London (AFP) – Manchester City have not yet held their victory parade after edging Liverpool in a thrilling Premier League title race but already they are plotting for next season.
The champions are not alone.
A huge summer splurge on transfer fees is likely after Premier League spending fell last year, in part due to a short window for clubs to complete their business between the end of the World Cup and a new transfer deadline, which fell before the season began.
The Premier League’s transfer deadline will again come before most of the rest of Europe, on August 8, meaning clubs cannot afford to waste time.
The window for domestic deals opens on Thursday. International transfers can be completed from June 11.
AFP Sports looks at where each of the top six are set to strengthen.
The champions may have claimed a remarkable 198 points over two title-winning campaigns, but Pep Guardiola promised they will come back stronger next season and are likely to invest heavily for a variety of reasons.
A potential transfer ban due to a FIFA investigation over the recruitment of foreign minors and third-party ownership means this may be City’s last chance to sign players for at least 18 months.
City could also face a season’s ban from the Champions League by UEFA over financial fair play irregularities. If imposed, the sanction would likely be enforced for the 2020/21 campaign, giving City another chance next season to win the competition for the first time.
Atletico Madrid’s Rodri, who has a 70-million-euro ($ 78-million) buyout clause, has reportedly been targeted as the long-term replacement for 34-year-old Fernandinho in the holding midfield role.
A centre-back is also thought to be a priority, with City among clubs chasing Ajax wonderkid Matthijs de Ligt. Nicolas Otamendi and, perhaps, captain Vincent Kompany could depart.
Liverpool were the biggest Premier League spenders by a distance last summer and their £170-million ($ 219-million) investment was richly rewarded with the third-highest Premier League points tally ever and a return to the Champions League final.
No such splurge is expected at Anfield this summer as Klopp fine-tunes to dislodge City.
Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge are set to leave on free transfers and cover is needed for Andy Robertson at left-back and up front as a back-up for Roberto Firmino.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has worked wonders to get his side to the Champions League final and back into the competition next season despite not signing a single player since January 2018.