Football Features

What if every Premier League club could make one (reasonable) signing before the summer transfer window deadline?

By Squawka News

Last chance saloon- Each Premier League club’s one-man wish list before the transfer window closes

Published: 18:43, 24 August 2022

Transfer deadline day is fast approaching, meaning we are very much in the squeaky-bum time phase of the summer window.  

Whether clubs have moved early or late, almost every side still has business to do. Or, rather, they should still be looking to do business if they want to truly take themselves to the next level.

The Premier League is a phenomenally competitive division and teams need to be at their very best to compete. With that in mind we’ve asked three of our writers to look at all 20 clubs and come up with one ideal signing for each of them, before the transfer window shuts.

The ‘positions of need’ were determined using Sky Bet’s ‘Fan Hope’ survey as a reference point, which among other things polled supporters of every Premier League club to find out where they most wanted to see signings made.

For some clubs, fans’ No.1 positional picks had already been filled by new signings before we wrote this and so we had to adapt. But for the most part, what you’re about to read is our suggested player targets for every Premier League club’s area most in need of improvement, as decided by the fans.

Find the latest Premier League winner odds for the 2022/2023 season here:

Club Chance Sky Bet
Manchester City 83.62% 2/9
Arsenal 9.10% 9/1
Liverpool 5.60% 12/1
Tottenham 0.77% 22/1
Chelsea 0.89% 33/1
Man Utd 0.00% 66/1
Probability % provided by StatsPerform
You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds within this article are accurate at the time of writing (14:30, 05/10/2022). BeGambleAware.

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Manchester City

Position of need: Centre-back

Suggested signing: Jurrien Timber

When Sky Bet’s ‘Fan Hope’ survey was originally conducted, 25% of City fans wanted to see the club sign a left-back this summer. Ever the crowd-pleaser, Pep Guardiola went ahead and quenched those fans’ thirst for a new No.3 with the recent signing of Sergio Gomez from Anderlecht.

There has also been clamour from fans to bring in another centre-back. Wesley Fofana looks tailor-made to fit City’s possession-heavy system, but the club are unlikely to enter another bidding war with Chelsea, having conceded defeat in their pursuit of Marc Cucurella.

Jurrien Timber, therefore, may seem a more ‘gettable’ target. The young Dutch centre-back was the subject of links to Manchester United earlier this summer, but City have certainly never been shy to rub their neighbours up the wrong way when it comes to transfer targets (their courting of Cristiano Ronaldo before his Old Trafford reunion is perhaps the most obvious case study).

The Cruyffian-educated defender has all the attributes to shine under Guardiola. He made more passes (2,267), registered more tackles (73), completed more take-ons (28) and kept more clean sheets (16) than any other centre-back in the Eredivisie in 2021/22. Guardiola should be handing Ajax a blank cheque.

– Ben Green

Liverpool

Position of need: Central midfielder

Suggested signing: Ruben Neves

Liverpool’s midfield has been a subject of conversation ever since they let Philippe Coutinho leave without replacing him. Jurgen Klopp restructured the midfield so they didn’t need an attacking midfielder, and then added the world-class Thiago Alcantara to provide supreme midfield control. Injuries are a real problem, however, and help is needed. Ruben Neves at Wolves has long been a player destined for great things and would fit into Liverpool’s midfield superbly.

-Muhammad Butt, Chief Writer

Chelsea

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Chelsea boasted the Premier League’s third-best attack last season despite their leading marksman (Mason Mount) registering 11 goals. The loss of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner has opened up space in Thomas Tuchel’s squad for a striker. That being said, neither were up to standard and if the Blues are to close the gap, then Tuchel needs someone capable of bagging 20-a-season.

This is where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang comes into the picture. In no fewer than 17 league outings for Barcelona last term the former Arsenal marksman netted 11 times. Hitting the ground running is something he’s proven to be good at. Aubameyang, who previously worked under Tuchel at Dortmund, needed 79 games to bag 50 league goals for Arsenal — the quickest to do so for the Gunners in the Premier League era.

-Mohamed Moallim

You can get odds of 1/6 with Sky Bet on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joining Chelsea this summer. 

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Tottenham

Position of need: Attacking midfield

Suggested signing: Orkun Kokcu

Spurs are so stacked across the pitch that there seems to be a traffic jam of talent in just about every position. So who exactly should they be after? Well, one particular area where they appear light is in the central attacking midfield zone. Conte seems almost allergic to No.10s — consider his treatment of Christian Eriksen at the San Siro — but as we’ve seen this season, attacking midfielders repurposed as central midfielders is proving to be quite the source of popularity (see Alexis Mac Allister’s new role at Brighton, Joelinton at Newcastle, and well, Eriksen against Liverpool).

With ball-playing destroyers Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Yves Bissouma interchanging as rotational anchormen in Conte’s system, and a back-three to congest space behind them, there is scope to field a more creative, attack-focused talent in a double-pivot. Now, Daniel Levy won’t want to break the bank, he is far more pragmatic than profligate, so that rules out a late move for James Maddison, but how about a younger model? Orkun Kokcu was a star of Feyenoord’s run to the Europa Conference League final in 2021/22 and fits the brief of a deep-lying playmaker (excuse the Football Manager parlance).

Despite playing in a two-man-midfield alongside Fredrik Aursnes, the 21-year-old still managed to create the second-most chances of any player in the Eredivisie last season (101), behind only Dusan Tadic (141). He also registered nine assists and completed the fourth-most passes (1,934). Conte may feel Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr offer ample support to the Hojbjerg-Bissouma-Bentancur triumvirate, but Kokcu would certainly bring a different dimension to the table, one far exceeding any central midfielder the Italian currently has, in terms of creative and ball-playing wizardry.

-Ben Green

Arsenal

Position of need: Central midfielder

Suggested signing: Youri Tielemans

It’s hard to envisage a scenario where Youri Tielemans remains at the King Power beyond September 3. With his contract set to expire in less than 12 months, and seemingly little desire from the Belgian to pen fresh terms, Leicester may be forced to sell for a reduced fee now, rather than see him walk for free next summer.

That puts potential bidders in a strong bargaining position, and one club whose fans have been baying for central midfield reinforcements are Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s men have been formidable this season, but 26% of supporters from Sky Bet’s ‘Fan Hope’ survey want the club to prioritise a central midfield signing.

Granit Xhaka has certainly looked the part this term, but the acquisition of Tielemans would unquestionably represent strong competition for the Swiss hatchet man, offering a more refined blend of ball-playing qualities that would work well in Arsenal’s neat-and-nimble set-up. It’s a transfer that makes sense on paper.

-Ben Green

Manchester United

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Antony

If Monday night taught us anything, it’s that Erik ten Hag’s system works best when everyone buys into his project. The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo was certainly telling, and there remains huge doubts over his future, particularly given the Jekyll-and-Hyde disparity between their performances against Brentford (with Ronaldo) and Liverpool (without Ronaldo).

For the first time in a while, Man Utd looked like a well-drilled outfit, marinated in Ten Hag’s high-press ideology. The system worked so well that Ten Hag is likely to shun a traditional centre-forward if Ronaldo leaves and he seeks a replacement. Marcus Rashford’s ability to break defensive lines and close down with gusto appears to outline the No.9 blueprint.

Antony, like many of his Ajax teammates, has drawn strong links to Old Trafford this summer. The Brazilian wing-wizard has the skill-set, end product and determination to thrive in England. There’s a reason Ten Hag has been after his former forward, and it’s not simply because of his ability to produce highlight-reel moments of improvised skill.

-Ben Green

You can get odds of 1/7 with Sky Bet on Antony joining Man Utd this summer. 

Man United odds (2022-23 season)  Sky Bet
Premier League winner 33/1
Finish in the top four 6/4
Top half finish 1/50
Bottom half finish 12/1
Relegation 500/1
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West Ham

Position of need: Central midfielder

Suggested signing: Ruslan Malinovskyi

West Ham are in dire straits at the minute, caught in the riptide of a three-game losing streak that has seen them muzzled and defanged on each occasion, with the club yet to open their 2022/23 account. Not only are they not getting results, they are failing to score and failing to perform. Much has been made about the club’s desperation to bring in a new striker, Gianluca Scamacca finally ended that protracted wait from a goal-starved fanbase, while they actually went out and signed a left-back as well in Emerson Palmieri.

But, it could have been argued that, even before the window opened, that West Ham’s biggest problem position was in central midfield. Tomas Soucek has long been struggling to recapture the free-scoring, potato salad-eating glory days of his early West Ham career. A more creative, robust midfielder now appears desperately needed until the towering Czech regains his confidence.

If the club harbour genuine aspirations of thwarting the ‘Big Six’ hegemony and causing a splash in Europe this season, then Moyes won’t find a more technically-superb midfielder on the market than Ruslan Malinovskyi. The Ukrainian playmaker may have his sights set on bigger things, but if the Hammers could entice a player of his ilk to east London, it could prove game-changing.

-Ben Green

Leicester

Position of need: Centre-back

Suggested signing: Jean-Clair Todibo

Now, 41% of fans have wanted to see a new striker pitch up this summer, while 40% are itching for a new centre-back. Given that Jamie Vardy just signed a new contract, and Patson Daka remains a £23m option from the bench, there should be more concern further back, particularly with the Wesley Fofana-to-Chelsea links.

The Foxes have had a genuinely bizarre summer, signing only a back-up goalkeeper on a free. However with that likely departure of Fofana, there will be money and a desperate need to bring in a centre-back. And even if Fofana does stay, Leicester simply need another centre-back option, heightening the urgency.

Leicester have shown a propensity to make very smart signings of great talent that are largely undervalued by others; getting Fofana from St. Etienne was evidence of that. To that end they should go for Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo. A regal defensive presence with size and speed. He never got a chance at Barcelona but has rebuilt himself in Ligue 1 and is primed for a big move.

-Muhammad Butt, Chief Writer

Brighton

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Vangelis Pavlidis

Brighton need someone to score. Last season they racked up an xG of 54.43, which was ninth in the Premier League. However they scored just 42 goals, which was 15th in the division. That discrepancy prevents them from progressing as the quality of their football dictates they really should. They need a goalscorer.

Vangelis Pavlidis scored 18 times in the Eredivisie last season — only Sebastien Haller and Lois Openda scored more. Most encouragingly for Brighton, Pavlidis’s 18 goals came from a xG of 16.57, so here is a clinical striker who would give Brighton the cutting edge they desperately need.

-Muhammad Butt, Chief Writer

Wolves

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Sasa Kalajdzic

It’s fair to say Wolves struggled in the scoring department last season. Of the sides finishing inside the Premier League’s top 10 they registered the fewest goals (38). Even with Raul Jimenez playing all but four games, the once best-of-the-rest team was nothing short of wasteful in front of goal, or worse, struggling to create chances.

To solve the former, a capable marksman is needed. Sasa Kalajdzic is just what the doctor ordered. Before this Bundesliga season got underway the 25-year-old Stuttgart striker netted 22 times across 48 league games, proving himself a competent goal-getter in the top flight.

-Mohamed Moallim

Newcastle United

Position of need: Winger

Suggested signing: Jack Harrison

An overwhelming 69% of Newcastle supporters from the ‘Fan Hope’ survey are pining for a new striker to come in and offer the often injury-prone Callum Wilson some strong competition. Well, according to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Newcastle have already agreed personal terms with Alexander Isak over a potential club-record deal.

The lust for a new signing, therefore, now trickles down to the wing, a position where 29% of fans want to see addressed this summer. According to Sky Sports, Leeds United have already rejected two bids from Newcastle for Jack Harrison. The 25-year-old has been in stellar form this term already scoring and assisting three times as Leeds sit third in the Premier League table. Could Eddie Howe move again?

-Ben Green

You can get odds of 3/1 with Sky Bet on Jack Harrison joining Newcastle this summer. 

Crystal Palace

Position of need: Box-to-box midfielder

Suggested signing: Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher’s influence for Palace last season was palpable. The Chelsea loanee returned to Cobham at the start of the summer capped by England and with a Crystal Palace ‘Player of the Year’ award on his mantlepiece. His departure from Selhurst Park has undoubtedly left a huge void in the middle of the pitch. Cheick Doucoure has been brought in from Lens for just shy of £20m to anchor the midfield, but it just feels as though Gallagher’s tireless marauding will be hugely missed this term. Despite featuring a fair bit for Chelsea already, he continues to be linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge before the window closes, and if there’s even a modicum of possibility that he could be allowed to leave, Patrick Vieira will be at the front of the queue banging on the shop window.

-Ben Green

You can get odds of 16/1 with Sky Bet on Conor Gallagher joining Crystal Palace this summer. 

Brentford

Position of need: Box-to-box midfielder

Suggested signing: Evander

Naturally, the majority of Brentford fans wanted to see the club bring in a Christian Eriksen replacement, if the club failed to extend the Dane’s stint in the capital. Well, they got their wish with the acquisition of highly-regarded playmaker Mikkel Damsgaard from Sampdoria.

So, attention turns to a box-to-box midfielder (a 24% desire from Brentford fans). Josh Dasilva is fulfilling that role with merit this term after an injury-plagued 2021/22, but Thomas Frank will no doubt want a contingency in case the physio room comes calling again. The Danish coach is savvy in the market and doesn’t throw wads of cash at obvious clubs. Turning our attention to his homeland, this could be where he exploits the market.

According to ESPN, Evander has an agreement with Midtjylland to be transferred this summer, and that should make plenty of clubs sit up and take notice, with one of those apparently being Rangers. Considered more of a No. 8, Evander was the only central midfielder in the Danish Superliga last season to register over 60 for the following metrics: tackles, touches in the opposition box, duels won and final third entries. Such a range of traits certainly underlines the full breadth of his midfield palette.

-Ben Green

Aston Villa

Position of need: Centre-back

Suggested signing: Abdou Diallo

A large majority of fans wanted a new striker when Sky Bet’s survey was conducted (35%), but with Diego Carlos now set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines and Steven Gerrard not appearing to fully trust former club captain Tyrone Mings, he will likely be paying firm attention to the defensive market. A stop-gap may be what’s required until Carlos returns, meaning Gerrard could explore a potential loan deal, and Abdou Diallo could fall into this category. The French-born Senegal international has naturally fallen down the Parisian pecking order with the surfeit of talent in front of him, and he may be tempted by a Premier League call if Gerrard picks up the phone.

-Ben Green

Southampton

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Junior Adamu

Armando Broja didn’t set the world on fire from a goalscoring perspective on the South Coast last season, bagging just six Premier League goals, but his overall tally certainly belies the impression he made at Saint Mary’s. He was robust, direct and drove at the heart of opposition defences, offering Ralph Hasenhuttl an aggressively-refined frontman to lead his line.

Those qualities will be hard to replace, but a whopping 56% of fans want to see them replaced as the club’s priority position. France U21 international Sekou Mara has looked the real McCoy since trading Bordeaux for Southampton, but you can never have too many forwards. Junior Adamu has previously been linked with Southampton owing to Hasenhuttl’s connections at former club Red Bull Salzburg, and it appears a sensible rumour.

The 21-year-old has all the tools to follow in the footsteps of his Salzburg predecessors and go on to tear up European football away from Austria. He has plenty of Champions League experience already, having famously netted against Bayern Munich last season. The ceiling is exceptionally high for Adamu.

-Ben Green

Everton

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Armando Broja

By the skin of their teeth Everton maintained their Premier League status last term. It was an unlikely position for a club that is used to punching above their weight to be in. Frank Lampard succeeded Rafael Benitez during the Toffees turbulent campaign and the feeling is despite staying up, he’s not not yet out of the woods.

Another struggle is being predicted but there’s a simple tonic to prevent that: goals. Richarlison, the club’s get-out-of-jail free card, left for Spurs this summer and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is starting to become injury prone.

Lampard may very well turn to familiar surroundings. A legend at Chelsea, he is their record goalscorer, the former England international could acquire Armando Broja — who’s already shone on loan at Vitesse and then Southampton. The Albanian marksman has previously played under Lampard albeit a four-minute cameo against (interestingly) Everton in March 2020.

-Mohamed Moallim

You can get odds of 4/6 with Sky Bet on Armando Broja joining Everton this summer. 

Leeds

Position of need: Striker

Suggested signing: Ben Brereton Diaz

After the opening three matchdays of this Premier League there’s no question that Leeds under Jesse Marsch has been the biggest revelation. Another side who tasted the possibility of demotion last term, the Peacocks have so far been outgunned only by Arsenal, Manchester City and Brentford.

So, this obviously suggests goalscoring isn’t an issue, but the season is long and the reliance at the moment is on supporting attackers Rodrigo, Brenden Aaronson and Jack Harrison, with the club’s out-and-out strikers being quiet, either through performance or sitting in the physio room.

Freshening up Marsch’s striking options should be a priority. The much-coveted Ben Brereton Diaz is ready for a Premier League step-up and transitioning from Blackburn — where he’s scored 33 goals in 122 Championship appearances — to Leeds would be a much smoother path than going to a top-four challenger.

-Mohamed Moallim

You can get odds of 11/1 with Sky Bet on Ben Brereton Diaz joining Leeds this summer. 

Fulham

Position of need: Winger

Suggested signing: Justin Kluivert

When the survey was conducted fans were split on a new centre-back and a new striker (33% each). Well the club have addressed the former with the signings of Issa Diop and Shane Duffy, while Aleksandar Mitrovic is off to a flying start with three goals in three games, which highlights a different problem area for Marco Silva.

With both Harry Wilson and Manor Solomon occupying the treatment tables on a long-term basis and Neeskens Kebano recently joining them owing to a slight groin issue, Silva may feel he needs reinforcements out wide. Teenage prospect Jay Stansfield started in the 3-2 win over Brentford at the weekend, and looked comfortable on the grown-up table, but the Premier League can be a notoriously sink-or-swim environment, so Silva may be tempted to bring in some further firepower.

Justin Kluivert has been heavily-linked and appears a good fit for Fulham. The 23-year-old hasn’t really been able to kick on with his career since leaving Ajax in 2018, and Silva has proven a coach with a strong track record of getting the best out of players. It could be a match made in heaven.

-Ben Green

Bournemouth

Position of need: Box-to-box midfielder

Suggested signing: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Fans appear split on which midfield position is the more urgent. A slightly higher percentage believe Scott Parker should be in the market for an attacking midfielder (26%), but one per cent fewer are adamant a box-to-box midfielder (26%) is the missing piece to the puzzle. Necessity is so often the midwife to invention, and if Arsenal allow Ainsley Maitland-Niles to depart this summer, Bournemouth should be doing everything in their power to lure him to the coast. The versatile midfield engine would bring the requisite drive and motion to bulk up Bournemouth’s midfield and give them some authority in games. It would be a no-brainer, if possible.

-Ben Green

Nottingham Forest

Position of need: Midfielder

Suggested signing: Boubakary Soumare

Goals win games but a balanced midfield goes a long way to guaranteeing regular points. For a newly-promoted side the first port-of-call is ensuring their newfound status is cemented. Nottingham Forest have been very active in the summer window, signing over a dozen new faces. Getting the squad to gel will be Steve Cooper’s responsibility.

He’ll need a capable defensive midfielder hence reported interest in Boubakary Soumare, but Forest have shown the wherewithal to look outside the Premier League for reinforcements. Someone who also fits the profile and being tipped for great things is FC Twente midfielder Ramiz Zerrouki who recently saw a prospective move to Feyenoord break down. Has a door just opened for his signature elsewhere?

-Mohamed Moallim

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