With the winter transfer window set to open later this week, Greg Lea identifies a potential target for each Premier League outfit...
Arsenal – Adrien Rabiot
Before Saturday’s 4-0 humbling at the hands of Southampton, Arsenal had responded to their customary autumn injury crisis rather well: Olympiakos, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Manchester City were all beaten with Alexis Sanchez, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla among the absentees. But in spite of Monday’s win over Bournemouth, that Boxing Day battering at St Mary's may have convinced even the parsimonious Arsene Wenger of the need to bring in reinforcements in January.
The loss of first-choice midfielders Coquelin and Cazorla until February and March respectively means the centre of the pitch needs strengthening, with Adrien Rabiot a player the Gunners should be targeting. Pushed down the Paris Saint-Germain pecking order this term, the 20-year-old has already made it clear he wants a loan move away from Parc des Princes next month, meaning Wenger wouldn’t even need to break the bank for his signature.
Aston Villa – Charlie Austin
It’s highly probable that Garde and the club’s hierarchy already have half an eye on the Championship, with high-calibre players likely to be difficult to attract given Villa’s precarious position
With Aston Villa already 11 points adrift of safety at the midway point of the campaign, even Lionel Messi would have his work cut out trying to drag Remi Garde’s men to the promised land of 17th place. It’s highly probable that Garde and the club’s hierarchy already have half an eye on the Championship, with high-calibre players likely to be difficult to attract given Villa’s precarious position. Charlie Austin, who QPR have admitted may leave west London in the window, is a rumoured target, although some sort of clause allowing him to depart for a set fee if Villa go down – similar to Loic Remy’s at QPR and Demba Ba’s at West Ham – may be required to get a deal over the line.
Bournemouth – Andros Townsend
Townsend is expected to leave Tottenham in January after making just three Premier League appearances – totalling 64 minutes – in 2015/16 so far, with Bournemouth one of the many clubs to have been linked with the England international. The wideman would certainly add a dash of top-flight quality to the Cherries’ ranks, while the inconsistencies in his game that frustrate the White Hart Lane faithful would be more readily forgiven at the Vitality Stadium. Wingers Matt Ritchie and Junior Stanislas have impressed in recent weeks, and Townsend would provide further quality out on the flanks.
Chelsea – Michy Batshuayi
Still only 22, the Belgian not only has a bright future ahead of him but also enough talent to make an impact now
The only Chelsea player whose stock has risen this campaign is Willian, so it could be argued that the reigning champions require fresh blood right across the pitch. A striker still seems the priority, though, with Radamel Falcao as disappointing as most people expected and Remy reportedly angling for a move away. Marseillle’s Michy Batshuayi has hit 11 goals in 19 Ligue 1 games this year – only Zlatan Ibrahimovic has more – and would be a useful acquisition in the window. Still only 22, the Belgian not only has a bright future ahead of him but also enough talent to make an impact now.
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Crystal Palace – Shane Duffy
With three goalkeepers, four full-backs (plus the lesser-spotted Zeki Fryers), five central midfielders, five wingers and four strikers, Palace’s squad looks rather well stocked for the remainder of the campaign. The only area that may need strengthening is at centre-back: Scott Dann and Damien Delaney have formed an excellent partnership at the heart of the backline, but the latter is now in his mid-30s, as is chief backup option Brede Hangeland. Former Everton defender Shane Duffy, enjoying a terrific season with Blackburn in the Championship, could be worth a look. Twenty-four on New Year’s Day, he fits Palace’s general preference for buying younger players with re-sale value.