Football Features

11 top Premier League players who probably need a move this summer

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 10:30, 27 August 2021 | Updated: 18:18, 10 September 2021

It’s easy to get so excited about players joining Premier League clubs, you forget about those who need to leave.

Almost every club in the division has a player that could use a transfer to find more game-time. Whatever the reason they’re not playing, the fact is they’re sitting on the bench when a move could help them reignite their career.

Here are 11 such cases in the Premier League right now.

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Donny van de Beek

  • Age: 24
  • Team: Manchester United
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 513

The poster child of needing a transfer, Donny van de Beek actually had a bright(ish) start to his United career scoring on his debut and playing a huge role in United’s improbable win against Brighton but it was all downhill from there.

For reasons no one can figure, the brilliant Dutch midfielder just has never really been given a proper run in the side by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He started just four games in the league and no matter how well he would play, it was never enough to get more games.

He managed to shine in pre-season for United but once the competitive games began he was again on the bench. It’s a ridiculous situation because Van de Beek would be kind of ideal for United’s midfield, especially when Paul Pogba is pushed up into the attacking band.

For his part, Solskjaer said “Donny will be important for us,” when speaking about his squad for the season, and that seems to have satisfied the Dutchman’s agent. But it seems fanciful to believe that Solskjaer intends to give him major minutes (unless Paul Pogba leaves the club in the next week, which seems unlikely) and it would be best for someone to rescue Donny from his Old Trafford prison.

Nathan Ake

  • Age: 26
  • Team: Manchester City
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 797

When Man City signed Nathan Ake, it felt like they were going to convert him to be the left-back they’ve needed ever since Pep Guardiola took over, or maybe switch to playing a back three permanently and use him on the left.

Neither of those things happened, however, and Ake has barely played. Injuries gave him a brief chance at the start of this season but a year of sitting around not playing has dulled his skills and he looked miles off the pace, conceding the penalty that lost the Community Shield.

Hakim Ziyech

  • Age: 28
  • Team: Chelsea
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 1,179

Hakim Ziyech seemed like he was going to be the centre-piece of the new Chelsea side when he joined early in the 2020 summer window, but then the club added Kai Havertz and competition for places got crowded. Ziyech’s injury problems didn’t help. Neither did the change in management as Thomas Tuchel’s team left less space for Ziyech to play.

Now the arrival of  Romelu Lukaku means one of the forward spots is permanently gone and it will leave Ziyech competing with Mount (a fan favourite) and Kai Havertz (a more expensive signing and younger prospect) for a spot. That’s not a competition he can win, and there are so many clubs around Europe that would make Ziyech the centre-piece of their side and allow him to thrive like he did at Ajax.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

  • Age: 23
  • Team: Arsenal
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 486

Ainsley Maitland-Niles always wanted to be a midfielder, but his versatility and Arsenal’s poor recruitment has left Maitland-Niles playing almost exclusively as a full-back and wing-back. And lately given other transfers in, he’s not even playing there.

Now Arsenal have starting and back-up full-backs, and Mikel Arteta has no intention of starting him in midfield, so if he stays at the Emirates he could rack up fewer than his dismal 486 minutes from last season. He’s a talented player and could really shine for a mid-table club. He just needs to move away from Arsenal!

Jesse Lingard

  • Age: 28
  • Team: Manchester United
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 0 (1,424 for West Ham)

One of the main things holding Manchester United’s transfer window back from being great despite them signing two world-class players is that they’ve failed to shrink their bloated squad. A lot of their players simply don’t need to still be at the club, because they are not going to play. For many of them, this doesn’t seem to be too big a problem. But Jesse Lingard is good enough that it matters.

Everyone assumed Lingard was “finished” due to his lack of minutes at United but a mid-season loan to West Ham saw him spark to life. In fact after his move to London, only three men scored more than his nine goals in the Premier League and his four assists was topped only by five guys. A direct goal involvement of 13 was more than anyone bar Harry Kane and Kelechi Iheanacho managed in that same period.

Now he’s back on the United bench to start the season. And he’ll play a bit-part role if the club asks him to. But he can be so much more if only someone were to take a risk on him.

Takumi Minamino

  • Age: 26
  • Team: Liverpool
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 289

Takumi Minamino was meant to be Roberto Firmino’s replacement, or perhaps a creative No.10 that added a new dimension to the Liverpool midfield. Unfortunately for him, Jurgen Klopp wasn’t too keen to change the midfield’s dimensions and Diogo Jota turned out to be a more potent replacement for Firmino. Minamino is a truly forgotten man, but a move would remind everyone how good he is.

Takumi Minamino | Liverpool

Callum Hudson-Odoi

  • Age: 20
  • Team: Chelsea
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 1,058

Callum Hudson-Odoi played a fair bit last season but it was mostly as a wing-back. And the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah could mean Cesar Azpilicueta actually spends considerable time at wing-back (along with Reece James), so there’s not really much room for young Hudson-Odoi. He was once courted by Bayern Munich, and while that level of interest is likely to be scarce, someone will want this incredibly talented winger. Hudson-Odoi owes it to himself to leave the safety net of Stamford Bridge and make himself the next Kevin de Bruyne.

Someone help him!

Keinan Davis

  • Age: 23
  • Team: Aston Villa
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 266

Keinan Davies is an undoubtedly talented young forward who just keeps getting replaced by more talented strikers. First Ollie Watkins, now Danny Ings. There’s just no room for Davis to grow at Villa (266 minutes last season proves that) and he needs to get outta town and thrive.

Andre Gray

  • Age: 30
  • Team: Watford
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 1,273

Andre Gray is no world-beater, but he is a quality forward who, at 30, needs to be playing regularly at this point in his career. However, Watford’s transfer activity, recruiting the likes of Emmanuel Dennis, is going to severely limit Gray’s playing time. He needs to move away from Watford, perhaps even dropping down to the Championship where he can still play regularly and wreak some havoc.

Bernardo Silva

  • Age: 27
  • Team: Manchester City
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 2,071

Bernardo Silva was a regular for Manchester City last season. In fact, he has been for every season since his debut. But the signing of Jack Grealish is going to squeeze someone out of that side and Bernardo is rumoured to have twigged it’ll be him. Rumours abound that he’s pushing for an exit and to be brutally honest, he needs it.

Bernardo is amazing but isn’t as much of a potent goalscorer as Raheem Sterling, nor as much of a flying winger as Riyad Mahrez. Nor is he cloaked by the impossible potential of youth like Ferran Torres and Phil Foden. He’s just a guy who’s not as good as Jack Grealish, but left-footed. Barring an injury crisis, his minutes will plummet this season. He needs to get out of City Asap.

Victor Lindelof

  • Age: 27
  • Team: Manchester United
  • Minutes played in 2020/21: 2,586

This may seem strange given Victor Lindelof played over 2,500 minutes last season, but he should very desperately be looking for a way out of Manchester United in the next 10 days. The Red Devils already have Harry Maguire, who was damn-near ever-present in the team until injury struck late in the season. And to him they added Raphael Varane, one of the greatest defenders in the world.

Manchester United have no room for Lindelof as a starting centre-back. And while many defenders would be happy to stay as a “back-up”, constantly competing and stealing games and minutes from the two starters where he can, Lindelof was recently named captain of Sweden. If he is to represent his country to the highest level possible, he needs to be playing regularly, and that ain’t happening at Old Trafford. United won’t want to lose him and have just Eric Bailly and Phil Jones as defensive back-ups, but for the good of the player a transfer has to happen. Run, Victor. Run!