One regular footballer per club who could be phased out

Manchester United – Juan Mata
“Mata is very important,” said Jose Mourinho in January. “He is an important player for me, an important player for the club, an important player for the other players.” Important, then. But Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to sign a right-sided attacker. With a midfield trio of Matic, Pogba and Fred, that leaves little room for the blogger.

Arsenal – Shkodran Mustafi
Arsenal have signed a right-back and central defender, and will have Laurent Koscielny back after Christmas. They also have a manager in charge who is unlikely to keep faith in calamitous defending, which might put paid to Mustafi’s chances. He’s the fifth most expensive central defender of all time, for goodness sake.

Chelsea – Victor Moses
Possibly the biggest loser in Maurizio Sarri’s appointment. Out goes the three-man central defence, out go the wing-backs and in comes a flat back four. We struggled to comprehend Moses’ transformation from jobbing winger to excellent right wing-back, but we can’t have him as a full-back. Cesar Azpilicueta shifts over, pushing Moses back into the wilderness for the second time in 2,500 years.

Everton – Ashley Williams
A process that started last season will continue in 2018/19. Phil Jagielka has started pre-season matches for Everton, which doesn’t say much for Williams. Michael Keane won’t be as bad this season, and Marco Silva still wants another central defender. Expect Williams to start fewer than 15 league games.

Bournemouth – Charlie Daniels
Bournemouth had only signed one player this summer, but on Monday agreed a fee of £11m for Leganes left-back Diego Rico, and that kind of money means he really has to start. Daniels has been a brilliant servant for Eddie Howe and coped far better in the Premier League than most imagined, but this might be it.

Leicester – Wes Morgan
It may surprise you to learn that Robert Huth has been released by Leicester, and his central defensive partner from the miracle season is also in danger of losing his place. Captain Morgan started 32 Premier League games last season, but Harry Maguire has been joined by Jonny Evans. If they stay fit, Morgan stays out.

Liverpool – Georginio Wijnaldum
Adopt the position for a surprising statistic: The only three players to start more league games for Liverpool last season than Wijnaldum were Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Unfortunately for Gini, Naby Keita and Fabinho now call Anfield home. Add in captain Jordan Henderson, and it’s pretty hard to see anyone breaking up that midfield three.

Fulham – Kevin McDonald
Performed excellently last season, and it might be Stefan Johansen who makes way instead. But Fulham have somehow landed Jean-Michel Seri and will surely be looking to start him throughout the season. If you want to consolidate Premier League football, tough decisions need to be made.

Manchester City – David Silva
Of course it’s bloody sad, but he can’t go on forever. The general long-term plan at City is for two of Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane to start in a nominal wide position, meaning Bernardo Silva moves infield and offers competition to his namesake. The lovely David turns 33 in January; could this be the season the dependency on his brilliance is reduced?

Tottenham – Mousa Dembele
If the news that Tottenham might sell Dembele shocked those of us who have purred while watching him over the last three years, we have probably been spared. But Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur reported that the midfielder has doubts about his body’s ability to cope with a full Premier League campaign. That’s hardly going to persuade Mauricio Pochettino to rely on him.

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