Seeing as there's nothing to do now that the season is over I thought I'd write up a review of the current squad, who I would keep, who I would sell and where we need improving.
To start I figured it was easiest to look at the potential team Slav will put out next season when fully fit, in both the 5-4-1 and 4-5-1 formations:
5-4-1 (back up) 4-2-3-1 (Back up)
Adrian (Randolph) Adrian (Randolph)
New RB (Byram) New RB (Byram)
Fonte (Ginge) Reid (Fonte)
Reid (????) Ogbonna (Collins)
Ogbonna (Burke) Cresswell (Masuaku)
Cresswell (Masuaku) Kouyate (Noble)
Kouyate (Noble) Obiang (Fernandes)
Obiang (Fernandes) Antonio (Feghouli)
Antonio (Feghouli) Lanzini (????)
Lanzini (Ayew) Ayew (????)
New ST (Carroll/Fletcher) New ST (Carroll/Fletcher)
Now it's clear as day that we need a new striker and right back, and I think we need another attacking midfielder (will discuss Snodgrass later) unless we rely solely on youth. But looking at that I can agree with Henry when he says we only need 2-3 signings, provided of course that doesn't include youngsters, loans and freebies (although I hope there aren't many of these unless they are of the quality of Defoe/Zabaleta). I also think we will be unrealistic in expecting 2 new strikers to come in (unless Carroll goes) because we aren't a big enough club to bring in someone like the young City lad and expect him to be happy sitting on the bench behind Carroll and another, he would be better off staying at City then. I would expect us to only sign one striker and utilise Fletcher/Carroll as back up and Ayew/Antonio in times of need.
Players I would let go:
Nordveit - Cullen returns from loan this season and appears to be highly rated, I believe we should utilise him as the 5th choice CM this season and therefore let Nordveit go
Arbeloa - doesn't need much explaining, not featured all season and pointless keeping if he don't get on with Slav
Sahko - injury prone and seems to always be causing trouble, may as well cut our losses with him
Tore - no need to discuss
Calleri - not done enough to warrant buying, especially for the reported price of around £15 mil
Valencia - I want him to do well for us, but I believe we can do better and if Everton want him then we should let him go
Snodgrass - didn't want him when he came here tbh and he's not done anything to change my opinion, he's not young or quick and Lanzini is better from dead ball situations, has a big wage and it could be used elsewhere
Other notable names I would let go at the right price/if a good replacement is available are Carroll, one of the keepers, Fonte and if a big enough offer comes in (hearing he wants to go to Marseille) then I would say bye to Ayew as well, for the money spent I think we can easily do better. I wouldn't let him go on the cheap though as he may improve next year now he is settled in a bit. Carroll is purely due to injuries and someone like Chris Wood from Leeds would be a solid replacement (and possibly would be happy on the bench).
On another note, I personally would keep Feghouli, Noble, Collins
Now I won't sit here and pretend I know a lot about our current crop of youngsters, but I think I know enough to offer an opinion on them. So here's how I would treat them next year:
Burke and Cullen deserves to be in and around the first team next season as they have done their time now and are ready to step up, both have received lots of praise from previous loan clubs and should be getting games in the cup and during injuries/suspensions.
Oxford needs a season on loan at a club that will actually play him, if we can't find one then we need to seriously consider how good this kid is. He couldn't get in the Reading side and whenever I've looked at the England youth teams he never seems to feature. Makes you wonder if something is wrong? If however he really is the real deal then we need to find a way for him to get game time.
Samuelsen, Browne, Henry and Hendrie need to either be in and around the first team now or let go. They've barely featured with their loan clubs and they're reaching an age where a decision needs to be made.
Martinez, Quina, Rice and Holland should either go out on loan for experience or remain in the PL2 side and feature in the main squad during cup games and in times of need.
Finally there's the potential new signings this season:
RB - Zabaleta is being discussed as practically a done deal which I would be quite happy with provided wages aren't ridiculous and he stays fit. I would've loved to go for Trippier however it looks like there's a very good chance he will be the main RB for Spurs next season so that is out the window. Smith from Bournemouth is another good choice in my opinion, he's young and knows the prem, although I don't know how much he would cost.
ST - I like the idea of the young City lad, last season he was being compared to Rashford and he's scored a few goals in the games he played for City. He's young and quick and if he only costs 20 mil then I would jump at the chance. The worry is that bigger clubs abroad will be in for him or someone like Everton (who will pay the price City ask) or alternatively if he joins us then in a few seasons he will want to move to a bigger club. Defoe seems to be a no go now given the sign on fee and wages he wants, Bournemouth are supposedly offering a 3 year deal which I think is outrageous. Mandzukic is a possible option, not 1st team at Juve and has the Croatian link, no one can argue over his quality and I think he would suit Slavs style of play, still a target man but a slightly more agile one and a far better finisher than what we have. Option 4 would be Josh King, he has had a great season and scored 16 goals (look at the stats, not many are 20 goals a season in the prem) they finished above us but look at Ritchie last season, he dropped down a league to join a bigger club, if we bid the right amount he would want to join us. Batshuayi has been linked again although I can only see this being a loan, whilst he has scored goals for fun at the end of the season, I'd rather not develop someone else's player unless there's an option to buy. Finally, mentioned briefly above was Chris Wood, scored 20+ for Leeds this season and is a tall strong striker, would consider signing him alongside someone like King who both might accept that they need to challenge for the starting 11.
GK - Anyone of Hart, Butland or Pickford if we could get them, all better than what we have, 2 are a lot younger and they are all English.
Winger - if we don't keep Snodgrass and don't want to rely solely on youth as back up, this one is hard though as there won't be many willing to join us and sit on the bench. Not to raid Bournemouth but Stanislas? One of our own that has proven himself a decent prem player, not sure the price tag would be worth it for the position he would fill though. Demarai Gray possibly although I've heard Liverpool want him, was annoyed we didn't try when Leicester signed him so would be over the moon if we got him now. Lastly would be Adama Traore who ripped us apart against 'Boro, he's young, raw and quick and would fit in well to counter at the end of games. The flipside is to be ambitious and go for a potential first teamer like Redmond but that money at the minute would be better spent elsewhere. Although linked heavily with Everton, Sigurdsson would also fit in here but play him down the middle and Lanzini out wide like he does now. Lastly would be Barkley in a similar role although I highly suspect he will be Spuds bound.
This has turned into a massive essay so I hope people don't get bored half way through!!
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