Summer Transfer Window: Biggest Need Left for Every EPL Squad
With the summer transfer in full swing, certain clubs have ventured out and conducted early business to get their squads in order for preseason.
But while Aston Villa, Sunderland and Fulham have been quick off the mark, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have been anything but.
B/R assesses each English Premier League club's biggest need as we approach the start of summer conditioning training.
Arsenal: Holding Midfielder
The only move Arsenal have made so far this summer is to capture Yaya Sanogo, a striking project with big potential but little immediate impact.
Fans will still crave a true replacement for Robin van Persie, while question marks hang over Bacary Sagna's future.
If Gonzalo Higuain really is just a few details away from signing, the priority becomes holding midfield. Whether it's to replace/play alongside Mikel Arteta or anchor a midfield behind Jack Wilshere's steaming runs, a true tackler must be found.
Aston Villa: Trim the Wage Bill
Surprisingly, Paul Lambert has already added five players—following Antonio Luna's expected move, confirmed by The Express—to his squad.
That's quick business, and it's all in the right positions, too: Left-back, central midfield, central defence, striker and winger have all been fortified.
Now, Aston Villa need to trim the wage bill by shedding unwanted, high earners. Darren Bent, Stephen Ireland and Shay Given will likely be the first three out the door.
Cardiff City: Clarity in the Forward Three
Cardiff City are yet to do any business, and Malky Mackay's plans for the new season, therefore, remain unclear.
With electric wingers and a fit-again striker in Nicky Maynard, the fans are confident the Bluebirds can do some damage in the Premier League.
The big question is how they'll line up (formation-wise), though, and whether or not the side will recruit a No. 10 to play behind the striker. If they opt for two out-and-out front men, they could get crushed, so if there's an attacking midfielder on offer, expect Mackay to bid.
Chelsea: Sort out the Striking Conundrum
Jose Mourinho has inherited a squad thick with quality in every position other than striker.
His first meaningful task this summer will be to organise who plays, who stays, who leaves and who signs.
What of Demba Ba? He impressed early on, but tailed off dramatically toward the end of the season and doesn't look like the sort of player Mou will rest his hopes on.
Crystal Palace: Spend
Crystal Palace are yet to make a signing this summer.
Ian Holloway was incredibly conservative with the coffers at Blackpool and got relegated, and while we're not suggesting he needs to go out and blitz the market, he will have learned a lesson or two in risk from 2010.
With £15 million available from the sale of Wilfried Zaha and a further kitty from the new BT television deal, Palace need to enter the market for a number of players.
An attacking, creative outlet in midfield is arguably their greatest need.
Everton: Players to Aid Transition
Everton are about to undergo a pretty drastic stylistic change.
David Moyes favoured direct football with quick switches of play to exploit new angles. Darron Gibson was the perfect central midfielder for this, but can he control the tempo of a game, too?
Roberto Martinez will want possession football and knows he needs a few new players to make that switch at Goodison Park. James McCarthy would be a popular start.
Fulham: Creative Central Playmaker
Fulham have been very active in the transfer market so far, but still haven't found their missing ingredient.
The Cottagers need to find a central creative playmaker who can dictate and control games to move to the next level. But they don't come in cheap form.
Martin Jol spent big on Bryan Ruiz, and it looks like he'll need to spend a similar sort of fee to get the calibre of player required.
Hull City: Goalkeeper
A striker is needed, but Steve Bruce's first objective must be to sign a permanent No. 1 between the sticks.
David Stockdale impressed on loan last season but could be too costly, and the Tigers have been linked with a cut-price, £1-million move for Shay Given by The Mirror.
Bruce will know the importance of a steady presence in goal and will not navigate the summer window without securing someone for the role.
Liverpool: Sort out the Luis Suarez Debacle
The question marks hanging over Luis Suarez's head are irritating, as Liverpool can't effectively plan their transfer window without knowing if he's staying or going.
If he stays, he slots back into the starting XI with ease and gives the Reds extreme depth across the front three or four.
If he leaves, Henrikh Mkhitaryan becomes a can't-miss signing, and it's arguable a replacement must be signed.
Manchester City: Striking Clarity
Txiki Begiristain has already solved Manchester City's two problem areas, purchasing Fernandinho and Jesus Navas to shore up holding midfield and right winger.
Manuel Pellegrini walks into the job to meet a stacked squad with very few issues, but the striking department is still in need of attention.
Carlos Tevez is fancied to leave with just 12 months left on his deal, while Edin Dzeko needs convincing to stay. That just leaves Sergio Aguero, and should Pellegrini lose the other two, he may have to enter the market.
Manchester United: Who's Actually Leaving, Then?
Before he can secure a major signing of note, David Moyes needs to work out which of his squad is leaving this summer.
Wayne Rooney's rejected transfer request has left him in limbo, while Nani seemingly wants out with just a year left on his contract.
Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have underperformed, Anderson's not getting a chance and Wilfried Zaha's impact is impossible to predict.
Simply being able to divide his players—particularly the wingers—into two columns of "playing" and "going" would be incredibly useful.
Newcastle United: Front Office Clarity
A lot has happened at Newcastle over the last few days.
Joe Kinnear's appointment is already a sizable embarrassment, with both fans and players of the club likely very confused as to why he was hired and why he can't pronounce anyone's name correctly.
Alan Pardew, along with Chief Scout Graham Carr, have made a policy of purchasing French talent from Ligue 1 to build the team.
Will this change? Does Kinnear have another league up his sleeve? And which "underperformers" is he going to sell?
Norwich City: The Parts to Accompany Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Chris Hughton has pushed the boat out by securing the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, as per the BBC.
He's a luxury striker in comparison to Grant Holt, and right now Norwich City don't have the peripherals to make him a success.
The Canaries must secure some creative, central players—either in the No. 10 position or deeper, in the No. 6 role—to control possession and bring van Wolfswinkel into the proceedings.
Southampton: Just Depth
Having signed Dejan Lovren to play centre-back, Southampton will be happy enough with their defence—Maya Yoshida is good, Jos Hooiveld is adequate and Vegard Forren is expected to emerge this season.
With no immediate concerns, Mauricio Pochettino will be looking at depth signings to improve competition in the squad and shore up certain areas.
Left-back, central midfield and striker could all use a fresh face.
Stoke City: Players to Change Their Philosophy
The Stoke City way of life—you know, hoof it—is ingrained. You can't wash it out with the appointment of a new manager.
In a way, it's almost as if you have to restore your players to factory setting, so purchasing new ones becomes the easier and more favourable task.
Mark Hughes will be on the lookout for players that fit his philosophy, and he'll recruit them in key areas to aid a stylistic transition at the club.
Sunderland: Thrash out an Identity
With plenty of new signings and a focused, determined head coach at the helm, no club will reinvent themselves like Sunderland this summer.
What's unclear, though, is how Paolo Di Canio wants to shape his side tactically. He took charge in the middle of a crisis and righted the ship, but was that a contingency measure or a long-term strategy?
Results were wild—3-0 win against Newcastle, 6-1 loss to Aston Villa—and it makes it extremely difficult to measure PDC as a top-tier manager.
Swansea City: Keep Michael Laudrup
A certain rumour just won't go away, and if you're a Swansea fan, that rumour will be starting to work your last nerve by now.
As reported by The Mirror, Paris Saint-Germain have looked at Michael Laudrup for their vacant managerial role. This follows previous interest from Chelsea and Real Madrid, which The Independent revealed in February.
Swansea have to hold on to their prized asset to progress.
Tottenham: Sign a Striker
Tottenham probably would have secured a top-four berth last season if it weren't for their flailing front line.
Emmanuel Adebayor was awful for the entire campaign bar the final few weeks, while Jermain Defoe juggled his up-and-down form with a pretty hefty injury.
Depth at central midfield will be something Andre Villas-Boas would like, but what he'll crave is a 20-goal striker who can fire them into the UEFA Champions League next season.
West Brom: Replace the Excitement of Romelu Lukaku
West Brom are a fine-functioning side.
They go from front to back in minimal time, waste little in terms of "fancy" possession football and create a high number of scoring chances.
What set them apart in their time of need was Romelu Lukaku—a fast, exciting, creative and deadly player who could produce something out of nothing, be it a pass, a run or a shot on goal.
They won't get relegated as they are, but it's tough to see them progressing. They need another Lukaku, whichever position or form it comes in, and this time they'd better make it a permanent one.
West Ham: Keep Your Assets
Left-back sorted, striker sorted. Reserve goalkeeper in place and plenty of depth in central areas.
Really, the only thing left for Sam Allardyce to do is keep hold of his most-wanted assets—i.e. Mohamed Diame—and keep moving the club in the right direction.
With Carlton Cole gone, Big Sam may look at another striking option.