ONE PLAYER EACH PREMIER LEAGUE SIDE SHOULD SIGN FOR THE 2021-22 SEASON
Slowly, but surely the Premier League is set to return to the television screens and with the Covid restrictions lifted in the United Kingdom, fans will indeed travel to the stadiums to see their teams and especially the new signings.
While some of the clubs have started off their transfer window with a bang, a majority of them are still taking their time in signing the players.
Bearing that in mind, here are FootTheBall’s picks on the one signing each club in the Premier League should complete before the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
ARSENAL – ZEKI CELIK
If the Gunners want to challenge again at the top in the Premier League and also in other cup competitions, their squad needs a full overhaul and that needs to start with the defence.
They have started to fix it by signing Ben White from Brighton for a reported £50 million but their problems at right-back still remain. Hector Bellerin has not grown into the player the fans and management have expected him to become and his deputies also haven’t displayed any consistent performances for Mikel Arteta to have confidence in them.
Zeki Celik might the best bet for Arsenal in the current market as he not only brings in experience of winning titles, after having won the Ligue 1 title with Lille but also has more all-round ability than Bellerin, who tends to fall weak in defensive situations.
ASTON VILLA – TAKEHIRO TOMIYASU
Aston Villa, although look like losing their talisman and captain Jack Grealish to Manchester City, are having a great summer transfer window and look like not stopping until the deadline day. They have already confirmed deals for Emiliano Buendia and Leon Bailey, and also plan on bringing in Todd Cantwell from Norwich.
But that should not be their prime target, rather the next objective should be to bring in an established centre-back as cover for their current options. Last season, they went into the league with only three established centre-backs and were lucky that they weren’t injured for big parts of the season.
Axel Tuanzebe, on loan, is a name on their list but Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu should be their target. The Japanese defender has established himself as one of the best young centre-backs in Serie A and a fee of around £20 million should do the deal to bring the 22-year-old to Villa Park.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION – NATHANIEL PHILLIPS
Having lost Ben White to Arsenal, who had featured in 36 of the 38 league matches in the previous season, Brighton have a task on their hands to get in a new central defender before the start of the season.
The 23-year-old’s departure for the Amex Stadium leaves just Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, and Shane Duffy as the remaining centre-backs in a squad that plays a three at the back under Graham Potter.
With the arrival of Ibrahima Konate and the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for injury, it is certain that Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams are going to get limited game time in Merseyside and Phillips, in particular, would want to leave and get regular minutes, given his age and where his career is at right now.
His performances at the fag end of last season have impressed many and for clubs in the Premier League‘s mid-table, especially the Seagulls, Phillips could represent a relative bargain at £15 million.
BRENTFORD – BRENNAN JOHNSON
Promoted into the Premier League for the first time in their history, Brentford are trying their level best to build up a squad that can challenge the others and can stay up in the English top-flight.
For that their step was to keep hold of their star attacker Ivan Toney, which they have, and the Bees have gone onto break their club record for a transfer fee after paying nearly £13.5 million for the transfer of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer.
Brennan Johnson at Lincoln City in League 1 this season, on loan from Nottingham Forest:
◉ 2,937 mins across 40 appearances
◉ 11 goals (1 penalty) plus 4 assists
◉ 7 penalties won (5 scored)
◉ 20 direct goal contributions
All in his first full season of senior football. pic.twitter.com/lKnNH5hXAF
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) April 13, 2021
But their squad still needs some repair, mainly in the left-wing spot. Currently, they have Tariqe Fosu and Joel Valencia, with the Ecuadorian having returned from a disappointing loan spell at Legia Warsaw. The player the Bees can target is Nottingham Forest’s, Brennan Johnson.
The Welshman, who was on loan at Lincoln City last season, had managed to rack up 13 goals and 14 assists in 57 appearances for the Imps, and although the step from League One to the Premier League might be a bit too high, it has to be seen whether the 20-year-old can withstand the pressure.
BURNLEY – PHILLIP BILLING
Burnley finished in 17th place, just above the relegation zone, in the previous Premier League season which was their lowest finish since their promotion into the top-flight of English football in 2016.
And ever since they lost Jeff Hendricks to Newcastle on a free transfer last summer, there hasn’t been enough steel in the midfield which used to be personification in a Sean Dyche side. Although Dale Stephens came from Brighton, the Irishman has only featured seven times in the league, with four of them being from the bench.
Philip Billing has grown as a player at Bournemouth and certainly will provide some much-needed stability in that Burnley midfield. (Image Courtesy: Bournemouth Echo / Website)
Philip Billing represents a great option for the Clarets as the Dane was very consistent in Bournemouth run to the promotion playoffs. He also managed to chip in with eight goals from midfield last season, a quality that is heavily lacking in the options Sean Dyche currently has.
CHELSEA – LAUTARO MARTINEZ
It was evident to everyone associated with Chelsea that this transfer window will see more or less see a centre-forward come into the club after the inconsistencies displayed by Timo Werner last season, the departure of Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham not being in the plans of Thomas Tuchel.
The rumours of the Blues wanting to bring Erling Haaland from Westfalonstadion to Stamford Bridge continue to swirl around, but the reality of the deal suggests otherwise. The transfer fee involved along with the wages and the commission demanded by Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola makes this deal redundant, at least for the time being.
While Romelu Lukaku is linked with a return, it is his teammate at Inter, Lautaro Martinez, that should be targeted by Chelsea this summer. Given the financial struggles at Inter, Martinez could be available for something around £60 million, nearly half the price it would take to bring Haaland.
Martinez would be a great addition to the side that Tuchel is building at Chelsea. (Image Courtesy: Inter Milan / Twitter)
The 23-year-old Argentine also will slot seamlessly into the three at the back, counter-attacking system employed by Tuchel, having played in a similar one under Antonio Conte during his time at the Nerazzurri.
CRYSTAL PALACE – ODSONNE EDOUARD
Even though Christian Benteke has signed a new two-year contract, and Jean-Philippe Mateta is still on loan for another 12 months, Crystal Palace are in need of a top-class striker in order to share the goal-scoring duties with the over-burden Wilfred Zaha.
The Eagles have been having arguably the best transfer window among all clubs this season in the Premier League, with the club having confirmed deals for players such as Joachim Andersen, Michael Olise, Marc Guehi and Conor Gallagher.
But they will need to finish the transfer window by signing a centre-forward and Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard might just be the player for Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman enters into the final 12 months of his contract with the Scottish giants and a fee of around £15 million might be enough to bring Edouard to Selhurst Park.
EVERTON – KREPIN DIATTA
Everton under Rafa Benitez are slowly but surely catching up with their rivals in the transfer market, as they bought in the likes of Andros Townsend and Asmir Begovic on a free transfer while paying a fee of £1.7 million to Bayer Leverkusen for the services of Demarai Gray.
The Toffees have realised that their winger situation is somewhat in a precarious position and went on to bring in two of them but that hasn’t solved the problem entirely. The left side is stacked with Richarlison, Alex Iwobi and now Gray.
But on the right, it is just Townsend and James Rodriguez who played a little on the right-wing will now be the favourite to start in an attacking midfield position for the Spanish manager. Everton will need to bring in another right-winger before the end of the window and Krepin Diatta looks like the likely option that the Toffees can target.
The Senegalese had dazzled with Club Brugge before moving to Monaco last season and a move to the Merseyside might entice him to leave France for England.
LEEDS UNITED – ISCO
Under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds were by far the most entertaining side in the entire Premier League last season. They were a joy to watch as any match result was possible regardless of the opposition. Such was their unpredictability. Although, they were one of the top scorers in the Premier League, in many of the matches they lacked a chance creator in the team who could create for the attackers out of nothing.
Isco moving to Leeds would be one of the signings of the summer. (Image Courtesy: AS / Website)
With Pablo Hernandez not being at the same level last season and subsequently having left this summer, the spot opens up in the squad and Real Madrid’s Isco might just be the right choice for Bielsa. The former Valencia man had struggled to find minutes Zinedine Zidane, and the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti might not see any change in the situation.
Isco thrives on being the star player of a side and that plus regular minutes is what he would certainly get at Leeds this season and it might be enough for him to revive his illustrious career. A fee between the range of £15-20 million might be enough to bring the Spaniard to Elland Road, and it would certainly be one of the coups of the window.
LEICESTER CITY – JOAKIM MAEHLE
Having already raided Atalanta in the previous summer transfer window for the signing of Timothy Castagne, Leicester might want to do it again this summer. After agonisingly finishing fifth in the 2020-21 season of the Premier League and missing out on Champions League football, the Foxes have gone on to strengthen their team with the likes of Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare, and both on bargain deals.
But if they still need to fully strengthen their full-back department, with Ricardo Pereira just for the last matches in the previous campaign after recurring injuries, James Justin still recovering from his anterior cruciate ligament injury and Castagne recovering from the head injury that occurred in the Euros while featuring for Belgium.
Denmark’s star at the Euros, Joakim Maehle is a brilliant option for Brendan Rodgers as he is quite versatile in his position and had been one of the standout performers in the continental tournament. He is valued at €19 million, however, the Foxes might have to pay another €10 million minimum to acquire his services.
LIVERPOOL – DUSAN VLAHOVIC
After a near-disastrous campaign last season, Liverpool will feel that they are back on track after going unbeaten in the final 10 games of the 2020-21 season and the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez from injuries will just increase that confidence.
But for Jurgen Klopp, his attack needs to fire in order to challenge for the title against the likes of both Manchester clubs and Chelsea. Mohamed Salah was the only one firing out the attacking trio as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino had been inconsistent for the entire season.
Financially, it has become a situation of ‘sell to buy’ at Liverpool, but if really want to retain the Premier League title they will need to bolster their attack and provide competition to the existing trio. 21-year-old Dusan Vlahovic is certainly that type of player and being that young, he might just be the right target for Klopp to develop into a world-class striker.
He became Serie A’s under-23 performer for the 2020-21 season after having scored 21 goals in the league for Fiorentina and for Liverpool, he might just be the final piece of the puzzle in this season’s quest to the top.
MANCHESTER CITY – HARRY KANE
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have shown last season that they can win the league without a striker and have a midfielder playing a false nine for nearly 90% of the matches. But, as football evolves, there will be teams that will certainly find the deficiencies in Guardiola’s present system, which can make him go back into having a traditional number nine or find some other new system that mankind hasn’t found yet.
And for the ease, Guardiola and his bosses might just bring out the chequebook to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur and slot him into the number nine role. It is that easy for the Cityzens.
Harry Kane’s addition into an already world-class squad will certainly make Manchester City the best club side in the world. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Website)
But Kane isn’t only a traditional number nine, who predominantly stays in the box and does the poachers job, but his game evolved into such a state that he can even play the false-nine role and drop deep to collect the ball and play it to his fellow attackers.
Just give the title to City again if they manage to bring in Kane, and also a certain Jack Grealish.
MANCHESTER UNITED – DECLAN RICE
Manchester United have gone on to solve their right-wing crisis that had been affecting the club since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo by signing Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for £73 million but they still face their second important problem – Defensive Midfield.
The lack of an out-and-out defensive midfielder had costed the Red Devils last season majorly, with Scott McTominay and Fred covering the responsibilities of one player, which left the squad light in attack.
While they are being linked with many options such as Ruben Neves and Eduardo Camavinga, their primary target, Declan Rice, has to be the one donning the red jersey come August 14th.
🗣️ @Matt_Law_DT: "Declan Rice would reject a third contract offer from West Ham. He wants to be made aware of any bids made for him. West Ham would have to have a serious think about any bid that came in over £60m because of the situation." [@LondonBluePod via @siphillipssport]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) July 21, 2021
Although he might be an expensive purchase at the price of £100 million demanded by West Ham, reports say that a fee of £60 million should be enough for United to pull the plug for English international.
NEWCASTLE UNITED – AXEL TUANZEBE
The central defence department at Newcastle has over time become quite injury-prone and is also ageing, with all of their first-choice centre-backs touching or nearing 30 by the end of the year.
The manager, Steve Bruce, who himself was a star central defender during his time at Manchester United will want to make additions in the heart of his defence, especially after the injury struggles being faced by captain Jamal Lascelles.
For that, Bruce might turn to his former club for the services of Axel Tuanzebe as he is certainly ready to leave the red side of Manchester for regular game-time following the imminent arrival of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.
The 23-year-old is only available for a loan, as the Red Devils still believe in their academy graduate and a £5 million deal is what they are looking at, for a season-long loan. Newcastle shouldn’t frown upon this opportunity as there can be a chance of making this permanent at the end of the season if all parties can agree.
NORWICH CITY – JAMAL LOWE
After one season in the Championship, Daniel Farke and Norwich City are back in the English top-flight and like they did the previous time, they came into the Premier League after winning the Championship title in style, scoring loads and loads of goals.
But this season, they might face one of the same problems they faced during the 2019-20 season, that of not having sufficient back-up to Teemu Pukki, whenever he has an off game. The Finnish striker started off that season with a bang but slowly goals continued to evade him, and his non-scoring in front of goal was one of the major reasons due to which the Canaries got relegated.
Jamal Lowe has been impressive for Swansea and he shall play in the Premier League sooner rather than later. (Image Courtesy: Swansea City / Website)
If Norwich wants to solve the issue, they will need to get in a formidable back-up for Pukki and Swansea’s Jamal Lowe puts himself as a great target. The Jamaican, with his 14 goals, had been one of the reasons for the Welsh club’s run into the promotion playoffs and will certainly provide adequate cover in attack, both as a striker and also as a winger.
SOUTHAMPTON – BRANDON WILLIAMS
Having failed twice in the previous two windows, Southampton are still interested in bringing Brandon Williams to the St. Mary’s and they might finally have to succumb to the demands of Manchester United.
The Saints wanted the English youngster to provide cover and competition for both Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand last season and with Bertrand having left the club this summer, it provides the club more incentive to bring him in the coming weeks.
Rumour has it that Brandon Williams could be off to Southampton on loan👀
Do you think a loan would be beneficial to Williams' development?🔴 pic.twitter.com/WC0te7IuwP
— Stretford Paddock (@StretfordPaddck) July 7, 2021
Although Romain Perraud has arrived from Brest in July to take the vacant left-back spot, Williams might become first-choice under Ralph Hassenhuttl, given his experience in the Premier League, that too while playing for a club like Manchester United.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR – LEO DUBOIS
Nuno Espirito Santo’s arrival at Spurs might bring a sense of revival in the career of Matt Doherty who often found it difficult to adjust to the tactics employed by Jose Mourinho.
But if Spurs want to challenge for titles and rival the likes of the other top six clubs realistically, the Irishman instantly becomes a weak link and will have to be replaced by a sure starter.
That starter could be Olympique Lyonnais’ Leo Dubois who has slowly established himself as one of the key members of Les Gones’ starting eleven. The right-back is clearly Premier League material and a fee of around £20 million should be adequate for Lyon to part with the Frenchman.
WATFORD – STRYGER LARSEN
Similar to Norwich City, Watford have returned to the Premier League just after a season in the Championship and now look to build upon last season’s impressive campaign in the second division.
But for that, they will need to get a squad ready in order to compete with an array of quality players in the Premier League and mostly, it has to start with the right-back position. Although they have two of them in Jeremy Ngakia and Kiko Feminia, Ngakia is still young while Femenia is not up to Premier League quality, making the Hornets find a new one in the market.
Jens Stryger Larsen is available in the market for a free transfer and after an impressive outing with Denmark at the Euros, excelling playing at right wing-back during their run into the semi-finals where they were defeated by England. A fee of £4 million should be enough but Watford will need to act quickly as Galatasaray are also circling in for the 30-year-old.
WEST HAM UNITED – TAMMY ABRAHAM
Having sold Sebastien Haller to Ajax in the winter transfer window the previous season, David Moyes and West Ham went into the final six months of the 2020-21 campaign with only one striker in Michail Antonio.
And going into the new season, the need for a new centre-forward has certainly become a matter of urgency for the Hammers. Although Antonio can do the job, he is not an out and out striker and there is a need for depth too.
The Hammers should be looking to sign Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham, who has undoubtedly in the plans of Thomas Tuchel for the upcoming season at Stamford Bridge. Having been linked in last season, it has to be seen whether they go for him, given the reports of Arsenal willing to pay around £35 million for the English forward, a price West Ham might not afford.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS – JONATHAN BAMBA
As it stands, Wolves are currently not in the market for a new striker, given the new manager, Bruno Lage’s preference to play his standard 4-4-2 formation, with Raul Jimenez as one of the two centre-forwards.
If that’s the case Adama Traore, who usually plays on the right-wing might have to slot in alongside the Mexican, leaving his original spot wide open. And after his non-existent season last time around, there is a need for Wolves to find a goal-scoring winger in order to reduce the overdependence on Jimenez and Lille’s Jonathan Bamba is certainly an option at the right-wing spot.
Jonathan Bamba🇨🇮🇫🇷 et ses coéquipiers ont remporté le Trophée des Champions face au PSG, une première dans l'histoire du club.
Lille 1-0 PSG pic.twitter.com/mxilVIRdlV
— Le Foot 225 🇨🇮 (@LeFoot225) August 1, 2021
The Frenchman, who can on both sides of the pitch, was one of the main reasons why Lille went on to lift the Ligue 1 trophy in the 2020-21 season & also the French Super Cup and given the financial struggles many of the French clubs are facing, Bamba can be bought for a cut-price deal if Wolves act quickly.