The Transfer Fix Each Major Club Needs to Make in the Final Month of the Window

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 6, 2020

Valencia's goalkeeper Jaume Domenech saves on a shot by Ajax's Sergino Dest, center, during the group H Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Valencia at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Europe's 2020 summer transfer window closes on October 5, meaning we are just under a month away from deadline day.

Market activity has varied wildly across the continent, as some clubs continue to count their pennies and look for bargains in the wake of a global pandemic that's hit football hard, while others have unveiled untapped spending power and hauled in signing after signing.

Even among Europe's top clubs, we've seen huge contrasts in approaches. For every Chelsea, who have signed six players, there's a Liverpool, who have signed one.

Here, B/R takes stock of what the continent's best have sealed in terms of transfers so far and selects each one's biggest need remaining, suggesting a transfer fix where appropriate.

Arsenal: Sell some deadwood to make room for Thomas Partey

Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

With Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian in, Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari secured long-term, and Dani Ceballos seemingly on his way back for another season on loan, per Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal appear in pretty good shape.

B/R's Dean Jones reports that any further progress made in the market—say, for Atletico's Thomas Partey, who they are linked daily with for £44.5 million—hinges upon making some sales to both raise cash and free space in the wage budget (which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's contract extension would also eat into).

Suggestions: Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rob Holding


Atletico Madrid: Striker

Cafaro/Associated Press

Yep, Atletico still need a striker.

Los Colchoneros' one-and-done performance in Lisbon's Champions League format highlighted how lacking they are up front. Diego Costa was manhandled by Dayot Upamecano—not the other way around—hammering home the fact he's a shell of his former self, while Alvaro Morata has never felt reliable.

This writer has been banging the drum for Edinson Cavani to lead Diego Simeone's attack, but the summer has passed without that materialising. In fact, most of the Atletico transfer talk has been surrounding outgoings, with Thomas Partey to Arsenal and Jan Oblak to Chelsea the most common links.

Not only do they need to keep hold of those stars, but they also need to kick into gear and find a forward to buy.

Suggestions: Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli), Maxi Gomez (Valencia)


Barcelona: A new energetic front man

Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Barcelona are cleaning house (and with it their wage bill) this summer.

Ivan Rakitic has returned to Sevilla, Luis Suarez has agreed terms with Juventus (per Gazzetta dello Sport, h/t the Daily Mail) and transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio reports Arturo Vidal looks set for Inter Milan (h/t Sempre Inter).

This will free up some money to start improving the squad, and if there's one position that needs targeting above all else, it's striker—especially if Suarez goes.

That Barca are simply too old, slow and sluggish was made explicitly clear in the 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich. To be more proactive and energetic up front, enabling the team to squeeze up and engage higher, is a crucial need—and can only be achieved by buying younger, fresher forwards.

We're probably past the point where Lautaro Martinez of Inter is a genuine option, so Barca may have to look a bit further down their shortlist.

Suggestions: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Patson Daka (RB Salzburg)


Bayern Munich: Right-back

Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

At first glance Bayern don't seem particularly needy at right-back, as Joshua Kimmich and Benjamin Pavard have between them provided a treble-winning effort in 2020.

But it seems as though Hansi Flick wants to utilise Kimmich in central midfield—he only returned to the flank when injury forced him—and if Thiago Alcantara were to leave, that would likely cement Kimmich's permanent transition.

That would leave just Pavard on the right, so Bayern could look to the market and secure a rotator for him—ideally someone young, with a different physical profile to the incumbent, giving them variation in that position.

Suggestions: Sergino Dest (Ajax), Tomas Tavares (Benfica)


Borussia Dortmund: Backup/future left-back

Ina Fassbender/Associated Press

Dortmund are up against it financially this summer; they reported a loss of close to €45 million for the 2019-20 season, per Soccerex, which took them out of the running for Achraf Hakimi (who went to Inter Milan) and has forced them to shop on the cheap.

Realistically, there's little budget to do anything else this summer—except, you know, if a certain English winger joins a certain English club—but that won't overly concern given there are very few holes in the squad.

A right-footed centre-back might be handy, but with Emre Can able to deputise and Lukasz Piszczek enjoying the twilight of his career there, it's not a pressing concern.

What would be a pressing concern is left-back/left-wing-back, should Raphael Guerreiro get injured. Nico Schulz had a rough first year at the club and will likely go down as an expensive miss, so another body in that position—probably with an eye on the future—might work well.

Suggestions: Noah Katterbach (FC Koln), Aaron Martin (Mainz)


Chelsea: Goalkeeper

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

There's really only one need left.

With left-back and centre-back addressed and a glut of attacking options, headlined by Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, acquired thanks to a serious spending spree, the Blues have just one position left to address: goalkeeper.

Some will find it odd that they've left perhaps their most glaring issue of all till last, but figuring out the right steps to take here likely relied on if they could shift Kepa Arrizabalaga on. The Telegraph reports he'll stay, so now the type of signing and realistic budget for it are known.

But let's be clear: Chelsea have to buy a replacement or at least competition for the shirt.

Kepa's 2019-20 statistics were really bad. Fbref's xG model estimates he conceded 9.6 goals more than he should have considering the shots he faced—the worst figure of all 37 goalkeepers to feature in the Premier League, and by a fair distance.

An improved defensive line goes some way to helping that situation, but the best fix is a new man between the sticks.

Suggestions: Andre Onana (Ajax), Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal), Nick Pope (Burnley)


Liverpool: Thiago Alcantara

Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

It's arguable there's a bigger positional need for Liverpool than central midfield, but there may be no greater individual need than Thiago Alcantara.

A masterful midfielder, truly in the world-class bracket, and seemingly available for around €30 million? Football is hardly rocket science at times, but this feels especially obvious.

Yes, he's 29, and yes, he has a history of niggling injuries, but after his last two performances—in the Champions League final for Bayern Munich, and in the Nations League for Spain—we're in no doubt as to his overwhelming quality. Most importantly, Jurgen Klopp clearly wants him, and there should be an element of keeping him happy brought into the equation.

For all the talented individuals in the Reds' playing squad, Klopp ranks as one of the Reds' most prized assets. Missing out on Timo Werner and Thiago might be enough to start the cogs in his mind whirring.


Inter Milan: Sell Ivan Perisic while his stock is high

Kai Pfaffenbach/Associated Press

Inter already look primed for a serious crack at the Scudetto—on the B/R Football Ranks podcast, we've tipped them to wrestle the title off Juventus in 2021—and if they complete the signing of Aleksandar Kolarov, as Sky Sports Italia (h/t Football Italia) reports they will, their squad will be crammed full of options.

It's hard to suggest a team who have at least two players for each position need anything else, so perhaps the next step is to start trimming what's not required.

There's a cluster of players whose futures are unclear, led by Ivan Perisic, who just won the treble on loan at Bayern Munich. He's an excellent player but a bad fit for Antonio Conte's Inter (who don't utilise wingers), and on the back of the Croat's achieving such a feat, now is the ideal time to shop him for a high price.


Juventus: Right-back

Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

According to Guillem Balague, Luis Suarez has agreed to join Juventus from Barcelona. While in no way a confirmed transfer, we'll treat striker as "addressed" for the purposes of this article and focus on a different position: right-back.

Juan Cuadrado, a lifelong winger or wing-back, clocked over 2,500 minutes in a back four last season. He was serviceable, the clear best choice, and that's a damning indictment on Danilo and Mattia De Sciglio—two naturalised options in that position also on the books.

So despite technically having three right-backs, Juve probably need another one—a better one who can elevate the club's play on that flank. That will inevitably lead to the departure of at least one of the current incumbents, with De Sciglio the clear first candidate.

Suggestions: Nelson Semedo (Barcelona), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Bologna)


Manchester City: Kalidou Koulibaly

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

City have already invested around £40 million in Nathan Ake to shore up their defence this summer, but the work can't stop there.

In an ideal world, Ake represents depth for the left-centre-back spot, meaning that if Aymeric Laporte misses a chunk of time again, the team doesn't fall apart. An elite acquisition for the right-centre-back spot could transform the outlook of the team, and there's one just waiting to happen: Koulibaly, of Napoli.

The 29-year-old is in the prime of his career and has the blessings of Napoli's owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis, to leave.

Like with Thiago and Liverpool, this isn't too complicated. Get it done.


Manchester United: Jadon Sancho/a winger

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

We've hit September, and yet Sancho feels no closer to joining Manchester United than he did back in March. Having spent so long chasing a single name, it will be seen as a failure of a summer if they don't land him—no matter what else they do.

There are issues elsewhere in the team to solve—left-back, centre-back and defensive midfield could all use a look—but if the Red Devils get to October 6 and haven't brought in wing reinforcements of some variety, legitimate questions will be raised.

A downside of the Sancho saga is that United have lost ground when it comes to other potential targets, with viable alternatives like Ferran Torres already switching clubs. There are still options out there, though.

Suggestions: Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Adama Traore (Wolves), Marcus Edwards (Vitoria de Guimaraes)


Paris Saint-Germain: Right-back

Michael Regan/Associated Press

The intensity of the final stages of the Champions League in Lisbon shone a harsh light on PSG's lack of overall depth, so they'll probably be looking for astute additions in most areas over the next month.

Of all concerns, right-back likely ranks chiefly among them, as Thomas Meunier's summer departure has reduced the depth chart to just Thilo Kehrer and Colin Dagba.

Kehrer is quick enough to play it but is naturally a centre-back and should be in the central rotation, while Dagba is an academy graduate who is yet to truly convince.

Suggestions: Nelson Semedo (Barcelona), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Nordi Mukiele (RB Leipzig), Sergino Dest (Ajax)


Real Madrid: Sell Gareth Bale

Jose Breton/Associated Press

Real Madrid are usually a major player in the summer market, but Florentino Perez has made it clear on multiple occasions that the club's financial situation in 2020 will prevent them from splurging in the way we've become accustomed to.

They've been exceptionally quiet so far, only sanctioning sales and outgoing loans. Their squad is massive, so that's important, and we've already seen Hakimi, Oscar Rodriguez, Takefusa Kubo and Reinier depart either permanently or temporarily, with more to come: Dani Ceballos and James Rodriguez are bound for Arsenal and Everton, respectively, per Fabrizio Romano.

All of this makes an impact on potential transfer funds, but the big one, the one that would be a true game-changer, is a Gareth Bale exit. There's a chance Madrid's financial shackles are loosed if they could move his gargantuan wage off the weekly bill—and he's made it clear he'd be perfectly happy to go as recently as this week, to Sky Sports.


Tottenham Hotspur: Backup striker

Adam Davy/Associated Press

This has been a need for ages, but for the 2020-21 season it's essential.

If Tottenham are to have a remotely successful season, they're going to play somewhere between 60-70 games, as they have Europa League qualifiers to battle in addition to two domestic cups and the Premier League. All of this, in a condensed season because of Euro 2021's start date, is going to place a massive strain on the squad.

While Son Heung-Min can fill in for Harry Kane up top if necessary, and while Lucas Moura or Steven Bergwijn can do a job for in the odd game, a backup to Kane is now badly needed—unless they wish to risk pushing their star striker to breaking point.

Suggestions: Vedat Muriqi (Fenerbahce), Sebastien Haller (West Ham)


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