3 Premier League squads that need work in the transfer window
- The season is not over yet, but clubs would have already identified the problem areas in their squads.
- Let's take a look at 3 teams that would definitely splash the cash ahead of the upcoming season.
Despite the uncertainty that currently envelops English football, there are several clubs that could well be looking at an overhaul during the next transfer window, and for good reason. The summer transfer window will be a catalyst for each team’s success when the Premier League returns and managers are looking ahead to shape their squads despite the lack of game time.
As it stands, Arsenal will miss out on European football altogether, for what would be the first time since scoring a miserable 12th-place finish in 1995. In turn, the Gunners have a potential exodus on their hands.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka appear particularly vulnerable to any cull enforced by Arsenal’s dwindling fortunes. Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil’s departure seems inevitable, even if Arsenal do somehow find a way back into the European frame.
New faces will no doubt appear, but Gunners fans can expect any 'overhaul' to be mostly tactical. There is clear evidence that Arteta is already making room for the younger talent in-situ, with Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka increasingly prominent around the senior squad since Arteta's appointment.
Saka, in particular, has developed rapidly over the past six months, and Arteta could do far worse than use him as a nucleus for the next squad building project.
Even before Arteta's arrival, Saka was making waves, memorably getting a goal and an assist beyond the 80th minute vs Frankfurt in matchday one of the Europa League group stage.
To plug the midfield gaps likely to be left by Ozil and Xhaka in the near-future, Mikel Arteta will need to act quickly, and draw upon his own days as a playmaker and set-piece expert.
Weston McKennie, a ‘terrier-like’ midfielder and natural ball-winner, is a worthy candidate to replace Xhaka. Between August and March, the versatile Schalke midfielder averaged 20.7 ‘pressures’ per-game, alongside 0.77 key passes.
On the other side of the equation, Nantes’ Imran Louza has been highlighted as a potential replacement for Ozil, having averaged a total of 3.1 ball recoveries, 1.2 completed dribbles and 2.0 key passes per-game before Ligue 1's cancellation.
Despite improving greatly since the departure of manager Marco Silva, outright football odds are still set to price Everton as likelier to drop than to win the title in the next full season.
The midfield is a focal area for present-day manager Carlo Ancelotti to address in the next summer transfer window. Andre Gomes is undoubtedly Everton's midfield MVP, but to get back to his very best, he needs a replacement partner of the departed Idrissa Gueye's calibre.
Having failed to live up to their respective price tags, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin have become pariah figures with the fanbase. Tom Davies, a homegrown talent, is also largely seen as someone in desperate need of a loan season in the Bundesliga or Eredivisie.
Jean-Phillipe Gbamin's struggles with injuries are well-documented, and he will need at least half of the next full season to get up to speed. It is a potentially desperate state of affairs, leading to a number of names cropping up in the rumour mill.
Reinforcements in the wide defensive areas are also needed, especially with Seamus Coleman an aging figure. Bluntly speaking, the Irishman has never been the same since his long layoff with a broken leg sustained on international duty.
On the opposite flank, Lucas Digne needs competition at the very least, with the Frenchman enduring a torrid sophomore campaign after enjoying such a sublime 2018/19 season.
Back on 11 May, the Liverpool Echo named Pierre-Emilie Hojbjerg as a potential replacement for Gueye. The Danish midfielder has been a rare beacon of hope for Southampton over a tumultuous year for the club on the field.
Only second behind James Ward-Prowse for assists amongst the Southampton midfield, Hojbjerg compensates for his ability to incur the referee's wrath with a multitude of strengths that Everton currently lack.
Amongst those strengths is the ability to win aerial duels, which would lessen the pressure on central defence. Michael Keane would be a certain beneficiary, as he is yet to show real consistency in the aerial duels department. Hojbjerg is also a good interceptor of the ball, which could increase Gomes’ chances of finding space to run into.
As for the wide areas of defence, potential additions are yet to be widely named. Regardless, Mohammed Simakan has been linked with Everton – along with Spurs and AC Milan – having shown the ability to play at right-back or in the centre of defence.
3) West Ham
After 29 Premier League rounds, West Ham are one of just four teams in the league to have conceded 50+ goals. The others are the bottom two (Aston Villa and Norwich) and Southampton. The situation only gets worse, with Issa Diop’s head potentially being turned by the opportunity to play under Jose Mourinho at Tottenham.
Curiously, Diop is statistically a weak link in West Ham’s defence. He has conceded a team-high 42 goals, for an average of just over 0.02 goals per-minute, despite playing only 1,955 minutes – only the third-highest tally of minutes played amongst West Ham’s designated defenders.
With just 36 goals conceded across 2,160 league minutes played in 2019/20, Angelo Ogbonna would represent a greater loss in that regard, and Moyes would be well-advised to find a centre-back that can suit Ogbonna’s overall game in a more constructive way.
Further up the field, the likes of Sebastien Haller, Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson have largely continued to disappoint following David Moyes’ reappointment. Replacing them will be a much bigger issue than steadying the backline, and the overhaul West Ham truly need may well be beyond them.
Failing a defensive overhaul in the centre, David Moyes could do worse than explore the possibility of finding a defensive winger. One with the ability to ease the pressure on the centre-backs, through swift countering, would be particularly welcome.
It is this train of thought that has seen Joakim Maehle linked to a move from Genk. The Danish right-back reportedly came close to joining Southampton for 11.5m euros back in January. Last season, he established a reputation for getting into advanced positions before trying to cross.
While Maehle’s abilities in retaining the ball would face a far greater test in the Premier League compared to the Belgian First Division, avoiding the attempted cross from deep would lessen the chances of West Ham’s centre backs becoming exposed to a potential counter.