The January window is almost upon us. Here’s what every Premier League club needs – or doesn’t need, in some cases – with forwards and full-backs in high demand…
Arsenal – one particular winger…
Gabriel Jesus’s injury has cast some doubt over Arsenal’s priority next month. With the Gunners leading the title race and the stakes perhaps higher than many expected, you would understand if Mikel Arteta sought a centre-forward to replace Jesus, who has started every Premier League game this season. But it seems that Arsenal’s main objective in January has been Mykhaylo Mudryk and his arrival could solve the Jesus issue, with the Ukrainian taking the left-wing spot and Gabriel Martinelli moving into a central role.
Aston Villa – a winger
Villa are said to be ready to back Unai Emery in the new manager’s first transfer window at the club, and it is suggested the Spanish boss wants a winger to provide some creativity from wide, with Leon Bailey the only natural winger already in the expensively assembled squad he inherited from Steven Gerrard.
Bournemouth – defensive cover
At least by having appointed Gary O’Neil, the Cherries have a manager already aware of what’s required in January. Bournemouth have a big squad but not much strength in depth. They could do with shifting some of the players on the fringes of O’Neil’s squad while searching for quality options at left-back and centre-back. Lloyd Kelly’s injury leaves Bournemouth light on back-up for Chris Mepham and Marcos Senesi, while Jordan Zemura is without a decent competition for his place, or a reliable stand-in.
Brentford – a striker
The Bees look to have all their ducks in a row and are well positioned to maintain their fine start to the season. But any suspension for Ivan Toney would throw a sizeable spanner in the works, with the England forward waiting for the FA to rule on 232 alleged breaches of gambling laws. Thomas Frank and his staff would be well-advised to solve the problem before it becomes one.
Brighton – a striker
Brighton spend most of their transfer windows fending off interest in their players from other clubs while simultaneously refusing to buy a striker and January is unlikely to be any different. Danny Welbeck needs support and competition with his current back-up, Deniz Undav, untested at Premier League level.
Crystal Palace – a central midfielder
“I know the profile of players that we need and I want. We will talk about it and try to improve the squad because those players need to be challenged,” said Patrick Vieira after Palace were beaten at Forest in the final game before the World Cup break. The area most ripe for improvement is Vieira’s midfield, with a combative box-to-boxer the ideal signing for the Eagles.
Chelsea – a striker
How many windows in a row is this now? Chelsea always need a striker. Armando Broja went down clutching his knee and screaming bloody murder in the friendly against Aston Villa on Sunday, and now looks set to be out for the season. So it’s now Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or nothing, or Kai Havertz, and he’s never quite done the business up top for Chelsea. ABR – Anyone But Ronaldo.
Everton – a striker. Maybe two…
Everton pinned their summer hopes on Dominic Calvert-Lewin regaining fitness but the England striker’s injury woes have continued to plague him this season. He has played just six games, scoring once. Neal Maupay also has just one solitary goal, with the Toffees’ top-scorer still Anthony Gordon, who struggled to get in the side before the break. Frank Lampard needs a quality attacking addition – arguably a couple, but one is an absolute must this winter.
Fulham – a right-back
Fulham’s fine start to the season has presented a dilemma at Craven Cottage – do they really need to recruit in January, when value is generally scarce? Marco Silva seems to have more than enough to be comfortable for the rest of the campaign, but Fulham fans, quite reasonably, will be hoping they strengthen from a rare position of authority. The right-back position seems ripe for improvement, with summer signing Kevin Mbabu struggling to nail down the spot, even in Kenny Tete’s absence. Elsewhere, Fulham could probably afford to save their pennies for the summer.
Leeds – a left-back
Some Leeds fans would prefer Jesse Marsch strengthened his forward line but the Yorkshiremen are in need of reinforcements on the left side of their defence, where Pascal Struijk has been filling in. That would allow Struijk to return to the centre, solving a different problem.
Leicester – a right winger
Brendan Rodgers has made just one signing – Ryan Bennett in 2020 – in three January windows as Leicester boss and there perhaps isn’t the urgency to splurge this winter as there might have been a couple of months ago. But Rodgers could certainly use a winger to play off the right flank, as was the case in summer, which would enable James Maddison to move into a more central role. Assuming he stays…
Liverpool – central midfield
Liverpool needed a midfielder in the summer – a fact belatedly acknowledged by Jurgen Klopp – and they signed one, somewhat hurriedly, from Juventus. But Arthur has failed to fill the gaping void in Klopp’s squad and the Reds remain short of quality in their engine room. Liverpool hoped they might be able to muddle through before moving for Jude Bellingham next summer but regardless of the state of play regarding the England star, they still need another quality addition in January to enhance their top-four prospects.
Manchester City – no one
“We are not going to sign anyone in January. The squad we have we are pleased with, the squad will stay the same,” said Pep Guardiola before the break. It was thought he might have to reassess that stance given City have been affected by the World Cup more than any other Premier League club but, as things stand, Guardiola is likely to get all his players back fit, if not fresh. Guardiola would like a top-class midfielder but he can wait until the summer.
Manchester United – a centre-forward
Erik ten Hag stated the bleeding obvious over the weekend when he acknowledged that United need a striker: “We do everything in our power. We are doing research on every opportunity and we do everything we can if that opportunity is there to contract them.” The only question is whether they go for a top-class option, or a budget bodge job.
Newcastle – a No.10
Things are going swimmingly for Newcastle right now and Eddie Howe would be hard pushed to find any gaping holes in his squad. But while they sit third in the Premier League, January would be a great time to strengthen, with an attacking central midfielder perhaps the area most ripe for improvement, despite Joe Willock’s form. James Maddison seems tailor-made for the Mags.
Nottingham Forest – no one
Having signed a whole new squad of new players in the summer, it’s remarkable that Steve Cooper would have any holes in his squad, but Forest have already made their first signing of the January window with a deal done for Palmeiras attacking midfielder Gustavo Scarpa. Having spent much of the season so far trying to bed in those arrivals, more upheaval is perhaps the last thing Cooper needs, especially after Forest went into the World Cup on the back of one defeat in five.
Southampton – a striker
Nathan Jones has had a few weeks with all but two of his squad to assess his options, during which time he will surely have noticed the lack of top-quality strikers available to him. Saints saw Shane Long and Armando Broja depart in the summer but failed to replace them, leaving Che Adams and Adam Armstrong to share the goalscoring burden. Between them, they’ve managed five Premier League goals, with Armstrong sometimes coming off the left.
Tottenham – a wing-back
Whether it be on the left or right, Antonio Conte will be asking Daniel Levy for at least one quality addition to his back five. Conte was given Djed Spence in the summer but the Spurs boss is weirdly reluctant to use him, making it likely the ex-Boro and Forest flier will be loaned out. Neither Emerson Royal or Matt Doherty have convinced Conte of their credentials so it’s most likely the Italian will plead to strengthen his right flank.
West Ham – a full-back
West Ham fans aren’t all that chuffed with any of their current full-back options, with Aaron Cresswell keeping out Emerson on the left, and David Moyes doesn’t seem convinced by Vladimir Coufal or Ben Johnson on the right. With Harrison Ashby seemingly on his way to Newcastle to serve as Kieran Trippier’s stand-in, a right-back appears the priority.
Wolves – a forward. Two, preferably.
Julen Lopetegui has had the World Cup to assess his new squad and the addition of some attacking quality must be the Spanish manager’s primary objective next month. Wolves are bottom of the table having scored fewer goals than anyone else. That isn’t just down to the centre-forwards, though they have hardly helped. Wolves are creating few opportunities and those they do are rarely being taken. Some creativity and ruthlessness is urgently required to avoid Wolves being dragged into the Championship.