Football Insights – Transfer Window
With the European domestic seasons winding down this weekend and only the European competitions to complete, the attention has already shifted to the start of the new season and the summer transfer window. Kevin Campbell and Frank Sinclair give their exclusive insights and how some of their former clubs could look at strengthening their respective squads ahead of the new campaign.
Where do Arsenal need to strengthen their squad – is a complete overhaul of new players needed?
I believe Arsenal need up to 10 new players – but this won’t happen in one transfer window. There are definitely players who need to leave and I can see five or six players leaving in this summer and probably five or six coming the club, too.
That would be the ideal situation for Mikel Arteta, because he knows there’s players that aren’t good enough or are getting to their career and there has to be a changing of the guard, so to speak.
How key has Dani Ceballos been for Arsenal this season? Can you see the club making that a permanent transfer?
I’d like to think Arsenal will secure Ceballos’ service, but I think this will be on loan for another season. He's been very good of late, especially after the restart. I think the implementation of what Mikel Arteta wants to do and I think he epitomizes that in the center of the pitch. I think he's really performed so for him to stay for another season will be great.
Arsenal are being heavily linked with Sporting Lisbon wonderkid Joelson Fernandes. How big a signing could that be for the club?
Wonderkid’s have talent but the Premier League is a different kettle of fish, and you can’t put too much pressure on these youngsters. Joelson Fernandes could be a fantastic signing, but, I think Arsenal have to really look for tried and tested players over the period and hopefully develop youngsters.
In years to come, if Joelson came great, and these youngsters club as well, he could be a really good signing. It's going take time to let them develop because they have to go through the rollercoaster of being able to perform consistently at a club like Arsenal with all the pressure, so it could be a really good sign, but I'm not putting too much pressure on it.
Thomas Partey has long been linked with a move to Arsenal from Atletico Madrid – can you see that move happening this summer?
Thomas Partey is a signing that I desperately want to happen for Arsenal, because if you speak to any Arsenal supporter, there’s a lack of a holding midfelder who is big, strong, aggressive and complete. Arsenal have missed that since probably Patrick Viera and Gilberto Silva.
The team has missed that presence in the centre of the pitch. Xhaka and Torriera were brought in but they aren’t that player. Arsenal need somebody and I’ve watched Partey play all year, I think he is ideal for Arsenal. First signing? Arsenal need to get Partey.
Wilfried Zaha looks certain to leave Crystal Palace this summer and has long been linked with Arsenal – is that a deal you can see happening?
There was noise about Zaha last summer and it didn’t quite happen, but I think he’s an Arsenal fan and I don’t see why he wouldn’t come to the club. This is an opportunity to really get someone in who can play that wide lift position, Aubameyang has been doing it pretty successfully, but he's a striker.
He's not a wide lift player who can read him and beat people on the outside. He's the one who's supposed to be on the middle fitting on the end of these guys. I think Zaha can play multiple positions, when he's on that left-hand side he's a real problem for defenders.
What is the most crucial area that Arsenal should be looking to strengthen this summer?
I want Thomas Partey in the team so it would be there, and centre back. We’ve got a youngster William Saliba, who's coming in for centre back and I think the next most important position, now that we've got Saliba, is that central midfield spot, that defensive part. I think that's the key and get in Thomas Partey is the one. That position, central holding midfield player. He's the one.
West Brom have just been promoted to the Premier League for the 5th time, what do they need to do to stay up this time?
West Brom have got to be able to defend well, that's the key to surviving in the Premier League. Teams have got to be able to get their noses in front and defend well because if you can't defend properly, you don't stand the chance. Sheffield United have defended really well and they've been able to nick games.
Sheffield haven’t been free flowing scoring, but they've been able to defend well, and if West Bromwich under Slavan Bilic, who was a defender and has done a great job at West Bromwich Albion, if they could defend well, they can have a decent season.
Can Slavan Bilic take West Brom where they need to go?
Slavan Bilic think he deserves his chance. He’s got the promotion and I know he will be working tirelessly to get players in and the whole squad to the quality in to help them survive. I know they’ve got a lot of young players there who the club will surely want to give the opportunity to allow them to play in the Premier League because they've got to be able to be allowed to grow.
Just buying new players defeats the whole object. So I believe Slavan will try to get a happy balance with bringing in some experience in with these youngsters developing and growing for the next Premier League campaign.
Where will Slavan Bilic need to strengthen the West Brom squad to compete in the Premier League?
West Brom need to develop and strengthen the spine of their team, with a centre-back, central midfielder and a striker. I think those are the key areas where you need proven players who can perform in the Premier League there. Once you have that spine of the team, you can build a lot of these quality youngsters and other players around that spine, but those three positions are key.
How important is it for the West Midlands to have another Midlands club in the top flight with Villa's survival and Wolves too?
It’s great for the West Midlands and there’s going to be an extra couple of derby games there per team, which boosts local pride. So, I think is really important, for the ‘second city’ to have another team in the Premier League and may the battle lines be drawn!
Chelsea are being heavily linked with Kai Havertz, having already signed Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. Surely that will give them an embarrassment of attacking riches should that come off?
Ziyech has shown Chelsea fans that he is a super player from their games against Ajax in the earlier rounds of the Champions League so I’m really looking forward to seeing him play. I think Werner is what I think Chelsea have not had for a while, probably since the Drogba days of a real top-class striker who has pace and is a very tricky player as well.
There's rumors about Kai Havertz, but I think there's a lot of clubs that will be in for him, as he’s terrific attacking midfield player so we'll wait and see. For me, I think the team needs strengthening in in the defensive department with probably a left back, which is something that's been talked about and perhaps another centre half as well.
With these range of new attacking signings, who do you feel will look to move on? Willian has long been linked with a move away from the club?
Frank Lampard as made it very clear that if Willian wants to stay at the football club, with the form that he's shown this season, Frank would like to keep him. Let's hope they can get that over the line. But at the same time, he's obviously going to benefit from making a free transfer from Chelsea to wherever it might be.
A bigger club in the Premier League or Europe maybe and there’s talks of interest from the USA as well. So in his situation, it's going to be tough to get him to sign a new contract, because financially, he's not going to benefit from that. At the same time, if Frank can show him the ambitions of what Chelsea want to do going forward and him playing a big part, then that opportunity might come around.
Pedro also played his last game at Stamford Bridge, so he's going to be moving on. That's why he's not been involved recently, since the restart of football. So there could be a possibility that he may have had to move elsewhere to further his career. I think the young players have got time on their hands and being in around world class players is only going to improve the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and so on.
Olivier Giroud has long been the forgotten man at the Blues, but has scored some crucial goals at the end of the season. Do you think he has a future at the club into next season?
One thing that Giroud has shown is that whenever he's been called on at Chelsea, he's been fantastic. If you look at his stats, by games or goals, it's as good as anybody in the Premier League.
He obviously didn't start the season in favour but he certainly won Frank Lampard over and he's been probably the most in-form striker since the restart so I think he's done enough for a new contract at the club. You'd imagine that he's going to play second fiddle to Timo Werner but at the same time, he's a great person to be able to call on with his experience and ability.
Jan Oblak has been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid and Kepa has clearly struggled this season. Can you see Chelsea making a move for the keeper many view as the best in the world?
It's not a secret that Frank saw lost this trust in Kepa, in previous games he's made some vital mistakes. However, you have to remember that he’s a really young goalkeeper, the £71m price tag shadows the fact that he's a young goalkeeper, fairly inexperienced in playing senior football and the standards are set very high for him.
At the same time, if you get the opportunity to bring in Jan Oblak then I think if you want to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City, Chelsea need a goalkeeper of the same standard and certainly Jan Oblak would produce that.
Robin Gosens at Atalanta has been flagged as a cheaper alternative to Ben Chillwell – do you think he would be a good signing?
Robin Gosens is a good player, I've not seen much of him but I have seen him sporadically and he's a good player. But for me, I don't think it's a case of looking for a cheaper option. Chelsea have not spent money in the transfer windows since Frank's been at the football club. So I think he's got money to spend and I think the owner will back him and he needs to go out there and get what he considers the best left back in world football.
Given they can now offer Champions League football, would now be a good time for Chelsea to go back in for Ben Chilwell?
Ben Chilwell is still a tough nut to crack. When you when you hear the way that Brendan Rodgers talks about Ben Chilwell, so strongly and how much a part of Leicester City going forward. I guess it would be a difficult one and he’s always going to be a very, very overpriced signing.
For me, there's a lot of world class, fullbacks out there and Frank has to get the right one for Chelsea Football Club. Obviously Ben Chilwell is a top player and England International, but I don't think Chelsea should pay over the odds for him.
Do Chelsea need to strengthen their defence to challenge for the very top honours?
Chelsea absolutely need to strengthen their defence. When you look at how many goals Chelsea conceded the season, it is not a good look, which is that's the obvious thing. I think Frank had to try different combinations at the back with personnel and systems throughout the season to try and get the answers to keeping clean sheets.
It's not quite worked out which probably shows Lampard that he's going to have to go and sign some better players to improve the defensive situation.
As things stand, who would you pick as your front three at Chelsea on the first day of next season?
Chelsea’s starting front 3 is difficult, because you’d imagine that Werner and Ziyech are going to be a part of the starting 11. But with the form that Mason Mount has been in towards the end of the season, he's been incredible. You've got Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian if he will still be at the club.
I think there will be one place in the striking options of Frank is going to stick with the 4-3-3 system. So there’s one place up for grabs, and there's a lot of good players that will be going for it.
But for me, it's not just about the front three, it's about the squad throughout the season. There's going to be a lot of games with the Champions League and the domestic competitions as well. For me he's going to need all the players and all the attacking options throughout the season.
Brendan Rodgers was keen to strike an upbeat tone at the end of the season, citing this as Leicester's 2nd best Premier League finish. What do you think will be the priority when he makes his pre-season plans?
Preseason plans for Brendan Rodgers will be to strengthen at the back and trying to retain James Madison as there's been links with him moving on to a bigger club or Champions League club. I think those would be the priorities.
When you look at what Jamie Vardy has done this season with winning the Golden Boot, you can see that Leicester’s attack is not a problem but he would probably need backup. They’ll look to strengthen the midfield areas as well, as most teams do. They'd look to strengthen at least one player in each department to improve the squad.
If Leicester are to challenge for Champions League football next season, where do they need to strengthen?
Leicester will look to strengthen throughout the squad, defensively and an attacking option to help Jamie Vardy with the goals return and probably midfield as well. There’ll be some players going out of Leicester so they'll probably look at the attacking areas. I don't think since Mahrez left that they really replaced Mahrez, quality wise and they may well look to do that as well.
Jamie Vardy won the Golden Boot at 33 – do you think he will end his career at Leicester or come he be tempted if the chance to play at the very top level presents itself?
If Jamie Vardy was ever going leave Leicester it would have been when he had the opportunity to go to Arsenal, two or three seasons ago. I can see him staying now as I think he's settled, he's a major part of Leicester football club and the way they play and I think you'll see out his career there.
When you get to 33, you realise that your legs, start giving out from under you, but he certainly looks as sharp as ever. It still looks like he has the capabilities to press from the front. There's no reason for him to be moving on as in not playing in the Premier League anymore.
It's all about you know, getting someone in that can help him and can maybe cut down the amount of appearances that he has to make per season to keep the sharpness in him.
How big a boost is it that James Maddison looks set to sign a new long-term deal at the club?
There’s been a lot of talks about big clubs coming in for Maddison so for him to sign a long-term contract would be massive. It shows the ambition of Leicester that they can talk a player of such quality into stay in at the club. And, obviously if they do keep him that'd be fantastic for them.
Harvey Barnes is said to be attracting attention from Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool – how big a loss would it be to the Foxes?
Harvey Barnes is a young player, and he’s been a bit part player for Leicester City, so I'm surprised that a club going in the direction that Liverpool are going in are interested. I think he will struggle to get in Liverpool's team if I'm all honest but, I'm sure Brendan Rodgers won't want to let him go.
I think he's replaceable and Brendan Rodgers won't be panicking about losing him but at the same time, you know, he wants to keep his best young players at the football club.
Will Leicester look to grow their team over the summer or will Brendan Rodgers be confident in the current players ability to compete effectively in the Premier League and Europe?
Just like every other manager in the Premier League, whether you've just been promoted, whether you've just about stayed up, or whether you've had a really successful campaign, you're always looking to improve your squad, and certain departments of where you see weaknesses in in your team and I think Brendan Rodgers will be no different. He'll be looking at all the stats that have come in from this season and he’ll look at the weaknesses in the team and try and improve those situations.