EPL: Signings each of the rest of the 'Big 6' need to make to catch up with Liverpool
- Liverpool have absolutely dominated the English Premier League (EPL) this season.
- Here, we suggest some sensible signings for the rest of the Big 6 to help them catch up with the runaway leaders.
Liverpool have absolutely run away with the English Premier League this season. They currently sit a whopping 25 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City. Their squad genuinely lacks weaknesses, and is probably the best in the world at the moment. So, it has been very clear that the rest of the 'Big 6' need significant strengthening.
In this article, we take a look at two positions in each of Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal that need strengthening.
We also take a look at possible reinforcements in these positions. These signings need to be sensible- they need to fit the system and be cost effective. Due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we place special emphasis on cheap signings.
In this article, we suggest two players for each team, who can fix the problem areas in the rest of the 'Big 6' teams in the English Premier League.
Arsenal currently sit 9th, a far cry from the days when they won the league unbeaten. Let's look at the squad methodically and see what positions can be improved.
Bernd Leno is one of the best keepers in the league, and has saved Arsenal countless times. The full-backs are also fine. Bukayo Saka has done a great job at left back this season, and will presumably move forward when Kieran Tierney returns.
Now, we come to Arsenal's Achilles heel- centre-backs. The likes of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, and Sokratis always seem to have a mistake up their sleeves. Although they will have William Saliba next season, Arsenal still need someone to pair him up with.
A good option would be Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano. Tall, strong, and comfortable with the ball at his feet- the youngster has it all. However, he might not be the correct choice for Arsenal right now. They would want someone a little more seasoned to partner the inexperienced Saliba.
A better option for Arsenal is Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti. An excellent passer of the ball, Umtiti is also blessed with astute positioning. He currently finds himself second choice at Barca due to his recent spells on the sidelines, but he is too good for the bench and should be looking for a move.
The French World Cup-winner can go on to join Arsenal's plethora of French legends if he does make the move. Gladbach's Matthias Ginter is also a good alternative.
The other problem area in this team is defensive midfield. There are a number of box-to-box midfielders, but there is a lack of a destroyer- someone who can win the ball back and break down opposition attacks.
Arsenal can go shopping to Xhaka's old club Borussia Monchengladbach, and pick up his Swiss compatriot Denis Zakaria. He has already been linked to the Gunners, and with good reason. Gladbach are having a great season and possess a very decent defensive record, and a lot of credit for that goes to Zakaria.
Another option worth looking at might be Valencia's Geoffrey Kondogbia.
The Gunners' frontline is fine, and will only get better when youngsters like Saka, Martinelli, Nelson, and Nketiah reach their potential.
#4 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs reached the Champions League final last year, and this time around, even qualifying for the Champions League looks tough.
A lot of changes have been made in North London. Mauricio Pochettino is gone, and Jose Mourinho has come in. The Eriksens and Trippiers have made way for the Lo Celsos and Bergwijns. Let's look at where their squad needs strengthening.
Lloris is not the best around, but he's not too shabby either. He's also the club captain, and his deputy Gazzaniga has performed well when given opportunities, so keeping isn't much of a problem. There is enough depth at centre-back too, and Japhet Tanganga seems to be best suited at left back.
The right-back position, though, is a problem area. Serge Aurier is prone to making bad decisions, and looking at Trippier's performances in Spain, Spurs might be regretting their decision to sell him. There are two candidates for the job, and which one to choose depends on whether Jose's project is a long-term one or a short-term one.
If Spurs want to win a trophy, within say the next two seasons, they should go for PSG's Thomas Meunier. He's experienced, knows how to win trophies, and with his contract ending in the summer, he'll be available for free. He's guaranteed to maraud forward to get goals and assists. This is especially useful if Jose goes for 3 CBs (as he has done a few times recently), and plays Meunier as a right wing-back.
The long-term option is Max Aarons from Norwich City. While he may not have reached his full potential yet, he has definitely turned heads in his first season in the Premier League. Also, he's unlikely to cost a lot as Norwich are almost certainly going down.
Spurs have been interested, and we have to see if anything actually works out. Another option is Barcelona's Nelson Semedo, but he's likely to be significantly costlier, and the chances of him coming to London are lesser.
The midfield has had recent reinforcements and looks fine. So, the other problem is up top. Harry Kane is world class, but he seems to get injured a lot more these days. Also, there are genuine doubts about how long he'll actually stay at Spurs if they don't win anything.
They need someone to play second fiddle to Kane for the time being, and then be good enough to lead the line if Kane is injured or leaves. A player who could prove to fit the bill is Lille's Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian forward is having a breakout campaign and already has 17 goals in all competitions this season.
He's got the pace and awareness to run in behind the defence, and also the stamina and endurance to press the opposition defenders for the full 90 minutes. He seems like a player Jose Mourinho would love. As for his role, he'd fit in perfectly if he's used like Pep uses Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City.
#3 Manchester United
United are currently 5th, and to be perfectly honest, they have made sensible signings this season. Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, and Dan James have been really good. Ighalo arrived in January amidst a lot of laughs, but has surprised everyone.
Bruno Fernandes has almost single-handedly transformed them. A few changes ought to do the job for them. De Gea has been erratic at times recently, but he's still world class. Former academy graduate Dean Henderson (now at Sheffield United) has probably been the best keeper in the league this season, and has expressed his desire to return to United in the future.
Wan-Bissaka, Maguire and Shaw have been really good. Lindelof has looked shaky at times, but between him and Eric Bailly, United have that position sorted.
The first position that needs change is defensive midfield. Right now, United use Matic or McTominay in that position. Matic is quite old and slow, and doesn't look like he'll be able to do it for long. McTominay is quite decent, but he's better in a box-to-box role, somewhere where he can shoot from (Arsenal and City will know).
Moreover, if Bruno and Pogba are to play together, they will probably need someone better at defending. A viable option is Porto's Danilo Pereira. A very underrated player and probably one of the best outside the top 5 leagues, a big move for him has been long overdue. He's a regular for Portugal, and his expertise in guarding the back four, along with his endless running and tackling, will serve United well.
There are, of course, other candidates. Sander Berge at Sheffield is someone United were interested in, but it'll unlikely that he'll move again in such a short span. Some more options are Ibrahim Sangare of Toulouse and Real Betis' William Carvalho.
The next position requiring a change is right wing. Dan James has been good, but surely United need a better player. This signing might be out of the budget we've set on this list, but United have been linked to far more expensive targets in that position.
The player we are referring to is Valencia's Ferran Torres. The 20-year-old Spaniard has been excellent this season, especially in the Champions League. He'll cost around 60-70 million, but he'll tie down the position for years to come.
Jack Grealish has been linked with United quite a lot, but he's more comfortable on the left than right. Norwich City's Emiliano Buendia can be an economical and interesting option as well. Between Martial, Mata, Rashford, and Greenwood, the other two front-line positions are quite secure.
It's fair to say that Frank Lampard's young Chelsea team has exceeded expectations this season. They are currently 4th, and what's noteworthy is that they also had a transfer ban in the summer.
Straight off the bat, the goalkeeper is a problem area. Kepa might be the most expensive keeper of all-time, but he has certainly not been good enough, even getting dropped in favour of the oldest player of the league, Willy Cabellero.
Chelsea should try to sign Ajax's Andre Onana. He's young, good with his feet, and clearly wants to leave. Onana might not make the headlines very often, but he's a safe and steady customer. If they fail to lure the Ajax man to London, Chelsea might even look at Burnley's Nick Pope, who has the most clean sheets in the league this season.
The other position in need of reinforcement is left-back. Neither Marcos Alonso nor Emerson have been very good, and hence, the Blues must look to replace at least one of them. A signing that would make sense in this position will be that of Porto's Alex Telles.
The Brazilian has been ready for a big move for some time now, and Chelsea should go and get his signature. He can bomb up and down the pitch, and is also blessed with great creativity. Another interesting option might be that of last year's AFCON winner, Algeria and Borussia Monchengladhbach's left-back Ramy Bensebaini.
The other areas on the pitch are perfectly fine for Chelsea. They have solid options at centre-back and right-back, the midfield is one of the best in the league, and their forward line is absolutely stacked with quality.
#1 Manchester City
The gap between Liverpool and City at the moment makes it difficult to believe that City won the league two seasons in a row before this one. It's been a shipwreck of a title defence, and City must sort out their frailties if they are to beat Liverpool next season.
The front-line has been alright, with Aguero and Jesus banging in the goals as usual. Mahrez has been terrific, and Bernardo Silva has been quite good too. Sane has been injured, and it looks like he's off to Bayern anyway. Sterling has had some issues, but he's a fantastic player and can be trusted to sort his problems out.
The midfield has been good if unspectacular. Kevin De Bruyne deserves the Player of The Season award, and Rodri has been solid in his first season. Age seems to have finally caught up with David Silva though, and City will be glad they can call upon Phil Foden to replace him. Ederson is very reliable as well between the sticks.
Now, let's address City's main problem- their defence. Aymeric Laporte might be one of the best defenders in the world, and as he soon as he got injured, City's season fell wayside. It says a lot that City's best CB this season has been their defensive midfielder Fernandinho.
Ideally, they'd like Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly or Inter's Milan Skriniar, but realistically, they would cost way too much. To solve this, they might go back into the Portuguese Liga Nos to buy Ruben Dias from Benfica. The 23-year-old is a regular for Portugal, and is ready for the step up. Alongside Laporte, he can solidify the Citizens' defence for years to come.
The right-back position is secure, with the likes of Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo being present. Left-back is the other troublesome area. Benjamin Mendy spends more time on the treatment table than on the field. This has meant that Oleksandr Zinchenko, an attacking midfielder, has played there all season.
That's a shame considering the amount of talent that is available in that position. A prime candidate to shore up the defence is Leicester City's Ben Chilwell. He has been very impressive, and Pep seems to be an admirer of the Englishman.
Leicester, though, are notorious for asking for exorbitant prices for their players (just ask United), and hence, City will have to bring their best negotiators to the table. Other options include Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico and Benfica's Alejandro Grimaldo.