Eager to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United spent the close season aggressively pursuing new signings with varying degrees of success.
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All four have little margin for error if they have any hope of rivaling champions City and perennial contenders Liverpool in the title race.
But even if the top two fall back once again, another tight race for the last two lucrative spots in the Champions League is expected.
A look at how the battle for the top four is shaping up.
Charged with ensuring the start of Chelsea’s new era, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has shown signs of feeling the heat during his club’s sweltering summer.
As part of a housecleaning at Stamford Bridge with former owner Roman Abramovich all lieutenants, Tuchel took on more responsibility as the German worked with new co-owner Todd Bohly on overhauling his squad.
First impressions have been mixed, with Bohli flirting with a move for Cristiano Ronaldo before Tuchel ruled out the possibility of taking over for Manchester United’s volatile star.
Raheem Sterling became Chelsea’s first signing of the Bohly era following his £47.5 million ($57.8 million) move from Manchester City, but the England international has been the only addition to the attack as Tuchel Romelu starts the season without a natural striker. Looks ready. Lukaku was sent back to Inter Milan on loan.
Instead, Chelsea are focused on replacing lost centre-backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, who joined Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively on free transfers.
The Blues paid £33million for Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and are reportedly close to a £50million deal for Brighton’s Marc Cucorella.
Tuchel is also growing frustrated with an unstable core of Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, who questioned his team’s commitment after Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat to Arsenal in pre-season. Is.
Erik ten Hag’s first pre-season as United manager has been overshadowed by calls for Ronaldo to leave Old Trafford.
The studious ten Hague is said to have impressed his squad with his attention to detail and intense training sessions since arriving from Ajax in May.
But the Dutchman’s ability to lift United from the depths of last season’s sixth-placed finish will depend on how he handles Ronaldo’s fall from the bombshell.
The Portugal striker wants to join a club in the Champions League and missed United’s pre-season tours of Thailand and Australia due to “family reasons”.
Losing a player with Ronaldo’s lethal instincts in front of goal isn’t the way Ten Hague would prefer to start his time in Manchester, but he may eventually feel the departure of such a demanding superstar. It will be through subtraction.
Adding to Ten Hague’s woes, United have found it impossible to land their biggest target – Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
Instead, they have settled for Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, Argentinian Lisandro Martinez — the Premier League’s shortest centre-back at 5ft 9in — and Dutch left-back Tyrrell Malacia.
A return to the top four cannot be guaranteed against such a troubling backdrop.
Tottenham and Arsenal
In north London, Tottenham and Arsenal are engaged in a fierce arms race after their battle for local supremacy came to a dramatic conclusion last season.
Tottenham knocked Arsenal out of the top four in the final game of the season after Mikel Arteta countered with a blistering run that included a 3-0 win over the Gunners.
Antonio Conte’s response to achieving what he described as a “miracle” in qualifying for the Champions League was to call on Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to loosen the purse strings, a request so far denied by Richarlison. Signed by Yves Busoma, Dej Spence, Ivan. Perisic and Fraser Forster.
Arsenal have bounced back from the bitter disappointment of how last season ended by splashing out over £100m on new signings.
Arteta raided his old club Manchester City in a combined £75m deal for Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus and Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Fabio Vieira, a £34 million signing from Porto, arrived as a potential star of the future.
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