The top seven clubs in the Premier League table last year have become a solidified upper echelon, which is becoming increasingly more difficult to crack, especially with the financial rewards that are given to those clubs, which creates extra money for summer transfers. In the last five seasons in the English top flight those seven teams, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, have been in the top eight positions every year. In the past two seasons that seven has been the top seven, with a significant twelve point margin between eighth and seventh places both years.
Arsenal has yet to officially sign a player this summer transfer window, but as usual for the Gunners, there have been no shortage of rumors. Many believe that Mathieu Debuchy will make the move to the English capital to replace Bacary Sagna at right back. Sagna has signed a new contract with Manchester City. Debuchy had already gone ahead of Sagna in the depth chart of the French national team at this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup. There is also strong speculation linking Arsenal to the Chilean star Alexis Sanchez, who plays his club ball at Barcelona. Sanchez was Barcelona’s second leading scorer behind Messi with 21 goals in 54 total appearances.
Arsenal has also been linked to a number of goalkeepers as well, after their backup Lukasz Fabiański left for Swansea City. The possible replacements are the Mexico national goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, Real Madrid man Iker Casillas, and 23-year-old Karl Darlow of Nottingham Forest. Many fans are clamoring for a striker as well, to compete with Olivier Giroud. There have been links with Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandžukić and A.C. Milan’s Mario Balotelli. Balotelli also happens to be sponsored by Puma, the brand new kit sponsor of the Gunners.
Chelsea has already done a bit of business in this transfer window by signing Cesc Fàbregas from Barcelona and Diego Costa from Athletico Madrid. José Mourinho needs another left back in the first team with Ashley Cole leaving on a free transfer for Roma, and Athletico Madrid may be hit up again to supply the player. Filipe Luis had a very good season, and the 28 year old could be bought to provide experience and competition for César Azpilicueta.
Chelsea also has to deal with the issue of two Belgian players who were loaned out last year, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois. Both are very young, 21 and 22 respectively, and had good seasons at Everton and Athletico Madrid. Lukaku could be kept if Demba Ba or Fernando Torres is sold, as Samuel Eto’o is already out of contract. Courtois will not be happy playing as a cup-keeper behind Petr Čech, but Mourinho will need to be careful in how he treats the young shot stopper if he wants him to extend his contract beyond 2016.
Everton have only made one transfer signing this summer and it was today. They signed Gareth Barry to a three-year contract after a loan spell from Manchester City last year. Barry’s contract ran out in at the end of June. Roberto Martinez is also rumored to be interested in permanently signing Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku after the loaned player scored 16 goals in 33 appearances for the Toffees. If the Lukaku signing does not come to fruition, Everton are looking to add one of Demba Ba from Chelsea, Danny Welbeck from Manchester United, Didier Ya Konan, who has run out of contract with Hannover 96, or Jonatan Soriano from Red Bulls Salzburg.
Liverpool has already had a busy transfer window, signing Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert from Southampton and Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen for a combined total of a little over 42 million euros. Dejan Lovren, another player from Southampton, seems to be ready to force a move to Liverpool, saying that his head is already at the Merseyside club.
The big rumor coming out of Liverpool is of course Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona. The fee will likely be reduced after his third biting incident, which FIFA gave a four-month ban for, at the World Cup. Divock Origi, the young Belgian striker, who eventually overtook Lukaku in the starting line-up of the national team, is tipped to replace Suarez. Another striker of top quality will surely be signed as well, such as Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandžukić.
Manchester City, like Chelsea before them, has recently bought its way into the top seven of the English Premier League, and there is no shortage of summer transfer rumors from the club who was given a slap on the wrist by UEFA for not adhering to Financial Fair Play rules. Manuel Pellegrini may have to sell a player or two in order to keep the budget book somewhat balanced. City have already signed two players, Fernando a defensive midfielder from Porto and Willy Caballero a goalkeeper from Málaga.
City has no lack of attacking talent, but sometimes lacked in central defense, especially when captain Vincent Kompany was absent from the team sheet last year. Mehdi Benatia is rumored to be a target from Roma, but only if Manchester City cannot reach a deal with Porto over ventral defender Eliaquim Mangala. There are also hints that City want Ross Barkley from Everton, but the Toffee’s are unlikely to sell, even if rumors that the 23-year-old Jack Rodwell will be thrown in the deal to replace the Everton man are true.
Manchester United, who finished in seventh place last year, their worst position in ever since the Premier League was started, want a complete overhaul of their club this summer transfer window. The new manager Louis Van Gaal has been linked to many different players and reportedly has a huge 150 million pound transfer budget available to him. Manchester United have already bought two key players, Luke Shaw from Southampton and Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. United has already sold Alexander Büttner to Dinamo Moscow and released both Menanja Vidić and Rio Ferdinand.
The Red Devil’s are reportedly interested in big names like central midfielder Arturo Vidal from Juventus, winger Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid, and central defender Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund. Thomas Vermaelen is also reportedly a target from Arsenal, as well as a number of Dutch internationals such as Wesley Sneijder, Kevin Strootman, Daley Blind, Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi, and Stefan de Vrij. Many of those seem like extreme speculation from Van Gaal, who is coaching the national team of the Netherlands.
Tottenham has yet to sign a player this transfer window, and may wait a while for new manager Mauricio Pochettino to decide in which departments the club needs help. The Spurs went on a spending spree last summer, signing seven players, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches and Christian Eriksen, which may have unbalanced the team. This year the players may have a chance to gel and get a full pre-season training under their belt. Some of the rumors that have been swirly around the club include a move for Chelsea striker Lukaku, QPR striker Loïc Rémy, A.C. Milan winger Valter Birsa, and PSV wonder-kid Zakaria Bakkali.
The summer transfer window has barely started though and there will be many more deals in place up until the final transfer deadline day on September 1. Expect many more moves from the top seven clubs in the Barclays Premier League in this summer transfer window, especially since Arsenal and Tottenham have yet to make a signing, and Manchester United and Liverpool still have plenty of cash to spend.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash