With the transfer window set to open, Goal.com takes a look at the players each Premier League club will be chasing over the next few months
By Jay Jaffa
Silly season has begun. As the players head off for their summer holidays - some to the European Championships, some to the Olympics and some to a private beach - the wheelers and dealers of the world can come out to play.
As speculation surrounds the future of Eden Hazard, the most wanted player in Europe, and the saga of Luka Modric prepares for part two, Goal.com takes a club-by-club look at the movers and shakers across the Premier League.
What they need
Firstly, Arsene Wenger must secure the future of Robin van Persie. If the Dutchman stays at the Emirates, the Gunners will be in a strong position to build towards improving on their third-place finish. With Per Mertesacker set to return in time for pre-season, Wenger will feel ably covered down the spine of the team.
However, that is ignoring the injury-blighted midfield where Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong and Abou Diaby have all suffered lengthy spells on the sidelines. On that basis, it is likely Wenger will look to bolster the engine room. Lukas Podolski's arrival strengthens their attacking options but uncertainty over Yossi Benayoun's future and the form of Gervinho suggest a new body joining the wide players over the summer.
Podolski has already been signed from FC Koln, adding additional firepower to a team all too reliant on the goals of Van Persie. Yann M'Vila was courted by Wenger last summer and links have surfaced again in recent weeks.
However, interest appears to have cooled as the Gunners boss weighs up his options. With Euro 2012 fast approaching and M'Vila set to play a key role for France, Poland and Ukraine could be the box-to-box midfielder's chance to advertise his talent.
In the wider positions, Shinji Kagawa seems ready to move to the Premier League and his future could be decided by the first side to meet a reported asking price of £20 million.
A more unlikely but no less talented signing would be Younes Belhanda from French champions Montpellier, who would also provide competition on the flanks. However, in typical Wenger fashion, do not be surprised if young Japanese starlet Ryo Miyaichi is given a run in the first-team following his successful loan spell at Bolton.
Take your pick. Wenger seems set to cast off plenty of deadwood this summer, starting with long-serving goalkeeper Manuel Almunia. Lukasz Fabianski has expressed an interest in leaving the club while the future of Benayoun is yet to be resolved, following his loan from Chelsea.
Andrey Arshavin was loaned back to Zenit St. Petersburg in January and it is expected that he will make the move permanent. Other squad players expected to be shifted on are Sebastian Squillaci, Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela as Wenger looks to trim his squad.
What they need
A manager would be a nice start. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rejected the chance to jump into the hot-seat at Villa Park late on Tuesday night, leaving chairman Randy Lerner still searching for a successor to Alex McLeish. Aside from this palaver, it is easy to identify weaknesses in a very young first-team.
Aside from Shay Given, the club's player of the year, Richard Dunne and James Collins, Villa lack leaders. Darren Bent is an experienced pro but has not displayed the charisma needed to guide a youthful contingent.
There is promise in the Villa ranks but an over-reliance on academy products saw form evaporate in 2012. Experienced heads are required in midfield, where Ciaran Clark and Chris Herd's performances have flitted between courageous and ebullient.
Hard to tell at this stage. Brett Holman has already penned a deal to move to the Midlands club from AZ Alkmaar and the energetic schemer will add some dynamism to a blunt Villa midfield. Prior to McLeish's departure, Karl Henry was tipped to move from Wolves, but it will probably come as some relief to the Holte Enders that the deal is now dead in the water.
Fresh blood up front to replace the outgoing Emile Heskey would be welcome and Grant Holt may interest the new management. But until that man is named, it remains difficult to speculate.
Carlos Cuellar heads a list of players released while captain Stiliyan Petrov is out for an undetermined period of time as he battles leukaemia. Former England international Heskey is also on his way out of Aston Villa when his contract expires at the end of June.
Stephen Ireland has U-turned on a proposed move to the MLS, possibly following McLeish's departure, and he could well take on a big role at Villa Park next year.
What they need
Like Aston Villa, it would seem Chelsea require a new manager. It looks improbable that Roberto Di Matteo will be rewarded with a contract despite claiming Chelsea's maiden Champions League trophy. Whatever the future holds, Marko Marin's arrival indicated someone else was behind purchases and the club appear to have an idea of who they want to court in the transfer market.
The reliance on the old guard may come to an end this summer – particularly on the back of Didier Drogba's announcement that he will leave the Blues. Naturally, decisions on Fernando Torres' future at the club will play a role in any move for a new striker while Marin looks set to fill a vacancy on the flank.
Though Branislav Ivanovic is a dependable right-back, the club lack a player of a similar calibre to Ashley Cole and may look to reinforce that position. In central midfield, doubts remain over the competence of Raul Meireles and John Obi Mikel, whereas the continuing fitness issues of Michael Essien raise eyebrows on his long-term dependability.
Marin has already signed from Werder Bremen as the club look to freshen their attacking options. The Blues are clearly searching for a marquee signing and have become eminently more attractive now that they have been crowned champions of Europe.
The Luka Modric saga of last summer is set to resume and this time it appears Tottenham will be more receptive to exceptional bids for the Croatian. However, while the Spurs play-maker is waiting until after Euro 2012 to decide his future, Eden Hazard has expressed a desire to settle his destination as soon as possible. The Belgian starlet has openly flirted with both Manchester clubs but only recently spoke of Chelsea's interest following their win in Munich.
Shinji Kagawa remains an outside bet as United appear to be leading the charge but concrete interest in Sao Paulo wonderkid Lucas Moura was confirmed through the vestige of cold hard cash. A £32 million bid was turned down by the Brazilian club but it is unlikely the Stamford Bridge outfit will end their interest there.
Didier Drogba announced on Tuesday that he will bid farewell to the west London club after eight successful years. Salomon Kalou must surely be considering his future after a number of years as a bit-part player.
On the other flank, Florent Malouda is expected to depart for his homeland while Paulo Ferreira's future appears similarly bleak. Romelu Lukaku would have been a prime candidate for a loan deal this summer but with new management incoming, it is more likely that he will be given a chance to impress.
What they need
To start the season in the manner they traditionally end one. Business needs to be conducted earlier than usual for David Moyes to gel his squad prior to the season's kick-off and mount an assault on the top-six. Right-back remains a problem and despite Tony Hibbert's steady form, the Englishman does not offer enough going forward for a side so resolutely constructed.
The rest of the back-line is settled but may have to part with Sylvain Distin, raising the importance of signing a left-back further. It is a thin but able squad and one that would welcome one or two new faces in the middle of the park to add competition and share the workload of Marouane Fellaini.
Sunderland's Kieran Richardson has been linked with Everton as speculation mounts over Leighton Baines' future at the club. Between the sticks, Balazs Megyeri of Olympiakos is seen as a potential back-up to long-serving goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Up front and sticking with Americans, Landon Donovan has also spoken of a desire to return to his adopted English club next season in a loan deal similar to the move he was granted last campaign.
Another attacking player to impress on loan was Steven Pienaar, who returned to Goodison Park in January after a despondent first six months at Tottenham. His impressive form showed he was seemingly a perfect foil for Nikica Jelavic in his brief return to Merseyside and Moyes will be hoping to capture him permanently.
Denis Stracqualursi and Royston Drenthe have seen their loan deals expire while the contracts of James McFadden and Marcus Hahnemann have also ended. Tim Cahill is reportedly a target for Saudi champions Al Nasr after a season below his usual standards.
Jack Rodwell continues to attract interest but a succession of injuries have prevented the promising English midfielder from establishing himself in the Toffees line-up. At the back, the ageing Frenchman Distin may well be nearing the end of his Everton career and it remains to be seen whether he will line-up for Moyes next year.
What they need
The knee injury Zdenek Grygera picked up in November highlighted a weak spot in Fulham's squad. Though Stephen Kelly performed adequately in the Czech right-back's place, Martin Jol will be looking to strengthen that side of his defence.
In midfield, Danny Murphy continues to play a pivotal role and the permanent signing of Mahamadou Diarra will allow the Englishman to continue pulling the strings. However, Murphy is 35 and the Cottagers will be searching for a long-term successor. With Clint Dempsey's future uncertain and a deal for Pavel Pogrebnyak still to materialise, Jol will also be on the prowl for further attacking options.
Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes will be expected to move up English football’s pyramid and could be a tailor-made fit for Fulham's 4-2-3-1 system.
Talk of Heerenveen pair Luciano Narsingh and Oussama Aissadi signing for the club may have been premature but they will be players Jol is familiar with. Narsingh is very much in the Dempsey mould while Aissadi operates more centrally, but with equally good technique.
Recently relegated Wolves winger Matt Jarvis is also attracting the attention of the west London outfit but the Midlands club have warned potential suitors that the wide-man will not come cheap.
Dickson Etuhu, Andy Johnson and Rafik Halliche seem certain to leave the club this summer. The latter has barely featured since joining in the summer of 2010 and is not likely to be missed while the higher profile Johnson is set to be released five years after signing for £10.5m.
Etuhu is in a similar situation and there are question marks over the future of Chris Baird as the Northern Ireland international admitted he was considering his future.
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