A host of Premier League clubs are still trying to patch up problem areas in their squads before the transfer window closes on Friday night. We assess a handful of those clubs and propose a player who could fit the bill for them.
Chelsea: sign Moussa Dembélé from Lyon
Frank Lampard’s message to his board this month has become increasingly clear. He has repeatedly bemoaned his young side’s lack of killer instinct and their inability to make their dominance count in matches. Tammy Abraham has performed admirably in his first season as a regular in the Premier League but Lampard is clearly unimpressed by Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi, and is keen to add competition up front.
Lyon striker Dembélé, who started his senior career in west London with Fulham, has continually cropped up as a target for Chelsea – and for good reason. The 23-year-old has scored goals wherever he has played and is certainly a man in form. He has scored in all six of his games for Lyon so far in 2020.
Of the 36 players who have hit double figures for goals in Europe’s top five leagues this season, his conversion rate of 27.9% is the fifth highest; Tammy Abraham’s conversion rate of 18.1% ranks 28th.
Manchester United: sign Emiliano Buendia from Norwich
Manchester United have finally agreed a deal for Bruno Fernandes, but their squad still needs strengthening. Daniel James has played more games than expected following his arrival from Swansea in the summer and – understandably, given his age – he has been hit and miss. He scored three goals for the club in August but has not found the net since. United have needed competition on the right wing for some time and there is an underrated gem in the Premier League who could fit the bill.
Emiliano Buendia has adapted to top-flight football extremely well this season. He is yet to score in the Premier League but the Argentinian has registered seven assists. His vision and creativity is certainly something the United squad is lacking. Only Kevin De Bruyne has created more chances per 90 minutes than the 23-year-old – and he has done that in a struggling Norwich side. He also ranks third in the league for dribbles (78). Norwich will not want to lose heir prized asset but they do not have the financial muscle to reject a big bid, especially as they prepare for the likelihood of life back in the Championship.
Tottenham Hotspur: sign Youcef Atal from Nice
If there is one, or even two, glaring areas for improvement in the Tottenham squad it’s in the full-back positions. Not so long ago they had two England right-backs in Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier. Now they have Serge Aurier and, well, no real natural back-up at right-back.
Youcef Atal has been linked to the club in the past. That interest has gone quiet due to a knee injury suffered late last year but the Algerian is expected to be back fit within the next week or so. The fact that he has been sidelined and out of the limelight could play in Spurs’ favour, putting off other clubs and making a late bid more feasible.
The 23-year-old is undoubtedly better in attack in defence; only Neymar has completed more dribbles per game in Ligue 1 this season. Atal could follow in the footsteps of Ricardo Pereira, who posted similar numbers while he was at Nice and went on to become a big success at Leicester City. Atal’s ability to play on both flanks would be a real bonus for Spurs.
Aston Villa: sign Eberechi Eze from QPR
Dean Smith has made it clear that signing another striker is high on his agenda, but bolstering options out wide should also be a priority for Villa. Jack Grealish has been playing more from the left recently – a change of approach motivated more by what suits his inconsistent teammates than what suits the Villa captain – so bringing in a winger is key to the club’s survival bid.
Eberechi Eze’s versatility would be hugely valuable for Villa – and a number of top-flight clubs. The 21-year-old has 10 goals and six assists to his name in the Championship this season and is subsequently our highest rated player in the division. He keeps the ball well, both in his passing and when dribbling. With QPR going nowhere fast in the middle of the Championship, Villa should act quickly.
West Ham: sign Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague
If West Ham complete a deal for Tomas Soucek before the window closes, as is expected, it will be very shrewd business. Mark Noble is turning 33 in May and Declan Rice needs more support when it comes to protecting a porous defence. Soucek’s arrival should do just that. The defensive midfielder would add a new dimension to West Ham in attack and defence. The 24-year-old has been capped 26 times by Czech Republic and is a real leader on the pitch for both club and country.
He has also proven his worth in European club competitions over the past three years. Slavia Prague finished bottom of their Champions League group this season, but the giant midfielder was impressive against Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter. His aerial threat in the opposition box is huge. Even though he is primarily a holding midfield player, Soucek scored twice in the group stage and has picked up eight goals for Slavia Prague in the league, towering above opponents from set pieces.
Watford: sign Hassane Kamara from Reims
Adam Masina has stepped up well since Nigel Pearson took over at Watfordin December, but the club are still short of left-backs. José Holebas will be 36 years out and out of contract in the summer, so some competition is required. The club have been linked with the Reims full-back Hassane Kamara but have apparently failed to meet what is a meagre €5.5m asking price for the Gambian, who has impressed in Ligue 1 this season.
Kamara has been dropped recently following speculation about his future and could be on the move in the coming days. The 25-year-old has won five of our man of the match awards this season – only Neymar has more in Ligue 1 – which suggests Watford would be wise to rekindle their interest.