2014-15 Premier League season review: Summer transfer needs

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, let’s take a look at the key numbers of 2014-15.

All week long here at PST, we’ve been taking a look back at the 2014-15 Premier League season — the season that was, if you will — but it’s not time to take an abbreviated look ahead to the 2015-16 season.

More specifically, the needs that must be addressed by each Premier League team in this summer’s transfer window before Aug. 8, the start of next season, arrives.

[ MORE: Top 10 goalkeepers | Defenders | MidfieldersForwards ]

Add one or two bodies to freshen things up Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Leicester City

Chelsea won the league by eight points this season, so wide, sweeping changes aren’t necessary at Stamford Bridge this summer. Instead, Jose Mourinho looks set to promote a handful of academy players to the first team, while probably adding just one or two big-money signings from elsewhere. The Blues’ No. 1 need: defensive midfield depth behind Nemanja Matic, who was a real difference maker this season, but can’t be relied upon to play upward of 35 games a season.

source: AP
Schweinsteiger — what the Arsenal midfield’s been missing?

Likewise, Arsenal are set up very nicely to carry over a strong second half of the season into 2015-16. Francis Coquelin may be the answer at the base of midfield, but he also might not be. A safer bet would be to sign Bastian Schweinsteiger, who seems to be on his way out at Bayern Munich, and really shore up the side’s biggest weakness the last few years.

Depending on who you ask, Man United will either challenge for the title next season, or they’ll finish around 10th and Louis van Gaal will be gone by December. Personally, I thought Van Gaal’s first season at Old Trafford was a huge success. When he’s recruiting players this summer, he’ll be doing so with the added promise of Champions League football. The quality of players his squad so desperately cries out for — someone to partner Michael Carrick and/or Ander Herrera deep in midfield — will be swayed by that. Paul Pogba? Arturo Vidal?

Tottenham finished fifth this season. You wouldn’t know it if you listened to their fans all season long, but they’re actually set up quite nicely to improve upon this season’s 64-point haul. Mauricio Pochettino was reunited with Paul Mitchell, his “head of recruitment” at Southampton, which should spell much-improved transfer dealings, compared to the debacle of two summers ago. For the first time in forever, a Spurs side isn’t crying out for a new starting center forward, thanks to Harry Kane.

Whoever takes over at West Ham will inherit a deep, talented squad. Winston Reid decided to stick around for the move to the Olympic Stadium — a development that will mean increased revenue and transfer budget — while last summer’s signings of Diafra Sahko, Enner Valencia and Aaron Cresswell worked out quite nicely. The big question: can they sign Alex Song permanently from Barcelona?

[ MORE: Top 10 newcomers to the Premier League | The best (and worst) transfers ]

In good shape, minor tweaks only — Southampton, Swansea City, Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Everton and West Bromwich Albion

source: Getty Images
Schneiderlin — will he stay or will her go?

Southampton were “supposed” to be relegated this season. Instead, first-year boss Ronald Koeman saw Saints to a seventh-place finish and has the South Coast club dreaming of another challenge for European qualification next season. Unless another mass exodus ensues this summer — Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne are constantly linked with moves away from St Mary’s — Southampton really only need reinforcements — depth signings — in the center of defense and an improvement upon Graziano Pelle’s feast-or-famine form of 2014-15.

There may not be a more stable, well-run club in all of England than Swansea. 9th, 12th and 9th: the Swans’ finishing positions at the end of the last three Premier League seasons. For a club of their history and respective standing in the game, that’s beyond a fantastic achievement. Out of respect to the wise folks running that club, I’m not going to even attempt to tell them what their squad needs, because I’m sure they’re already well aware themselves.

Mark Hughes’ second city at Stoke resulted in the club’s best-ever season (9th place, 54 points). Bojan Krkic proved to be an inspired signing last summer, while Mame Biram Diouf’s 11 goals (free transfer) turned out to be one of the best pieces of business done by anytime the last 12 months. This summer, the Potters could do well to re-work a somewhat aging defense, and add a bit of midfield depth to push Steven N’Zonzi, Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan in the center of midfield.

Likewise, Alan Pardew has a great thing going at Palace, where the players so obviously believe in his vision. Now that he’ll have an actual transfer budget to work with, look for Pardiola to push Palace onward and upward, toward another top-half finish next season.

[ MORE: 2014-15 Premier League season by the numbers ]

Complete overhauls needed — Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Sunderland

Manuel Pellegrini may not be going anywhere — maybe, but who knows? — but it seems as though half of Man City’s current squad will be moving on this summer. Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Stevan Jovetic have long been rumored to be leaving the club this summer, setting the stage for a hugely important transfer window in the City Football Group’s plans for world domination. Pogba seems like the obvious answer, though it’ll take a lot more than the brilliant French midfielder and the $100 million price tag he’ll carry.

source: Getty Images
Markovic — in for a better second season, or a speedy Anfield exit?

Liverpool, oh Liverpool. You did a Tottenham, you know that, right? The combination of Champions League and Luis Suarez money spent last summer ($180 million) was…how can I put this nicely?…a complete disaster. The Reds spent a combined $110 million on Dejan Lovren, Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli, Alberto Moreno and Rickie Lambert. They can either ride out the storm and hope more than just Emre Can and Adam Lallana ($54 million combined) come good, or scrap last summer’s missteps and rebuild, again, this time without the allure of Champions League football.

As for Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland, the 2014-15 season nearly spelled relegation, and all three sides changed managers mid-season, while the latter two are expected to endure further managerial turnover this summer as well. God bless Tim Sherwood as he attempts to build his first team; best wishes to John Carver or whoever replaces him at Newcastle, working on a shoestring budget; and good luck to whoever fills the vacancy at Sunderland, getting a completely apathetic, disinterested group of players to suddenly care.

Napoli president accuses Roma and Liverpool of collusion

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Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has never been one to hold back words, but this one’s quite the accusation. He thinks one of his chief Serie A rivals is in cahoots with a top Premier League side.

“I always had a suspicion that the real owner of Roma is the same as Liverpool, and if this were the case, the two clubs should not be allowed to play in the Champions League,” De Laurentiis said to La Gazetta dello Sport.

Both owners are American, with Liverpool owned by John Henry-led Fenway Sports Group and Roma held chiefly by Massachusetts-born James Palotta. It’s not surprising that De Laurentiis would think this, considering the roots of both men in close proximity. What is surprising is that he’d actually say it in public.

De Laurentiis said that “a little bird has told me a few years ago” that Henry and Palotta were secretly working together, and Napoli’s Italian rivals didn’t take kindly to that.

Roma responded vehemently, with the official Twitter account tweeting a quote from Palotta. “What do you think @ADeLaurentiis is smoking over there in Naples? If he finds that little bird again, he’ll find out we also own Barca and Bayern.”

Roma then released a quote from managing director Mauro Baldissoni, who said jokingly, “He [De Laurentiis] said that this was all suggested to him by a little bird. I don’t know who: I can only think that perhaps Aurelio is listening to the wrong birds! Perhaps we could suggest to him that he should speak a bit with songbirds, who deliver nice melodies rather than speaking nonsense. For our part, we send our best wishes to president De Laurentiis and to Carlo Ancelotti, their coach who remains in the hearts of all Roma fans, along with everyone else at Napoli. We wish them good luck for the new campaign, as we do all the other clubs and players.”

Liverpool offloads Klavan to Cagliari for cheap

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Liverpool is starting to offload some of its extra weight, and it comes at the expense of the back line.

The Reds announced the sale of central defender Ragnar Klavan to Cagliari, with reports in England claiming the transfer fee was a paltry $2.5 million.

That leaves Liverpool with a relatively thin remaining central defensive corps behind starters Virgil Van Dijk and Dejan Lovren, with just Joel Matip and Joe Gomez the only ones left as natural center-backs. It’s a bold move by the Reds in a campaign full of high expectations.

The 32-year-old Klavan joined Liverpool in the summer of 2016 from German club Augsburg for around $5.5 million, but struggled to crack the first team in a consistent manner. Klavan made 39 Premier League appearances in his time at Liverpool, but was pushed back in the pecking order after the Reds brought in van Dijk last January. Still, he made a solid eight Champions League appearances last season – three of them starts – and was an important piece of Liverpool’s squad depth.

Klavan signed a two-year contract at Cagliari, where he will compete for playing time with the likes of Marco Andreolli, Fabio Pisacane, and Luca Ceppitelli.

Premier League Preview: Cardiff City vs. Newcastle

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  • Cardiff City has lost 10 straight league games to Newcastle
  • Newcastle has lost 5 of its last 6 PL games
  • Benitez has lost 3 straight PL games vs newly promoted sides

These teams have both been picked by some to face the drop this year, but if the first result of the season bears any merit, there is promise and hope on each side despite no points gained. Still, a result in this match would go a long way towards building on that foundation as Cardiff City hosts Newcastle at 7:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN.

Cardiff City was a popular pick to finish bottom of the table in various preseason selections, but they were unable to get by Bournemouth despite a positive showing. They’ll need every point they can muster, and the club’s home opener seems as good a time as any. They’ll have loan signing Harry Arter able to make his debut after he was ineligible to face his parent club last time out, but key midfielder Aron Gunnarrsson is still out due to injury.

[ WATCH LIVE: Cardiff City vs. Newcastle live on NBCSN ]

For Newcastle, Rafa Benitez will not have American international DeAndre Yedlin at his disposal thanks to a knee injury suffered in the season opener, although the injury was “not serious” according to a club release earlier in the week. Otherwise, the Magpies are at full strength, a welcome sight for Benitez who has been forced to fight tooth and nail with club owner Mike Ashley to ring out every bit of squad depth he can convince his boss to grab.

A draw in this match would be disappointing for both clubs, and while each will covet every point they can get, each team will believe there are three points for the taking at Cardiff City Stadium.

What they’re saying

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock on Rafa Benitez: “You’ve only got to look at what the fans are saying and what all the pundits are saying, the one person Newcastle can’t afford to lose is Rafa, they could get away with [losing] any player. His commitment to Newcastle has been fantastic and he’s in his last year now so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops because I think he’ll be targeted worldwide really.”

Manager Rafa Benitez on Newcastle’s transfer window: “Everybody is spending big money on players, but will they all work out? We will see. It will be easier for some of our players as they have been in the Premier League for a year, but now other squads are stronger. Is our starting 11 better than before? I hope so, but we’ll see.”

Prediction

Both teams put up a spirited performance in losing efforts last time out, but Newcastle seems the better equipped to take home the three points at this moment in the season. The Magpies will hit the road and grab all three points with a cagey 1-0 victory.

Arsenal loans David Ospina to Napoli

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Arsenal’s goalkeeping backlog has finally been solved.

With Bernd Leno signed this offseason, it seemed David Ospina would be surplus to requirements, and that’s exactly the case as the Gunners ship the Colombian international to Serie A side Napoli on loan.

The Serie A season is set to get under way tomorrow, and Napoli’s goalkeeping situation remains in serious flux after the team completely turned over its entire corps of goalkeepers from last season. The Serie A starter Pepe Reina moved to AC Milan upon the expiration of his contract, plus Luigi Sepe went out on loan and Rafael departed for Sampdoria on a free.

Now, another former Premier League goalkeeper will take over in net. Other goalkeepers on the Napoli roster include Greek international Orestis Karnezis on loan from Udinese and 22-year-old Nikita Contini, plus the injured Alex Meret also on loan from Udinese.

Ospina has been with Arsenal since moving from French club Nice in 2014, but has never been able to earn a true starting role. He started 18 Premier League matches towards the end of the 2014/15 season with Wojciech Szczesny‘s Arsenal tenure coming to an end, but since has made no more than five league appearances in any campaign, stuck behind former Chelsea starter Petr Cech.

However, Ospina often served as Arsenal’s Cup competition goalkeeper, making 14 Champions League appearances and 10 Europa League appearances over his tenure at the Emirates.

The 29-year-old Colombian has 90 caps for his country, including starts in all four matches in the 2018 World Cup this summer, where he performed admirably in a defeat on penalties to eventual semifinalists England.