Whilst the dust is only just starting to settle on the 2021-22 English Premier League season, the thoughts of fans, players, and managers have already started to shift towards next season.
For many of the top Premier League stars, their season has still not finished, with the UEFA Nations League competition taking place straight after the final of the Champions League. The first round of these matches sees all European nations playing four games over a two week period and adds to an already long season for a lot of the international players on duty.
For those not selected by their nations, this is a time for holidaying and resting. Whilst the start of the season might seem a long way off – the Premier League season kicks off on 6 August – most players not involved in the Nations League will be reporting back for pre-season before the end of June, with international players expected to be given a two-week extension.
One of the reasons fans start to think about the next season is the transfer window and the speculation linking big-name players with their clubs.
This is particularly true for Manchester United fans. After enduring their worst season in Premier League history, recording their lowest points total and a goal difference of zero, they were quick to announce the appointment of new manager Erik Ten Hag before the season had concluded and this has set the transfer rumour mill alight.
United have been linked with every major star from across all of Europe’s top leagues, especially players from Ajax where Ten Hag previously managed. United fans, however, have seen it all before. Many clubs use United as a way of driving up the price of their players. A link to United seems to add at least £10m to the price tag and this in turn pushes the entire market up.
United are not the only team to be linked with new players this season. Manchester City have already got perhaps the biggest piece of business done and dusted, securing the transfer of in-demand Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland. At a reported £51m, Haaland seems like an absolute bargain having bagged 85 goals in 88 games for Dortmund.
This is, of course, because of a release clause in his contract that City triggered, winning the fights amongst Europe’s elite to sign one of the hottest properties in world football.
City will hope that the signing of Haaland will help them to end their quest to claim a maiden Champions League title in 2023, having once again missed out in 2022, losing to Real Madrid in the semi-final.
Liverpool, fresh off a disappointing end to the season in which they finished runners-up to City in the Premier League before losing the Champions League Final to Real Madrid, have also been linked to a number of players since the end of the season.
With rumours that forward Sadio Mane wants to leave the club, it is no surprise to find Liverpool linked with another of Europe’s hottest properties – Benfica’s Darwen Nunez. Nunez is a man in demand, with United also heavily linked with a move for the prolific forward who notched 34 goals across all competitions last season, including six in the Champions League.
Who will come out on top in 2022-23
The transfer window will play a crucial part in determining who will come out on top in 2022-23, however, the early signals suggest it is hard to look past Manchester City retaining their title again next season.
Betway Sports has City as the early favourites at 1.61. Adding the firepower of Haaland to a team that scored 99 goals last season without a recognised number nine suggests they will go from strength to strength next season and they will certainly be the team to beat.
Liverpool, having finished runners-up by just a single point in 2021-22 are the second-favourites at 3.75 and their title challenge may well depend on them signing a goalscorer like Nunez who could propel them to the next level.
Tottenham Hotspurs, a team revived under Antonio Conte are the third favourites to lift the title having finished fourth last season. Under Conte, they performed magnificently towards the end of the season to pip rivals Arsenal to fourth place and Champions League qualification for next season. It is unlikely they will have the Harry Kane transfer cloud hanging over them this summer and with some shrewd recruiting, Spurs could once again find themselves challenging.
Chelsea are the fourth favourite and following their protracted takeover, they are likely to be active in the transfer market this summer as they aim to push on from their third-place finish last season and look to push the top two closer next season.
Manchester United are fifth-favourites with Betway in the early betting, however, it would take a bold gambler to put much money down on them to turn things around after the disastrous season last time out. Even with a solid recruitment window, they still appear to be miles off the top two, having finished 35 points behind City last season. Despite their average season, star striker Cristiano Ronaldo was a shining light, scoring 18 league goals for a poor team and finishing third in the race for the Golden Boot behind Son and Salah. and when you have Ronaldo in your team, there is always hope.
The good money for next season will go on City, however, it is likely that the top two will see their dominance challenged next season with Chelsea and Spurs likely to lead that challenge.