With the recent opening of the summer transfer window for English clubs, Wessex Scene provide you with a mini series of who we think will be coming and going for all the Premier League teams from A-Z. The second instalment of this series covers Crystal Palace to Liverpool, with Sean Gilbody giving his thoughts on who will be in and out the door this summer.
Last season must have been beyond most Palace fans biggest hopes. With Tony Pulis resigning just days before the season, and Neil Warnock being a failed replacement, it seemed all doom and gloom at Selhurst Park. But a new manager in Alan Pardew, and a top ten finish later, things are really looking up for the London side. The big aim for Palace will be to hang on to the formidable trio that has been Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie. Early reports have linked Bolasie particularly with a number of clubs such as Liverpool and Tottenham. To complete this dangerous attack though, investment in a striker is much needed. Glenn Murray scored a few goals in the second half of last season, and Dwight Gayle showed flashes of quality, but these two alone are not enough if Palace are looking to achieve even better next season. Current transfer rumours have linked them with quality forwards such as QPR’s Charlie Austin, Chelsea’s Loic Remy and Hull City’s Dame N’Doye, all of whom would add much needed goals to the team.
Although any of these would be ideal, money is obviously going to be an issue. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Yohan Cabaye is Selhurst-bound, a huge coup for the club. However, a £10 million fee will take up a large chunk of what is a relatively modest transfer budget. A lack of funds was one of the alleged reasons that Tony Pulis left last year, so Alan Pardew may need to sell a player or two if he wishes to bring any of these in.
This is a big transfer window for Everton. Quite frankly, Everton’s 11th place finish last season was well and truly below their fans’ expectations, particularly with the money spent on players such as Romelu Lukaku. In many ways, this window could determine Roberto Martinez’s future at Goodison Park. The Blues have done some good early business, getting rid of a disappointing Antolín Alcaraz and an over-the-hill Sylvain Distin whilst bringing in Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu, signings which has given the club a much needed lift.
There still remains, however, a couple of key areas which need to be strengthened. A quality centre back is needed for cover, and eventually to replace an ageing Phil Jagielka. Rumours at the moment have centred on Juventus’ Angelo Ogbonna, Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk and Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann, any of whom would fit the bill nicely. Martinez has also commented that his top priority is a quality number 10. Who this might be hasn’t really been revealed, although talks of Shinji Kagawa have a lot of Evertonians excited.
The club’s biggest task though, is keeping their star names. John Stones has quickly become a fan favourite, and a key player if Martinez wants to carry on his possession-based style. The papers have constantly linked him with a move to all the top clubs in the country, but he simply can’t be sold without serious questions being asked of the board. With Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas also being linked with moves away, it’s going to be a nervous but exciting summer for all Blues fans.
With the recent sacking of Nigel Pearson, it’s quite hard to speculate as to who will be coming and going out of the King Power stadium. Although Pearson performed what was quite frankly a miracle in keeping the midlands club up, it’s quite easy to see why the Thai owners did so. Pearson was a complete PR nightmare for the club last season, fighting with fans, players and journalists alike. In addition, it cannot be stated that like Sean Dyche at Burnley he was on a tiny budget last season. For example, Andrej Kramaric was bought in for £9 million and Leonardo Ulloa for £8 million, hefty fees for a side just promoted from the Chamoionship. Certainly, Pearson performed arguably the greatest escape arguably in Premier League history, being bottom at March and winning 7 out of the last 9 league games to ensure survival, but quite frankly with the money spent, they should have never have been there in the first place.
Early favourites to replace him include Neil Lennon, Sam Allardyce and one of their players of the season this campaign: Esteban Cambiasso. Although Allardyce is somewhat of an expert in Premier League survival now, his arrival might be seen as a dampener for the fans due to his arguably unjust reputation of using ‘long-ball’ football. Lennon and Cambiasso would be more interesting prospects; Lennon would be the safer choice, given his experience with Celtic and is currently doing a good job at Bolton. Cambiasso, though, would be great to see, and one to excite the fans. Personally, seeing Cambiasso in a player/manager roe would just be fascinating to see, although it’s unlikely. In terms of actual transfers the club has done so far, it looks like good business. Robert Huth’s stay at the club has been made permanent, whilst signings Christian Fuchs and Shinji Okazaki add both experience and depth to a relatively thin squad.
Liverpool have been the early pace setters in the transfer market, already adding the services of Adam Bogdan, James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne. For years now, the right-back position has been a problem area for the Reds, so bringing in one of the best in the country is clearly addressing this weakness, especially with Glen Johnson expected to leave the club. However, it is not yet clear how Firmino will fit in, whether as a replacement for Raheem Sterling, or as a striker along with Daniel Sturridge. There is no doubt that Firminio is an exciting player, however, he has to hit the ground running due to his particularly high price tag of an alleged £28 million. Brendan Rodgers can hardly afford another flop, with the likes of Markovic, Balotelli and Lovren failing to meet their expectations last season. The additions of James Milner and Adam Bogdan look to be exceptional ones, particularly as they are on frees.
There’s still a few areas that must be addressed however; Sturridge isn’t someone you can consistently count on due to his injury record, so a second striker must be a top priority. All signs are pointing at Christian Benteke to be the answer, but this may not be a perfect fit. At a hefty £32.5 million, Benteke can’t just be cover for Sturridge, meaning Rodgers would have to find a way to fit him and Sturridge into the team. Although he would add quality depth to the side, Rodgers would have to come up with a new system, and compromise his style, to fit Benteke’s strengths.
Finally, no discussion about Liverpool’s transfer window can go without talking about Raheem Sterling. There’s no point going to far into depth about this, as we’ve already seen hundreds of articles about this before. At the moment, it seems like he’s staying unless anyone can meet the £50 million valuation of him. With Firmino now signed, and the rift this saga has caused with the fans, however, we may see some compromise on this, and Sterling playing in a different shirt next season.