Man United and Liverpool urgently need midfield surgery: Top 10 Premier League transfer needs

Man United, Liverpool and Everton have massive gaps to fill. Credit: Alamy
Man United, Liverpool and Everton have massive gaps to fill. Credit: Alamy

Last 10 days of the transfer window now, and we’ve had a chance to watch (almost) everyone play a couple of games now. So what are the most glaring holes in the most urgent need of filling across the Premier League squads? These ones, we reckon…


10) Manchester City – Winger
Says an awful lot about Manchester City that they can lose Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan and then see Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva go down injured and you still look at their squad and go ‘This is fine’ and not even be doing a meme. It will actually be fine.

Nevertheless, it would be handy to replace that Mahrez-shaped hole in the squad. Cole Palmer’s given it a pretty good go in fairness, but there remains a sense that Pep Guardiola is going to play a Foden-style long game with Palmer. And Guardiola has very much earned the right to be trusted on these matters.

In predictable Manchester City fashion, this urgent transfer need is not really that urgent and also on the verge of being addressed anyway, with a deal in place for Jeremy Doku from Rennes. We like the name Jeremy Doku. Sounds like the name of an accountant on the Death Star.


9) West Ham – Centre-back
It was an alarmingly quiet summer on the incomings front for a long time at West Ham, but they’ve now made what appear to be a couple of shrewd reinvestments of the Declan Rice windfall in Edson Alvarez and especially James Ward-Prowse. The collapse of the Harry Maguire deal does still leave them slightly short of depth at the back, though.

It’s a real shame in a lot of ways that the Maguire deal hasn’t come to pass. Partly because we think it’s quite probably a deal that sits rather neatly in the ‘Everyone’s Best Interests’ category, but mainly because we think he’d get at least 10 goals a season for West Ham by just putting his big ol’ head in the way of Ward-Prowse corners and free-kicks. Surely that’s better than watching Manchester United be rubbish from the bench, Harry? Come on.


8) Newcastle – One more player
We know this, because Eddie Howe told us as much in one of his many tin-eared laments about how he isn’t allowed to just spend all of the money on all of the footballers.

“I’d love one more player, that’s what I’d love personally, and I think then we’d have the ideal depth, but let’s wait and see.”

What if you sold another player, though? Would that help, Eddie?

“The problem with doing that, if you’re talking about selling someone to bring someone in, is that you need to bring in two players.”

Gah, it’s a complicated game, this football manager/being the smiling public face of an overtly evil empire lark.

Anyway, we’re guessing that Mr One More Player would probably be a centre-back.


7) Wolves – Goalscorer
I mean, everyone Down There would very much like one of these. Their absence is very often a big part of why they are Down There, but Wolves feel like the team capable of producing the football in and around and behind that goalscorer to get the greatest benefit. Lots of nice attacking players in that squad, but none who you’d back with any confidence to score more than five Premier League goals a season.


6) Tottenham – Striker if we’re being fun, centre-back if we’re being sensible
Everyone loves a net spend chat, don’t they? Shut up, you do. Spurs have done all manner of renovation work on their squad this summer, but thanks to a transfer you might not have heard much about because it went under the radar a bit, their net spend this summer is close to zero and also they don’t really have a striker now.

That’s a shame, because they play all kinds of lovely football and a 20-goal striker would have a lot of fun out there. Instead, Spurs have Richarlison running around, bless him, and displaying his unerring sixth sense for taking up good positions in the penalty area that prove to be just not quite where the ball ends up. Either that, or being offside. He’s the one Spurs player not apparently having any fun.

Spurs could move Son central and go with the surprisingly rejuvenated Ivan Perisic on the left, but that still feels like an in-game change rather than a Plan A. We’d love to seem them go all out for someone to convert all the chances James Maddison creates.

You’ll notice we’ve not even mentioned the sensible thing Spurs need up to now, because we are not sensible when it comes to Angeball. We are giddy and silly. But the squad does contain precisely two centre-backs capable of playing Angeball. Only Cristian Romero and Jan Vertonghen regen Micky van de Ven possess the requisite recovery pace and ball skills to play the way Postecoglou demands. Davinson Sanchez can’t really do it. Eric Dier definitely can’t do it. Ben Davies can do the left-back job but is an emergency option only in the middle. A third truly Angeball central defender would make things a bit less seat-of-the-pants. But tits to that, get a striker and score all of the goals and win all of the games 5-4.


5) Arsenal – Centre-back, unfortunately
Whichever new signing we pick to have the biggest impact in the infamously terrible F365 Predictions is always doomed, but even by our standards Jurrien Timber’s demise was swift and brutal. Poor bastard.

But we weren’t wrong about him being a) a splendidly good footballer and b) filling an enormously large and important hole in that Arsenal squad if they want to make that final step from challengers to champions. That hole is now back, with the only tiny silver lining about it being that it’s happened when there is still a bit of time to do something transferry rather than Rob Holdingy about it.


4) Chelsea – Goalscorer
We’re genuinely more annoyed about Chelsea spending a billion quid so drably than we are about them spending a billion quid. Buy a proper f**king big-boy f**k-off 25-goal striker, you irredeemable dafties. If you’re going to be chucking £100m at every player you/Liverpool like the look of then at least get one of those, yeah?

The conspicuous absence of a player to reliably and repeatedly put the ball in the net has arguably already cost them five points this season given the lengthy periods of superiority they enjoyed against Liverpool and in the first half at West Ham.

They’ve been unlucky with Christopher Nkunku’s injury, of course, but he’s more second striker than a pure nine. And Nicolas Jackson looks fine in a sort of lots-of-thankless-target-man-running-and-10-goals-a-season kind of way, but it’s also weird that he’s the only real No. 9 they’ve brought in and that it’s the one position where they’ve looked to shop at the cheaper end of the market. Dullest. Billion Dollar Squad. Ever.


3) Everton – Striker
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s latest serious injury was a horribly unfortunate one, but there does need to be some acceptance now that he is made of glass and that having him as the only centre-forward you properly trust in a squad is asking for all kinds of trouble.

Everton are an unholy mess and there isn’t one magic transfer that could reasonably be expected to solve the problems. Alex Iwobi doing a hamstring in the same game as DCL’s head injury was enormously damaging; probably worse in the long run than the 4-0 defeat.

The Toffees have all manner of difficult questions to answer, but we’re profoundly confident that ‘Neal Maupay’ is not the answer to any of those questions, and it’s probably unfair to expect many answers from 19-year-old Chermiti (career top-flight record: three goals in 16 Liga Portugal games for Sporting).

So Sunday’s injuries mean they need a striker and an attacking box-to-box midfielder. Ideally Premier League-proven, because there’s no time to waste with acclimatising and adapting. The good news is that such players are notoriously easy to find. Sunday also suggested that Everton may require a new centre-back or two, and that Timelord Ashley Young may not be the long-term answer at left-back either. It’s going to be an interesting season at Goodison, and you know what they say about interesting times.


2) Liverpool – Defensive midfielder
Dominik Szoboszlai is an absolutely lovely footballer (so good, in fact, that we’re reasonably confident we’ll even have learned to spell his name without looking it up every bastard time by about March). Alexis Mac Allister is also an excellent footballer, and a World Cup winner for crying out loud. Cody Gakpo: also very, very good. But what these three estimable footballers do not equate to is a properly functioning Premier League midfield.

They’ve got away with it so far but won’t do across a whole season. Wataru Endo has been opportunistically snaffled from Stuttgart which was probably pretty sensible and he’s a solid sort. But let’s not pretend he is the player around whom Liverpool or anyone else would be planning to build a title-challenging midfield. Find a(nother) proper game-changer in there and go all out for them, (reasonably) safe in the knowledge that Chelsea probably won’t try and sign this one as well now.


1) Manchester United – Defensive midfielder
One of the most striking features of the first fortnight of the season has been the alarming sight of first Wolves and then Tottenham players sauntering gaily and almost entirely unencumbered through what could nominally be described as Manchester United’s midfield. Mason Mount is playing as a six, and we’re pretty sure that’s not a) what he was bought to do or even b) what he’s supposed to be doing now. It’s just where he keeps ending up because United’s midfield is a wonky mess.

Casemiro has been dribbled past six times in his first two games and we’ll charitably describe his overall vibe from the first two games as not quite match sharp. They just about got away with it against Wolves, who don’t score any goals, but absolutely did not get away with it against Spurs, who do.

There are other problems at United ahead of and behind that midfield, most pointedly at centre-forward where Marcus Rashford is struggling a bit and really annoying Roy Keane, but solving those issues without sorting that midfield would be tantamount to replacing some broken tiles on the roof of a house that is on fire.

How about a cheeky bid for that Fred chap?

READ: Man Utd have been poor on and off the pitch; Ten Hag must earn his beans again

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