How the chasing pack can dethrone Premier League winners Man City

Man United have to sort Pogba’s future, Leicester can’t let Rodgers go, a true No 9 would galvanise Chelsea and Liverpool desperately need to refresh the ranks… what the chasing pack MUST do to have any chance of dethroning champions Man City

  • Leicester’s win over Manchester United handed Manchester City the title
  • Last year’s champions Liverpool are currently adrift in sixth in the table
  • Chelsea’s appointment of Thomas Tuchel has made a massive impact in London
  • But the chasing pack will be up against it when they try to reel in City next term 

Manchester City were confirmed as Premier League champions without kicking a ball on Tuesday night – when Manchester United lost to Leicester – and they’ll be fully focused on securing the Treble with the Champions League final on the horizon.

But beyond that, Pep Guardiola and Co will be planning the defence of their crown next season after eventually cruising over the line.

After a tentative start to the season from City and a bunched top of the table around new year, Guardiola’s side managed to pull away from the rest as they raced towards their fifth league triumph inside 10 years.

So, looking ahead to next season, what can the chasing pack of Manchester United, Leicester, Chelsea and dethroned league winners Liverpool do to challenge ? Sportsmail takes a look.

Manchester City have been superb in the second half of the season to wrap up the title

City won the Premier League on Tuesday after Leicester beat Manchester United

MANCHESTER UNITED

KEY DECISIONS: A key move was made on Monday this week when the impressive Edinson Cavani penned a one-year contract extension at Old Trafford. Roy Keane was critical of the move, saying United can’t rely on a 34-year-old striker to catch up with City but Cavani’s influence stretches beyond the 15 goals he has scored to date.

Gary Neville has often spoken of how impressive he is in guiding players such as Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on the pitch. Another year alongside him could be invaluable for those two.

And let’s not forget talks about Paul Pogba’s future. His agent Mino Raiola said in January that the Frenchman’s time at the club was up but since then, United have been on the up and Pogba has appeared to be enjoying his football.

But once this season ends, the France star only has one more year left. United may well have to sell him in the summer if he doesn’t want to follow Cavani and sign a new deal.

Striker Edinson Cavani signed a one-year contract extension with United earlier this week

TRANSFERS: United have long wanted another forward to galvanise their attacking options and last year, before signing Cavani late on, went hard in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. 

They are more likely to have success in chasing him this summer, with it believed that Dortmund have made ‘a gentleman’s agreement’ to sell him for their asking price of £78million. Much will depend on who is competing with United to sign the England international, though.

Elsewhere, another big-name central defender to partner Harry Maguire at the heart of the United defence would be an astute addition by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Real Madrid and France World Cup winner Raphael Varane is of interest.

If Pogba was to depart, a new midfielder of his calibre would be essential business as well.  

United could have a conundrum regarding the future of midfielder Paul Pogba this summer

CHANGES: Question marks remain over the future of David de Gea after being dislodged as the No 1 goalkeeper by Dean Henderson. The Spaniard could well head off for pastures new, with links to Jose Mourinho’s Roma side after falling down the pecking order.

Juan Mata’s contract is up at the end of the season as well.

LEICESTER CITY

KEY DECISIONS: Perhaps the biggest choice facing the Foxes at present lies with their manager, Brendan Rodgers. Despite publicly rebuffing the advances of Tottenham, Sportsmail reported recently that the north Londoners still believe they can convince him to walk away from the King Power and head to London.

The Northern Irishman has done an outstanding job with Leicester since taking over in February 2019. Tuesday’s win over Manchester United leaves them on the brink of cementing a place in the top four and next season’s Champions League and you’d imagine that if that gets clinched, Rodgers won’t leave for a side who might not even have European football at all in 2021-22.

Tottenham remain hopeful Brendan Rodgers could decide to leave Leicester for them this year

TRANSFERS: Rodgers has overseen some shrewd additions in the transfer market in recent seasons, with players such as full-back James Justin and centre-back Wesley Fofana flourishing. But Champions League football would provide an added layer of gravitas to the club and raise the profile of player Rodgers could target in the summer.

The early signals at the King Power are that Rodgers will look to bolster his attack, with Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard both of interest. 

Don’t be surprised to see a move come off for Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare, either. The France Under-21 midfielder has played a key part in the side that are currently the surprise leaders in the Ligue 1 standings.

CHANGES: Cengiz Under is expected to return to Roma in the summer, despite Leicester having an option to make the move permanent for £18m, while 35-year-old left-back Christian Fuchs is set to go with his deal expiring at the end of the season.

The same applies to defender Wes Morgan but earlier in the campaign there were whispers Leicester’s title-winning captain could take an off-field role.

Leicester have been linked with a move for Chelsea’s £40m-rated striker Tammy Abraham

CHELSEA

KEY DECISIONS: It appears the biggest one is on the brink of being taken, with Sportsmail reporting on Monday that Thomas Tuchel is to be offered a new three-year deal after his electrifying start at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were languishing outside the top four when they axed Frank Lampard, a decision which has been vindicated by Tuchel’s stunning impact. Chelsea are in the FA Cup final, the Champions League final and are fourth in the Premier League, although still have a little bit of housekeeping to do to make that position secure.

Over the course of the season, question marks were raised over the acquisitions last year of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz but their form has improved steadily, if not yet reaching the levels expected when they first arrived in London.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has had a stunning impact since arriving at Stamford Bridge

TRANSFERS: A new out-and-out striker will be an essential addition. Chelsea are one of Europe’s big clubs interested in Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland but they have a list of options that go beyond the in-demand Norway striker.

Former Blues attacker Romelu Lukaku is another contender and he has been in superb form in Italy with the new Serie A champions Inter Milan. Sportsmail reported in April that Chelsea have been quoted £105m to do business.

CHANGES: As previously mentioned, Abraham appears to be unfancied by Tuchel and could leave if a fee of around £40m comes in. Olivier Giroud is also set to go, as will Willy Caballero, when their deals end.

One to keep an eye on is Christian Pulisic. Sportsmail reported earlier this year that the American was frustrated at not being a regular starter at Chelsea and a big call was made in the Champions League semi-final to start Havertz ahead of him for the second leg against Real Madrid.

Kingsley Coman at Bayern Munich is one name linked with Chelsea if Pulisic was to exit. 

Chelsea have been linked with a £105m move for Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku

LIVERPOOL

KEY DECISIONS: How much money do owners FSG have to back Jurgen Klopp in the summer transfer window? Much hinges on if the Reds can sneak into the top four and it is in their own hands with four games left.

If Liverpool were to make it, they can appeal to pretty much any player they are interested in as long as there are the funds to back it up. 

Without the Champions League, cash flow is dented and it’s the Klopp appeal and the lure of playing at Anfield with fans next season that is there to sway players to miss Europe’s elite club competition.

It looks like Jurgen Klopp will be saying goodbye to Georginio Wijnaldum in the summer

TRANSFERS: A new defender is essential. The decision to sell Dejan Lovren and instead bring in an orthodox back-up left-back in Kostas Tsimikas rather than a fourth-choice centre-half has backfired incredibly this season. Tsimikas has played five minutes of Premier League football in 2020-21, while midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have been playing in defence.

Red Bull Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate seems the favourite to arrive at Anfield. Liverpool’s interest is firm and a deal in the region of £30m could be announced once the seasons in England and Germany are up. 

Attacking options need refreshing, as well. Roberto Firmino’s scoring form has dropped alarmingly over the last 12 months and Sadio Mane has struggled for his best form. Diogo Jota was a revelation before he got injured and has since struggled to recapture the form seen in the first half of the season.

A new midfielder will likely be needed too, with Georginio Wijnaldum out of contract and set to leave Anfield at the end of the seaosn bar a last-minute breakthrough. Yves Bissouma at Brighton is one player of interest.

Roberto Firmino has been a key player for Liverpool but his scoring form has dipped massively

CHANGES: Divock Origi, Xhedran Shaqiri and potentially even Takumi Minamino could all follow Wijnaldum through the exit door. A sell-to-buy policy, to some degree, is inevitable if Liverpool miss the Champions League.

Goalkeeper Adrian’s contract expires at the end of the season and he will exit after two seasons. This year, he has dropped down the pecking to Liverpool’s third choice keeper behind Caoimhin Kelleher. 

A decision also has to be made on Ozan Kabak. Liverpool have an option, not an obligation, to buy the Turkey international defender for £18m. 

WHAT ABOUT TOTTENHAM AND ARSENAL?

It’s going to be a bleak summer in north London with Tottenham and Arsenal looking like they’ve been cut adrift from the major Premier League contenders for the time being.

There are two massively defining moments ahead for Tottenham, with Harry Kane looking increasingly likely to agitate for a departure in the summer while Daniel Levy also looks for a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho. 

Arsenal are currently eighth in the Premier League. Questions marks rest on how much money Mikel Arteta will have to work with in the summer window and he has older players, such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian, on big-money wages and long contracts. 

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane looks set to try and leave the club in the summer window




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