Francis Coquelin & Mousa Dembele: May struggle for games
Our Transfers page brings you a complete list of all the done deals and rumours this summer as Premier League clubs push out the boat this summer.
But for all the excitement that a new arrival brings, there’s always one player whose nose is pushed out of joint by the costly new addition.
Here we look at five players – last season considered as regulars – who could find themselves dropping down to the subs’ bench in 2016/17.
Simon Mignolet – Liverpool
Liverpool fans have regularly questioned the attributes of long-term No 1 Simon Mignolet and those fears deepened when the Reds handed the much-maligned Belgian a new long-term contract at Anfield.
Although Jurgen Klopp clearly rates the player, it was no surprise to see the Liverpool manager bring in not one, but two challengers to the Belgian’s once-stranglehold grip on the gloves at Anfield.
But while veteran stopper Alex Manninger looks unlikely to be afforded many opportunities at Anfield, Loris Karius certainly looks as though he’s capable of nudging Mignolet right out of the first-team picture.
The keeper joined the Reds in what could prove a bargain £4.7million move from Mainz – and he’s already strongly hinted he’s to be given the No 1 role at Anfield.
Mignolet has made 144 Premier League appearances for the Reds in the three seasons he’s been at Anfield – but reaching 150 milestone might prove tricky to reach for the Belgian….
Francis Coquelin – Arsenal
Often lauded as the ‘most improved player’ at Arsenal, Frenchman Francis Coquelin looks set for a vastly-reduced role at Arsenal this season after the summer arrival of £30million man Granit Xhaka.
With Santi Cazorla these days preferring a deeper role and looking (when fit) a nailed-on starter for the Gunners, it seems Xhaka – who sees himself as an “aggressive leader” for Arsenal – will be selected to play alongside him.
Add into the mix a fit (for the time being, at least) Jack Wilshire, and January signing Mohamed Elneny, would it be hugely surprising to see Coquelin depart the Emirates this summer?
Coquelin has enjoyed a growing influence at Arsenal, making 10 (in 2011/12), 11 (2012/13), 22 (2013/14) and 26 (2015/16) appearances, but it seems his time as an Arsenal regular may be coming to a close…..
Grant Leadbitter – Middlesbrough
A virtual ever-present since joining Boro in 2012 from Ipswich, Leadbitter’s place in the engine room at the Riverside might just be coming to a close following the club’s promotion to the Premier League and ambitious summer recruitment drive.
Of those new additions, £12million Dutchman Marten De Roon looks the most likely midfield partner to Adam Clayton, the latter of whom was named as one of our five Premier League debutants to watch this season.
Leadbitter has made 185 starts for Boro in his four seasons at the club – never playing less than 41 times – but his likely reward for ending Boro’s seven-year absence from the Premier League: a place among Aitor Karanka’s substitutes.
Adam Lallana – Liverpool
Another favourite of Klopp’s, hard-working Lallana’s place in the Liverpool side looks under serious threat this season after the influx of £55million’s worth of new arrivals in his position.
If Lallana was feeling nervous enough after Liverpool spent £30million to lure Sadio Mane from Southampton, he must have been swallowing hard on Friday when a £25million deal was done with Newcastle for Georginio Wijnaldum.
MORE: Will Wijnaldum’s arrival spell the end for Lallana at Liverpool?
Lallana has made 90 appearances since joining Liverpool two seasons ago from Saints – but seven goals from 49 games in 2015/16 puts him in serious jeopardy when you compare that to Mane (15 goals in 43 games) and Wijnaldum (11 in 40).
The England man has always spoken favourably about the German manager – but he might have to do a little more than sweet talk Klopp to keep his place in the Reds side this season – especially with Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho also presenting other options at Anfield.
Mousa Dembele – Tottenham
The Belgian midfielder is already facing a delayed start to the season as he serves the final four matches of his six-match ban, handed down to him by the FA following an unsavoury eye-gauging incident with Chelsea’s Diego Costa.
By then, Dembele – who has made 158 appearances for Spurs during his four years at White Hart Lane, including 35 last time out – might just find himself with a huge battle on his hands to reclaim a place in Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield.
With Victor Wanyama arriving in an £11million deal from Southampton, the Kenyan looks a certain starter alongside Eric Dier at the base of the midfield – meaning Dembele could find himself as the odd man out.
He could, of course, operate in a more advanced role, but the No 10 spot looks like Dele Alli’s to lose, while the Belgian doesn’t possess enough speed to play in one of the wider forward roles.
With that in mind, it’s hard to see where Dembele gets games for Spurs this season, and even with the club competing in the Champions League, it’ll be hard to see him as little more than a squad man under Pochettino….