The Premier League season has only just finished but we’re counting down the days until the next one begins. As such, we identified one player that each club should build around next season. In this second part we conclude by looking at Manchester City to Wolves.
Kevin De Bruyne
The champions will be aiming to win a third consecutive title, a feat only accomplished twice in the Premier League era and both by their city rivals, Manchester United. What made City’s second even more impressive is that they won it largely without their best player, Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgian missed 29 matches in total across five separate injuries. However, with a full summer to recuperate, City will be hoping that the attacking-midfielder is fresh to go for the hat-trick in August.
Some of the biggest players in the world have turned out for United over the last 15 years as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Ruud Van Nistelrooy all became global stars at Old Trafford. However, particularly in the Alex Ferguson era, United always maintained a local core.
The class of ’92 may have retired but Marcus Rashford is still flying the flag and is now probably first choice striker at the club. United were so bad last season that he sort of wins by default but, if they can build the right team around him, a bright future may still lie ahead.
The Geordie faithful haven’t been accustomed to big money signings under the stewardship of the tyrannical Mike Ashley, so the acquisition of the Paraguayan attacking-midfielder Almiron for £20m created quite a stir at St James Park.
His impact was immediate. Newcastle had won two of their previous eight matches before his debut, a 1-1 draw with Wolves. They subsequently won five of their next ten before injury ruled him out for the season. He will be pivotal to their approach next year.
This could change depending on who Norwich sign but, of their promotion-winning team, Teemu Pukki is the one who the Canaries will have the highest hopes for.
The 29-year-old Fin won the Championship golden boot last season after notching 29 goals. Ruthlessness in the Championship often doesn’t translate to the Premier League, of the last ten golden boot winners Rickie Lambert and Glenn Murray are the only two to have made any kind of impact in the top flight. However, if Norwich are to stand a chance of survival, they need Pukki to step up.
The Irishman boast the unique claim of having won promotion from the Championship with three separate clubs without having played a minute in the Premier League. Brighton and Fulham both opted to sell him but Sheffield United certainly won’t and he will be vital to their attacking efforts as they bid to overcome huge odds by surviving.
Still just 25, Redmond notched his highest goal tally in a single season last year, scoring nine times in 43 appearances. It matched his combined total for the previous two seasons, when he played 86 matches.
He was revitalised under Ralph Hasenhüttl who steered Southampton to safety and, with a full summer under his belt, will be looking to refresh the squad. Redmond, though, will remain pivotal to his plans.
Who else? Kane has been a revelation for Spurs since making his debut in the 2012/13 season, scoring 164 goals for the club in 253 appearances. Somehow he is still just 25.
Last season Kane was stifled by injuries and fatigue after nearly two years without a proper break, yet he still scored 24 goals in 40 appearances. After a good rest this summer, the England captain should be back to his best again next year.
A tough call because Watford’s business model revolves around selling their best players for huge profits having already lined up replacements through their extensive scouting network.
As such, it would be no surprise to see the likes of Abdoulaye Doucoure or Roberto Pereyra depart before the season starts. However, if they can keep him, Doucoure will continue pulling the strings in Watford’s midfield, as he did this season en route to an FA Cup final and an 11th place finish.
It has been a turbulent couple of seasons for Declan Rice to begin his professional career. He has switched positions, moving from centre-back to defensive midfield, as well as switching international allegiances, a move that caused a great deal of controversy in Ireland.
However, he was superb for West Ham last year and played a key role in helping them secure a top half finish. They have a fight on their hands to keep him out of Man City’s grasps but, as long as he stays, he is the heart of West Ham.
Jota enjoyed a fantastic first season in the Premier League, registering nine goals and five assists in 33 Premier League matches.
Despite Wolves probable recruitment of several more high-profile attacking players, courtesy of their dubious links with super-agent Jorge Mendes, Jota should be Wolves’ central attacking option for several years as, with him far from his peak, he should only get better.