The summer transfer window provides a drip feed of entertainment to football supporters as European competitions slumber in a three-month off-season period.
Deals struck during this stage of the football year are often ruled by how a club performed when measured up against its objectives set at the beginning of the previous season. An anxious scramble to reshape an entire starting XI commonly follows a campaign in which a team fell short of its required targets, while those who remain idle throughout the window under the belief their squad cannot be improved may regret their decision later at the tail end of the journey.
But it doesn’t always boil down to such a simplistic explanation, of course. Teams who weren’t expecting to qualify for European competition could find themselves light on squad depth as the strenuous demand of playing in up to four competitions at once takes its toll. On the other hand, clubs that fail to secure the incentive of Champions League or Europa League football might face the prospect of being forced to sell key players who can’t bear the thought of representing a team below the highest level.
Regardless of the diverse circumstances each of the 20 clubs in the English top-flight will take into the off-season phase, there’s work to be done for every squad in the division. Here’s the perfect summer signing for every team in the Premier League.
20 Arsenal | Mats Hummels
Arsenal pursuing a world-class centre-half to bolster its back line is a subplot that has run throughout nearly every transfer window in recent memory. Unless Gabriel Paulista, Per Mertesacker or Sol Campbell are considered among the best in their position, Arsene Wenger has failed to lure an elite defender to the Emirates since Tony Adams retired in 2002. Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels possesses the defensive clout and inspiring leadership the Gunners need to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title. Although his transfer would likely burn a £35 million hole in Arsenal’s transfer budget, the North Londoners must invest this summer if they’re to remain competitive in all competitions.
19 Aston Villa | Jerome Sinclair
With the nightmare of relegation to the Championship now a reality, Aston Villa is in no position to be teeing up summer swoops for household names. The Villans would be wise to instead focus on rebuilding a squad comprising young talents who are eager to establish themselves in the English game. Liverpool starlet Jerome Sinclair has been linked with a switch to Villa in the off-season and shouldn’t be too hard to snap up given his contract expires at the conclusion of the campaign. The 19-year-old striker, who would like cost somewhere in the region of £3 million, has been turning heads at Anfield this season and already netted his first goal for the senior team.
18 Bournemouth | Bartlomiej Dragowski
The Cherries’ probable mid-table finish in their debut Premier League campaign is more than reason enough to ponder approaching players who could set up the club for lasting success in the English top-flight. Bournemouth is rumoured to be interested in bringing highly rated Polish goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski to Dean Court in preparation for its second term in the highest division. Eddie Howe is said to be keen on striking a £3.9 million deal for the Jagiellonia Bialystok talent based on the advice of current number one Artur Boruc.
17 Chelsea | Radja Nainggolan
Antonio Conte’s appointment at Chelsea is likely to give rise to an influx of Serie A players at Stamford Bridge next season. Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan is reportedly near the top of the Blues’ shopping list this summer as they look to rejuvenate a squad that seemingly lacked any sort of desire to defend its Premier League crown this term. The 27-year-old has useful a blend of tenacity and creativity and could slot nicely into the Chelsea XI either as an anchor man or playmaker. Roma wouldn’t surrender his services without sufficient compensation though and would likely dismiss any bids that fall short of £25 million.
16 Crystal Palace | Mo Diame
Recently relegated Premier League clubs can struggle to keep hold of top players if they fail to return to the top-flight within a few seasons. Hull City and Steve Bruce face the prospect of losing the all-action Mo Diame to Crystal Palace in the summer should the second-tier side miss out on promotion via the play-offs. Eagles boss Alan Pardew is said to have plans to add the £3.5 million-rated midfielder to his lineup in the summer, even though there’s no guarantee his team will beat the drop.
15 Everton | Wilfried Bony
Everton boss Roberto Martinez can expect a fierce scrap to keep star striker Romelu Lukaku at Goodison Park during the off-season. The wantaway Belgian striker is in high demand having scored 18 Premier League goals this term and with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich sniffing around, the odds of him staying at the Merseyside club are slim at best. However, Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony shapes up as the perfect replacement should Lukaku move on at the end of the campaign. The Ivorian is nothing more than a member of the supporting cast at the Etihad and could be allowed to jump ship for as little as £15 million.
14 Leicester City | M’Baye Niang
Leicester City’s stance in the transfer market will shift dramatically if it can go all the way in the Premier League title race, but even if the Foxes do falter at the death, they must recruit over the summer in order to remain competitive net season. AC Milan starlet M’Baye Niang would be a shrewd acquisition for the would-be champions – he boasts a solid build that would see him cope with the physical demands of English football quite well, while his pace, trickery and clinical finishing in the box underline his status as one of the most promising players in Europe. The Frenchman is considered a potential world-class player for a reason though and Milan would likely be reluctant to see the back of him for anything less than £15 million.
13 Liverpool | Marco Reus
Perhaps with the exception of Philippe Coutinho when he’s on, Liverpool has lacked a player who can decide the outcome of a match on his own since the departure of Luis Suarez in 2014. The Reds must acquire a star of such talents if they’re to regain their status among the elites of English football. Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus is the perfect man to fill the void and with Jurgen Klopp in the Anfield hotseat, it’s not unreasonable to think the German international might be tempted to link up with his old coach in the summer. The Bundesliga giants surely won’t offer a friendly discount if Klopp swoops for the prolific 26-year-old, meaning he will probably command a fee upwards of £40 million.
12 Manchester City | Ilkay Gundogan
It’s no surprise Manchester City is already paving the way for new recruits to join Pep Guardiola when he takes over at the Etihad next season. The Spaniard has only ever worked with players of the highest order throughout his career and that certainly won’t change at his new post. Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan possesses a classy mixture of grit, technique and flair – exactly the breath of fresh air City needs in its ageing midfield. The Germany international, whose market value stands at roughly £30 million, has been a crucial player at the Westfalenstadion season after season and might fancy testing himself in England working under a manager whom most consider to be the finest in the world.
11 Manchester United | Gareth Bale
Irrespective of whether Louis van Gaal is replaced next season, Manchester United needs a new superstar to spearhead its return to the summit of English and European football. But with so many of the world’s top stars settled at their current clubs, Real Madrid’s Welsh wizard Gareth Bale presents one of few suitable candidates the Red Devils could pursue this summer. The 26-year-old is the type of player who could transform what’s currently an average United side into one capable of challenging for the Premier League title. There’s one glaring problem, though – his market value has only increased since his world-record €100 million transfer to Real in 2013.
10 Newcastle United | Mitchell Dijks
Newcastle United is hanging on to its Premier League status by the skin of its teeth – a scenario that makes St James Park an ill-favoured destination for the Magpies’ potential transfer targets. The presence of Rafael Benitez could serve as a useful trump card during the summer transfer window, assuming the Spaniard elects to stay on at the Tyneside outfit, that is. Regardless of whether Newcastle can keep hold of its Champions League-winning manager, the squads needs a drastic overhaul to ensure it’s capable of returning to the top-flight at the first time of asking, or avoiding a repeating of this campaign if Benitez guides his men to safety. With left-back being a major area of concern, Ajax star Mitchell Dijks could prove an intelligent acquisition at the approximate price of £8 million.
9 Norwich City | Loic Remy
Norwich City isn’t short on dangerous and creative players with Nathan Redmond, Matt Jarvis and Wes Hoolahan among its ranks, but the club is crying out for a striker capable of tucking away chances on a regular basis. The current brigade comprising Dieumerci Mbokani, Steven Naismith, Cameron Jerome and Patrick Bamford have struck just nine Premier League goals between them this season. Unable to loosen Diego Costa’s grip on the first-choice striker’s role, Chelsea’s Loic Remy has been angling for a move away from Stamford Bridge and despite failing to get his wish during the winter period, the Frenchman will likely be on his way come the end of the season. He could leave the Blues for as little as £9 million – not a bad deal for a proven goalscorer.
8 Southampton | Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
It wasn’t very long ago that Arsenal fans were wagging their tongues at the prospect of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into one of the finest English players of his generation. Now, five years on since he joined the Gunners from Southampton, the 22-year-old winger could be set for a return to his boyhood club on the South Coast. The Ox has seen his career stall following the arrival of international stars Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and emergence of Joel Campbell. Should Oxlade-Chamberlain miss out on a place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad, it could be the blow that convinces him to leave the Emirates in pursuit of regular football. The Englishman would likely sell for close to £15 million should the Saints come calling during the off-season.
7 Stoke City | Caner Erkin
While the arrivals of Gianelli Imbula, Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Joselu certainly suggest Stoke has ditched its uncomplicated ‘hoof and hope’ approach under the stewardship of Mark Hughes, there will always be room for physically dominant players in the Potters’ squad. The 52-year-old has reportedly set his sights on snapping up Turkish defender Caner Erkin upon the expiry of his contract this summer in what would be an incredible shrewd piece of transfer business. The Fenerbahce left-back has all the essential qualities to excel in his position – pace, strength, tackling prowess and a reliable left foot to whip dangerous crosses into the box. Better still, at 27-years-old, Erkin still has plenty of years left to test himself at the highest level.
6 Sunderland | Benjamin Moukandjo
Sunderland has found itself in a relegation dogfight for the fourth season running, underlining the need for Sam Allardyce to revamp his squad during the summer transfer window. Big Sam is believed to have his eye on Lorient hitman Benjamin Moukandjo, who has 12 Ligue 1 goals to his name this season, to bolster his striking options ahead of next season. The 27-year-old is an exciting player who can operate across the front line and has pace to burn in addition to a deadly eye for goal. Although the Cameroonian has been slapped with a somewhat modest £8 million asking price, the Black Cats’ ability to lure a player in such hot form to the Stadium of Light hinges on their bid to beat the drop to the Championship.
5 Swansea City | James Chester
Swansea has recorded an impressive mid-table finish, ranging from eighth to 12th, in each of the four seasons since returning to the English top-flight in 2011 for the time in nearly three decades. However, despite quickly gaining a solid footing in the Premier League, the Swans have done little to put together what could be considered a durable spine in their squad. Club skipper Ashley Williams, 31, is approaching the twilight of his career and once he’s incapable of leading the team week in, week out, the Welsh outfit has few suitable successors waiting in the wings. West Bromwich Albion and Wales international James Chester looks to be a model replacement for his compatriot and considering his bit-part role at The Hawthorns, his price tag would likely sit within in the region of £6 million.
4 Tottenham Hotspur | Riechedly Bazoer
While the rest of Europe struggles to emulate its success, the fabled Ajax youth academy continues to feed top clubs batch after batch of hot prospects. Central midfielder Riechedly Bazoer has been on the map for a while – he’s already a full international for Holland, after all – and Tottenham is the latest club that has reportedly entered the race to secure the 19-year-old’s signature. The Dutchman is a powerful, combative yet highly skilful anchor man with the vision and technique to pick out teammates with consummate accuracy. If it even needs to be mentioned, a player of Bazoer’s quality inherently commands a transfer upwards of £25 million – though many would argue this youngster would be worth every penny.
3 Watford | Jordon Ibe
Largely thanks to the formidable striking partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, Watford is on track to survive the drop in its first season back in the Premier League since finishing bottom of the top-flight in 2006-07. With five rounds left to play, the Hornets can almost look forward to planning for life in the big time once again – a must if they’re to repeat the feat or even improve on it next term. Watford is still some way being able to attract star players to Vicarage Road based on a guarantee it can retain its Premier League status for years to come, which indicates swooping for out-of-favour talents at bigger clubs could prove to be a more fruitful endeavour. Take Liverpool’s Jordon Ibe. Despite displaying his enormous potential time and time again, the 20-year-old has seen his involvement severely reduced in 2016 and could be coaxed away from Anfield for around £7 million this summer under the condition of playing regular football.
2 West Bromwich Albion | Diafra Sakho
Given the Baggies have finished eighth or above in three of the past five seasons, their failure to boost their squad enough to challenge higher up the table is rather perplexing. Losing one of its most promising players in Saido Berahino seems only a matter of time, so West Brom is gearing up to replace the want-away starlet with West Ham striker Diafra Sakho in the summer. The Senegalese forward has struggled to impress at Upton Park in the manner he did last season after finishing the campaign with 10 Premier League goals in 23 appearances. With the Hammers likely to recruit a host of reinforcements during the off-season to cope with European commitments, Sakho could be tempted to jump ship if the two clubs can strike a deal – likely to be worth around £6 million.
1 West Ham United | Nikola Maksimovic
West Ham supporters are sure to be yearning for a top striker to complement Dimitri Payet next season, though with no first-class goalscorers obviously available this summer, Slaven Bilic is seemingly content to address other areas of the squad first. Torino defender Nikola Maksimovic is reportedly high on the Hammers’ list of off-season transfer targets despite reports suggesting the Serie A club is holding out for a £20 million transfer fee. The Serbian would bring a sterling presence to the West Ham back line, not to mention his experience playing in the Europa League with Il Toro and his previous clubs in Serbia, Red Star Belgrade and FK Sloboda Uzice.