Transfer lookahead: Who stays and who goes in Premier League’s elite clubs?

The season is over, but the transfer business is only just beginning for the Premier League’s top clubs. ESPN FC’s club correspondents discuss who will be in the firing line in the summer window.

MAN CITY (Jonathan Smith)

Rough budget: £50 million. Pep Guardiola expects to sign only two players in the summer, and the focus will be on quality rather than quantity — people who can add to an already stellar squad. But the team could recoup much of their outlay with sales.

Whom should the club buy?

An attacker who can play across the front three and a holding midfielder will be the priorities. Kylian Mbappe would be the perfect fit in terms of quality and age, but persuading him to leave Paris Saint-Germain after just one season is another matter. Napoli’s Jorginho looks ready to challenge in City’s midfield as a replacement for Yaya Toure.

Whom should the club sell?

There are some fringe players who haven’t pushed their cause at the club. Eliaquim Mangala was sent out on loan in January and would be better finding a permanent move, while Claudio Bravo’s switch to City just hasn’t worked out. It’s also difficult to see loan players such as Joe Hart and Patrick Roberts forcing their way into Guardiola’s plans.

Biggest transfer lines to follow: A top-line attacker would seem the biggest potential move to City, with plenty of big names such as Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, PSG’s Mbappe, Bayern Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey and Leicester City’s Riyadh Mahrez all linked. But one question is how this will affect Sergio Aguero, who has not been the guaranteed starter under Guardiola that he has been in the past. However, City insist they want to keep him, and the Argentinian says he wants to stay.

MAN UNITED (Rob Dawson)

Rough budget: Manchester United will tell you they do not have a transfer budget and that they are always ready to do what they can to sign the players they want. Realistically, though, Mourinho is likely to spend somewhere in the region of £200 million — a similar outlay to his first two summers at Old Trafford.

Whom should the club buy?

They need a central midfielder to replace Michael Carrick, with Fred at Shakhtar Donetsk, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic at Lazio and Jean Michael Seri at Nice all mentioned as possible targets. Sources have told ESPN FC that there is also interest in left-backs Alex Sandro at Juventus and Danny Rose at Tottenham. If Marouane Fellaini leaves on a free transfer, Mourinho will look to add a second midfielder to his squad.

Whom should the club sell?

Mourinho insists that he wants to keep his squad together, but Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind could depart in search of more regular football. The pair have started just seven Premier League games between them this season, and there is interest in both players from Italy. It would not be a huge surprise if they left Old Trafford this summer, despite what Mourinho says.

Biggest transfer lines to follow: There is definite interest in Fred, and sources have told ESPN FC that Shakhtar are willing to sell for the right price. There has also been interest from Manchester City in the 25-year-old Brazilian, but sources say that has cooled as they look elsewhere to replace Toure. Mourinho wants at least one central midfielder, and Fred would fill a need. There is also a chance that Mourinho could reignite his long-standing interest in Willian, but Chelsea would have to agree to sell.

TOTTENHAM (Dan Kilpatrick)

Rough budget: The cost of Spurs’ new stadium project is approaching £1 billion, and to spend big in the transfer market, the club must sell first. A number of first-team players are available to leave for the right price. Pochettino has never had more than £30 million to spend on top of player sales, but another season of Champions League football and the monstrous Premier League TV deal could push that figure up a little.

Whom should the club buy?

West Brom’s Jonny Evans would provide experience for a cut-price fee at the back, though Manchester City are also interested, while Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon would be a great signing for the short and long term if Spurs can win the race for the teenager. Tottenham also admire Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, and they need a central midfielder — Barcelona’s Andre Gomes has previously been targeted. The club would like to enter the new stadium with a marquee signing, and Gelson Martins, Sporting’s winger, has been discussed.

Whom should the club buy sell?

They shouldn’t, but they will sell centre-back Toby Alderweireld for big money unless there’s a miraculous breakthrough in contract talks with the Belgian, and they will also listen to offers for Mousa Dembele, Danny Rose and Fernando Llorente. Offers will also be considered for Serge Aurier, Moussa Sissoko and Erik Lamela, though Pochettino believes all three are useful squad players.

Biggest transfer lines to follow: Alderweireld’s next destination has the potential to be one of the stories of the summer. The rest of the Premier League’s “Big Six” would love to sign him, but Spurs would prefer to sell overseas. The fight for Sessegnon could also develop into an almighty brawl. It will be intriguing to see if Pochettino targets another experienced head, despite the failure of Llorente. Someone such as Sami Khedira could add the winning mentality that Spurs appear to lack.

LIVERPOOL (Glenn Price)

Rough budget: £100 million plus. The £142 million Liverpool received from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho is untouched. That and the club’s healthy financial state mean Liverpool should be able to compete with most of Europe’s elite this summer.

Whom should the club buy?

Liverpool were keen on Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt last summer, but the Germany international opted to stay at the club to boost his chances of appearing at this summer’s World Cup. Liverpool’s recruitment department has been known to continue tracking targets even if moves don’t materialise — Mohamed Salah is a case in point — but Liverpool need more options in the final third. Although just 22, Brandt has an incredible amount of first-team football that he can build on at Anfield.

Whom should the club sell?

It appears that Simon Mignolet’s time at Liverpool is coming to an end. Loris Karius has permanently moved ahead of the Belgian in the pecking order, and it looks like there’s no chance of his claiming back the No. 1 jersey. Elsewhere, Danny Ings should want regular action at this stage of his career, given the injury nightmare he has had recently, but there is little chance of him becoming a first-choice option at Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge’s loan move to West Brom was the beginning of the end of his Anfield career. However, his inability to stay fit at the Hawthorns might mean Liverpool have a job shifting the 28-year-old on permanently.

Biggest transfer lines to follow: Of course, Salah’s record-breaking achievements this season will have caught the attention of Europe’s elite. Klopp attempted to kill these type of stories in April, when he declared for a fact that the Egyptian would be a Liverpool player next season. The club’s stance will be immovable this summer, should any club come calling, but one player who might end up leaving is Emre Can. There is still no decision on where the German will be playing his football next season: Can could move on a free or decide Liverpool is the best place for his future.

CHELSEA (Liam Twomey)

Rough budget: Chelsea earned around £55 million from Champions League participation this season, so failing to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition will significantly affect their summer spending power. The need to satisfy UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations has dictated that Chelsea largely offset signings with sales in recent years, and that approach will continue. All in all, the net spend could be as little as £20 million or £30 million. High-profile loanees such as Michy Batshuayi, Kurt Zouma and Kenedy are all in line to be sold if Antonio Conte or his potential successor decide they are surplus to first-team requirements.

Whom should the club buy?

After several windows dominated by squad signings, Chelsea need to get back into the business of acquiring top-level talent. They can’t afford to shop at the very top of the market anymore, but it wasn’t so long ago that Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku were all identified on their way up.

Someone such as Leverkusen sensation Leon Bailey would fit the bill perfectly, though Chelsea are highly unlikely to be his only high-profile suitors. Max Meyer has been frozen out by Schalke as he prepares to leave as a free agent this summer, and he could be an interesting option as the deep-lying midfield playmaker that this team so desperately need to succeed Cesc Fabregas.

Whom should the club sell?

This summer represents the last chance to cash in on senior players such as Fabregas, David Luiz and Pedro Rodriguez, as all are set to be free agents in the summer of 2019. So too is Courtois, and should Real Madrid decide they want the Belgian goalkeeper, Chelsea will be powerless to resist.

If money need to be raised to finance signings, Batshuayi, Kenedy and Zouma are all natural candidates. Danny Drinkwater might also be looking to move on, having struggled badly with injuries and fallen to the bottom of Conte’s midfield pecking order, and that could free up first-team minutes for Ruben Loftus-Cheek next season.

Biggest transfer lines to follow: The futures of Hazard and Courtois will overshadow Chelsea’s summer until they are settled, and given that Real Madrid like to play the long game in the transfer market, a resolution on either could be slow in coming. Bailey will not be short of offers this summer, while the £25 million release clause in Napoli superstar Dries Mertens’ contract should be of interest to major clubs all over Europe. Chelsea would be well advised to pursue both.

ARSENAL (Mattias Karen)

Rough budget: Arsenal have plenty of cash reserves, though they might be unwilling to spend a ton of money after buying club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January and facing another season out of the Champions League. Reports have claimed that the club will make only £50 million available to the new manager, but that could easily be doubled by income generated through player sales.

Whom should the club buy?

It’s easy to pinpoint Arsenal’s biggest needs: a holding midfielder and a centre-back. It’s a lot harder to pinpoint clear targets. Napoli duo Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly would be ideal, but they would also be very expensive. It’s more likely the club are relying on new recruitment head Sven Mislintat to unearth some cheaper young talent. Arsenal also need a natural wide-player in attack and could go back for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar after missing out on him last summer. A new goalkeeper would be a bonus, though the Gunners are unlikely to splurge on someone such as Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak. Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno is a reported target and would provide good competition for Petr Cech for the No. 1 spot.

Whom should the club sell?

This depends heavily on the new manager’s style of play — and whether he can get more out of the squad’s bigger underachievers. But it’s likely that a number of Arsenal players will be sold as Arsene Wenger’s successor puts his stamp on the squad. The club could be tempted to cut their losses on Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka and pretend the 2016 transfer window never happened. However, Laurent Koscielny’s long-term injury means Mustafi is now the only experienced centre-back in the squad, while Xhaka showed improvement in recent months. If Barcelona are still willing to spend £40 million or more on Hector Bellerin, the club should certainly listen to offers.

Biggest transfer lines to follow: Arsenal’s biggest goal this summer must be to shore up the defence, and it will be interesting to see how they go about it. Will they splurge big money on a ready-made solution, as Liverpool did with Virgil van Dijk, or are they relying on Mislintat to find lesser-known talents on the cheap? Their choice will say a lot about the level of ambition going into next season. Unlike last summer, though, there shouldn’t be any drawn-out transfer sagas like the one concerning Alexis Sanchez’s possible departure.

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