Each Champions League Contender's Transfer Window Shopping List
Football never sleeps, and although in some ways it feels like the summer has only just begun, the truth is competitive club football is never far away.
The UEFA Champions League qualifiers are already in full swing, and by the end of the month, we'll know who will contend in the final qualifying round for the group stage. For some, time is already becoming an enemy as they attempt to manoeuvre their way through a tricky transfer market and acquire the pieces they need in order to compete.
Among Europe's top teams, fortunes have differed wildly so far. The likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have been forthright and fast in their moves to improve their squads, whereas clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United have dragged their feet a little. Then there's Atletico Madrid, who are literally banned from registering anyone for the rest of the year.
We've taken stock of what's happened in the market so far and assessed what else needs to be done for the 15 strongest teams (per odds from Oddschecker) set to compete in the 2017-18 Champions League.
On the list: General depth
RB Leipzig have made some good early moves in the market, securing a mix of new starters and strong depth options. Bruma, in particular, is a very exciting acquisition.
They need to continue doing that on a general basis and add players throughout the squad; the one they used last season was absolutely tiny, with only 13 players totalling 10 or more starts in the Bundesliga for them.
That was fine given the circumstances—they had no Champions League and exited the German Cup absurdly early—but this time it'll be very different indeed.
On the list: Left-back, winger, back-up striker
Roma have a problem at left-back. Emerson Palmieri tore his ACL at the end of the 2016-17 season, and given the club have also sent Mario Rui away this summer, there's a void in need of filling.
That's the biggest priority for Monchi right now, but also on his list should be a winger to replace Mohamed Salah—it'd be unfair to expect so much from Cengiz Under so soon—and a centre-back to replace Antonio Rudiger.
Also, a back-up to Edin Dzeko would be great to have, but possibly too difficult a thing to swing for the same reasons Tottenham Hotspur struggle to back up Harry Kane.
On the list: Centre-back, central midfielder, left-back
According to the Daily Mail's Dominic King and Ben Grounds, Liverpool are on the verge of completing an £8 million deal for Andrew Robertson. It's a move that satiates a big need at left-back—although whether the Scot is of the requisite quality is another question entirely.
So what does that leave?
Well, they're still badly in need of a top-tier centre-back—a fact they're clearly aware of, given their overzealous efforts to sign Virgil van Dijk earlier in the summer. If they can't get him, they must turn to someone else.
They also look light in central midfield—not least because the players they have there frequently sustain injuries—and their apparent lust for Naby Keita (per Sky Sports) means Liverpool are well aware of it.
On the list: Right-back, attacking depth
Generally speaking, it's really difficult for Mauricio Pochettino to add to his squad. Tottenham are very good, but they are yet to reach the sort of juggernaut status that allows them to pay big wages to squad players.
It means a move to Spurs, as great as they are, is a tough sell. How do you convince a very good striker to come and play second-fiddle to Kane? How do you get a Christian Eriksen-level attacking midfielder to wait patiently for Eriksen to tire before he can play?
At least one body that can play across the attacking midfield line is needed, and they need to be the very opposite of Clinton N'Jie or Georges-Kevin Nkoudou. Pochettino has tried and failed to address this need a number of times; this summer he needs to nail it.
Elsewhere, a right-back is needed whether or not you love Kieran Trippier. The physical demands placed on Pochettino full-backs is immense, and rotation is required for it to work.
On the list: Nothing?
Napoli are an interesting team under Maurizio Sarri. No doubt you will have seen their remarkable, highlight passages of possession play, and they're probably the best side in Europe to watch.
But that swaggering style doesn't come easily; Sarri trains them hard and forces new players into an adaption process that takes months. Many of their 2016 summer signings—midfielders Amadou Diawara and Marko Rog in particular—played sparingly as they endured a rigorous footballing education.
That means the Partenopei will struggle to buy an immediate impact player this window, and their squad is already stacked full of quality and numbers.
On the list: Defensive midfielder, left-back
Jose Mourinho managed to weasel out a pretty successful season in 2016-17, glossing over the many faults in his side and hauling in three pieces of silverware. The list of needs heading into the summer was clear, and he's about halfway through it.
Victor Lindelof must be joined by a new left-back. Mourinho doesn't trust Luke Shaw and doesn't seem to want to play him, Matteo Darmian can only be viewed as a stop-gap, and Daley Blind's performances fluctuate there. The market's tough, though; there aren't many options out there.
In midfield, a reshuffle is needed in order to spark the best from Paul Pogba, and that can be achieved by purchasing a No. 6 to anchor the midfield. Someone like Fabinho would be ideal, though The Mirror's James Nursey reported Eric Dier is the one being chased at the moment.
On the list: Two left-backs, one right-back, one centre-back
Manchester City's needs are purely defensive at this stage. The attacking ranks are packed full of options, and the midfield should be fine as long as Ilkay Gundogan's recovery goes well.
But at the back they look startlingly light on numbers. Kyle Walker's been signed, but another right-back is needed, and they probably need two for the left flank. Benjamin Mendy is reportedly set to sign for the club, per The Independent's Jack Pitt-Brooke, but that wont be enough.
Another centre-back should be on the list. Nicolas Otamendi is yet to find consistency, Vincent Kompany's fitness can't be trusted, and it feels like John Stones needs a veteran partner to feed off in order to develop.
On the list: Two strikers, two wing-backs and some central midfield depth
It's been a slow summer for Chelsea, but two first-team acquisitions are finally through the door—Antonio Rudiger, from Roma, and Tiemoue Bakayoko, from Monaco—and they've picked up Willy Caballero as a reserve goalkeeper, too.
The problem is, there's still a lot of work left to do. If the season began tomorrow, the Blues would have fewer than 20 established first-team players to look to, and given they're in four competitions in 2017-18, that's a problem.
Overall, the lack of depth in midfield is concerning fans. Nathaniel Chalobah is gone, Nemanja Matic has been exempted from the club's pre-season tour (presumably as a precursor to leave) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been sent out on loan. N'Golo Kante is getting lonely, guys!
Striker is still an incredibly obvious, pressing need for Antonio Conte to address, too, with Diego Costa having been told earlier in the summer he's not in the manager's plans. They need two of those in all likelihood given Loic Remy is set to leave, per Sky Sports News HQ.
Also, the've got little cover at wing-back, hence the chasing of Alex Sandro this summer, as reported by BBC Sport. They need one for the left and one for the right.
On the list: Some big-game composure?
Unai Emery has a deep and talented squad at his disposal. It includes a compatriot centre-back pairing, five quality full-backs, Marco Verratti patrolling the middle and a lethal front three. Dani Alves represents an intriguing, dynamic addition.
They'll be installed as favourites for the Ligue 1 title, and while people may just scoff at their Champions League chances, it should be remembered they pasted Barcelona in the first leg of the round of 16. If they can avoid a gargantuan mental collapse, they might just be on course for a successful campaign.
On the list: They're not allowed in the store
Atletico Madrid's registration ban has been both good and bad. As a result of it, they've kept Antoine Griezmann, who otherwise would likely have left for Manchester United, but they can't sign anyone new to play for the rest of 2017.
It seems they've found a way around that to an extent, signing Vitolo ahead of January and having him spend some time in the Canary Islands beforehand, but it's impossible to forecast what they might do next—if they do anything at all.
On the list: Maybe a right-back?
Borussia Dortmund's squad is a big one; they're pretty well covered in every position. Any transfers from here would either be to replace a star who has left, or to plug a gap that's only three-quarters filled. If anything, they've probably got too many players.
Fans will be concerned that BVB stand to enter the 2017-18 season with Julian Weigl out until October, but recruiting in this area might be frivolous—Nuri Sahin, Mikel Merino, Mahmoud Dahoud, Gonzalo Castro and Sebastian Rode can all play in that area.
Something could be done at right-back, though, as Lukasz Piszczek is now 32 and can't rumble through every game like he used to, and it's arguable Felix Passlack isn't quite ready to take on an important role.
This all changes if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang departs, but until he does...
On the list: Nothing
As ever, Bayern Munich have been supremely efficient in their summer shopping and appear to have everything in place already.
The midfield's been restocked post-Xabi Alonso, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge announced months ago that Joshua Kimmich will play at right-back for 2017-18, Niklas Sule can provide relief at centre-back and James Rodriguez has replaced Douglas Costa in the attacking-midfield area.
Oh to be Bayern for a day.
On the list: Central midfielder
Ernesto Valverde has had plenty of time to chew over the task he's been presented with as new Barcelona boss, and at the end of last week, he sealed a good deal for a player who upgrades this team considerably.
Nelson Semedo solves the right-back problem neatly. He's aggressive, attacking, smart and can be a difference-maker in the final third. It frees up Sergi Roberto as a swing full-back/midfielder, which is where he can be of most use to the team.
Still, Barcelona look short in that central area. We're not yet sure if Valverde will opt for a 4-2-3-1 and partner Sergio Busquets directly with someone or pursue with the 4-3-3, but either way, a change is needed. Andre Gomes had it rough last year and doesn't look at home, while Andres Iniesta's fitness cannot be relied upon.
On the list: A first-choice right-back, depth at central midfield, goalkeeper and centre-back
Alves' abrupt departure means Juventus' full-back headache has been extended to both sides. Not only are they fending off serious Chelsea interest in Sandro on the left, but now they need to acquire another man for the right.
That's probably the only first-team concern they have, but that doesn't mean Max Allegri has just one job to do. There are depth issues across the team now, with Neto's departure creating a void behind Gianluigi Buffon, and three injury-prone centre-backs meaning what they have might not be enough post-Leonardo Bonucci.
Central midfield has been a minor concern for a while, but that falls to the back of the queue for now.
On the list: David de Gea, as per usual
What do you get the kid who has it all for Christmas?
There are no glaring needs or holes at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid will replace Pepe with the returning Jesus Vallejo, and they've made a pretty big deal of handing him the No. 3 shirt and representing him as a Blanco.
As it stands, Alvaro Morata is still at the club, and Dani Ceballos has replaced Rodriguez at the bottom of the attacking depth chart.
So, all in all, Zinedine Zidane has everything he needs to attempt a triple Champions League crown and more. He has the world's best full-back pairing, a stacked midfield and ferocious attacking options.
But don't think for one second that the capital side have taken their eye off the David De Gea situation. That's the one piece Florentino Perez will consider missing, and while largely Keylor Navas was fine in 2016-17, Madrid-born De Gea is better.
All statistics via WhoScored.com