Where do Premier League clubs need to bulk out?
We’re delighted to welcome Nathan Spafford as a regular contributor to the manvfat.com website in the coming months.
Nathan has a wealth of writing experience behind him, including the popular Football365 website. He’ll be reporting on the wider world of football and picking up on stories that are relevant to the MAN v FAT Football audience, so keep an eye on what he has to say!
First up, with the 30th season of the Premier League having got underway at the start of August, all 20 Premier League clubs still have work to do to tweak their squads for the better for the upcoming campaign. This is where each top flight side needs to bulk up for the season ahead…
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Having signed a plethora of new players to help secure survival from the Championship last season, Bournemouth have found this summer much more difficult to come by new names. Manager Scott Parker has visible frustrations from a lack of signings so far, but the Cherries feel particularly light at the back, with Lloyd Kelly, Chris Mepham and James Hill the extent of their central defensive options going into the new season.
A glorious summer of exciting arrivals has Arsenal fans feeling optimistic like very few times in recent history. The signings of Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko are particularly impressive and flesh out the squad. There is still the feeling though that the Gunners are lightweight in the middle of the park, and another reinforcement could be needed to ensure Mikel Arteta’s side are in pole position for a top four place.
Steven Gerrard’s side are in good stead with the permanent addition of Philippe Coutinho and the signings of Boubacar Kamara and Diego Carlos. There is no position they feel light in; though another centre midfielder through the door to oust the less-than-impressive Morgan Sanson out of the matchday squad wouldn’t go amiss.
Ivan Toney had an unsurprisingly solid Premier League campaign last season, aided largely by the January arrival of Christian Eriksen. If the Bees are to avoid the dreaded second season syndrome, another solid all-out striking option to go with the supporting cast wouldn’t go amiss.
As ever, xG FC are heading into a Premier League season without a clear striker up front capable of breaking well into double figures. If the Seagulls could add that surefire firepower to their squad this season, an improvement on their best 9th placed Premier League finish could be very likely.
Striker or a centre backs. Take your pick. Chelsea are desperate for reinforcements in either penalty area as the Premier League season prepares for kick off. Kai Havertz looks set to lead the line while Thomas Tuchel’s side are still a couple of centre backs short of a backline who could realistically challenge for a top four place.
Crystal Palace have had a second successive impressive summer transfer window. Patrick Vieira’s excitingly solid first season in charge could give way to an even more tangibly successful sophomore campaign. The Eagles have replaced Conor Gallagher more than adequately with the signing of Cheick Doucoure, but the South London outfit look short of a top class striker who can make the most of the chances created for him. Get that, and Palace could be looking at a fight for the European places.
It is not hyperbole to suggest that Everton need signings across the board and they’ll hope that the arrival of Conor Coady will give them a much needed initial boost. It was only down to the horror shows of Norwich, Burnley and Watford last season that the Toffees stayed up. If anything, Frank Lampard’s side have gotten weaker over the summer with the departure of Richarlison. That Everton go into the opening weekend with Solomon Rondon as their only available striker speaks volumes about where they most need to improve.
When your manager is already talking about the struggles of the summer and showing visible frustration at a lack of signings, you know it could be a tough season ahead. The Cottagers have made some quietly impressive additions thus far, but are much more Bournemouth than Nottingham Forest right now. Having been relegated in each of their last three Premier League campaigns, there is desperation to avoid a fourth in a row. A centre-back should be at the forefront of the recruitment team’s collective minds. Tim Ream cannot be a starting defender in the top flight once again.
Jesse Marsch’s side may have lost key players in Raphinha and Kalvin Philips this summer already, but the arrival of multiple solid additions make the squad look perhaps its most balanced since the Yorkshire side returned to the Premier League two summers ago. Islan Meslier is one of the youngest goalkeepers in the Premier League, and has little in the way of solid competition. Some senior rivalry for the gloves could be enough to keep Leeds out of relegation trouble this time around.
Anyone. Leicester are – at the time of writing – the only Premier League club yet to make a signing. A strong finish to 2021/22 has perhaps fooled some into thinking the Foxes are on the way back up, but a stale squad is breaking apart with Kasper Schmeichel on his way to Nice and a clutch of other key players’ futures in doubt while incomings look scarce. Any #Incoming would put a smile on Leicester supporters faces right now.
Evolution yet again under Jurgen Klopp has the Reds arguably in a stronger position to win the league than Man City’s revolution of adding actual strikers to their attacking output. If anything, another midfielder wouldn’t go amiss but that’s being really picky.
Less picky now. Man City have gone for two out-and-out strikers this season in Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez, but are less blessed in other positions. The public courting of Brighton left sided defender Marc Cucurella has made it known that Pep Guardiola’s side are short at full back on that side. Cucurella looks destined for Chelsea, but City will get another full back in.
Frenkie de Jong, anyone? Manchester United, like Chelsea, are in need of players across the pitch. An out-and-out striker is required too if Cristiano Ronaldo continues to sulk while Anthony Martial’s injury being a blow showcases everything about how poorly the club has been run. Erik ten Haag is the best manager at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but he needs at least three more first team additions to make the Red Devils into Champions League challengers once more.
Newcastle have been disappointingly sensible since becoming the richest football club in the world. Evolution over revolution on the Tyne could be seen as a masterstroke in years to come. That being said, spunking big time on a marquee striker to lead the line wouldn’t go amiss. Callum Wilson and Chris Wood alone won’t cut it for the full season if Newcastle are to gatecrash the top six.
A dozen new signings and counting mean there isn’t much space left to fill for Forest as we enter the final weeks of the transfer window. On paper, Forest have won the window, although there is always the chance so many new signings will fail to gel. Still, like many of their top flight contemporaries, another striker wouldn’t go amiss. Anyone with Premier League experience, as per the linked Che Adams, would finish the summer business off nicely.
Southampton could be in for a miserable season. Last term ended with just two wins from their final 15 games while a tough start on the fixture list could see Ralph Hassenhuttl lose his job around the time of the first international break, if not before. A new left back to complement the two good options on the other side would be welcomed, while another striker capable of finding the back of net would improve fortunes on the south coast too.
Tottenham have had a great summer transfer window in improving their squad, while the first XI will remain largely unchanged. That is the sign of good things to come for Antonio Conte’s side in what will be a very challenging and enduring season across the board in multiple competitions. If we’re being picky, another right wing-back to improve on Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty.
For a club with such a stellar record in recent seasons, West Ham love making things hard for themselves. They have one of the smallest squads in the league, which does have its advantages. But with European football on the horizon once more, additions are required to avoid burnout. Last summer’s signings largely fell flat, but options at full back would improve the squad while another midfielder should be a priority too.
Often, these lists can fall flat with the theme running out at the back end. Wolves profligacy in the transfer market in recent seasons means there is no such occurrence here. Bruno Lage’s men relied heavily on a mean defence last year. Signing some actual proper forwards who aren’t called Raul Jiminez would go down a treat and then some in the Black Country.