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.
Everton – Steve Mandanda
Tim Howard has been a wonderful servant to the club since joining from Manchester United in 2006, but he’s been on the wane in the last couple of years and will need to be replaced before too long
Everton don't look too far away from being a side capable of challenging for the top four, but an unwelcome habit of making costly errors at the back has cost them on multiple occasions already this term. Tim Howard has been a wonderful servant to the club since joining from Manchester United in 2006, but he’s been on the wane in the last couple of years and will need to be replaced before too long. Steve Mandanda is a leading candidate to take over as the Toffees’ No.1 , with the long-serving Marseille custodian – whose contract expires at the end of the campaign – potentially available at a cut-price fee.
Leicester – Demarai Gray
Remarkably, Leicester head into the new year knowing that Champions League qualification is firmly in their hands. Ensuring that Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante are still at the King Power Stadium in February will be Claudio Ranieri’s primary concern, but the Italian is also likely to seek additions to a squad that has hitherto been relatively fortunate with injuries. While the Foxes are well covered in most areas, talented Birmingham prospect Demarai Gray would be a welcome new face, particularly as Mahrez could be on his way in the summer. A provider of speed, skill and width, Gray would fit in well with Leicester’s counter-attacking approach.
Liverpool – Marc-Andre ter Stegen
The German may be the Catalans’ Champions League keeper, but he’s made only four La Liga starts since arriving at Camp Nou in 2014
Like their Merseyside rivals, Liverpool remain weakest between the sticks, with Simon Mignolet guilty of some significant mishaps in the first half of the season. Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen has made noises about seeking regular first-team football elsewhere – the German may be the Catalans’ Champions League keeper, but he’s made only four La Liga starts since arriving at Camp Nou in 2014 – with Liverpool said to be among the interested parties. Prising him away mid-season could be tricky, but an official bid from the Reds could persuade Ter Stegen to push for an exit.
Manchester City – Andrea Pirlo
Having splurged almost £150m in the summer, it’s unlikely that Manchester City will go on another spending spree in the upcoming winter window. With MLS not due to get back underway until March, a short-term loan deal for Pirlo could suit both player and club: Italy manager Antonio Conte is desperate for the New York City man to play European football before Euro 2016, while City and Manuel Pellegrini would benefit from the temporary presence of one of the most talented midfielders of a generation. We’d all get to see Pirlo work his magic in the Premier League too, which is another major positive.
Manchester United – Karim Bellarabi
The Bayer Leverkusen forward can play in virtually any attacking role and would provide the flair, spark and speed that has been sorely lacking
The future of manager Louis van Gaal will need to be sorted out before United embark on any other business in January, but Karim Bellerabi should be near the top of Ed Woodward’s wishlist regardless. The Bayer Leverkusen forward can play in virtually any attacking role and would provide the flair, spark and speed that has been sorely lacking at Old Trafford this term. Arsenal and Serie A leaders Inter have also been linked with the 25-year-old at various points in the last couple of months.
Newcastle – Joel Veltman
Despite a couple of valuable wins earlier in December, Newcastle remain mired in relegation trouble and need some reinforcements to bolster their chances of avoiding the drop. Only rivals Sunderland (37) have conceded more goals than the Magpies (34) this season, so Steve McClaren could reignite his interest in Ajax centre-back Joel Veltman, who was monitored by the north-east club in the summer. The Netherlands international is a bright prospect who would likely slot straight into McClaren’s first-choice backline, but it would take a big offer to persuade him to swap a shot at the Eredivisie title for a battle at the wrong end of the Premier League table.
Norwich – Sebastien Haller
Utrecht’s 21-year-old striker Sebastien Haller has plundered 11 in 16 in the Eredivisie this season
The lack of a goalscoring centre-forward is one issue that Norwich will look to address in the window: only West Brom's top scorer (Salomon Rondon, James Morrison and Saido Berahino, all three) has netted fewer in the Premier League than the Canaries’ chief goal-getter (Nathan Redmond, four). Everton's Steven Naismith looks to be on his way to Carrow Road, but Utrecht’s 21-year-old striker Sebastien Haller has plundered 11 in 16 in the Eredivisie this season – he also found the back of the net 11 times in 17 games in 2014/15 – and could be available for around £7.5m.
Southampton – Eder
Graziano Pelle began the season extremely well but has faded in recent weeks, scoring only one goal in the Premier League since early October, so a striker is likely to be on Ronald Koeman’s shopping list. Sampdoria’s Eder has been in fine form this campaign, hitting 10 goals despite playing for a struggling side, and looks to be a realistic target for Saints; the Brazil-born attacker is also Pelle’s strike partner for Italy, which would give Koeman the option of using the pair in tandem up top.
Stoke – Victor Camarasa
With a couple of astute signings a Europa League challenge is well within their capabilities in 2016
It's been a rather strange first half of the campaign for Stoke, who have won many of the games they were expected to lose and lost many of the games they were expected to win. The Potters currently find themselves within four points of the top six, and with a couple of astute signings a Europa League challenge is well within their capabilities in 2016. Another out-and-out striker would be welcome, but extra defensive midfield cover could be more important, with Levante’s Victor Camarasa a potential target.
Sunderland – Lamine Kone
Sam Allardyce has always looked to build from the back in his 27-year managerial career, but that philosophy has been severely tested at Sunderland. The Black Cats’ rearguard has been breached more often than any other Premier League team this season, with Allardyce’s attempt to tighten things up by switching to a 5-3-2 formation having little effect on the goals-against column. Lorient’s Lamine Kone would add some much-needed power and physicality to a defence that often seems to be beaten far too easily.
Swansea City – Loic Remy
With Bafetimbi Gomis continually linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium in the last few weeks, it would be no surprise if Swansea brought in a striker next month. Remy, thought to be unhappy with a lack of playing time at Chelsea, would fit the bill perfectly: not only has the Frenchman proven himself to be a prolific goalscorer when starting week in, week out, he also has the Premier League experience to be an instant success.
Tottenham – Saido Berahino
Premature talk of Harry Kane being a one-season wonder has been well and truly quashed in the last couple of months, but Tottenham could still do with some extra cover up front. West Brom were adamant that they wouldn't sell Berahino to Spurs in the summer, but the fact that Tony Pulis has barely used him since then – the 22-year-old’s latest start came in the 3-2 defeat to Leicester at the end of October – could persuade the Baggies board to cash in. Young, talented and English, Berahino could thrive under Mauricio Pochettino at White Hart Lane as long as his attitude improves.
Watford – Nathan Ake
Their squad looks to have sufficient depth to achieve a top-half finish, so attention could turn towards tying loanee Nathan Ake down to a permanent deal
When Watford made 15 new additions to their squad in the summer, many onlookers believed that they were attempting to change too much too quickly. Quique Sanchez Flores and the Pozzo family have been vindicated by the Hornets’ superb first half of the campaign, however, with Watford currently flying high in eighth place. Their squad looks to have sufficient depth to achieve a top-half finish, so attention could turn towards tying loanee Ake down to a permanent deal. The Chelsea left-back has been excellent at Vicarage Road and certainly seems in no hurry to return to Stamford Bridge.
West Brom – Matt Phillips
Tony Pulis, still yet to experience the bitter taste of relegation, is a master at keeping teams in the top flight, but it’s too early for him to start celebrating survival at West Brom. The squad – coupled with their manager’s experience – is strong enough to stay up as it is, but a bit more pace in attacking areas would improve the Baggies’ counter-attacking game and make that eventuality even more likely. Matt Phillips was one of QPR’s better players in the Premier League last time out and would jump at the chance to return to the top tier.
West Ham – Simone Zaza
Zaza only joined Juventus in the summer but could be tempted by a Premier League switch
After a fast start to the campaign, injuries have slowed West Ham down since October. Some fresh blood in January could set Slaven Bilic’s charges up for a European push in 2016, though, with a centre-forward perhaps needed – Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have all spent time on the sidelines, while Nikica Jelavic has yet to really convince. Simone Zaza only joined Juventus in the summer but could be tempted by a Premier League switch considering he finds himself behind Alvaro Morata, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala in the pecking order in Turin.