Summer Transfers: Biggest Need for Every EPL Club This Summer
As the English Premier League enters the final stretch, at least 10 clubs will be planning for the summer in a bid to improve themselves or shed deadwood from their roster.
The other 10 still aren't safe and, if they're wise, will be planning for two eventualities however unappealing one of those is.
For the purpose of this article, we're looking at every club's No. 1 priority this summer should they stay in the EPL.
Biggest Need: Defensive midfield
Arsenal need a holding midfield to either replace Mikel Arteta or play alongside him in a double pivot.
As good as the Spaniard is in possession, he lacks the defence-first instinct that a quality defensive midfielder has and the Gunners are prone to counterattacks and quick turnovers.
A player such as Etienne Capoue or Maxime Gonalons would be an incredibly smart investment this summer.
Biggest Need: Keep Christian Benteke
Without a shadow of a doubt, Aston Villa's biggest priority this summer will be to keep star man Christian Benteke.
Paul Lambert wants to build a team around his man-mountain and rightly so. Retaining the central piece—even in the face of circa £15 million offers—is a must.
Villa could use five new players, sure, but if this team survives it will become a mid-table force due to the growth of its young glut of players. No significant additions is not necessarily a significant problem.
Biggest Need: The correct managerial appointment
Sometimes it's not about players, but about the man in the dugout. Chelsea have a star-studded squad that should, theoretically, challenge anyone.
But a string of poor appointments and questionable sackings have left the club in tatters, and by common consensus there is only one man fit for the job of picking of the pieces.
That man is Jose Mourinho, and Roman Abramovich must do all he can to entice the Portuguese mastermind back to Stamford Bridge.
Biggest Need: Keep everything together
And that means everything, from the coveted Marouane Fellaini to the (contract) expiring David Moyes.
This is the best Everton squad for the last decade or more, and Toffees fans are finally optimistic that their side can take the next step. If one piece falls others are likely to follow, and it would be a shame for such a wonderfully balanced team to be ripped apart.
Biggest Need: Secure a dribbling, creative central midfielder
Fulham need to give Dimitar Berbatov more consistent service, and they find themselves in the unfortunate position of being stripped of their best assets regularly.
Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey both left this year, and in effect robbed the Cottagers of their central, creative threat. Those players are expensive and hard to find and Fulham have had difficulty replacing them.
The next step for Martin Jol's project is to fill the hole.
Biggest Need: To sort out central defence
It's a photo finish between this and the holding midfield issue, but on the basis that Lucas Leiva may return to dominant form, Brendan Rodgers must look at the centre-back problem at Anfield.
Martin Skrtel gives the fans headaches, Jamie Carragher is set for retirement and Sebastian Coates doubts his future at Liverpool (via The Mirror).
Liverpool need to add one, if not two, centre-backs this summer and give Martin Kelly a bigger role.
Biggest Need: To find some width!
It doesn't matter where it comes from, all that matters is Manchester City—and whoever is in charge—find some proper wide players to give this side some edge.
Too often are they funneled centrally, too often do they fail to win the battle in the middle and immediately run out of inspiration.
David Silva, as good as he is, doesn't offer true trickery in the wide areas, nor does Samir Nasri. Scott Sinclair is on the books but ignored, and the front office need to find a pair of wingers this summer.
Biggest Need: Spring-clean the midfield
There are no real conundrums for Sir Alex Ferguson to face this summer, but one matter still at hand is the uncertainty surrounding his midfield.
Anderson wants to leave (via The Daily Mail), Darren Fletcher probably isn't returning and Nani looks disgruntled. A solid addition at central midfield—be it Kevin Strootman, Victor Wanyama or someone else—is needed to shore up that area.
Chisel the city of Newcastle away from the British Isles and set sail for French mainland Keep the squad intact
Newcastle righted a lot of wrongs in the January transfer window and will be hoping for a settled season with the current squad intact.
That means keeping Yohan Cabaye—a player who could star in most UEFA Champions League midfields—and reintroducing Hatem Ben Arfa after a long period of injury.
With youth at full-back and all across midfield, this group just needs to gel.
Biggest Need: Sign a creative central midfielder
Norwich City have solved a gaping hole in their roster by picking up Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting for approximately £8.5 million (via BBC Sport).
But solving old issues opens up new ones, and the Canaries need to make sure they haven't wasted close to £10 million by supplementing Ricky with a central creative threat.
Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington have the wings covered, no problem, but Bradley Johnson and Johnny Howson aren't getting it done.
Queens Park Rangers
Biggest Need: To do almost nothing
For the first time in a long time, Queens Park Rangers need to learn from their mistakes.
Squad overhauls don't work. Eleven new players fixes nothing. QPR have a roster that could compete for 10th spot in the English Premier League once given a little continuity, and if they survive the drop they need to hit preseason hard and form a collective.
If QPR sign another 10 players they're making another massive mistake.
Biggest Need: Squad overhaul
What did I just say about squad overhauls?
What Reading truly need the most is a tactically able manager. Brian McDermott buried this side at the foot of the table because of his ill-fated obsession with outdated formations and methods.
By the summer the Royals will have appointed one, and we've no idea who it will be. We hope for their sake it's a savvy one, and that they can begin to fill the glaring holes within the squad.
Biggest need? Try everything—Reading have the weakest squad in the EPL by some distance and failed to add quality in the way Southampton and West Ham did.
Biggest Need: Central defensive reinforcements
Had Morgan Schneiderlin not signed a new contract recently he would be under threat of leaving, but with him secure for at least one more season the age-old issue of central defence crops up.
It's basically the only problem Southampton needed to solve in January and, after much consultation, landed Vegard Forren, who hasn't played a single minute of first-team football as yet.
Mauricio Pochettino will need to source his own man (Forren was signed by Nigel Adkins) and shore up a dodgy line that represents the Saints' only weakness.
Biggest Need: Shift focus to the deck
Stoke City have all the tools they need to survive another EPL season comfortably and don't actually need to spend any money to improve.
All they need to do is start using the assets available to them to play some good, solid football on the ground. The summer should be spent taking intensive courses on "how to resist the urge to kick it at Peter Crouch's forehead."
Charlie Adam, Steven N'Zonzi and co. are all capable—let them show it.
Biggest Need: Find some full-backs
Sunderland's full-back situation doesn't make for great viewing.
Ahmed Elmohamady is on loan at Hull City and not wanted by Martin O'Neill; Danny Rose is on loan from Tottenham and not a long-term option; Craig Gardner is a converted midfielder who's doing a job for his team.
The options on either side are running dry and, despite concerns about attacking fluency, left- and right-back must be addressed in the summer.
Biggest Need: Alternate weapon
Swansea have a good squad in place and, despite everything you'll read over the summer, not many are going to be poached.
The Swans are reliant on star striker Michu and, after selling Danny Graham to Sunderland in January, have nowhere else to turn for goals.
To balance the side, Michael Laudrup needs to purchase another goalscoring threat. Whether that's a rotational striker or a truly lethal midfielder, it doesn't matter too much.
Biggest Need: Keep Gareth Bale
Much the same as Aston Villa, who could use depth but would favour the retention of Christian Benteke, Tottenham would be happy to escape the summer with their Welsh wizard still on the payroll.
Spurs could use an alternate option up front, some depth on the wings and a fail-safe option in the absence of Mousa Dembele.
But losing their star man would be a bitter blow to the North London club, who are currently riding the Bale-train to a top-four berth and beyond.
West Bromwich Albion
Biggest Need: Striking clarity
West Bromwich Albion don't have a lot of holes and instead should look to clarify what they have and haven't got as they move forward.
Where can Peter Odemwingie go? Is Romelu Lukaku staying for another season on loan? What does the future hold for Marc-Antoine Fortune and Markus Rosenberg?
There are a lot of questions to be answered before progress can be made.
Biggest Need: Trim the fat
West Ham have a pretty big squad. It's full of players who have the quality to stay in the English Premier League, but before the club adds to its massive wage bill again this summer, they need to shed the deadwood.
Upton Park is something of a striker's scrap pile, and before Wilfried Bony is picked up (via The Daily Mail), why not get rid of the three that don't play anyway?
The Hammers need to get the long-term plan straight: who's here for the long haul and who needs to leave?
Biggest Need: 20-goal striker
Every summer is the same for Wigan Athletic fans.
After narrowly avoiding relegation from the EPL, Roberto Martinez steps up his search for the striker that can take his club to the next level.
This summer will be no different despite this season's recruitment of Arouna Kone: a great pickup, he's excellent coming in off the flank but doesn't put the required amount of chances away.
Someone big, someone who can hold the ball and someone who can reliably hit the back of the net.