Premier League transfer needs: Where each club must strengthen this summer

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With the transfer gossip in full flow, it is time to take a look at what each Premier League team needs this summer.

Most clubs have multiple needs, but below we’ve tried to narrow it down to one specific area where they need to strengthen.

[ MORE: Latest transfer gossip ]

Right, let’s get to it as PL managers and chairman will be scheming on how to shift players on and bring in reinforcements before the summer window slams shut on September 1.

   MUST-BUY

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Winger/CB Manchester City: The Citizens look like they might get Raheem Sterling but they need defensive reinforcements as Mangala is unproven, Demichelis is getting on and Kompany needs a big season.
source:  Center Back Chelsea: You worry that if either John Terry or Gary Cahill get an injury that Chelsea’s backline will be badly hit. Kurt Zouma provides cover but after adding Falcao, Chelsea needs one more CB.
source:  Strike/DFs   Manchester United:  The Red Devils are close to adding RB Darmian but Louis van Gaal needs lots of defender to strengthen his squad. With RVP on the way out, only Rooney and Wilson as recognized strikers will be an issue. Morgan Schneiderlin would be a fantastic buy.
source:   Wingers West Ham: Slaven Bilic has done plenty of business early on but he must look at strengthening the wide midfield position with Downing possibly on the way out and the likes of Jarvis underwhelming.

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Striker/DM ArsenalThe Gunners have signed Petr Cech to address their need in goal, but if they can grab a top class holding mid and forward, watch out Chelsea and Man City.
source:   RB Stoke City: With Steven Nzonzi gone, its likely that Geoff Cameron will slot into DM so they will be covered. However, RB will be an issue. The additions of Joselu and Wollscheid already this summer has addressed needs.
source:   CB/Striker EvertonRoberto Martinez has added Cleverley and Deulofeu in midfield but needs another CB. Only Jagielka and Stones are around. More competition for Lukaku is needed too.
source:   Striker/CM/CB Newcastle UnitedAnother team that needs fresh impetus after Steve McClaren’s arrival, Newcastle have been linked with Schalke’s Matip and PSV’s Wijnaldum. 
source:  Striker/CB WatfordThe Hornets will struggle but they can’t rely on Troy Deeney to get all of their goals. Capoue will strengthen midfield and Holebas will help in defense but another top CB would shore things up.
source:   CM/CB Southampton: Koeman is likely to lose Schneiderlin so a top class replacement like Clasie is needed in midfield. After missing out on Alderweireld, another CB would be helpful with a Europa League campaign.
source:   Striker/Winger Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs have bolstered their defense but you would hope Pochettino could get rid of Soldado and Adebayor and give Kane some real support. Same could be said for Lennon, Townsend, Lamela. A clearout is needed to replace quantity with quality.
source:   Striker/Attacking mid SunderlandWe all know the Black Cats struggle to score, so Advocaat must look to boost the attack. Simple as.
source:   Striker/CM Aston VillaIf Benteke ends up leaving, Tim Sherwood must spend the cash wisely on a hungry strike. Charlie Austin? Delph is another who could leave, so CM would need shoring up.
source:  Striker  West BromThe Baggies have the likes of Brown and Anichebe but they have failed to support Berahino. Everyone is looking for top class striker, WBA are no different.
source:   Striker BournemouthThe Cherries could grab Gradel and need more firepower. They have signed Distin who has PL experience at CB. A few signings across the board needed to bolster the squad, but Howe will go with the young team who go them promoted.
source:  CB/DM LiverpoolSterling could be on his way out but Liverpool have enough attacking talents to cope with that. Rodgers has signed the likes of Ings, Firmino, Milner and Clyne this summer. But a CB and perhaps another holding mid would help the Reds improve.
source:   Striker/CB Crystal PalaceAt times the Eagles can still be a little vulnerable at the back and apart from Scott Dann, the likes of Hangeland and Delaney are injury prone. If they can seal the deal for Cabaye it would be a major coup. A top-class striker and Pardew’s men can push for the top eight.
source:   CB Swansea CityWith Garry Monk doing his business early to get Ayew and Eder in, plus signing Shelvey to a new deal, all the Swans need is more cover at CB.
source:   Striker/CM/CB Norwich City: Throughout the spine of their team, Norwich need to improve. Alex Neil’s side had an unlucky run through the playoffs but now is the time to spend big to try and stay up.
source:   Striker/CM Leicester CityWith no current manager in charge of the Foxes, who knows what will happen. A poacher up top will be necessary as Vardy, Ulloa and Nugent blew hot and cold last year.

Mbappe lavishes praise on Liverpool

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The calls are growing for Kylian Mbappe to join Liverpool and these comments will add further fuel to the fire.

Mbappe, 21, has called Liverpool a ‘machine’ as the Paris Saint-German and France star continues to be linked with a move to Anfield in 2020. That’s right, this summer, and that is why #Mbappe2020 is trending pretty much every day.

Speaking to the BBC, Mbappe was asked about Liverpool’s incredible season as they sit 16 points clear atop the Premier League with a game in hand.

“What Liverpool do in this moment is amazing,” Mbappe said. “They’re like a machine, they’ve found a rhythm and are like ‘we play again, we play again’. They’ve lost zero games. When you watch you think everything’s easy but that’s not easy. The guys are focused, they play games every three days and they win, they win, they win. Now the problem is that everybody watches Liverpool, and everybody watches what we can do against them, so now they have to show they are strong again but it’s a very good team with a very good manager.”

Could Liverpool afford Mbappe? It will likely cost them a world-record fee of over $250 million and it would be unlike Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff to spend that amount on a player who already looks the finished article.

Instead their recruitment policy is mostly about buyng players who they can improve into top talents. See: Mane, Sadio. Robertson, Andrew. Wijnaldum, Georginio, to name just a few. However, Liverpool have shown they will spend big if the right players comes along as Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson proved.

Signing Mbappe would be on another level altogether and PSG would not want to lose the French superstar as Real Madrid also push hard to sign him.

Mbappe 2020 may not happen but he is clearly a fan of Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.

That sound you can hear is Liverpool fans rushing out to get Mbappe’s name printed on the back of their jersey.

Man United charged after Liverpool game

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Manchester United have been charged by the FA for failing to control their players in the 2-0 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side surrounded referee Craig Pawson angrily after Roberto Firmino looked to have put Liverpool 2-0 up in the first half following a foul on David De Gea by Virgil Van Dijk. However, VAR then intervened and ruled out the goal.

Below is the statement from the FA, as United have until Thursday to respond to the charge.

“Manchester United FC has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E20(a). It is alleged that the club failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the 26th minute of the Premier League fixture against Liverpool FC on Sunday (19/1/20).”

Speaking about the charge, Solskjaer had to bite his lip.

“Maybe I shouldn’t talk too much about that,” Solskjaer said. “Let’s get that decision done. It’s overturned [the decision]. I reacted myself because it was a foul.”

United’s players reacted angrily as Pawson had the whistle in his mouth and appeared to be ready to blow it after Virgil van Dijk jumped into De Gea, but then allowed played to continue, as several United players stopped and Firmino whipped the ball into the far top corner.

It seemed like Pawson was going to call it a foul but decided he would let play continue and if a goal was scored, VAR would check the incident anyway.

That is the VAR world we now live in as referees know they have a back-up and as they were told at the start of the season, they are allowing situations to unfold where they previously would have made a quick decision, then waiting for a VAR review to make the decision for them.

Could you blame United’s players for being angry about the delay which almost cost them a goal? Probably not. The reaction of some of their players crowding around Pawson and getting in his face was too much and will likely see a fine handed their way if it isn’t overturned.

VAR was supposed to take the pressure off officials on the pitch for big calls but this incident shows how they are still at the center of any controversy, even if they aren’t making the ultimate decision.

La Liga head takes on FIFA over expanding Club World Cup

La Liga president critical of FIFA
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LONDON (AP) FIFA’s determination to have a bigger role in club football worldwide is troubling the head of the Spanish league.

Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, fears FIFA expanding the Club World Cup and providing a fresh windfall for a group of elite clubs will exacerbate financial disparities between teams and harm football.

The FIFA men’s club competition is due to swell from an annual competition with seven entrants to an event featuring a 24-team group stage from 2021.

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“The major risk would be the Club World Cup,” Tebas said through a translator in London. “They want to have it every two years. I don’t know how far they wish to go.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is considering offers from companies willing to provide financing for the competition, which is due to have a new name for its pilot edition. Tebas believes it could pose a greater challenge to European football than attempts by clubs to break away to form any Super League.

“FIFA … stopped being regulators and organizers for national teams and start to organize other kinds of tournaments which compete directly with the national leagues and this is something that concerns me because we had a balance, an ecosystem between the different leagues in Europe and different continents,” Tebas said.

“In Europe we have the Champions League and now we have an intruder who might disrupt that balance. There was already a threat of that in Europe, even though I think the risk of that has dropped significantly with the Champions League, but I think this could have an impact on the value of international competitions.”

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has formed the World Football Club Association, which has been formulating plans for new competitions of its own. Those proposals only emerged in reports after Pérez met with FIFA President Gianni Infantino in November.

Eight European teams are due to feature in the new Club World Cup, including Real Madrid due to its 2018 Champions League victory.

“The idea of creating new super World Cups for super clubs could be very damaging for Real Madrid and for major clubs,” Tebas said. “It’s something he’s not taking into account and I don’t really see a future for these competitions. I don’t think there’s a real passion for these kind of events. I think when people discuss this they realize it’s damaging for them.

“I always ask why we should change a system of strong international competitions… if it’s not broken, why try to fix it?”

But Infantino is determined to elevate the status of FIFA’s club competition and provide significant income to the finalists.

“We’ve seen how the Premier League has grown significantly over the last few years,” Tebas pointed out. “La Liga has also grown significantly and why would we want to change that? Why would we want to put that at risk with these sort of ideas? It’s like building castles in the sky.”

While concerned about Infantino’s plans, Tebas is supportive of UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin who has clashed regularly with his FIFA counterpart.

“If Ceferin defends European football as I have seen with national league and championships in balance, which is the current trend, I welcome this clash, this confrontation,” Tebas said. “An organisation like FIFA is supposed to be a regulatory body. They draft the different calendars and when we need to play. Sadly, from organising World Cups, they are talking about Club World Cups and having that every two years.

“That is not an option because it would change the status quo. This can’t happen. This sort of confrontation will never harm us if it goes along the path Ceferin is trying to defend.”

Tebas has been a regular critic of governments using their wealth to finance clubs, particularly Qatar at Paris Saint-Germain and Abu Dhabi at Manchester City. Both teams have been punished by UEFA for breaching spending rules and City is subject to a fresh investigation that could lead to a Champions League ban.

“One of the major issues in European football is related to (financial) doping,” Tebas said. “Because when we have clubs being financed by states then that has an impact on salaries and that means in other countries with more strict economic controls like Spain and Germany clubs cannot actually ask the state for extra financing to pay those salaries.

“This causes inflation and people think about creating other competitions because Florentino Perez and other clubs are always saying we need more money to maintain our players.”

That isn’t necessary, according to Tebas.

“I don’t think we are helping football in any way if we generate wealth and it just goes straight back to the big clubs,” Tebas said. “But that’s what’s happening, the major clubs share out the large part of the income among their players.

“In the end instead of having 12 Ferraris, they have 15. Instead of having 10 Lamborghinis they have 12. We’re dealing with major clubs generating a huge amount of money. So our aim is to redistribute that wealth. It’s not a case of creating new competitions because anything there would only benefit large clubs and channel wealth to the major car manufacturers.”

One of Tebas’ frustrations closer to home is the Spanish football federation thwarting his bid to take La Liga games overseas. But the federation has just staged its reformatted Super Cup in Saudi Arabia despite criticism of the kingdom’s human rights violations and its role in the murder of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in 2018.

Saudi Arabia has also been linked to the pirating of sports broadcasts from Qatar-owned beIN Sports to undermine its neighbor as part of a wider regional diplomatic dispute.

“The Saudi Arabian government has a policy whereby they improve the image of the government through sport – whitewashing their image,” Tebas said. “We should not forget what happened in the Turkish embassy.

“We should not forget these things. This happened in an embassy, not a pub and this is very serious, at least in my opinion. Money is not the only thing that matters.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Follow AP’s global sports correspondant Rob Harris on Twitter.

USMNT left back Robinson a surprise target for AC Milan?

AC Milans wants USMNT back Robinson
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AC Milan has identified an American as a potential answer to its left back depth issues.

Hampered by Financial Fair Play concerns, the Rossoneri could be offloading Ricardo Rodriguez to Fenerbahce and chasing a replacement.

The future No. 2 to left-sided wizard Theo Hernandez? It could be Antonee Robinson.

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The England-born USMNT back is in his second season with Wigan Athletic, making a permament move from Everton this summer after a loan move in 2018/19.

From CalcioMercato.com:

“The boy is American, he has already given his go-ahead to AC Milan but at the moment he has been put on stand-by… The executives like him and it’s a bet with good potential at low cost. For now, he has to wait.”

It’s a risky move; If Milan doesn’t qualify for Europa League or Champions League, minutes behind one of the most highly-regarded left backs in the world would be scarce. The 22-year-old Hernandez has six goals and two assists in 17 appearances since arriving from Real Madrid (He’s real good).

Then again, if they don’t qualify, Hernandez might want out of Milan.

Robinson, 22, has seven senior caps for the USMNT and is a major hope to solve a problematic position for Gregg Berhalter’s program.

Only one of those caps came under Berhalter, who otherwise hasn’t called up the Olympic-eligible left back in favor of Daniel Lovitz and Tim Ream.

Robinson has also played a little left mid for the Latics this season, scoring a goal in 28 Championship matches.