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. Carlton Cole
After he managed only two goals in 29 appearances last season it seemed that West Ham made the right decision to allow Carlton Cole to leave when his contract expired in the summer. It rather sums up the Hammers' current crisis, then, that Cole has been their most convincing option at No. 9 since re-signing in mid-October following Andy Carroll's injury struggles. Perhaps it made sense to bring him back to the club on a short-term deal in the hope he would keep them out of the relegation zone; what doesn't make sense is handing a 30-year-old striker you didn't want a new 18-month extension reportedly worth £40,000 a week when you're sitting in 18th.
9. Alvaro Morata
While Mirko Vucinic is similarly an unconvincing target for a team supposedly challenging for the title, we owe our gratitude to Internazionale for at least sparing us the long, drawn-out story of Arsenal raising their interest and entering negotiations. Forza Inter. The same cannot be true, however, in the case of Alvaro Morata. Seemingly a huge fan of The Clash, Morata has spent January umming and ahhing over his future as he weighs up whether to leave Real Madrid. If we were Arsene Wenger, we would probably wonder why an unproven youngster with only one start and ten sub appearances in La Liga this year thinks he can call the shots over a potential loan move, and quickly turn our attentions elsewhere.
8. Wesley Sneijder
In ancient times before the internet, there was said to be a book in which the gossip purveyors would write down the names of rumoured targets and show passers-by a glimpse for a shiny penny. In this book was the name 'Wesley Sneijder', a mystical king from the flatlands with a small, bald head. Legend has it that he drank a potion that ensured his immortality, but the price of this gift from Lucifer was to accept the guilt of damning humanity to the eternal suffering of his spurious link to Manchester United. And so, in the year of our Lord 2014, 'Sneijder to United' is still a thing, chewing away at our rotting brains like a bloodthirsty earwig. We will never know peace, and in those last moments before death, as the memories of our pointless existence flash before our eyes, we will realise the days we lost to Sneijder.
7. Danny Graham
After reading the line 'Bolton join the race for Danny Graham' on Monday morning, I quietly stood up from my desk, walked to the toilets, went into a cubicle, locked the door, and sobbed.
6. Roger Johnson
West Ham's desperate acquisition of Roger Johnson may be the most underwhelming transfer in a January of nothingness, but at least the defender is bound to provide plenty of entertainment on his return to the top flight. In many ways, it was reassuring to see Johnson look hopelessly out of his depth as he made his debut in the Hammers' 6-0 League Cup defeat to Manchester City. Anything other than a shambolic display would have left us in something of an existential crisis, given that the hapless Johnson is one of the few constants in this muddled world. We wish him all the best in his quest for five relegations in four seasons.
5. Nikica Jelavic
As well as telling his critics they "can die as soon as they want" and threatening to walk away from the Kingston Wildcats unless his name change is approved, Hull owner Assem Allam said recently that signing Nikica Jelavic "shows the club is moving forward". It might be his most preposterous claim to date. By allowing Everton a £1million profit on a striker with only one goal in his last 32 appearances, Hull have clearly failed to learn from the shrewd business they completed in the summer, with Jelavic sounding as unenthused by his transfer as the rest of us. "So why have you joined Hull?" he was asked at his unveiling. "Because it was the only concrete offer." It isn't quite the statement of intent you want to hear from your new record signing.
4. Jonas Gutierrez
To be perfectly honest, we had forgotten Jonas Gutierrez existed before his name cropped up at the start of January. It perhaps isn't a ringing endorsement of the midfielder's ability that Newcastle's form has improved considerably following his exclusion from the first team, and nor does his signing offer any encouragement to Norwich fans starved of excitement. What the Canaries need more than anything in their survival fight is goals, but it's unlikely that cause will be aided by a run-of-the-mill winger who notched just 11 strikes in almost 200 appearances for the Magpies.
3. Alan Hutton
We're all aware by now that nothing actually happens in the transfer window until the final 24 hours, but the media try their very best to keep us entertained in the meantime, rather like a clown at a children's party whose only trick is to fashion balloon giraffes that bear a troubling resemblance to something else entirely. After the big names are ticked off one by one on Sky Sports' yellow ticker we eventually reach the bottom of the barrel, where a mildewy Alan Hutton has waited patiently for the last five years. This time Stoke and Fulham are the unlucky sods to be pulled out of the Hutton hat, but they would be wise to dismiss that particular rumour as quickly as possible.
2. Vito Mannone
Veto Manno-no, more like. Am I right? Guys? Mum? We're not sure how or why the Sunderland goalkeeper has turned up on Manchester United's radar, but it's a rumour we imagine most supporters would like to see quickly disappear. The worst thing about the speculation is that Mannone has been swift to deny the rumour without even a cursory admission that he's flattered by United's interest. "I don't really care about this stuff," said the keeper. "I am really living my best time right now at Sunderland and I don't see why I would move right now." We're still keeping our fingers crossed that he's David Moyes' only signing in January.
1. Grant Holt
"I know Grant from my Norwich days, he was absolutely brilliant for us. It's a couple of years later down the line, so we'll see," said Paul Lambert before recruiting the 'proper man' - penis and everything - on loan from Wigan. What Lambert failed to add is that the striker's last two years have coincided with a drastic decline in form, resulting in Holt mustering just two goals in the Championship this season and none since August. It certainly isn't a signing to inspire supporters left dejected by just eight home goals in the league - the lowest in all four divisions - and Holt did his manager no favours when he reminded everyone: "It is a massive opportunity for me as I was in the Championship last week sitting on the bench."
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.
Villa won something! I'm going to savour this victory.- party terrorist