The World Cup is over and fans are now wondering what moves their club should make in the transfer market. Paul Parker looks at the dealings so far of the five favourites for the Premier League title.
MANCHESTER CITY - Odds: 9/4
Manchester City have a limited budget due to FFP but they are still bringing in a couple of players in and getting their business done earlier and quietly. That's what the great teams do – they 'top-up' after having had a good season. City look to be following the model that Manchester United used under Sir Alex Ferguson but they need to win back-to-back titles to be considered a truly great Premier League team. Then nobody can question them.
The big question mark for them though has to be Yaya Toure. At the end of the day, they don’t need a sour apple in the barrel. City have reached a level where they have to be bigger than any one individual and it is one player who is causing problems – he has to go.
His actions since the season has finished are the actions of a man who wants to leave. What he is doing now is the same as what he did at Barcelona – it is just the excuses that are different. He always seems to be chasing money so what City need to do is turn around and say to him: 'Fine, you can go.'
Barcelona got rid of him, and it didn't do them any harm. City have a couple of ex-Barcelona men upstairs now so they should know exactly what he's about.
Of course Toure is one of the best at what he does but he is not irreplaceable. City can go out and get a different style of player. It is like when Manchester United replaced Bryan Robson with Roy Keane.
City need to do something similar because they need a happy camp. The reason why they didn't go back-to-back the last time is because the manager upset some of the players.
Again, City just have to look at what their neighbours did when they were successful. If Yaya Toure behaved as he did under Sir Alex he would have gone – simply as that.
Fergie let some big names go, and was always questioned for it, but he would then win the title the next season. He never kept bad apples at the club - he got rid of them before they had a chance to infect the barrel.
CHELSEA – 19/10
Chelsea have made two big signings in Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa but Chelsea could sign the greatest player in the world and he would still end up being negative because he plays for Jose Mourinho.
There is a reason why Arsenal didn't want Fabregas back and there is a reason why Barcelona let him go. I think he will struggle to play 'the Chelsea way'. I'm interested to see if Mourinho can get him to track back like he couldn't do with Juan Mata.
As for Costa, well to me he looks like a Spanish/Brazilian version of Steve Bull. Is that a good thing? In the modern game I'm not sure it is. He is going to become their 'new Drogba' but the difference is that Drogba had a bit more technique and guile.
The signing tells me that Chelsea have no intention of changing their style of play. They will whack the ball into the box and hope Costa can use his shoulders and bully people and he should at least be able to do that better than their strikers last season.
I feel that style will be another thing that ultimately leaves Fabregas frustrated and I'm sure he is a little bitter that Arsenal didn't take him back because he's definitely more suited to their style of play.
ARSENAL – 7/1
Sami Khedira has been heavily linked with Arsenal but the latest reports are the club might step away because of his wage demands. He is exactly the type of player that Arsenal need and the reason why they need him so much is because similar midfielders have left the club in the past because they were not getting the money they were after.
If Arsenal can get him for £150,000-£200,000-a-week they should just do it because United are paying £300,000-a-week on Wayne Rooney and I know where I'd rather spend my money. If they pass, they will again be left with a weak, brittle midfield that only plays well every four games. They need a midfielder who makes those quick Arsenal passes but who will also tackle, will move around, will be steady, will be consistent. Khedira fits that bill.
As for Alexis Sanchez, well after going to the World Cup and watching him live for Chile, I was able to see just how good a player he is. He is superb with and without the ball. His work ethic, honesty, desire and passion was unbelievable. I liked him at Barcelona but seeing these extra qualities at the World Cup made me realise just how good he is. He is a great signing.
I also liked the way he rejected all advances from Liverpool because he knows Arsenal's style suits him so much more. They play in that Barcelona fashion while Liverpool are more about longer passes and runs into big areas. He knows his game and has picked a club that suits it.
MANCHESTER UNITED – 11/2
The one player who really jumped out at me at the World Cup as a player I'd love to see in the Premier League was Mats Hummels and he would be a wonderful signing for Manchester United. At Old Trafford they have lost two centre-halves in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, who were world class up until quite recently but who were dying on their feet by the end of their United careers.
United are desperate for a player in that position who is of proven quality and Hummels has been doing it for the last few years at Dortmund and showed just how good he is at the World Cup.
So far United have signed Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. I must admit I do not know too much about Herrera but I'm not worried, like some, that he hasn't been capped by Spain. They have had an established midfield for a number of years and you are buying with potential in mind.
Potential is certainly something that United have bought with Luke Shaw but it is hell of a lot of money to spend on just that. Two seasons at Southampton does not make you a proven Premier League star. Playing for a club of United's stature is a whole different matter.
Players with bigger reputations have jumped into the water at Old Trafford and found they haven't had any armbands on and have sunk. There is no time for him to settle, he needs to impress straight away.
United definitely needed a left-back though and I feel they are right to get rid of Patrice Evra. For the last few seasons he has been very poor defensively – he didn't seem to have the same legs going backwards as he had going forwards.
United are also looking for another central midfielder with lots of rumours about Arturo Vidal but I also think they need to sign somebody who can provide width. There are a few wide players at the club but they all lack consistency. If you look at the recent World Cup, very few of the teams that did well had much width in their side, but with the great United sides of the past – width has always been very important.
LIVERPOOL – 10/1
Liverpool without Luis Suarez look like a bit of a 'wait and see' project at the moment. Brendan Rodgers has had mixed results in the transfer market: Iago Aspas was one of the big signings last summer and he is already going back to Sevilla on loan – he was hopeless.
They missed their golden opportunity to win the league so they are back in rebuilding mode. They would like to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League but I think their aim again should be to finish in the top four even if that might be a little bit more difficult this time out.
The thing about Suarez is they have not just lost their top scorer but also their top assists man. His exit provides a real test for Rodgers, because people will start to question him again now, and while he did fantastic last season, they couldn't close out the league and he has to take his share of the responsibility for that.
Liverpool fans are some of the best at appraising managers so they will be fair with him and it will be interesting to see if Rodgers is brave enough to continue with his high-tempo, pressing game without Suarez there.
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- MANCHESTER CITY
- Yaya Toure
- Cesc Fabregas