battle with England’s two largest clubs. The Hammers will, in fairness, enter this contest with a vast amount of Declan Rice coin burning a hole in their pockets. Which might help.
Liverpool – Nat Phillips
We’re not about to argue with anyone’s right to spend their career having a lovely time at a massive great club despite playing hardly any of the football. It seems to us there are far worse ways to make a living in this crazy world we call home. But come on, Nat. That’s enough of that now, surely. Stat: over 95% of Phillips’ Premier League playing time last season happened by mid-August thanks to his 63 minutes against Crystal Palace. That in itself was 63 minutes more Premier League football than he played in 2021/22.
Manchester City – Bernardo Silva
It’s no secret that Bernardo Silva would quite like to leave City, it’s no secret that PSG and Barcelona would both be quite keen to sign him, and it’s no secret that it’s going to take one of them or someone else matching City’s £75m valuation for it to happen. And that’s that, really. Given he’s been consistently excellent on the field despite being quite keen to leave for about three years now, it’s not like Guardiola has a disruptive influence on his hands who needs removing. Someone will have to cough up the cash for this one to happen.
Manchester United – Harry Maguire
An unfairly maligned figure of fun, more meme than man. Needs to rebuild his career somewhere the glare of the spotlight is slightly less harsh than Manchester United. Somewhere people would never take the piss out of. Somewhere sensible. Tottenham it is, then.
Newcastle – Allan Saint-Maximin
Yeah, we said it. There’s mischief here, of course: nobody ‘needs’ to ESCAPE their NEWCASTLE HELL right now and even if they did there are more obvious contenders for that than ASM. Javier Manquillo is still there, for goodness’ sake. And Jamaal Lascelles. But Saint-Maximin is an interesting footnote to last season, isn’t he? When Newcastle found themselves in sudden possession of all the money, his was the one name constantly mentioned as a player who could bridge Newcastle’s two worlds and be a significant part of the future. Turns out that player was actually Miguel Almiron and/or Joelinton. Don’t feel bad, none of us got that right.
But maybe it’s revealing about the kind of player Saint-Maximin is. Maybe he’s one of those players who shines brightest when he’s the only thing gleaming at all in a sea of churning shod. A bright spark that makes dark days worthwhile. But not actually as much use when everything is going rather better. He should have gone to Everton in an Anthony Gordon swap deal, is basically what we’ve just convinced ourselves of here.
Nottingham Forest – Harry Arter
His 14th and currently last Forest appearance was a two-minute cameo in a 1-0 Championship win at Preston on January 2 2021. Doesn’t seem fair that the Saudi clubs come in for all Chelsea’s deadwood yet when it comes to former Ireland internationals with well over 300 professional appearances the silence is deafening.
Tottenham – Davinson Sanchez
Booed to oblivion during a 3-2 home defeat to Bournemouth and then brought off the bench to try and sort out the mess after Spurs went 5-0 down in 21 minutes at Newcastle. Only managed eight Premier League starts last season despite being available the whole time for a team that was alarmingly terrible at defending, which isn’t a great look. Understandably, would quite like to f**k off out of there now please, prompting the inevitably disingenuously nameless ‘Tottenham star decides to LEAVE as contract enters final year’ headlines.
West Ham – Gianluca Scamacca
To widespread shock across the football world, a high-profile striker signing failed to work out for the best at West Ham. While we’ve all slowly come to terms with these unprecedented scenes, we must now all begin the process of establishing what comes next. He’s either definitely joining Jose Mourinho’s Roma or definitely not joining Jose Mourinho’s Roma in a thought experiment boffins are already calling Scamacca’s Loan.
Wolves – Ruben Neves
Was all set to join Barcelona, but is now off to join the Saudi Retirement League at 26 which seems a bit of a shame. Still, it’ll be lucrative for him and bring in a hefty £47m for Wolves. We also enjoyed the flawless headline this move prompted on one Newcastle website: ‘Premier League club agree to sell £47m Man United transfer target to Newcastle United owners’.