The top three teams in the Premier League last season all opted for very different approaches in the summer transfer window in their pursuit of the trophy.
Pep Guardiola had a full clearout of his full-back department, Jose Mourinho landed Romelu Lukaku to spearhead his attack and Jurgen Klopp
finally sorted his goalkeeping problem out broke the world record for a central defender , albeit six months later than he’d hoped.
All of those moves were successes in their own way but it was Manchester City that romped home to finish 19 points better off than their closest rivals.
However, uneven the respective squads may or may not have been before last summer, 2017 was an example of the Blues papering over their biggest cracks better than United or Liverpool ultimately managed.
With those teams tipped as the most likely to steal the title away from the Etihad next season, 2018 is shaping up to be a much more intriguing battle with each of the three in the market for a defensively-minded midfielder.
While the old-school pundits will still go purple in the face if the summer signings don’t get at least four assists a game, expect pass completion rates, successful duels and distance covered to get a lot more popular in Twitter pointscoring next season for a certain breed of fan.
If it is unusual for three title contenders to be chasing the same type of player, more curious is they all seem happy enough with their respective picks not to compete for the same player.
Both Manchester clubs opted not to pursue Fabinho, City went cold on Fred this year and have not had a serious challenge for Jorginho.
United and Liverpool should be improved by their buys, but taking on Guardiola in a search for midfielders is as bold as trying to beat Chris Froome on a bike or out-sandpaper the Australian cricket team.
As well as enjoying a tremendous career there as a player, this is the manager that has happily declared he ‘would like to have a thousand midfield players in my squad, in my team’.
Manchester City – key information
One Premier League coach suggested last season that the Catalan would play one in goal if he could, and another likened Ederson to having Ronald Koeman between the sticks.
During his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich he counted on the services of no less than Sergio Busquets, Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, and will get every game he can out of Fernandinho.
If Guardiola has decided to add Jorginho to that catalogue of excellence rather than Fabinho or Fred, it is going to require something extraordinary from Liverpool or United to get the better of City next season.
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