One more move beckons for big four
With only two weeks left before the end of the transfer window, some clubs are frantically trying to recruit new players before September, while others look happy with the squads they have already assembled.
Transfer sagas involving Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Frank Lampard and Andrei Arshavin may have dominated headlines over the summer, but as the 2008/09 season gets into full swing, there could still be a few surprises before the window shuts until January.
One more move
Arsenal - Chelsea - Liverpool - Man Utd
The managers at the top of the Premier League tree seem content with their squads, barring one further addition. Arsene Wenger has been after a central midfielder to replace Mathieu Flamini and a deal looks likely to be done before the Champions League return leg against FC Twente. Wenger is after experience and has been linked with German international Torsten Frings, Liverpool's Xabi Alonso and Swiss international Gokhan Inler, with the Spaniard favourite to sign.
Any deal for Alonso would seem to hinge on Liverpool's success in their pursuit of Gareth Barry. One of the longest transfer sagas of the summer, if Rafa Benitez can get £15million for the Spanish international then he will probably be able to splash out the £18million that Villa want for Barry. Benitez has also shown interest in Valencia duo David Silva and David Villa, but boardroom constraints mean Liverpool should only make one more move, and that should be Barry.
Now that Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard have committed themselves to the club, Chelsea can afford to look for another attacking option. Indeed Chelsea can probably afford anything and despite being linked with a £78million bid for Kaka, his Brazilian team-mate Robinho looks more likely to join if they return with around £25million for the winger. Scolari's faith in new signings Deco and Bosingwa seems vindicated after the Premier League opener and a further addition to the Blues' strike force would make his side even stronger.
A striker is also on the list of double winners Manchester United and is probably the only position in which Sir Alex Ferguson's side lack depth. The injury-prone Louis Saha looks likely to leave if United can find a buyer and he will almost certainly be replaced by Dimitar Berbatov if Tottenham can agree a fee of around £30million. David Silva, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Karim Benzema have also been linked, but the Berbatov deal alone should represent a good summer for Fergie.
Irons in the fire
Aston Villa - Blackburn - Hull - Man City - Tottenham
The departure of Berbatov from Tottenham should spark a few more moves into White Hart Lane as Juande Ramos looks to strengthen his strikeforce. With Darren Bent as his only recognised striker, the Spaniard is keen to bring in at least two more bodies up front. Andrei Arshavin could yet agree a move if Tottenham stump up £19.7million, while Russian team-mate Roman Pavlyuchenko and Argentine Diego Milito have also attracted interest. Depending on how much Berbatov goes for, Ramos may return with bids for Dean Ashton and David Villa. Spurs' summer spending is not done yet.
Blackburn, too, have money to spend after the departure of David Bentley to North London for £18million. Signing Robbie Fowler on a free transfer, Paul Ince has also been linked with Valencia winger Joaquin, Liverpool full-back Steve Finnan and any one of Ecuadorian international Segundo Castillo, Zenit St Petersburg's Ukraine midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk or Ghana startlet Anthony Annan. With uncertainty over the future of Roque Santa Cruz still hanging over the club, Rovers showed they have a strong squad by beating Everton at the weekend, but could still use a few more additions.
One of the clubs desperately in need of persuading Santa Cruz to leave is Man City. With former Rovers boss Mark Hughes now at the helm, City are in dire need of a striker as injuries decimated their squad. Not helped by issues surrounding Thaksin Shinawatra's suitability to own a Premier League club, City should still be active before the window closes and a left-back, midfielder and striker remain priorities. Real Zaragoza's Diego Milito may head the queue if Santa Cruz falls through, while Nigerian Taye Taiwo and Espanyol's Pablo Zabaleta could also join.
Premier League new-boys Hull will also be busy if their summer of spending is anything to go by. Still after a striker, Phil Brown has targeted Bolton's Kevin Davies and Kris Boyd of Rangers to strengthen the side that beat Fulham on the opening day, but is more likely to persuade last year's loan starlet Frazier Campbell to rejoin the club from Man Utd. The Tigers could also afford to bring in any of Ryan Taylor, Delron Buckley, Bobo Balde or Colin Kazim-Richards, who have also been linked.
Aston Villa bring up the rear of those clubs who could yet spring a few surprises before deadline day. Having already brought in Luke Young, Nicky Shorey and Carlos Cuellar, Martin O'Neill is keen to add some depth to his midfield (especially if Gareth Barry's deal goes through). Villa could have £18million to spend and would like to bring in Joe Cole, Kevin Doyle or James Milner if they are to match their ambition of qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
Everton - Middlesbrough - Newcastle - Portsmouth - Sunderland
Sometimes a few players just aren't enough to strengthen a squad and, with money an issue, some clubs could find themselves left short by the arrival of the transfer deadline. Everton head this line, having failed to add to their squad at all this summer. With £10.5million to spend from the sale of Andy Johnson, Sporting Lisbon captain Joao Moutinho is top of the list, along with ex-Chelsea midfielder Tiago. David Moyes now wants 'up to six or seven' new arrivals and they could include Mehmet Topal, Stephane M'Bia, Guillermo Ochoa, Alan Smith and Vagner Love.
Newcastle are in the same boat, having promised 'quality' signings before the start of the season and ending up with Jonas Gutierrez, Danny Guthrie and Fabricio Coloccini. Keegan wants at least three new arrivals and could yet persuade Dorin Goian, Anton Ferdinand and Greek star Vassilis Torosidis to sign for the Magpies, although more squad depth is needed if the club are to avoid a bottom-half finish. With Michael Owen's injury woes, Keegan may turn to Real Madrid reserve Javier Saviola for goals, but the focus should be on defence, not attack.
Northern neighbours Middlesbrough are in a slightly different predicament having let Luke Young, Lee Cattermole and Mark Schwarzer leave. Their progress is still being hindered by the record purchase of Afonso Alves last January, but Gareth Southgate could seal a deal for Reading midfielder James Harper before the window closes. The side needs more than a few additions, but with money tight, Boro fans may have to settle for Didier Digard and Justin Hoyte.
At least Roy Keane has money to spend at Sunderland, where he has already spent a small fortune on most of Tottenham's reserves. Keane is also keen to bring in Anton Ferdinand from West Ham, while Mikael Silvestre, Jonny Evans, Stephen Hunt, David Healy and Stephen Ireland fulfil the criteria of being either an ex-Man Utd player, or Irish.
Meanwhile, Pompey are being forced to sell before they buy. Harry Redknapp would not have wanted to lose Sulley Muntari or Pedro Mendes, but had to cash in so that he can fund a move for Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nadir Belhadj and Jeremy Menez. The £11million purchase of Peter Crouch has also tightened the purse strings and the FA Cup winners are in dire need of reinforcements, especially in wide areas. If Harry doesn't work his magic then they may be forced to play Younes Kaboul in midfield for the entire season and the ex-Spurs centre-back is hardly the creative force that the club need to better their 8th place finish from last season.
All spent until January
Bolton - Fulham - Stoke - West Ham - West Brom - Wigan
Barring any major shocks, the rest of the Premier League should remain relatively quiet until the window opens again in January. Bolton have spent £15million on two players already and are more concerned with keeping Kevin Davies out of the clutches of other clubs. Fulham, too, have spent a lot on Andy Johnson and recruiting a five-a-side team of goalkeepers and may find any new additions hard to come by, although a central defender may yet arrive.
Stoke look set to bring Southampton's Andrew Davies to the club, but are still feeling the pinch from bringing £5.5million worth of Dave Kitson to the Britannia stadium, while the other promoted club West Brom have spent £15million already and should only bring in Real Mallorca duo Borja Valero and Oscar Trejo before the end of the month.
Bringing up the rear, and not just alphabetically, West Ham and Wigan have shown their hands early and are not expected to make many waves before September 1. The Hammers have signed Dean Ashton to a new deal and spent £5million on Valeron Behrami, although could cash in on Anton Ferdinand and swoop for Mark Bresciano or Gael Givet. Wigan boss Steve Bruce has brought in all the players he wants from ex-club Birmingham and barring a return to the JJB for Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard, the Latics look like continuing the season with their current squad.