SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers breaks down this year’s top contenders for the EPL title and which team could be a major dark horse that could finish in the top four.
USA TODAY Sports
LONDON (AP) — The way Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have been spending, the Premier League trophy should be returning to Manchester in May.
In an off-season that has seen more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) invested in players, Manchester rivals City and United have accounted for more than a third of that spending.
It was the inevitable reaction to feeble title challenges that saw Guardiola’s City finish 15 points behind the victorious Chelsea side in third place and Mourinho’s United drift over the line nine points further adrift.
For a serial collector of trophies at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, finishing his first season in English football without a single title was an unusual feeling for Guardiola.
If the overhaul of the squad, costing more than 200 million pounds, doesn’t deliver silverware there will be further uncomfortable questions for the Spaniard.
Guardiola has started rebuilding from the back by recruiting fullbacks Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker for around 50 million pounds apiece.
Signing Walker was particularly eye-catching. The England right back forced his way out of a Tottenham side that finished ahead of City in second place.
With its rigid pay structure, Tottenham lacks the will to break its budget to offer big salaries. Or, in this transfer window, spend anything yet on reinforcing a squad that delivered Tottenham’s highest league finish in more than 50 years.
Rather than being a platform to build on to challenge for a first title since 1961, Tottenham’s ownership appears more focused on building its new stadium. Still, the north London club has kept its key talent — notably Harry Kane and Dele Alli who scored 47 league goals between them last season.
In search of goals, Manchester United turned to last season’s second-highest scorer. Striker Romelu Lukaku cost at least 75 million pounds, while Mourinho offloaded captain Wayne Rooney in the opposite direction to Everton.
Lukaku isn’t the only player being reunited Mourinho, who also convinced former club Chelsea to sell Nemanja Matic to United. A fee of 40 million pounds proved too substantial…