The urgent transfer gaps that must be filled before window closes - including Man Utd and Liverpool dilemmas

Looking at eight Premier League clubs with major requirements still to sort in the last week of the summer transfer window, including Man Utd and Liverpool.
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A seemingly endless and frequently bizarre transfer window is into its last week, and there is still plenty of business to be done – and quite a few clubs who desperately need another player or two if they want to have a fully functional squad. Or, in one or two cases, anything vaguely resembling even a half-functioning squad. Looking at you, Sheffield United.

Today, then, we’re going to take a spin through the teams who have the most glaring gaps on their team sheets, see what the rumour mill is saying about how they might be filled, and take the opportunity to laugh at the many, many sides who have somehow got three games into the season without a new striker. Let’s just say that there aren’t enough number nines to go around – and somebody is going to wind up scraping the barrel pretty hard. Everton have almost chiselled through the bottom already.

Manchester United – Centre-back and midfielder

United’s transfer issues essentially boil down to a failure to flog poor old Harry Maguire, and a failure to persuade Sofyan Amrabat that Salford is a lovely place to move to and that rumours about incessant rain are entirely unfounded. And just ask Sandro Tonali about the fine dining – Wetherspoons is wonderful this time of year.

Unloved, unwanted and in the way - Harry Maguire could end up staying at Manchester United.Unloved, unwanted and in the way - Harry Maguire could end up staying at Manchester United.
Unloved, unwanted and in the way - Harry Maguire could end up staying at Manchester United.

United had been heavily linked with Benjamin Pavard but at the time of writing, the Frenchman seems more likely to go to Inter. We recommended taking a look at Piero Hincapié recently, but it’s looking increasingly certain that the solemn and beslabbed figure of Maguire will continue haunting Erik Ten Hag’s training sessions for the coming season. Amrabat, meanwhile, evidently doesn’t want to go to United for reasons of his own – Marco Verratti has cropped up as a more-than-passable alternative after he became persona non grata at Paris Saint-Germain. They just need someone who can force them to stop playing Mason Mount in a central midfield role, really.

West Ham United – striker

The first of the striker-needy brigade is West Ham, who are in the process of trying to offload their forward line from last season and really need a fresh face around who can bag them a few actual goals. Apart from Jarrod Bowen. He can’t do all the heavy lifting by himself.

David Moyes and technical director Tim Steidten are reportedly struggling to agree on anything when it comes to new signings, which has turned the process of spending the Declan Rice money into a turgid affair – and the rumour mill has duly been fairly quiet on the matter. Mohammed Kudus may eventually arrive but isn’t a number nine, and the only names to crop up in the last week or so up front are Divock Origi and Elye Wahi, names that are likely to rub many fans up the wrong way for very different reasons (in the first case having seen him play, and in the latter case because some people have read the ‘controversies’ section of his Wikipedia page).

Tottenham Hotspur – striker

It turns out that filling Harry Kane’s boots is not a straightforward task, and Richarlison’s audition for the role hasn’t been especially successful so far – so Spurs are very much in the market for a number nine, and won’t find it easy given that the global striking cupboard is pretty bare right now.

Harry Kane’s departure has left a hole in Spurs fans’ heart - and in the squad.Harry Kane’s departure has left a hole in Spurs fans’ heart - and in the squad.
Harry Kane’s departure has left a hole in Spurs fans’ heart - and in the squad.

Gift Orban, a prodigious young striker from Nigeria, has been mentioned, and looks like an immense prospect, but Daniel Levy may prefer a more experienced alternative – Romelu Lukaku has been mentioned, but his colossal wages are making a surprise switch from Chelsea a little unlikely as it stands. Whoever Spurs go for, you can bet that they will be announced five minutes before the deadline after Levy spends several hours haggling the selling club down by another ten quid.

Chelsea – number ten

The complete and incredibly expensive overhaul of Chelsea’s squad is almost complete, but a nasty injury picked up by Christopher Nkunku means that there’s still a rather worrying hole in behind the central striker (which, of course, is another position Chelsea want to fill). Mykhaylo Mudryk could maybe make it work one day – he’s got another seven years on his contract to figure it out, anyway – but a fresh face wouldn’t go amiss.

Having failed to persuade Michael Olise to swap Selhurst Park for Stamford Bridge, there has been some suggestion that they may try to gazump West Ham for Kudus, while Brennan Johnson and Yeremy Pino have both come up as possible additions. They’re wide forwards, obviously, but perhaps Todd Boehly isn’t done collecting them yet. Raheem Sterling through the middle, anyone?

Fulham – striker

Unlike many of the clubs who are left counting their number nines and scratching their heads, Fulham’s deficiency in the forward department isn’t really their fault. As soon as Aleksandr Mitrović became the target of some Saudi munificence, they were always losing the Serbian – and now they need to find a replacement, quickly, or they could be scarily short of goals this season.

A swoop for Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun has been suggested, but they face stiff competition from Italy and France for the young American striker’s signature, so there’s no guarantee they’ll get their man even if they pay the asking price. They’d better make their case pretty well, or they could be going into the season with just Carlos Vinícius and what’s left of poor Raúl Jiménez.

Everton – forward

You’ll notice that we aren’t simply saying “striker” for Everton, because Sean Dyche’s attacking needs run deeper than just a centre-forward, and the league’s lowest scorers are also after a right winger, or a number ten, or basically anyone other than Dwight McNeil who knows what’s meant to happen when the ball gets anywhere near the opposing area.

Beto has hit double figures in both of his seasons with Udinese - could he be the forward Everton have been searching for?Beto has hit double figures in both of his seasons with Udinese - could he be the forward Everton have been searching for?
Beto has hit double figures in both of his seasons with Udinese - could he be the forward Everton have been searching for?

They’re supposedly in negotiations for Udinese’s Beto, which looks like a good start on paper, and Che Adams is another possibility. The most exciting name mentioned is PSG’s Hugo Ekitike, who struggled to sparkle during his one season in Paris and is now on the way out, but Everton have been linked with several dozen attacking players at this point, and absolutely none of them have actually materialised. Dyche needs to pull one or two rabbits out of the hat, or things will be pretty bleak this season.

Liverpool – holding midfielder

The signing of VfB Stuttgart’s experienced defensive midfielder Wataru Endo helps to plaster over the colossal crack in Liverpool’s midfield, but it’s fair to say that they could do with at least one more addition. It’s that or ask one hell of a lot of poor Endo. Presumably he can’t play every game.

Ryan Gravenberch is a plausible addition, with Bayern Munich willing to let him go after a disappointing first campaign in Bavaria, while Fluminense’s André has been the subject of a rejected bid. Based on their attempts to buy Moisés Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, anyone they bid on will wind up at Chelsea anyway.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – striker

Another club, another unceasing goal drought, another vacancy at number nine. Wolves were only spared from being the Premier League’s lowest-scoring side by the existence of Everton last season and haven’t looked much more dangerous in front of goal this year, either.

Fabio Silva adopting a pose familiar to all Wolves strikers of the past few years.Fabio Silva adopting a pose familiar to all Wolves strikers of the past few years.
Fabio Silva adopting a pose familiar to all Wolves strikers of the past few years.

Fabio Silva and Sasa Kalajdzic exist, at least, but neither has demonstrated any particular propensity towards goalscoring as of yet, and it’s fair to say that a new arrival would be very welcome indeed. The bad news? There isn’t any money to buy someone with, thanks to an ongoing battle to meet FFP requirements. Che Adams, Michail Antonio and Bristol City’s Sam Bell have come up as options, which isn’t the most stellar line-up of strikers, if we’re honest. It probably won’t be raining goals at Molineux this season, sadly.

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