By Ed Aarons
It is that time again. With the 2011-12 season now consigned to the history books, Premier League clubs are already compiling their shopping lists ahead of the summer sales as they bid to strengthen their squads for the new campaign.
As always, the majority of attention will centre on which players will be snapped up by the big guns, with several transfer sagas set to play out over the next few months. Goal.com takes a club-by-club look at the movers and shakers throughout England's top flight.
What they need
Surviving their first top-flight season since 1995-96 by the skin of their teeth would have been a mighty relief for owner Tony Fernandes. A huge investment in players during both transfer windows just about paid off in the end as Mark Hughes's side turned Loftus Road into a fortress and consigned Bolton to Championship football next season.
It could all have been so different, though, and with plans for a new stadium in the pipeline, Fernandes will be eager to avoid another relegation dogfight at all costs. First up will be to resolve the future of disgraced club captain Joey Barton - banned for 12 matches at the start of the new campaign after his red mist at the Etihad Stadium - although Hughes will do well to find anyone willing to match his reported £60,000 a week wages.
Assuming he stays, the priority will be to shore up a leaky defence and provide more firepower for strikers Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse, with reinforcements also required in central midfield to replace the ageing legs of Shaun Derry.
QPR have become the darlings of the tabloids' transfer gossip sections since Fernandes arrived last August, with countless players linked with a move to west London. In particular, Wigan forward Victor Moses is the major target for Hughes but he faces a fight with several other sides to lure the Nigerian international, as is the case with South African Steven Pienaar.
A replacement for goalkeeper Paddy Kenny will also be on the wishlist of the former Manchester City boss, with West Ham's out-of-contract Rob Green the prime candidate. Elsewhere, a quality central defender must be a priority given the reliance on veteran Clint Hill and Hughes will probably turn to the continent having missed out on signing Brazilian Alex back in January.
He has also been linked with a move for Dutch enforcer Nigel de Jong from his old club in a move that would certainly add some much-needed solidity in front of the defence.
A number of players signed at the last minute by former boss Neil Warnock last August may be surplus to requirements under Hughes but, like Barton, some exorbitant salaries will be a major stumbling block. Moroccan Adel Taarabt is constantly linked with a move back to Europe and despite some decent displays towards the tail-end of the season, Hughes may decide to let the former Spurs player leave this summer.
A whole host of players in what was one of the Premier League's most bloated squads have already been shown the door at the end of the season, with the departures of centre-backs Danny Gabbidon and Fitz Hall highlighting the need for reinforcements in that area.
What they need
The rigours of a first European campaign for nearly 40 years finally took their toll on Stoke's squad as they ended up finishing 14th having at one point threatened to gatecrash the top 10. Without those kind of distractions next time around, boss Tony Pulis will be keen to finish much higher but will know he needs to add some quality to his squad in all areas.
After the acquisition of Peter Crouch last year, a pacy striker to play alongside the former England man will be first on the agenda - especially given Cameron Jerome's desire to move on. Jermaine Pennant's much-publicised brushes with the law could also open the door for another option on the right wing, while on the other flank Matthew Etherington is not getting any younger.
Meanwhile, a whole host of fringe players have already left the Brittania Stadium and will need to be replaced if they are serious about making progress next season.
Wolves wingers Matt Jarvis and Michael Kightly look like ready-made replacements for Pennant and Etherington and are likely to be available on the cheap as the Midlanders attempt to balance the books following their relegation. Blackburn's Martin Olsson is also rumoured to be on the radar, although a reported £8m valuation would be a major stumbling block.
Persuading a top-quality striker to move to the Potteries may be a harder proposition, however. Former Portsmouth striker Aruna Dindane has been linked in recent weeks but a swoop for Huddersfield's Jordan Rhodes would certainly fit the bill - if Pulis is allowed to splash the cash.
The expected departure of Trinidadian Kenwyne Jones should provide some leeway to work with in terms of wages, while Jerome is also set to leave after publicly voicing his displeasure at a lack of game time this season. Another striker definitely jumping ship is long-serving Jamaican Ricardo Fuller but Malian Mamady Sidibe has been rewarded with a new one-year deal this week.
Elsewhere, rumours of interest in towering German defender Robert Huth refuse to go away, with ex-England defender Matthew Upson another possible transfer target.
£20 million plus
What they need
Slashing a hefty wage bill should be Martin O'Neill's first task as he embarks on a summer which looks as though there will be more outgoings than incomings at Sunderland.
With on-loan striker Nicklas Bendtner returning to Arsenal, O'Neill will be keen to bolster his attacking ranks as the club are still looking to fill the void created by the departure of Darren Bent, who left for Aston Villa in January 2011.
Elsewhere, O'Neill will be looking to strengthen his options in both full-back positions, while the arrival of a creative midfielder would complement the effervescent Stephane Sessegnon.
Grant Holt could head O'Neill's shortlist of strikers after the Norwich City forward handed in a transfer request earlier this month. Wolves' Steven Fletcher, who notched 12 last term, could be another option, while Heerenveen poacher Bas Dost, who topped last season's Eredivisie scoring charts with 32 goals is a target for several Premier League clubs.
In midfield, Junior Hoilett could be an option for O'Neill as the explosive winger is out of contract at Blackburn Rovers this summer, while the Northern Irishman could raid relegated Wolves for Matt Jarvis.
Bendtner, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Wayne Bridge have all returned to their parent clubs following their loan spells at the Stadium of Light, while goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who was signed for £9m in 2007, has been released.
Asamoah Gyan looks destined to stay with Al Ain after a strong campaign in the United Arab Emirates, while George McCartney, David Meyler, Ahmed Elmohamady and Marcos Angeleri appear to be surplus to O'Neill's requirements and should move on this summer to free up the wage bill.
What they need
Brendan Rodgers would have realised his side's attractive style of play lacked the finishing touch at times last season - therefore a striker will be high on Swansea City's shortlist.
With Steven Caulker returning to Tottenham following his loan spell at the Liberty Stadium, Rodgers will also be after a centre-back, while the Swansea boss is also eyeing a permanent deal for midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was a revelation during his loan spell from Hoffenheim last term.
Bristol City winger Albert Adomah has been heavily linked with a move to the Liberty Stadium, while Blackpool forward Matt Phillips has also been on Swansea's radar.
Burnley winger Jay Rodriguez is also reportedly on Rodgers' shortlist, while the Swansea boss is also targeting a loan move for Manchester City youngster John Guidetti.
"We will have money to spend," confirmed Rodgers. "The question is about where that money goes - whether it goes on one player plus a few other signings or whether it goes on three or four players."
Josh McEachran will return to Chelsea following his loan stint, while Blackpool could make a permanent move for Stephen Dobbie after the forward spend the latter stages of last season on loan at Bloomfield Road.
What they need
The disappointment of missing out on the Champions League has hit Spurs hard - no more so than in the finance department. The loss of an estimated £40m of extra income means boss Harry Redknapp will be handed a limited transfer kitty as he attempts to maintain a squad capable of competing with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool once again.
Central to his plans will be the futures of star players Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, with the former reportedly set to leave and chairman Daniel Levy desperate to hold on to the latter - whatever the cost. The Croatian's departure should at least hand Redknapp some extra funds, although most of that will probably be spent on luring Emmanuel Adebayor on a permanent deal from Manchester City.
The return of South African captain Steven Pienaar from his loan spell at Everton could at least provide a temporary solution to the loss of Modric, while a shortage of defensive cover will also be a major priority given Ledley King's struggles with long-term injury.
Adebayor proved to be a superb loan signing but, with City demanding a sizeable transfer fee and the Togolese star's high wages, Levy will be scratching his head over how to finance the permanent deal. Frenchman Loic Remy is a younger alternative, although Redknapp is thought to be keen to add both if possible after losing Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe desperate for regular football.
Pienaar's situation could be the key to it all. Everton are very keen to re-sign the midfielder permanently but his high wages and a transfer fee of around £5m could price them out of a move, leaving Redknapp with a big decision to make. If he leaves, then expect the Spurs boss to make a move for one of Junior Hoilett or Milos Krasic to boost his options on the flanks.
At the back, Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen looks set to move to north London in the near future and should form a top-class partnership with Younes Kaboul. Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is also being considered as a long-term replacement for veteran Brad Friedel, according to some reports.
Aside from the depatures of out-of-contract goalkeepers Carlo Cudicini and Heurelho Gomes, any other players leaving White Hart Lane are likely to command a fee. Much rests on the future of Modric, while Bale could also be tempted by the lure of Champions League football.
Another Croatian international in the form of full-back Vedran Corluka should also be on his way after spending the second half of the season on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, while South African defender Bongani Khumalo is expected to be sent out on loan once again. Niko Kranjcar may be retained if Redknapp is not given the finances to lure Hoilett.