Manchester City remain the team to beat ahead of new Premier League season

It has been a feast of football over the past couple of months as we went from the domestic European season to the rescheduled European Championships, the Copa America, the Olympic Games, and the Gold Cup.

That gives us just a week until the Premier League returns, and battle commences for English football’s top prize.

According to the current champions Manchester City have opened in May as the -139 favourites, and Pep Guardiola is keen to strengthen his already talent rich squad. Playmeker Jack Grealish was top of the wanted list, while a move for Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur has been touted for months.

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City went big with a £100 million offer for Grealish, a figure that smashed the British transfer record, and the 25-year-old England international couldn’t resist the opportunity to play regular Champions League football.

With Kevin DeBruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez already available to play in attacking roles, it is very much a case of the rich getting richer with Grealish also on board.

The departure of Sergio Aguero following a decade of goals and silverware has left a big hole to fill, with Jesus the only recognised senior striker in the squad. That’s where Kane could come in, but Spurs are understandably reluctant to part ways with their captain and talisman.

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is another player linked with City, and connections to the club go back a couple of decades when his father, Alf-Inge, played in sky blue. Having just turned 21, Haaland’s goalscoring record is phenomenal and it would take a massive transfer fee to prise him away from the Bundesliga side. However, money is no object for City, and he is a player they could build around for the next decade.

Crosstown rivals Manchester United have also been making waves in the transfer market, snapping up former City youth team player Jaden Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. The exciting attacker was part of England’s squad at Euro 2020, though his game time was surprisingly limited by coach Gareth Southgate.

United splashed out £73 million to acquire the 21-year-old and he adds to attacking options that include Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Daniel James and Mason Greenwood.

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At the other end of the pitch, a deal has almost been concluded for World Cup winner and French international Raphael Verane. The 28-year-old has been a mainstay in Real Madrid’s defence for ten years and has four Champions League titles from his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finished 12 points behind City last season and will be keen to try overhaul their noisy neighbours this time around.

Meanwhile, Liverpool will be there or thereabouts again with Virgil van Dijk back from his serious knee injury. New signing Ibrahima Konate could be the answer to some of the questions directed at the defence over the past year, while more will be expected of playmaker Thiago Alcantara in his second season at Anfield.

The other club with big title aspirations is Chelsea who have been buoyed by their Champions League title having beaten Manchester City 1-0 in May’s final. Thomas Tuchel is building a well drilled side and has gotten big performances out of the likes of Kai Havertz and Jorginho since arriving at Stamford Bridge in January.

No doubt there will be more moves made in the transfer market as the top sides get themselves in shape for the 2021/22 season.

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