With each passing second, the transfer window edges closer to slamming shut for another summer. Teams are keen to get their deals pushed over the line in time, with some requiring strengthening more than others in set positions. With that in mind, WhoScored.com have identified five teams and the players they should sign to bolster their squads sufficiently before time runs out.
Much has been written about John Stones (above, pictured) in recent weeks, with a deal taking him from Everton to Chelsea tipped to be completed before the close of the window. The young centre-back this week reportedly handed in a transfer request to force a move to Stamford Bridge in what is looking increasingly likely to be an unamicable ending to the relationship between player and club. Despite the constant speculation over Stones’ future, the 21-year-old has still gained a respectable WhoScored.com rating of 7.28 as he continues on his path to becoming one of England’s finest centre-backs. Chelsea are understandably keen for him to maintain his development at Stamford Bridge given their lackadaisical start to the season. The Blues have conceded more shots on target (24) than any other team in the Premier League this season, while only Sunderland (8) have shipped more league goals than the defending champions (7). For a team that had the best defensive record in England’s top tier last term, the lack of solidity is a concern, with Jose Mourinho keen to rectify the issue with the signing of Stones.
Stones’ rumoured exit could kick start a transfer merry-go-round, in which Everton must be primed and ready to go. The Toffees have only two senior centre-backs on the books in the form of Phil Jagielka and Stones, though with the latter likely to leave, Roberto Martinez requires reinforcements at the back. Instead of bringing in sub-standard replacements for Stones, the Toffees boss must go all out to cover his departure.
As such, Everton would be wise to use the funds gained from a Stones move to Chelsea to bid for Nicolas N’Koulou. Marseille would hate to lose their star centre-back, but for the right asking price, may be forced into selling the Cameroon international. Since the beginning of last season, N’Koulou (90.9%) boasts a relatively similar pass success rate to Stones (89.4%), with the duo’s preference to play the ball out from the back appealing to Martinez. The 25-year-old’s leadership qualities would be a boost to the Merseyside outfit in their bid to improve on a disappointing season.
Manchester United have been linked with their fair share of strikers this summer, but it is the one area that they are yet to strengthen. Wayne Rooney is currently the lead attacker in Louis van Gaal’s side, but has disappointed to say the least. The England international has managed just 13 touches in the opposition penalty area in 270 minutes of league action this season. Failure to hit the back of the net against Newcastle means Rooney has gone 9 league games without a goal for United and reports of a move for another forward come as little shock. While not quite the marquee singing fans might hope for, Michy Batshuayi – another player Marseille will want to keep hold of – has the potential to become one of the best strikers in Europe with the right management. Since the beginning of last season, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (1 goal every 105.4 minutes) has netted more frequently than Batshuayi in Ligue 1 (105.7 mins) of players to score at least 5 goals. Following Andre-Pierre Gignac’s departure, the Belgian is now rightly considered first choice frontman for Marseille, but United would be wise to make a move for the young striker before the transfer window closes.
Like United, Arsenal too have been strongly linked with a move for a new striker this summer, though they have added only Petr Cech to the ranks thus far. A move for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is dead in the water, which has seen the Gunners supposedly switch targets, with Edinson Cavani now top of the wishlist. The Uruguayan is often mentioned in the same breath as Europe’s finest frontmen, but has struggled this season, failing to hit the back of the net with any of his 9 shots in Ligue 1. Twelve goals in his final 8 domestic games of last season was form reminiscent of his Napoli days and in the Arsenal attack, Cavani could thrive, especially with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in support. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic looking increasingly likely to stay in Paris, the 28-year-old will not want to play second fiddle to the charismatic Swede for another campaign, especially as he approaches his peak. Cavani, therefore, could be just the striker Arsenal need to fire them back to the summit of English football.
Tottenham have strengthened the defence somewhat accordingly and have turned their attention further forward with the addition of Clinton N’Jie and reported move for Heung-Min Son, but it’s in midfield where Spurs still need investment. Eric Dier, a defender by trade, has started their three league games this season in midfield and one expects that Federico Fazio’s impending departure would signal a pursuit for a central midfielder. Christoph Kramer was a reported target prior to Charles Aranguiz’s injury, with attention since swapping to Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan has impressed in the middle of the park for Saints since signing from Celtic in 2013, though the south coast side have struggled in the wake of Morgan Schneiderlin’s move to Manchester United. Nevertheless, Wanyama has made a commendable 11 tackles and interceptions combined this term and could be the man to provide the solidity Spurs crave in the middle of the park in their bid to secure a top-four berth.
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