Man Utd crave a striker, Liverpool a centre-half: What every Premier League club needs in January

Ian Watson
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe, Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp, Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag, and Arsenal's Mikel Arteta.
Eddie Howe, Jurgen Klopp, Erik ten Hag and Mikel Arteta are all turning their focus to January.

Centre-forwards look likely to be most in-demand in January, with Man Utd, Chelsea and Newcastle all in need. Here’s what every Premier League club needs most in the next transfer window…


Arsenal – central midfielder
You could make a strong argument for Arsenal’s priority being a centre-forward, but on a limited budget with few top-class options available mid-season, Mikel Arteta may decide to make do until the summer. Arsenal look similarly light in central midfield, especially with Thomas Partey unable to stay fit. If they can push the Ghanaian towards Juventus, some help for Declan Rice and Jorginho would be a timely boost after a wretched end to 2023. Douglas Luiz is a target but it will be a) expensive and b) pretty much impossible in January.


Aston Villa – striker
Ollie Watkins has been bloody good in an excellent Aston Villa side that has been among the very best in 2023 but he has started every Premier League game and will increasingly be needed in Europe. With all the love in the world for Jhon Duran, they need another option. So it’s little wonder they have been linked with Kelechi Iheanacho and Timo Werner.


Bournemouth – left-sided defender
January could hinge on what Bournemouth decide to do about Lloyd Kelly. The former Cherries skipper is out of contract at the end of the season and should they decide to cash in while they still can, with Spurs and Liverpool linked, they would be left very light at left-back and at the heart of Andoni Iraola’s defence.


Brentford – attacker
The Bees may also have to react in January, with the vultures circling around Ivan Toney. Thomas Frank has muddled through this far without his leading marksman while Toney has been suspended, but that and Bryan Mbeumo’s absence has caught up with the Bees lately. Arsenal, Chelsea or the like will have to make them an offer they can’t refuse for Toney, then they ought to reinvest some of their windfall on a replacement. Regardless, another versatile forward capable of playing off the flank would be a welcome boost, especially given Frank’s injury woes this season, which have also left him short at left-back.


Brighton – left-back
Brighton wouldn’t be in bad shape if their players weren’t dropping like flies. And the one area they could have been exposed – left-back – has been highlighted by Pervis Estupinan’s injury. There were others who could do a job as cover, but many of them are struggling for fitness too. So Roberto De Zerbi could really use some specialist cover in the new year. No doubt they have already found it, in the Peruvian second division, and we’re certain whoever it is will be worth £100m in two years.


Burnley – left-back
Likewise, the Clarets are shortest on the left of their defence. Vincent Kompany was desperate to land Ian Maatsen from Chelsea in the summer but last season’s loanee wasn’t so keen on a return. He has grander plans now, which may involve Manchester City, and Kompany needs to look elsewhere for competition and cover for Charlie Taylor.


Chelsea – centre-forward
Easiest of the lot…sign a sodding striker. A billion quid down and still Mauricio Pochettino is lacking a top-class goalscorer.


Crystal Palace – defensive midfielder
Cheick Doucoure’s Achilles injury should focus Palace’s attention on the centre of the midfield ahead of the January window. Doucoure was their Player of the Year in his first season and Roy Hodgson has no cover of anything like the same quality. Playing a combination of Chris Richards and Jairo Riedewald is not a long-term plan.


Everton – central midfielder
“This is likely to be a low-key transfer window for Everton,” said director of football Kevin Thelwell, which means Sean Dyche may have to crack on despite a lack of depth in midfield.


Fulham – centre-forward
Fulham may need to react to Joao Palhinha’s possible departure – they may have that covered already if there is any truth in the rumours around Andre. But Marco Silva certainly needs reinforcements in attack, even if Raul Jimenez has remembered where the goal is. They still have the Aleksandar Mitrovic money in the bank, but Silva says it isn’t simple just to spend it: “It is really tough to find the right one and when you find the right one, to buy this player. It is a position which is tough during the summer so imagine in the middle of the season.”


Liverpool – centre-back
The end of Joel Matip’s season means that Liverpool are down to Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez as senior centre-halves, without the option of Fabinho or Jordan Henderson as awkward cover. With Gomez needed to cover at left-back, Klopp could bring forward what summer plans he was formulating to replace the out-of-contract Matip.


Luton – centre-back
Rob Edwards hasn’t much wriggle room with his 25-man squad full and a couple of Hatters expected back from injury. The Luton boss was perhaps fortunate that his centre-back pool hadn’t been stretched prior to Tom Lockyer’s cardiac arrest.


Manchester City – left-back
What do you get the coach that has it all? City are strong across all departments and they could free Kalvin Phillips without any urgency to replace the England international, even if Pep Guardiola might be tempted by another midfielder. Pep looks lightest at left-back but he isn’t concerned with playing an actual left-back, even if he has been linked with a couple with the long term in mind.


Manchester United – centre-forward
Rasmus Hojlund and Erik ten Hag desperately need United to sign a centre-forward, even if it’s another loan.

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Newcastle – striker
When Sandro Tonali’s suspension became a prospect, the assumption was that Newcastle would look for a replacement in January. And they still might. Kalvin Phillips is an opportunity almost too convenient to pass up, but Eddie Howe has options in midfield. More so than he does up top, where Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson seem to have taken turns on the sidelines. Serhou Guirassy has been linked as an excellent though bizarrely cheap option.


Nottingham Forest – striker
Forest don’t need much in terms of numbers, even if they lose six to AFCON, but Taiwo Awoniyi’s absence is a major blow. Chris Wood has stepped up recently but it seems unlikely that January will end without Nuno signing a Portuguese striker.


Sheffield United – centre-back
The Blades are down to the bare bones at the back following long-term injuries to John Egan and Chris Basham. They started the season on the short side and that weakness has been woefully exposed. The overseas loan market seems the Blades’ best hope for January reinforcements.

Ange Postecoglou leaves the pitch after Tottenham lose at Wolves.

Tottenham – centre-back
January cannot come soon enough for Ange Postecoglou. Postecoglou, as we all know, has his way of playing and the Spurs boss needs a defender comfortable in such a style and system, initially to fill in for Micky van de Ven and then to compete with the Netherlands international and Cristian Romero. Tosin Adarabioyo and Ben Godfrey are amongst the names mentioned.


West Ham – striker
January could be tricky for the Hammers, with little money to play with, players needing to be shipped out and perhaps four players heading to AFCON. Amid all that, David Moyes could really use a centre-forward so he can restore Jarrod Bowen to the right wing where he belongs.


Wolves – striker
Wolves are in a similar position to the Hammers, though Hwang Hee-chan is doing his best to carry the goalscoring burden. Gary O’Neil, though, is likely to have to look at loanees while the club walks an FFP tightrope.