With most of the Premier League's top half needing a new striker this summer, Daniel Storey takes a look at the probable names on expensive shopping lists...
With the title races in both England and Spain looking like they might go right to the wire, Daniel Storey gives you his top ten title finishes. Think final day madness and mayhem...
10) Florian Marange
Poor old Florian Marange. Last summer the French defender signed for Crystal Palace as part of Ian Holloway's big shopping spree, the problem being Holloway tends to buy the defenders in the way that many people buy fruit - they think they probably should, and it's probably a good idea otherwise you'll get scurvy or something, but in reality they just sit in a bowl and rot. And rot Marange has done, after Holloway failed to include him in his 25-man squad at the start of the season. "I came to play," said Marange in September. "Either I rip up my contract or I wait until the winter transfer window to find a club." That contract seems to still be in one piece, so that leaves but one option.
9) Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is a young man in a hurry. Still only 22, the Belgian winger was making noises about whether he thought he merited a place in Chelsea's first team (verdict: he did) since his very earliest days at Stamford Bridge. After returning from last season's successful spell on loan at Werder Bremen, De Bruyne was given a chance in Jose Mourinho's first team (he even got a couple of starts! Imagine that!) early on in the season, but now hasn't started a league game since the end of August. The word around the campfire is that he will be off in January, probably back to Germany with Bayer Leverkusen rumoured to be keen, although it's currently unclear whether it will be a buy or a borrow.
8) Nikica Jelavic
Simple one, this. After that initial flurry of goals after his arrival from Rangers, Jelavic has embarked on a longer dry spell than Morrissey, and with Romelu Lukaku happily filling the Everton centre-forward position for the moment, Roberto Martinez seems happy to ship the Croat out. "We have had conversations because it is important to know how the players feel but in the same way they are fighting to get into the team they understand that, if they don't play minutes, it will affect their World Cup chances," the perpetually pleasant and reasonable Martinez said recently. See also Heitinga, Johnny.
7) Luciano Becchio
Remember him? Part of the great Leeds-Norwich migration plan? Following where many others have led? You'd be forgiven for forgetting all about Luciano Becchio, given that he has made just three substitute appearances in the league this season, scoring a total of zero goals. But there he is, showing up every week, putting on his tracksuit but never actually taking it off, sitting on those ludicrous flash car seats the subs and coaches have these days, gazing glassy-eyed at Chris Hughton's bottom as he amiably gesticulates at his workmanlike team. Hughton said last month that Becchio "is still very much part of my plans" after the striker claimed to be "mystified" at his lack of playing time, but Hughton is such a nice guy that if he said anything mean about anyone, he'd probably go mute for a week in penance. Becchio has become a man who hangs out with and travels to places with footballers, rather than actually being one, and you'd like to think he wants to change that.
6) Emanuele Giaccherini
While Football365 is generally not privy to the innermost thoughts of professional footballers, we can take a decent crack at what's been going through Giaccherini's head for the past few months. Here we go: "What the f*ck? Why am I here? Last season I won Serie A and played with Andrea Pirlo, and now you want me to be on the same team as Lee sh*tting Cattermole? I repeat; What. The. F*ck? I'm calling my agent, right now." Of course, this isn't to say that Giaccherini needs to get out of Sunderland because he's better than everyone else there, because he's made 13 league starts for a team that are stone cold bottom of the table, suggesting that he hasn't exactly been in world-beating form himself. Still, Giaccherini is theoretically a live contender for not only Cesare Prandelli's World Cup squad, but starting XI too, and slumming it at the foot of the Premier League is unlikely to aid his chances at all.
5) Ashley Cole
A slightly fanciful inclusion this, as it seems unlikely that Cole will actually make the big leap and leave halfway through a season, and that despite his exclusion from the first team, Jose Mourinho suggested recently that Cole will probably get a new contract when his current one expires in the summer. However, Cole has not started a league game since the defeat to Newcastle, with Mourinho preferring Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back while Cole sits on the bench. It's been suggested that Cole may even retire in the summer, but one imagines if he is to bow out, he'd want it to be at the World Cup, and if he isn't actually playing any games, with Leighton Baines returning to fitness shortly, it would make it very difficult for Roy Hodgson to select him.
A slightly more realistic candidate for a move away from Chelsea might be Ryan Bertrand, for if Mourinho prefers an out-of-position right-back in your position, the chances of getting any time on the pitch are rather remote.
4) Jermain Defoe
A favourite of people who think about what a player could once do, and not what he's actually doing at the moment. Regard, if you will, the identity of the opponents for Defoe's nine goals this season: Dinamo Tiblisi, Tromso, Aston Villa ('s reserves, in the League Cup), Anzhi and FC Sheriff. He hasn't scored a league goal since April, his only one this calendar year, and while Tim Sherwood's keenness to play two men up front might suggest Defoe has more of a chance of getting a game, there is no guarantee that Sherwood will pick him as one of the pair. Defoe's inclusion on this list may be a little academic if stories about him already agreeing a deal with Toronto are to be believed, but it is clear that aged 31 and having spent most of this season on the bench, he needs something new.
3) Iago Aspas
The bad news for Iago Aspas is that his Liverpool career has started...erm, not particularly well. And by 'not particularly well' I mean 'started a few games at the start of the season, before Brendan Rodgers coughed awkwardly, looked at his shoes and told him to go and sit on the bench'. The good news for Iago Aspas is that he has a place to go if he leaves Anfield. Michu said last week: "We (the Spanish players at Swansea) are hoping he can come here on loan. It would be a pleasure to play with him. Iago has had injuries, but he has quality. He deserves to play in the Premier League." In fairness to Aspas, he has been unlucky to be stuck behind perhaps the form striker in world football right now, but in fairness to everything else, Aspas has been rubbish.
2) Dimitar Berbatov
Whisper this quietly, aesthetes, but those who watch Fulham more regularly than you or I reckon Berba has been, how you say, 'gash' this season, with a few exceptions. This thick slice of ridiculousness being one of those exceptions. Cartoon ball control aside, Berbatov doesn't seem to be the happiest puppy in the pound, if the word of his agent, the ever-garrulous Emil Dantchev, is to be believed. Dantchev of course commented earlier this month that his man would like to take his Gitanes elsewhere in January, and Rene Meulensteen didn't exactly start buffing the manacles when asked about the Bulgarian's potential departure. "I will never stand in the way of people's ambitions," he said. "He is an immense player that I think any manager would want in his team - especially me...Any manager in the world would like to have him in their team." Talk of a return to Tottenham will have the more emotional Spurs fans wondering if it's a bit misty in here, but in reality that probably wouldn't be a wise move.
1) Wilfried Zaha
While those rumours about whom Zaha chooses to spend his leisure time with might be scurrilous and untrue, if amusing, what is true is that Zaha's first few months at Old Trafford haven't been spent playing much football. Perhaps David Moyes' cautious nature means there's only room for one precocious youngster in his team, and in fairness that's probably sensible, particularly when Adnan Januzaj looks by far the more polished of the two. What is slightly more curious is why Zaha hasn't been used more from the bench, a Hail Mary last 20 minutes against Newcastle aside, so it's perfectly possible that Moyes simply doesn't rate him. Whatever the reason for Zaha's omission, it would probably do everyone a bit of good if he was sent out on loan for the latter half of the season. Newcastle have been linked (but Alan Pardew pooh-poohed that idea), while a return to Crystal Palace for a spell would have the sentimentalists among us satisfied.
Special mentions to Kenwyne Jones, Gaston Ramirez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Shay Given and Park Chu-Young.
Nick Miller - tell him he's wrong on Twitter.