THE RETURN OF the Premier League is only a few short weeks away with last season’s top four about to embark on their pre-season trips around the globe. But who should last season’s Premier League pacesetters sign before another domestic campaign kicks-off and how likely are those moves to go through?
The left-back position has filled plenty of column inches this summer with a renewed bid for Leighton Baines in the offing following Guillermo Varela’s arrival from Penarol for £2.4million.
If Patrice Evra leaves (as expected) for Monaco or Madrid then Baines would represent an experienced replacement and an instant threat from set pieces. Varela is highly-regarded at Old Trafford but David Moyes has made no secret of his admiration for Baines suggesting the England international will eventually be prised away from Goodison Park.
The Thiago Alcantara saga also needs to come to an end and quickly, as the mercurial Barcelona midfielder would represent a serious upgrade of United’s midfield now that Paul Scholes has retired. United’s chances of capturing the 22-year old look good with Barca unable to guarantee regular first team football unlike the Premier League champions. Moyes needs to make at least one marquee signing before jetting off on an arduous pre-season trip and Thiago Alcantara would certainly represent a marvellous acquisition.
Will United get their men? Apart from summer-long Ronaldo and Gareth Bale rumours, United’s long-term targets of Baines and Alcantara look likely to make the move to OT provided United meet Everton and Barcelona’s evaluations.
Manuel Pelligrini’s arrival has coincided with the high-profile signings of Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk for £30m and Jesus Navas from Sevilla for £17m. Carlos Tevez’s move to Juventus means a new striker and an attacking midfielder appear City’s next major transfer objectives before the return of the domestic season.
One star that certainly fits the attacking midfielder mould is Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic. City have already had meetings with the player’s agent but Juventus’ long-standing interest in the Montenegrin plus a reported £27m buy-out clause may well scupper any potential deal. Pelligrini needs additional creativity in the centre of the park to complement David Silva and Fernandinho and a player of Jovetic’s stature fits the bill.
Tevez’s move to Serie A leaves a gaping hole in Manchester City’s attack with mega-bids for Isco, Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani rumoured throughout the summer. Targets that are more realistic appear to include Sevilla hit man Alvaro Negredo or Roma’s Pablo Osvaldo.
Will City get their men? A new striker will certainly arrive at the Etihad before the start of the season while a Jovetic deal is also a distinct possibility as Fiorentina need to recoup some of the £17 million spent on Bayern’s Mario Gomez earlier this week.
Similar to Pelligrini at Manchester City, Jose Mourinho has two new players added to his Chelsea roster for the upcoming campaign in Andre Schurrle, signed from Bayer Leverkusen for £18m, and Marco van Ginkel bought from Vitesse Arnhem for £9m.
Most of the Chelsea summer speculation has surrounded the striker’s position with firm interest in Edinson Cavani all but ended once PSG made their intentions known.
Wayne Rooney’s stop-start negotiations at Old Trafford have led to multiple reports of a possible Chelsea bid until David Moyes cooled speculation with a firm hands-off during his maiden United press conference. Yet Chelsea remain one of the few English clubs ready to meet Rooney’s massive wage demands and a move to London has not been ruled out by the player himself or his army of representatives.
Will Chelsea get their man? It is going to take a mega-transfer bid of £60m, £240,000 a week wages and Champions League football to prise Rooney from Old Trafford. The only English club able to this are Chelsea courtesy of Roman Abramovich’s deep pockets. Rooney’s move is only a possibility rather than a probability at the time of writing.
(AP Photo/Alberto Di Lolli)
Arsenal’s summer-long chase of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain looks set to come to a head in the coming weeks even though Madrid President Florentino Perez claimed earlier today that the Gunners are yet to make a firm bid. It is worth noting that Perez has said much the same in the past shortly before a Galactico was signed or a Madrid player exited the Santiago Bernabeau.
Signing a player of Higuain’s experience and quality plus another attacking midfielder has the potential to turn Arsenal from perennial top four finishers into outside Premier League title contenders.
The Higuain chase plus a firm bid for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez this past week underlines Arsenal’s willingness to finally loosen the purse strings and go in search of big-money signings rather than uncut diamonds even though Arsene Wenger has already signed French U19 international Yaya Sanogo.
Will Arsenal get their men? The Suarez deal appears unlikely to go through with the Uruguayan angling for a move to Spain. Arsenal simply have to sign Higuain however especially after such public courting throughout the summer and prove to their fans that the club is willing to break the bank for top talent to become a serious Premier League contender once again.
Ger McCarthy is an Irish-based freelance sports journalist and published author. A regular contributor to Irish daily national the Irish Examiner, he also pens weekly columns for both the Evening Echo & Southern Star newspapers. Has written extensively for the Setanta Sports, NewsTalk, and Shoot! Football magazine web sites and is a regular member of Back Page Football’s Hold The Back Page football podcast.His first book ‘Off Centre Circle’ about a lifetime spent toiling in the amateur football leagues of Ireland received critical acclaim.