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Football | How the Premier League top six are shaping up

Ahead of the 2020/21 Premier League season, we assess how the traditional 'big six' clubs are shaping up for the new campaign.

Will Liverpool retain the title? Or has the challengers' summer transfer business given them an edge?

 

Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp defiantly says the Reds will attack rather than defend their Premier League title.

The Reds ended their 30-year drought in style last season, winning the title by a staggering 18 points.

Liverpool have brought in Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos as cover for left-back Andy Robertson, but have yet to make further acquisitions ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

The Merseyside club remain heavily linked with Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, but have yet to lodge an official bid, and it remains unclear what funds are available to Klopp in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

He may look to strengthen the depth behind the front three, though the return of the in-form Rhian Brewster from Swansea may stay his hand for now.

Reds fans will also be hoping that Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino hit the ground running this season.

Dejan Lovren has been sold to Zenit Saint Petersburg, and there are likely to be several other outgoings, with the futures of Divock Origi, Harry Wilson, Marko Grujic, Lloris Karius, Xherdan Shaqiri and Gini Wijnaldum - who has been linked with Barcelona - in doubt.

Klopp's men remain in a strong position to defend their title given their exploits last season, but what are the other members of the traditional 'big six' doing to strengthen before the new season commences on September 12th?

Manchester City

Liverpool wrenched the title away from Manchester City last year, with Pep Guardiola's side finishing a distant second as they failed to defend their crown.

City have brought in Valencia winger Ferran Torres for an initial fee of £20.8m plus bonuses, with the U21 Spain international penning a five-year deal at the Etihad.

Torres, 20, netted four goals in 34 appearances for Valencia last season.

City have also strengthened in defence by signing Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for £41m on a five-year deal.

https://twitter.com/ManCity/status/1300104785753001985

Guardiola's side have also emerged as the early favourites to acquire Lionel Messi should Barcelona grant the Argentinian's wish to leave Camp Nou for free this summer.

Messi is believed to be keen on a reunion with Pep, and City are one of the few clubs in world football who could potentially afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

A long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero remains high on City's wishlist, with Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez linked with a move to Manchester.

In terms of sales, City have sold winger Leroy Sané to Bayern Munich for an initial £41m, while veteran playmaker David Silva has signed for Real Sociedad on a free transfer.

According to Sky Sports, City want to make four more signings this summer.

Expect further incomings and sales before the new season.

Manchester United

Manchester United's long-running flirtation with Jadon Sancho rumbles on, despite Borussia Dortmund's continued insistence that the English winger is going nowhere.

One player who is almost certainly joining the Red Devils is Ajax's Donny van de Beek. The Netherlands international has passed a medical ahead of a £40 million move to Old Trafford.

United, who finished third on 66 points last season, were a whopping 33 points behind champions Liverpool.

The acquisition of van de Beek is one which will, and should, excited United fans, who will be dreaming of seeing the 23-year-old lining up alongside Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's midfield.

United remain linked with a host of other players, but have been relatively quiet so far in this window.

Fans will be delighted that the Red Devils have tied down goalkeeper Dean Henderson to a new long-term contract after the shot stopper impressed hugely on loan at Sheffield United last season.

Solskjaer will likely be hoping to strengthen at centre back, left back and possibly sign one more attacking player.

https://twitter.com/ManUtd/status/1298666860557336576

Chelsea

While major clubs around Europe continue to exert financial caution in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Chelsea are having a transfer window reminiscent of a FIFA career mode.

Last week, the Blues confirmed the capture of Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell for £50 million, and snapped up defensive duo Thiago Silva (PSG) and Malang Sarr (Nice) on free transfers.

Add Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner and Dutch teenager Xavier Mbuyamba to the equation, and you get one of the most impressive transfer windows of the Roman Abramovich era.

Worryingly for Chelsea's rivals, it doesn't seem that Frank Lampard's men are finished yet.

A new goalkeeper remains a priority, while the Blues are also reportedly close to sealing another mammoth deal by bringing in Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Kai Havertz.

https://twitter.com/ChelseaFC/status/1299970609380818944

Willian and Pedro have departed for Arsenal and Roma on free transfers, and further sales are likely.

Chelsea finished fourth - behind United on goal difference - in the table in Lampard's first season, which was hampered by a transfer ban and Eden Hazard's departure.

The club have been boosted by the emergence of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, as well as the continued improvement of Christian Pulisic.

Their business this summer suggests Chelsea are arguably in pole position to usurp Liverpool as Premier League champions.

Spurs

Spurs have gone about their business quietly and efficiently this summer, eschewing fancy signings in favour of shrewd ones.

Jose Mourinho has brought in combative midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg from Southampton to add steel in midfield, with Kyle Walker-Peters going the other way in a separate deal.

The signing of Matt Doherty looks to be one of the bargain of the summers, strengthening a position which has been glaringly lacking since the sale of Kyle Walker to Manchester City a few years ago.

https://twitter.com/SpursOfficial/status/1299995285968613381

Joe Hart has also been acquired on a free transfer to provide competition for the goalkeeper position.

Finding a second striker for Harry Kane has remained an issue, and Troy Parrott has been loaned to Milwall for the 2020/21 season.

However, Mourinho will be glad to get a pre-season with the squad as he attempts to put his stamp on the team.

Spurs have a wealth of attacking options, with Jose able to call upon Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli, Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn to support Kane.

A top left back would further boost the defence, though Mourinho seems to be a big fan of Ben Davies.

The Portuguese manager will also be hoping to discover a settled centre back partnership for the new season.

Arsenal

The biggest question at Arsenal ahead of the new season is whether star striker and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will stay at the Emirates.

Aubameyang, who scored both goals in the Gunners' FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea, has just one year remaining on his deal, though Mikel Arteta is confident the forward will stay.

Arsenal have snapped up Willian on a free transfer following the Brazil international's departure from Chelsea, while Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari have made their loan moves permanent from Flamengo and Southampton respectively.

The North London club have today confirmed the signing of Brazilian defender Gabriel from Lille for £27m, as Arteta looks to strengthen his team's porous defence.

Centre back William Saliba, who was signed last season but loaned out, also arrives at the Emirates this summer with a big reputation.

The Gunners are reportedly close to agreeing another season-long loan with Real Madrid for Dani Ceballos.

Hector Bellerin has been linked with a move to PSG, and Alexander Lacazette has also attracted attention from abroad, and Schalke are rumoured to be keen on goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Arsenal's defence arguably still needs work, and the Gunners would also benefit from bringing in a top class midfielder.

https://twitter.com/Arsenal/status/1301037139136663555

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