Falcao to Man City: Who Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal Need to Sign to Keep Up
One of the biggest transfer moves of the summer might be wrapped up quicker than expected, with reports surfacing in the media that Manchester City are close to snaring the signature of striker Radamel Falcao.
Having sold Mario Balotelli in January and seen a general lack of excellence from their remaining front three options compared to last season, City are expected to bring in a big-name striker during the summer. It seems that Colombian attacker Falcao is their preferred option and the Premier League runners-up have agreed to pay his release clause of £54 million to seal the deal, as per to Mirror Football.
The report states that Falcao prefers to work alongside Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City—even though the current Malaga boss has not been appointed at the Etihad Stadium yet.
Should the Atletico Madrid striker sign for City, though, it would certainly be a massive coup for the beaten FA Cup finalists. It would also leave their nearest challengers for the title playing catch-up in the transfer market, so who would they need to sign this summer to keep pace with City for next term?
If City do go on to appoint Pellegrini, as seems likely according to most media outlets (as per Guardian), then they will likely have a spot more restructuring to do to the side aside from signing Falcao.
Pellegrini has long favoured a 4-2-3-1, and though this is not too dissimilar to the lineup under Roberto Mancini, there will of course be some appreciable differences in the types of players Pellegrini prefers to deploy.
It is likely he will want another central defender, another wide attacker and a central midfielder, while Costel Pantilimon's impending departure means a second-choice goalkeeper will also be required (via Sky Sports).
Who stays or goes at Manchester United? That's the first question to address.
David Moyes is on his way in to become manager, and one of his first tasks will be to assess the future of Wayne Rooney, as per Sky News. The fact that United won the Premier League title this season indicates that there is something at Old Trafford which wasn't at the Etihad Stadium this season—but was it simply Alex Ferguson?
Moyes will want to stamp his own mark on the club, yet will also be wary of being seen to try and change too much very quickly. Marouane Fellaini appears a key target, per Mirror Football, but United may also need to add quality in the wide midfield areas and at left-back.
The still-Everton manager has also perpetually put his faith in more experienced goalkeepers at Goodison Park, including current first-choice and former Man United 'keeper Tim Howard, so it will be interesting to see if he retains David de Gea as his preferred option in goal after an impressive season.
Shinji Kagawa appears an interesting option in midfield too; if Fellaini arrives to play in a central midfield role, Kagawa could be given licence to play in the roaming role behind a striker with the knowledge that a firm midfield block sits behind him. The Japanese attacker could easily clock up far more than the 16 starts he has made this term.
On the other hand, if Fellaini is kept in his more advanced role he has played for Everton this season, it would probably mean there is no place for Kagawa in the side at all—or Wayne Rooney, come to that.
Chelsea will, like Manchester United, have a new coach coming in during the summer to replace outgoing Rafa Benitez. The favourite appears to be a returning Jose Mourinho, fresh off the "worst season of his career," per BBC.
The leading rumour of the week is that Chelsea want United's Wayne Rooney for up to £30 million according to Mirror Football. Should he be arriving, it is fair to assume he will be operating as the No. 9 in a Mourinho-esque side, but they would still require another attacking midfielder to add quality depth behind Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata.
A fourth attacking midfielder at the same level as those three would provide a fearsome attacking half of the squad for Mourinho to work with, while the likes of Yossi Benayoun, Florent Malouda and perhaps the unimpressive Marko Marin could be on their way out.
A decision needs to be made on Thibaut Courtois, and Chelsea probably need another central defender to be signed if David Luiz finds a permanent home in midfield.
A top-four squad is there; a couple more additions and a manager backed by both players and fans could push Chelsea that bit further.
The only club out of these four who are likely to start 2013-14 season with the same manager they finished 12-13 with, Arsenal have some serious rebuilding to do in terms of first-choice players—but Arsene Wenger must also surely know that this summer represents a big opportunity for the Gunners.
They have what the others do not: Continuity.
To that, Wenger simply must add real mental strength and a killer touch in the final third. Arsenal need a top-drawer No. 9 to compete with the other three; having lost Robin van Persie to United and potentially seeing Falcao and Rooney join the other two, Arsenal cannot be satisfied with offering Olivier Giroud as their response.
They must do better in that regard.
Elsewhere, a top-class attacking full-back wouldn't go amiss and while the constant calls for a strong, aggressive central midfielder will continue, a central three of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta has an awful lot going for it.
It could be that they need a destroyer-type to come in and play in certain situations, rather than as a first choice, thereby opening up the options of who they could go for and reducing the cost of signing him.
There's a lot of work on for Arsenal, but this is very much the summer to get it done right.
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