Manchester United have claimed the Premier League title for their third consecutive year now and until a few weeks ago, there was no reason to believe why they wouldn't go for a forth.
But as we see more and more every day, money really can buy you everything. Real Madrid forked up an unreal bid of £80 million for Ronaldo, which Manchester United (like any club) could not turn down. The departure of Ronaldo to Madrid comes days after agreeing to a previous world record fee of £59 million for Kaka.
In other unfortunate news (unless you hate Man United), Carlos Tevez is heading out of Old Trafford this summer. Although, he might just be moving across town. Manchester City looks like the leaders to sign the former Red Devil striker, who has been unhappy being the third choice striker over the course of the pervious campaign.
Without Tevez or Ronaldo, Man United have leveled the playing field for the title race. I am going to break down the top six teams that I believe are looking for the Premier League Title next year (and have an actual chance at getting it):
With Thomas Vermaelen already signed, and with links to Yaya Toure and Felipe Melo, Arsenal are looking like serious title contenders. Last year it was obvious that they had potential, but were lacking something in the middle of the pitch.
The signing of Vermaelen has provided their defense with depth, and signing a defensive midfielder would put them right at the top. Rumors of Adebayor exits from the Emirates have died down over the past month (until the other day) and Robin van Persie is planning some contract talks in the coming weeks.
Pending no key players leave Arsenal (Senderos and Eboue are not key, just for the record), they should finally get their hands on some silverware.
Chance of winning: 8
With new coach Carlo Ancelotti at the reigns of Chelsea, big things are expected. Although it seems Deco, Jose Bosingwa, and Ricardo Carvalho are on their way out of Chelsea, David Villa, Pato, and Andrea Pirlo are all realistic signings for the club this summer.
However, the outs always dictate the ins, but Chelsea are always expecting a title at the end of the year. However, it seems that Chelsea, although playing sound football over the past years, they have never been able to really contend to win it all (of course no one has with Man United the past years).
I believe they would expect nothing less than a top two finish, especially being linked with the forementioned players.
Chance of winning: 7
Rafael Benitez will have to deal with a shortage of money this summer transfer market. After buying an-arguably-overpriced-centre-back in Glen Johnson, they will be forced to sell some first team players.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid calling for Yossi Benayoun, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, and Javier Mascherano this summer, it's going to be an even rougher ride. Keeping all four at Anfield will be a challenge, especially if he plans to upgrade his squad.
Liverpool looked like the best team in the world during parts of the season (against Real Madrid, Man United, etc.), but when Torres and Gerrard were out with injuries, things fell apart for them.
They need to add some depth this year, or otherwise hope no injuries come about. Pending one of those aforementioned players leaves, there is left a vacant hole with little money to spend to fill it.
If they stay, there is still a lack of depth on the team. Rafael really needs to dig deep into the investors’ pockets and find some cash to spend; otherwise another top 4 finish will be in order.
Chance of winning: 7
Much of their losses were already discussed above. But let's be honest, no matter who United signs with the money off of the Ronaldo deal (or how many they sign), there is no one on this planet that can replace his shoes.
Now there are some adequate replacements and many of which are still brilliant players—David Villa, David Silva, Frank Ribery, Karim Benzima, etc.
Added upon the loss of Tevez, Man United has two significant losses. They will need to hope Fergie can work his magic in the transfer market yet again and find another "gem" among all the talent.
All in all though, if there is one team that can lose two players like Ronaldo and Tevez and still have the talent to contend for the Premier League Title, it's Man United.
Chance of winning: 8
Mark Hughes must be a kid in a candy shop this summer. The amount of money he has to spend could range in the nine-digit mark. However, the real challenge won't be finding the money or the players this summer—it will be convincing them to come to a middle of the table club, from most likely some of the top sides around the world.
Having already convinced Gareth Barry and Stuart Taylor to leave Aston Villa and Roque Santa Cruz to leave Blackburn this summer, he could be followed by (just to name a few) Carlos Tevez, Samuel Eto'o, and Joleon Lescott.
I believe they will sign multiple good players this summer and put out one of the better squads in the EPL. However, there is one thing money most certainly cannot buy, and that is team chemistry.
Man City will most likely start 9 or 10 players they have been bought within the last 15-20 months and will lack fluidity for the start of the season. A top four finish seems more reasonable than a title.
Chance of winning: 6
After David Moyes won coach of the year, bringing Everton to a surprising fifth place finish in the Premier League, they now look to break into the top four, and head to the Champions' League. Everton trio Phil Jagielka, Joseph Yobo and Tim Howard have all signed new lengthy contract extensions with the club this summer.
They now must look to bolster there squad with some signings. On loan striker Jo (from Man City), will not be signed permanently because of his price tag, but they are surely looking for a replacement up top. Kyle Naughton and Fabian Delph look like to two impending signings.
However, Everton lack the real cash to improve squad better than any of the current top four, and they may be looking at another fifth or sixth place finish again this year. Chance of winning: 4