The opening of the January transfer window is just days – perhaps hours – away. Teams around Europe can begin registering new players on Jan. 1, and have until the end of the month to complete their business.
As always, the majority of movement will happen in the Premier League. Here’s a look at all 20 clubs in England’s top flight, their needs, and the types of players they can realistically target over the coming month.
Arsenal (6th place, 37 points) — Arsenal’s entire window revolves around Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Both are on expiring contracts. Assuming the Gunners don’t think they’ll be able to extend either one, they essentially must decide if a half-season of each player is worth the discount price they’d command in a January sale. If they can bring in a significant sum – £10 million? £15 million? – they should sell and immediately shop for a replacement. If they can’t, they should take their shot at the top four with both still in tow, and save the replacement search for the summer.
Arsenal will need a new center back and goalkeeper at some point in the near future as well, and perhaps a proper holding midfielder, but those are all summer projects.
Bournemouth (18th, 17 points) — Eddie Howe’s shopping list is long. He could use an upgrade at center back and left back alongside Nathan Ake. If he continues to pilot a 3-4-3, he needs a proper left wing back, and could probably do with a another winger, too. Finally, he should be in the market for a commanding central midfield.
Brighton (12th, 21 points) — Despite a surprisingly strong first half, the Seagulls are the third-lowest scorers in the league. They absolutely need a striker with a skill set that contrasts Glenn Murray’s. Celtic’s Moussa Dembele could fit the bill. The second priority would be an upgrade on the left wing opposite Anthony Knockaert.
Burnley (7th, 33 points) — Burnley shouldn’t shell out a single pound. It shouldn’t blow up its wage structure or overspend to chase unrealistic dreams. Its goal every season remains to stay in the Premier League, and it has already accomplished that in 2017-18. Sean Dyche can wait until the summer to address any needs going forward.
Chelsea (3rd, 42 points) — The Blues can probably sit tight. The title is out of reach, and the current squad is in great shape to finish in the top four. Antonio Conte could chase a backup striker if he has given up on Michy Batshuayi, but any January deal should be made with a view toward the future. There are no pressing needs.
Crystal Palace (16th, 18 points) — Yohan Cabaye is on an expiring contract. Roy Hodgson’s first priority should be to sort out the Frenchman’s future. Beyond that, Palace has a fairly well-balanced squad with very few holes. There’s no need to splurge. If any money is spent, it should be on a fullback or an advanced central playmaker.
Everton (9th, 27 points) — Sam Allardyce needs a forward who ticks three boxes: 1. Can lead the line. 2. Can contribute to build-up play and link with Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson 3. Is better than Dominic Calvert-Lewin. And Allardyce apparently already has his man in Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun. The Toffees spent a ton over the summer, and aren’t in any danger of relegation, so Tosun will be the bulk of their business, if not all of it.
Huddersfield (11th, 23 points) — After such an impressive start, and with no obvious needs, expect the Terriers to stay quiet.
Leicester (8th, 27 points) — Claude Puel’s main goal should be to offload at least one striker. The depth chart is overflowing: Jamie Vardy, Demarai Gray, Shinji Okazaki, Islam Slimani, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa, Leonardo Ulloa. Ideally, the Foxes would be able to find a landing spot for Slimani and recoup two-thirds of the £30 million they paid for him two summers ago. But that might be difficult
Elsewhere, the squad is very solid. Adrien Silva will be eligible after the summer deadline day snafu, and he might find it tough to get into a midfield that has propelled Leicester into the top half of the table. Leicester will only have to spend if Riyad Mahrez departs, and even though the Algerian winger wants to, there are no indications that a suitable offer for him will arrive.
Liverpool (4th, 38 points) — With the Virgil van Dijk deal wrapped up, a goalkeeper upgrade becomes the top priority. Another center back would be No. 2. But Liverpool doesn’t have to spend. There’s no need to accelerate the Naby Keita deal. The Reds can retain their place in the top four without any other additions.
Manchester City (1st, 58 points) — City’s lone need is a reliable third center back as injury insurance for John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. It’ll wait until the summer for Alexis Sanchez.
Manchester United (2nd, 43 points) — United will be linked with more players than any other Premier League team throughout January, but there’s a strong case to be made that it should wait until the summer for its next lucrative spending spree. There are no inhibitive weaknesses right now. Ashley Young has done an admirable job at left back, and can continue in that role for another five months. Ryan Sessegnon would be a great signing, but there’s no point in rushing that deal – or one for a world-class playmaker like Paolo Dybala – over the line. If Jose Mourinho can’t finish in the top four with this squad, the players aren’t the problem; he is.
[More FC Yahoo: 45 players who’ll be the subject of realistic transfer rumors]
Newcastle (15th, 18 points) — Joselu isn’t good enough. Neither is Dwight Gayle. Rafa Benitez needs an upgrade at striker, and he needs one badly. He also needs a goalkeeper, either now or in the summer. The third priority would be … left back? Maybe? But given the murky ownership situation, money could be tight, and a striker should command as much of it as necessary.
Southampton (14th, 19 points) — With van Dijk gone, the biggest need is at center back. But Southampton can probably get away with waiting until the summer to find a van Dijk replacement and invest the rest of the £75 million. With that deal fresh in minds, other clubs will know Southampton are sitting on surplus cash. They’l therefore try to force the Saints to overpay.
Stoke City (13th, 20 points) — The Potters must sign a proper right back/right wing back and a defensive-minded central midfielder to play next to Joe Allen.
Swansea (20th, 13 points) — The Swans really need help in the attacking half of the pitch, but not at the very top of it. Tammy Abraham and Wilfried Bony are more than serviceable up top. The top targets should be a winger and either a creative forward or attacking midfielder to play underneath Abraham or Bony. The issue is that it’s unclear exactly what shape or system new manager Carlos Carvalhal wants to employ.
Tottenham (5th, 37 points) — Spurs could use a box-to-box midfielder to perform the function Mauricio Pochettino currently has Mousa Sissoko performing. Perhaps they’ll try to mold Ross Barkley into that. They could also use another winger. But they shouldn’t feel like they have to spend in January.
Watford (10th, 25 points) — It appears Marco Silva’s main aim will essentially be to find a rich man’s Troy Deeney.
West Brom (19th, 15 points) — The focus will be on the attack, but Salomon Rondon isn’t the problem; the service into him is. Alan Pardew, therefore, needs a playmaker to deploy behind Rondon, and/or a winger who can improve supply from wide areas.
West Ham (17th, 18 points) — The balance of the Hammers’ midfield has been all out of whack. David Moyes should look to bring in a central midfielder in the mold of William Carvalho or Steven N’Zonzi. His center backs are also very old, but that’s probably a problem to address over the summer.
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