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The Liverpool Offside's Transfer Round-Up: Feel The Heat Edition

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In this edition, the column looks at how the English Premier League's top seven sides are shaping up.

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Brendan Rodgers is building a squad so that options exist to avoid moments like these.
Brendan Rodgers is building a squad so that options exist to avoid moments like these.
Clive Rose

Who remembers Beverly Hills Cop? Sure, we all do. That Axel Foley with his fish out of water frolics solving crimes with Rosewood and Taggart, his straight-laced but reliable partners. Fun times in the 1980s. Glenn Frey's upbeat and typically 80s tune The Heat Is On was a memorable toe tapper from Eddie Murphy's 1984 smash hit film. Well, the heat is on in the transfer window. The top seven are all getting a little busier and making moves, caught up in the action where the pressure is high and quality players who fit the system are required just to stay alive for next season.

Liverpool have been one of the busiest of England's top clubs in terms of incoming volume in the transfer market. The wondrous talent that is Lazar Marković is close to signing for the Premier League runners-up and the two-footed baller that is Adam Lallana is thankfully within the club's ranks. More technique, more speed, more vision, and more quality in pressing opponents as well as finding ways past them. An experienced reserve striker who is well-versed in scoring and creating goals in England's top league arrives on a relatively modest contract for £4 million while one of Germany's brightest midfield talents was taken away from Bayer Leverkusen's plans for the present and Bayern Munich's plans for the future. There's only been one permanent departure and Liverpool will have to work out an effective and balanced life after Luis Suárez.

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MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City have signed midfielder Fernando Reges and are close to signing the wonderfully named Eliaquim Mangala to partner Vincent Kompany. These two players have been strongly linked with moves to the English Premier League champions for the last couple of transfer windows so these moves aren't a great surprise. Bacary Sagna has also made the familiar journey from Arsenal to Man City on a free transfer and a new goalkeeper in the form of Willy Caballero from Málaga has arrived to replace the departed Costel Pantilimon. Man City are in no danger of losing anyone they don't want to and that includes the bizarre rumours surrounding the future of Yaya Touré. The strongest are getting stronger.

CHELSEA

Chelsea have signed Diego Costa and Cesc Fàbregas, two players who fulfil the big statement criteria and should improve a Mourinho side that finished behind his protégé along with falling short in the Champions League semi finals. Chelsea are working well with FFP over the past couple of windows and Liverpool are adopting Chelsea's financially sustainable method in finding the next set of superstars. Chelsea's modern success has been built on the back of Roman Abramovich's vast personal wealth married to a fiercely impatient and somewhat ruthless ambition. However, there is a financially astute method in building Mourinho's desired squad.

Nemanja Matić, Mohamed Salah, and Kurt Zouma were signed in the same window where Juan Mata was sent packing to Manchester United for £37 million. Wolfsburg's purchase of Kevin De Bruyne last summer virtually covered the signing of André Schürrle while circa £40 million was used to add Willian and Marco van Ginkel to the first team. This summer, the gargantuan fee Paris Saint-Germain paid for the services David Luiz leaves the London club in a healthy position financially.

The wages of the released veterans Frank Lampard, Samuel Eto'o, and Ashley Cole will cover the incoming wages of the two notable arrivals from La Liga with room to spare. Removing Luiz's wages further lowers the wage bill and creates space for other incoming players at left back and possibly central midfield. Chelsea can strengthen and remain at pretty much even for wages. Also, there's the return of the extremely capable Thibaut Courtois from another successful loan spell from Atlético Madrid to compete with Petr Cech in goal.

ARSENAL

Arsenal have finally showed their hand and it is looking quite strong indeed. Arsène Wenger has been involved in punditry work in Brazil at the World Cup but it has not distracted him from being involved in respectable deals that leave Arsenal looking stronger. Mathieu Debuchy will replace Bacary Sagna and Alexis Sánchez provides an injection of pace that is lacking in the absence of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The mooted deal for Colombia's World Cup stopper, David Ospina, is purportedly close to completion so that there'll be competition in goal after Łukasz Fabiański's exit. Sami Khedira or Lars Bender will probably arrive at the Emirates to participate in whatever they're smoking. Morgan Schneiderlin could be another option. Depressingly, all three would be welcome additions in helping Liverpool's midfield actually...um...midfield. Emre Can is talented enough to be among their number in the future so that's cause for celebration.

EVERTON

Everton haven't been particularly active in the transfer window apart from making progress in retaining key players from last season. A 33 year-old Gareth Barry has been given a generous three-year contract at Everton but considering it's Gareth Barry and he's disciplined, never had much pace to lose, and is a consummate professional then it should be okay. Everton will benefit from his consistency and experience this season and were keen to retain his presence after his successful season on loan from Manchester City in 2013/2014.

Seamus Coleman signed a five-year contract late last month and was probably the best right back in the league along with Pablo Zabaleta. Leighton Baines made a wise decision to avoid following David Moyes to the Theatre of Dreams Temple of Doom last season to play for a manager who has big plans for the England left back. All three are vital cogs for Everton so retaining their services isn't something to be disregarded even if transfer news hasn't been tangible enough for Everton fans to discuss at length. Retaining key players who will reunite for pre-season to further understand and apply the ideas of a trusted and ambitious coach is invaluable in times where constant upheaval can undermine progress.

Roberto Martínez wants Romelu Lukaku and Lacina Traore back at Goodison Park next season to ensure the Merseyside club retains its attacking edge. Bosnian World Cup starlet Muhamed Besic has been linked with an imminent arrival at an Everton outfit that will participate in the Europa League, a fact that could attract some good players looking to continue their development in English football. Martínez appears to be the sort of manager who realises the benefit of a strong showing in Europe to increase the visibility of the club and for those who mock the Europa League, getting to the quarters or semis can help sell the club to players the following season if further European adventures are on offer the following season.

There won't be an expectation on Everton to qualify for the Champions League with the resources other teams in the top seven possess but there is a coherent plan, a togetherness, and an attractive footballing philosophy that should result in sensible additions in the transfer window. It appears that strikers will be the place where Everton will start and while Arouna Koné is focused on being prepared to start pre-season excellently to prove his goalscoring chops after an injury-hit first season at the club, Everton will need more than his feats and Steven Naismith's dreams on Europa League glory.

TOTTENHAM

Tottenham, however, are expected to make a genuine challenge for a Champions League place under the increasingly criticised Daniel Levy. The problem will fall on the shoulders on yet another manager but Mauricio Pochettino's work at Southampton should buy him at least a season of building foundations at the club. He's a good manager but will have a bloated squad with some under-performing players to work with

Vertonghen might be going to Barcelona (wishful thinking on his part perhaps) and he would most likely leave Tottenham for any regular Champions League club in one of Europe's big leagues. Tottenham have concluded an important bit of business with the renewal of Hugo Lloris' contract and he's one of the club's best players. Juventus' top brass seem to think that signing Paulinho would be a sensible move to replace Arturo Vidal. Any moves both sides will make should be interesting for any observers as they'll both presumably push for a Champions League place.

Tottenham are planning to move into a new stadium in 2017 and work on the stadium can now begin. This should help Tottenham strengthen their hand when competing with North London rivals Arsenal and that pesky Liverpool side trying to hijack a move for Ben Davies and ruin carefully constructed plans to replace Roberto Soldado with Wilfried Bony. Liverpool seem to be reversing the trend after a belated return to the land of milk and honey and selling Suárez for close to Gareth Bale money.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Man United have signed Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera to make a decent start to upgrade in positions where it wasn't hard to do so. There is no doubt that Louis van Gaal represents an improvement over David Moyes with his experience, tactical nous, vision, character, commitment to youth, and self-belief. He can also be a maddeningly difficult character and stubborn to the detriment of progress. It will be interesting to see how his relationship with the English media develops from the current state of inane fawning after an impressive third-placed finish with the Netherlands at this year's World Cup.

Manchester United were quite a way behind the top four sides from last season and finished seventh. Drastic surgery is needed but the club seem to be offering any player with a big reputation extremely generous wages, which might not be sustainable if a season outside of the Champions League becomes a repeat prescription for 2015/2016. Patrice Evra's impending departure to Juventus will signal the third dressing room leader to leave. Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, and Patrice Evra are all past their best but would retaining one of have been useful to the new manager?

Back to Manchester United's aggressive pursuit of big players. The lack of Champions League football has scuppered a potential move for Real Madrid's fantastic Ángel di María who may have to settle with lots of money from Paris Saint-Germain instead, a club that just can't get enough of spending as much money as possible every window. Arturo Vidal would be quite a coup for Man United and it seems to be getting fans of Liverpool in a state of panic and worry. If Juventus are prepared to sell either Paul Pogba or Arturo Vidal, it is likely that a manager like José Mourinho would hoover one of them up with big wages and regular Champions League participation on offer.

Manchester United are a big club but when Champions League football is not on offer, it can be hard to bring in professional footballers of the highest quality around their peak. Where is the magnificent Toni Kroos who was supposedly "joining" Rooney on a sizeable contract? Signing for Real Madrid sometime next week apparently. Players like Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa (this column holds suspicions that he'll go down well with the new man in charge), and Wayne Rooney may not even be favoured by van Gaal. If he doesn't like an existing player in terms of personality or style then they will be sidelined.

Thomas Vermaelen is believed to be targeted by Dutch master manager of all who he surveys but will be difficult to acquire even with one year left on his Arsenal contract as Wenger realises that Man United could take Arsenal's top four spot. United will probably snare a big name or two though and should not be underestimated even if this will be a difficult window if the three top targets are Mats Hummels, Vidal, and di María. The fans of the club must enjoy being linked to big names after such a terrible year for the club but signing them is a very different matter.

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Last season, Liverpool provided the most thrills per game that resulted in England's most successful side in Europe topping the English Premier League TV money table. The Premier League's fresh and lucrative TV deal, a changing of the guard last season, new managers, big sales, new stadiums in development, FFP, and the spectre of the land of milk and honey mean that the heat is on.