With the Premier League campaign over, we’re handing out our end-of-season awards. The latest trophy isn’t one any player would want to get their hands on however, as we announce our Flop of the Season.
When Antonio Conte decided that Diego Costa wasn’t in his plans for the 2017/18 season, despite him playing such an influential part in Chelsea’s success last term, it was imperative that whoever replaced the controversial striker hit the ground running.
Having missed out on Romelu Lukaku, Conte and Chelsea paid Real Madrid nearly €70 million for Alvaro Morata. The Spaniard made a positive start to life at Stamford Bridge, netting in four of his first six games, including a hat-trick against Stoke City, but the goals only told half the story.
Morata lacked the dominating presence of Costa that had been so crucial to Chelsea last season, and he struggled to find the net if it wasn’t with his head. It was no surprise when Conte signed Olivier Giroud in January.
The Frenchman started the FA Cup semi-final and the crunch match with Liverpool, showing how far out-of-favour Morata had fallen.
Serie A side Juventus are linked with a move for the striker this summer, and Chelsea would be better off cutting their losses now.
It’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone much worse for youngster Sanches, who joined Swansea City for a season on loan from German giants Bayern Munich. The 20-year-old, who had helped Portugal win the European Championships in 2016, was expected to make a big impact for the Swans, but failed to impress. In total, he made just 15 appearances as Swansea suffered relegation.
Another transfer that failed to work out for Conte and Chelsea. While he has made 43 appearances in all competitions, the move hasn’t worked out as expected, with the former Monaco man not able to match up to former midfielder Nemanja Matic alongside N’Golo Kante. Errors, a lack of positional understanding, and poor passing mean Bakayoko has a long way to go to prove why Chelsea paid €40 million for his services.
The Dutchman’s move from Ajax to Everton has been a disaster. The attacking midfielder perhaps knew life wouldn’t be easy when both Wayne Rooney and Glyfi Sigurdsson signed in the same summer, but he wouldn’t have envisaged it going so badly. He made 16 appearances in all competitions, with just seven of those coming in the Premier League, while he failed to score a single goal.
Wenger took charge of his last game at Huddersfield on Sunday as the curtain came down on a 22-year spell at the helm.
Press Association Sport understands the Gunners hierarchy have also acted to move on some of the coaching staff that worked alongside the 68-year-old.
While the managerial vacancy remains – with two former club captains in Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira still among the favourites for the role – the club has wasted no time in clearing the decks for the new regime.
Boro Primorac, a long-term coach and friend of Wenger, was always likely to leave and, as the outgoing manager prepares to clear his office later this week, a number of other backroom staff have also been relieved of their duties.
Colin Lewin, head of the club’s medical department, has been at the club a year longer than Wenger but will also be departing – as well as coaches Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton and Tony Colbert, with Paul Johnson leaving his post as equipment manager.
As things stand it appears Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann, recruited to the coaching staff just last summer, will remain under the new manager.
The hunt for Wenger’s successor continues, with Arteta now the bookmakers’ favourite to return to the club he served as a player between 2011 and 2016.
He retired two years ago to join Pep Guardiola’s coaching team at Manchester City and helped deliver the Premier League title to the Etihad Stadium this season.
While the 36-year-old has no managerial experience, Guardiola, speaking after his side reached the 100-point mark with a final-day victory at Southampton on Sunday, praised Arteta’s role in the success and said he would not stand in his way if Arsenal came calling.
“What we have done this season, Mikel his contribution was outstanding, amazing, we work together so good,” he said.
“If he stays I will be the happiest guy in the world and if he decides to move because he has this offer, this option, I will not say you do not have to go. I want the best for my friends and he is a friend of mine.”
Although Arteta has emerged as the front-runner and is reportedly the preferred choice of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, the likes of former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, New York City head coach Vieira and Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus continue to be linked with the job.
Allegri, who secured a fourth successive Serie A and Coppa Italia double over the weekend, appears the least likely to take the reins after both he and Juve said they want him to remain in charge of the Italian giants heading into next season.
It also remains unclear what Wenger’s next move will be.
He revealed last week he has some work to do in France early this week before returning to Arsenal’s London Colney training centre to clear his desk.
He said he has already received plenty of offers for work but suggested following the 1-0 win at Huddersfield that he would be tempted to move abroad so as not to come up against Arsenal in the future.
It is only 89 days until the 2018-19 Premier League season kicks off on August 11.
Here we look at some of the burning questions facing the 19 clubs that we know will be playing in the top flight next season.
Can the Gunners tempt Max Allegri?
A new dawn beckons at the Emirates after Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign. Allegri had been the early favourite after winning his fourth league and cup double at Juventus, but he has suggested he is set to remain in Italy and leave Arsenal to look elsewhere.
Will Eddie Howe be targeted?
Howe – now the longest-serving manager in the Premier League after Wenger’s departure – continues to work miracles with the Cherries having secured a fourth season of top-flight football. A bigger club has to come knocking one day, surely.
Can the Clarets shine in Europe?
How Burnley fans plan to enjoy their ‘European tour’. It is 51 years since the Clarets last played in European competition, but it will be a tough ask for Sean Dyche’s squad balancing the demands of the Premier League and the Europa League.
Can Seagulls take next step?
Chris Hughton did a marvellous job leading Brighton to safety in their first Premier League season. But signing the extra quality he requires to take the Seagulls into the top half of the table will prove a difficult challenge.
Can Neil Warnock cut it in the top tier?
The self-styled Championship expert has had it tough in the Premier League at Crystal Palace, QPR and Sheffield United. It won’t be any easier this time but Cardiff’s uncompromising physical approach will unsettle a few, that’s for sure.
What does Roman Abramovich do next?
After a season of uncertainty under Antonio Conte, we wait to see how Chelsea owner Abramovich reacts. Chelsea have the FA Cup final to look forward to, but the prospect of no Champions League football next season means another managerial change is more than likely.
Does Wilfried Zaha stay?
Former England manager Roy Hodgson galvanised a club and repaired his reputation as the Eagles soared from the bottom to an 11th-placed finish. But his greatest trick may yet be keeping star man Zaha at Selhurst Park – an absolute must.
Does Sam Allardyce play it again?
Everton are at a crossroads and must discover an identity quickly. The vast majority of fans do not want Allardyce as manager and owner Farhad Moshiri risks further unrest if he allows the former England boss to see out the final year of his contract.
Where do the goals come from?
Huddersfield over-achieved by staying in the Premier League on the division’s lowest budget. But only 28 goals in 38 games (the joint-lowest total with relegated Swansea) suggests finding a striker or two is a top summer priority.
Time for change again?
Claude Puel’s bounce effect spectacularly fizzled out with only one win in the final seven games leaving his job in jeopardy. Riyad Mahrez is likely to be on his way as the title-winning squad of two seasons ago continues to break up.
How will Naby Keita improve them?
The Champions League final awaits – and now Liverpool are expected to challenge English champions Manchester City. The arrival of box-to-box RB Leipzig midfielder Keita will suit Jurgen Klopp’s high pressing style and add another dimension to Liverpool’s game.
Can they be as good?
One hundred points, 106 goals and 32 league wins is one hard act to follow. But Pep Guardiola has a thirst for titles and it is difficult to see anyone stopping them – so much so that this really could be one of the best teams English football has ever seen.
Will Paul Pogba stay?
United invested a then world record £89million when they re-signed the France midfielder in 2016. But poor form and an apparently strained relationship with manager Jose Mourinho has raised doubts over his Old Trafford future.
Will Rafa Benitez get money to spend?
No sooner had Newcastle finished 10th than owner Mike Ashley was promising transfer funds would be made available. But boss Benitez has heard these promises before and the danger is the Spaniard could be off if the cash is not forthcoming.
Is Mark Hughes more than a fire-fighter?
Southampton were bound for the Championship until Hughes dragged them to safety. The experienced Welshman wants to stay on, but he lost his way at Stoke and has to prove that he can flourish again in the long term if he stays at St Mary’s.
Will the purse strings be relaxed?
A new stadium for Spurs, but will it be the same old story over financial constraints? Mauricio Pochettino has been making noises about “taking risks”, and the consequences of a growing divide between the manager and chairman Daniel Levy is unthinkable to Spurs fans.
Can change keep on working?
The Watford model is change your manager, survive, repeat formula. Javi Gracia – the Hornets’ fourth manager in three Premier League seasons – could be forgiven for thinking about his job security, while desperate end-of-season form would not have encouraged him either.
Will peace break out at last?
Turmoil seems to constantly reign at the London Stadium with a massive disconnect between boardroom and supporters. Bridges must be built for the club to move forward and the future of manager David Moyes has to be addressed.
Is a top-seven finish possible?
If spending is anything to do with it, then the answer is yes. With ambitious Chinese owners able to count on Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes, Wolves will strengthen and fancy finishing above anyone outside the so-called ‘top six’ clubs.