The 2016/17 Premier League season promises to be a ferocious tussle. Who is primed for the battle and who still needs reinforcements?
We’ve run the rule over the 20 clubs in the Premier League, and first up it’s the turn of Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, and Crystal Palace.
Who have they signed? In addition to Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka from VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, Arsene Wenger has also brought in Takuma Asano from Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Xhaka is set to feature in the Gunners’ midfield where he will be expected to add physicality, energy and stability. Asano, who is a talented Japanese striker, is yet to be given a defined role within the squad. However, with Oliveir Giroud being the main man up front, it is unlikely that he will feature prominently in the upcoming campaign.
What do they need? While Wenger continues to pursue the attacking forces of Julian Draxler, Alexandre Lacazette and Gonzalo Higuain, he would be well advised to bolster his defensive unit. Per Mertesacker is surely a major concern at the back while doubts remain over Gabriel Paulista.
Who should they sign? Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic, who is reportedly close to a deal with Middlesbrough, fits the mould perfectly and would be an upgrade from the services of the clumsy German.
Who will they sign? Lacazette looks a good bet for the Gunners, but don’t count out Higuain.
Who have they signed? The Cherries have been busy in the transfer market, with Jordon Ibe (Liverpool, £15m),Lys Mousset (Le Havre, £5.4m), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham, £0.75m), Nathan Ake (Chelsea, loan), and Lewis Cook (Leeds, £7m) coming on board. The signing of Ibe in particular is a great piece of business, with the youngster’s speed and explosiveness a weapon on the flank.
What do they need? Eddie Howe has done a marvelous job at Bournemouth. He was able to avoid relegation comfortably in the club’s first season in the top flight. Since then, they have lost their captain Tommy Elphick to Aston Villa. While not an overly gifted player, Elphick’s presence as a leader will be missed. With that in mind, Howe would do well to sign a big personality who has bucket loads of experience in the big time but who would not detract from the club’s strong sense of togetherness and unity.
Who should they sign? A player like Hull’s 32-year-old defender, Michael Dawson, would go down well at the seaside club.
Who will they sign? On a limited budget, transfer rumours have gone quiet at Dean Court. And that is possibly not the worst thing. Bournemouth’s success has been built on the sturdy ground of a close-knit squad who work hard and play for each other. Too many new faces could disrupt that. Sometimes less is more.
Who have they signed? It was slow going at Turf Moor initially, with only Jamie Thomas (Bolton, free) and Robbie Leitch (Motherwell, free) before this week, but on Tuesday the signing of Iceland winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson and keeper Nick Pope from Charlton Athletic was confirmed.
What do they need? With all due respect to the Clarets, they don’t boast the most inspiring of squads. Sean Dyche has suggested that he will look for funds from the board to mount a proper attempt to remain in the top flight, and getting in experience will be key. Joey Barton has departed and Dyche faces a battle to keep captain Michael Keane amid interest from Leicester. An over-reliance on striker Andre Gray could be costly, and with that in mind a move for another forward would be wise.
Who should they sign? Iceland international Aron Gunnarsson has been linked with the Clarets and the Cardiff City man would be a great acquisition, while the club are believed to have had a bid for Derby’s Republic of Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick rejected.
Who will they sign? The Championship is what Dyche knows best, so expect more signings from the second tier.
Who have they signed? The Blues have a new manager and a new midfielder in Antonio Conte and N’Golo Kanté. Success in the Premier League is a process. Conte will need to be given time to develop an identity and footballing style in England. Conversely, Kanté will need no time to settle. His approach to the game is simple. Run, work, retrieve, distribute. And he does that extremely effectively. He is a great addition and is a player any side in the league would welcome. In the midfield, Conte will be spoiled for choice when deciding who to partner Kante with as Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Nemanja Matic are all world class players in their own right. Striker Michy Batshuayi has also arrived from Marseille for £33m.
What do they need? John Terry is ready for another year at Stamford Bridge and he will look to ensure that the back four are compact and stingy. The presence of the experienced campaigner together with Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma may negate the need for reinforcements in the centre of defence, but Conte is known for his defensive nature the club has still been linked with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Up front, despite the arrival of Batshuayi, Chelsea may still look to bring in reinforcements up front in case the Spaniard’s ‘second season syndrome’ continues into a third campaign.
Who should they sign?A front man like Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be ideal. Both Chiellini or Bonucci would make great signings.
Who will they sign? Unfortunately for Blues fans, a deal for Aubameyang is unlikely. What is more probable is Conte bringing in someone that he worked with during his stint with the Italian national side. Eder, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne or Simone Zaza could well find themselves plying their trade for the 2014/2015 English champions.
Who have they signed? The 2015/2016 season was Crystal Palace’s third consecutive campaign in the Premier League and their 110th year in existence. However, their final league position of 15th was disappointing given that this is a club who have aspirations of becoming a regular fixture in the Premier League and of competing for a spot in Europe sooner rather than later. Exciting incoming players that have been confirmed are Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Steve Mandanda.
What do they need? Dwight Gayle, who was the club’s leading goal-scorer in all competitions last season, has left to join Rafa Benitez and Newcastle in the Championship. He will need replacing. In the league, Alan Pardew’s men failed to score in 14 matches last season. That is a horrible statistic. Their highest goal-scorers were Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann, Connor Wickham and Yannick Bolasie who all finished with five goals only.
Who should they sign? Christian Benteke has been linked with a move to Selhurst Park and that would be a seriously good fit for both parties. Benteke would benefit greatly from regular first team football and from being a big fish in a small pond again. To say that Palace could do with a strong striker who scores goals and can hold up the ball would be an understatement. Despite his disappointing spell at Liverpool, Benteke is worth a splash. The 2016/2017 could be a special one for the Eagles. One feels that Benteke holds the key though.