Georgina Turner
Saturday July 17th, 2010

The World Cup is over and another summer of rampant transfer rumor-mongering is underway in the Premier League. The few clubs with cash are being linked with anybody and everybody, and Germans are in popular demand. But what positions should clubs be prioritizing as they hit the shops? Today, clubs A-L; the second half of the table will follow Sunday.

Replacing Cesc Fabregas, if he goes, will consume the Gunners' summer; Mesut Özil apparently tops the list. But for now, the most important signing for Arsenal will be a quality first-choice goalkeeper, and Artur Boruc's move to Fiorentina has prompted a lot of talk of Sebastien Frey being on his way. If not, Manuel Neuer's fine World Cup would make him a good candidate -- though there are suggestions that Slovenia's Samir Handanovic is favored. Fulham's Mark Schwarzer is likely to be available for about £4m, which isn't a bad investment for a couple of seasons in which the excellent Wojciech Szczesny can ripen.

Some would like to see money spent at fullback and on a quality striker, but Martin O'Neill has more pressing concerns in midfield, where he looks likely to lose James Milner to Manchester City. Chances are City will offer Stephen Ireland as part of any Milner deal, though talk has been of a move for Hadjuk Split's fleet-footed playmaker Anas Sharbini, who would leave O'Neill change from £5m and scores a lot of goals from midfield. But Ireland's vision of the game, composure on the ball and movement off it ought to make him the first choice switch, if he can be convinced to move to the Midlands.

City is being linked with a number of strikers to add to the roster, including Spurs' Robbie Keane, Fulham's Bobby Zamora and South African forward Katlego Mphela, but it's the wide areas that need particular attention. Bids have been made for Charles N'Zogbia and Liverpool's Ryan Babel (the Wigan striker would be arguably the better catch), and reports suggest interest in Siphiwe Tshabalala (left-sided) and Andre Ayew (right-sided). The South African and the Ghanaian would make an exciting wide pair, but their impressive World Cup campaigns could make agreeing a price hard for McLeish, a cautious spender.

Rovers could do with a decent all-rounder in midfield (and had a move for Real Madrid's Guti gazumped by Turkish side Besiktas), but Sam Allardyce will be looking hardest for a striker -- last season, Jason Roberts and Nikola Kalinic managed just eight goals between them. The club has been linked with classic Allardyce style players Nikica Jelavic and, since the World Cup, Asamoah Gyan, but things are tight at Ewood Park, with a reported transfer kitty of £2.5m that would be boosted modestly by the sale of Roberts. Free agents like Benjani Mwaruwari might tempt Allardyce, but loan deals could bring in more quality, especially if he can persuade Spurs to let pacy Mexican forward Giovani dos Santos go for a season.

Ian Holloway doesn't really have the luxury of shopping only for one area, since he's said he's still nine players short of the Premier League's 25-player squad cap. Like last season, he'll be reliant on loan signings, and he's keenest to re-sign striker DJ Campbell, who scored 11 goals in his four-month spell. Midfielder Charlie Adam was Blackpool's standout player in the club's promotion campaign, which has got a number of other top-flight clubs interested. Holloway seems confident he'll hold onto Adam for at least another season, however, and is apparently hoping to pair him with USA's impressive Michael Bradley.

Having let Ivan Klasnic return to Nantes at the end of his loan spell, Owen Coyle is on the lookout for strikers. Nabbing winger Martin Petrov, who was released by Manchester City, looks like an excellent bit of business already and he could draw the best out of Kevin Davies with his incisive range of passing. Fellow newcomer Robbie Blake will add depth to Coyle's options but at 34, he's unlikely to be a starter. Rumors have Portsmouth striker David Nugent and Franco di Santo on the radar, but a deal for Jason Roberts, available for £1m, might be easier to come by. Despite previously attracting interest from Lazio, Bolivia's Gilbert Alvarez is on a U.S. tour with the club and hopes to seal a contract.

It's a veritable merry-go-round, Chelsea's midfield: Michael Ballack and his occasional understudy Juliano Belletti have both skipped off in one direction, but fit-again John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien have hopped back on board. That doesn't seem to have put Carlos Ancelotti off attempting to prize Bastian Schweinsteiger away from Bayern Munich, though, and he would be a fearsome presence in Chelsea's center. If Ashley Cole's £30m move to Real Madrid is more than back-page fiction, however, the Blues don't currently have an adequate replacement at left back. Ancelotti would be mad not to give Fabio Coentrao's agent a call.

David Moyes dived into the market early and snapped up a trio of strikers, as well as Slovakian goalkeeper Jan Mucha, and insists: "there's no cash to sign any more players". He has previously spoken about loan deals, however, and he could do with keeping an eye out for cover at left-back, where only Leighton Baines currently offers genuine quality. Like Coentrao, Uruguay's Jorge Fucile impressed in South Africa, but the former Liverpool target is unlikely to be loaned by Porto and wants to play in Italy, not second-fiddle to Baines. Moyes took a look at Norway's Knut Olav Rindaroy in January, and he may end up back in the frame since Molde was so willing to do business then.

The west Londoners currently have a gaping hole in the manager's office, with Roy Hodgson heading off to Liverpool to replace Rafa Benitez. Speculation is rife that USMNT coach Bob Bradley will take over; striker Eddie Johnson reckons it's a good match, but popular Ajax boss Martin Jol has now muscled in on the action. Before Hodgson left, he was looking to add depth to his defensive options, and whoever takes over will have even more of that to do if he manages to persuade Brede Hangeland to join him at Anfield. Andre Bikey was Hodgson's original target, but the World Cup ought to have put New Zealander Winston Reid firmly on Fulham's radar.

With a new manager in place, Liverpool is being linked with players left, right and center, while rumors abound on the futures of Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Reports suggest that Hodgson is looking to strengthen the left-hand side with fullbacks Maynor Figueroa or Taye Taiwo and winger Joe Cole, but if money is scarce, there are plenty who would prefer to see it spent on a striker, especially if Torres' thigh injury will keep him out of early meetings with Arsenal and Manchester City. How much Hodgson can spend remains to be seen: returning players like Peter Crouch and, in particular, Djibril Cisse might be realistic options.

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