At this time of year, the rumour mill approaches warp speed, spinning so fast it threatens to crash off its axis and go careering across the planet. There are so many speculative rumours around during the transfer window that it’s hard to know which to trust and which should be burned on the fire.
However, to help you cut through the codswallop and sort wheat from chaff, we’ve done a lot of hard work for you to come up with the answers. With the help of the stat-crunchers at Forza Football, we’ve painstakingly surveyed more than 277,000 fans voting on more than 1,000 different transfer rumours published since the last transfer window closed on September 1 2014, through to January 9 2015.
Each time a rumour has been published, we have offered the fans of that club a simple choice – simply vote ‘Like’ or ‘Dislike’. The results of those votes have allowed us to piece together a list of players each club’s fans would be happiest to see their club sign this month.
This doesn’t, of course, mean their clubs will sign them, but they should. For as we all know, we fans know far better than the manager, the chairman or that shadowy billionaire owner what our clubs need.
So, without further ado, let’s consider the evidence…
Having finally relented and agreed to sign the big cheques, it’s no surprise that the list of players supposedly on Arsenal’s radar this January is very, very lengthy indeed. Having reached the midway stage of the season, with the Gunners sat in sixth and showing no real signs of being able to challenge for the title again, the midfield remains the priority for strengthening, just as it did in the summer, and the summer before that, and the etc etc.
It seems that most Arsenal fans have been watching a lot of the Bundesliga lately and have identified Dortmund’s Marco Reus (83%) and Bayern Munich’s World Cup winning goalscorer Mario Götze (82%) as the men Arsene must sign, along with Dortmund’s rugged centre-back Mats Hummels (83%).
Schalke’s wide boy Julian Draxler and Real Madrid’s scheming defensive midfielder Sami Khedira also rank highly (82%). The most romantic name on the list was, however, one Thierry Henry, whose retirement from New York Red Bulls had led to speculation that he may return once again to his spiritual home. Talk of this received an 82% approval from Arsenal fans, but Henry of course chose to join Sky TV FC instead. A wise move for all involved.
With 11 goals in 20 games all season long, you don’t need to be a theoretical physicist to identify Aston Villa’s key failings this season. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann have three goals apiece, while the fit-again-but-not-firing-again Christian Benteke has just two. Yet it’s not their fault and it’s not a new striker that most Aston Villa fans want.
It’s better service to those frontmen that is needed most, and the fans would like it to come in the shape of Tottenham’s attacking midfielder Lewis Holtby (84%), currently on loan at Hamburg, and/or Leeds United’s Alex Mowatt (81%), and/or Marseille left-winger Andre Ayew or Manchester City’s wasted winger Scott Sinclair (both 79%).
If pushed on a striker they’d be happy to see sign this window, AC Milan’s Giampaolo Pazzini is the man most Villa fans (77%) would want to bring in, and a cynic might suggest that his return of no goals in eight Serie A matches this season would make him a perfect fit. ..
At the beginning of the season, Burnley’s ambitions – in terms of new additions – were understandably modest. They strengthened their squad by bringing in nine young Brits for a relatively modest £4.5 million in all, and hoped they, plus honest endeavour, would be enough. Now, 20 games in, Sean Dyche and the rest of us have seen that it may just about be enough, with a little luck and one or two new additions. Suddenly, expectations and ambitions have become less modest.
Now, of the players mentioned as possible signings, and having signed top target Michael Keane (86%) on a permanent deal, Burnley fans want a couple of statement signings. They want AC Milan’s (far from prolific) striker Giampaolo Pazzini (81%) and the boy Junior Sornoza (73%) of Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle, who we all know to be an attacking midfielder of some promise. The fans would also welcome a move for Huddersfield striker James Vaughan (74%) just, we assume, to keep things real.
Having had his customary first season to assess, tinker and pout around, most Chelsea fans entered the new season happy with their squad. The addition of Diego Costa had added the battering ram they needed to bully opponents into submission and the team appeared ready to push Manchester City far harder than they had the previous season. If Chelsea fans could have been greedy, they’d have quite liked to have signed Real Madrid’s centre-back Raphael Varane, PSG winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and his hairy team-mate Edinson Cavani, but only because they have a lot of money and aren’t afraid to spend it.
But in the last four months, as Chelsea have cantered to the top of the Premier League, then slowed down again to make it more exciting for the neutrals, three new names have come up as possible additions this window. Top of the list sit Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba (78%), who’d likely cost them in the region of £44m, Bayern Munich’s attacking midfielder Mario Gotze (77%) and Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane (76%). The locals are less convinced by several names further down the list, however, with Gareth Bale (71%), Raheem Sterling (70%) and Lionel Messi (67%) receiving a lukewarm response.
The difficult second season for Palace clearly wasn’t helped by the unexpected exit of Tony Pulis on the eve of the first game, and even less so by the arrival of his replacement, the largely unwanted and unloved Neil Warnock. That Palace now find themselves floundering back among the dead men is no real surprise then, but the fact they’re within a win of 14th place gives cause for optimism, providing Alan Pardew turns out to be The Messiah. And the jury’s clearly out on that one.
The new manager will have noted that he has a solid squad to work with, as illustrated by an 11th-place finish last season and the fact he has the same defence and midfield that Pulis worked wonders with. But he’ll also have recognised that like every team fearing the drop, they lack a reliable goalscorer, with Frazier Campbell (three in 12) not convincing anyone.
Mr Pardew apparently likes the look of Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis, although he is far less prolific than Campbell with one goal in 16 games. The fans prefer either Peter Crouch or AC Milan’s wily (as in he’s 30 so should know a trick or two) Giampaolo Pazzini, both of whom receive an 80% approval. However, the man most Palace fans would really welcome is something of a surprise: Toulouse right-back Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (84%). Elsewhere, Rickie Lambert ranks 79%, while that mischievous ‘Ashley Cole To Palace’ rumour received an unconvincing 78% approval.
Everton entered the season having signed Romelu Lukaku for a club record £28m, but few of us could have known quite how badly they needed to spend money at the other end of the pitch. With Roberto Martinez not overly arsed about defending, and Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin all starting to look their age, Everton have shipped 33 goals – as many as bottom club Leicester and a number 'bettered' only by QPR on 35. Yet the players linked with a move to Goodison Park since the summer who please most Everton fans are men built to attack.
Arsenal’s Joel Campbell tops the list (84%), alongside former Gunner (now of Real Sociedad) Carlos Vela (84%) and just ahead of the dangerous PSV winger Memphis Depay and Chelsea’s peripheral Mohamed Salah (both 83%). The fans are in agreement with the manager here, then, that attack is the only form of defence. Amusingly, as we cast our eye down the list, we see that that rumour linking blue-blooded Wayne Rooney with a return pleases only 73% of Everton fans.
What was looking like being the most exciting season in Hull City’s long and proud history hasn’t quite materialised as many had hoped, with an expensively assembled team that included, for a while, Hatem Ben Arfa, failing to find any balance or cohesion.
Four wins all season has City looking nervously over their shoulders, just two points clear of the relegation places, and while it might be unwise to add even more new faces to the mix, the fans know who they want. Namely Toronto’s former Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe (79%), Marseille’s left winger Andre Ayew (78%) and the bullish muscle of Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama (77%).
Illustrating how far one young starlet’s stock has fallen in recent months, Adnan Januzaj has been linked and received a 73% approval, the same percentage as his Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher.
Despite having more than held their own in many games this season, Leicester’s lack of goals has been identified as the main issue by anyone with half an eye. With 19 goals in 20 games, they evidently lack less than a goal a game, and when you factor in the five that came against Manchester United on that single surreal afternoon, the problem becomes even more acute.
Little wonder then that the players linked with the Premier League’s bottom team who have met with the highest approval have been strikers. The imminently incoming Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric has received an 81% approval, a full percentage point ahead of Arsenal’s Joel Campbell, who himself is only a single percent of Emile Heskey, aged 36 but rated 79%. Quite what Toronto’s Jermain Defoe (ranked 78%) makes of that last one is anyone’s guess.
In anticipation of another exciting tilt at the Premier League title and a solid run to the sharper end of the Champions League, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool were linked with an extraordinarily long list of players last summer. Never mind that they had lost one of Europe’s deadliest predators in Luis Suarez, the fact they had snared Rickie Lambert seemed to appease most Liverpool fans, whose big summer regret had been that they hadn’t also bolstered the midfield by adding Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri, Juve’s Arturo Vidal and Atletico Madrid’s Arda Turan.
Fast forward a chastening four months to right now, however, and since the window closed and Liverpool’s weaknesses became apparent, the fans’ priorities have changed. What they so clearly need is a world-class goalkeeper, a reliable centre-back, someone to replace Steven Gerrard and another Luis Suarez. What the fans want, right now, is Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus (84%), Real Madrid’s Isco (84%) and Chelsea’s industrious but supposedly overweight Andre Schurrle (83%).
Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic has been mentioned to fill the Steven Gerrard-shaped hole in central midfield, and met with 82% approval. Are they the players to make Liverpool great again? Possibly not, but for now, they’d do. Further down an improbable list of players who’d trade chasing trophies for chasing their tails in Rodgers' confused collective, we find Yaya Toure (81%), Karim Benzema (81%) and Edinson Cavani (80%), all of whom will need some convincing.
With UEFA's FFP heavies breathing down their necks, we shouldn’t be too surprised that the list of players linked with a move to Manchester City is significantly shorter than many other teams’. The sorry reality is that City have stockpiled enough players in every position that they now need only tinker here and there.
In the summer, the midfield had been the priority of most City fans, with Paul Pogba, Ross Barkley and Real Madrid’s Isco the men most had wanted. Fast forward to this point in time and Pogba remains the man most City fans want to see signed (72%), though we assume only so they can stick two fingers up at their dear old neighbours across the city.
Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels (72%) would be another welcome addition, now it’s become clear that Eliaquim Mangala is not who we thought he was, while Isco, Wolfburg’s baby-faced Belgian Kevin de Bruyne and Schalke’s left-winger Julian Draxler (all 69%) are also in the frame, but not particularly well rated in percentage terms. Only slightly further down the list, we find the usual suspects, but City don’t appear overly convinced by Gareth Bale (65%), Lionel Messi (64%) or Cristiano Ronaldo (63%).
On a truly enormous list containing many of the most overpriced footballers in all of football, it takes time to separate the wheat from the chaff on the list of possible Manchester United targets. When we do, however, it becomes clear that the concerns United fans had in the summer have not gone away. Just as they did before the season began, the fans want defenders. They absolutely want and desperately need defenders. Even though United’s goals against stat reads 20, just one worse off than Manchester City and Chelsea, but for heroics of David de Gea, that figure could very easily now read 40 or more.
So it’s no surprise United fans are most taken by the rumours linking them to defenders who can defend. Specifically, Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels (86%), who if rumours are to be believed is also being pursued hotly by Manchester City, Arsenal and Barcelona, and Real Madrid’s centre-back Raphael Varane (85%).
However, the third man on United’s list is a nod to the glory days of yore: 83% of fans would be happy if Cristiano Ronaldo was signed during this window, and presumably the 17% who wouldn’t want him are put off by the supposed £105m price tag around his neck.
Other rumoured United signings include, but are absolutely not even close to being limited to, Mario Gotze (83%), Arturo Vidal (82%), Arjen Robben (81%), Sergio Ramos (78%), Gareth Bale (75%), Yaya Toure (74%), Lionel Messi (74%), Ross Barkley (73%), Kevin Strootman (72%), Raheem Sterling (66%) and Ashley Cole (46%). They probably won’t sign them all.
Top of the priority list of every Newcastle United fan right now is, of course, a new manager, fractionally ahead of a new owner, for the sudden unexpected defection of Alan Pardew to Palace has thrown a giant blanket of uncertainty over the Toon. Despite sitting a reasonable 10th in the table at the time of writing, the Geordies’ progress has been curtailed by a lack of goals. After 20 games they’ve scored just 25 goals, nine of them coming from top scorer Papiss Cissé. And although they’ve conceded 31, suggesting the back end is more of a problem than up front, the locals are keen to accommodate a new striker.
Lyon’s prolific Alexandre Lacazette is the man most fans would want (87%), ahead of the re-energised old boy Demba Ba (84%) and Lyon’s attacking midfielder Clement Grenier (84%), whose activity this season has been limited to just one Europa League appearance. Further down the list and dividing opinion almost right down the middle the suggested return of Andy Carroll pleases only 58% of Newcastle fans. Of course, if or more likely when Mike Ashley decides to sell off Newcastle’s most valuable assets again, the priorities above may all swiftly change.
Queens Park Rangers
It being January and this being Harry, you’d expect more column inches to have been dedicated to QPR’s pursuit of fresh blood. Oddly, that hasn’t been the case, with Mr Redknapp apparently prioritising quality over his usual quantity.
Of the names mentioned as possible new additions, the three who tick the most boxes amongst QPR fans are – in order of popularity – Jonathan de Guzman (88%), once of Swansea and now patrolling midfield for Napoli, one-time Brazilian wunderkind Alexandre Pato (86%), now at Corinthians, and one-time QPR loanee Andros Townsend (85%).
Rewind to the start of the season and the three men most QPR fans would have liked to have signed were Aston Villa’s ‘concrete’ Ron Vlaar, Marseille’s attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, now of Dynamo Moscow, and that man Townsend.
Given the Hoops boast the leakiest defence in the Premier League (35 goals conceded after 20 games), you’d perhaps expect a defender or two to feature on their radar, and on the wish list of most QPR followers, but you’d be wrong. Browse further down the list of supposed targets and we find Scott Sinclair (81%), Clint Dempsey (80%) and, somewhat deludedly, Raheem Sterling on loan (58%), suggesting that as ever with ’Arry, attack may well continue to be the best and indeed only form of defence.
The revolving door at St Mary’s will no doubt pick up pace as this transfer window moves towards its February 2 finish, and in anticipation of another busy period, Saints fans are keen that Ronald Koeman strengthens right across the board. They like the sound of a stout centre-back, and Porto’s Bruno Martins Indi (84%) would fit the bill, possibly to play alongside the on-loan Toby Alderweireld (84%), who they’d like to sign full time from Atletico.
Two widemen would also be useful, and most would be happy with Lazio’s Senad Lulic (84%) on the left and Andros Townsend (84%) on the right. And to score the goals that will power them to the Premier League title come May, Udinese’s Colombian Luis Muriel (84%) would be a popular addition.
Certainly a more popular addition than Rickie Lambert (60%), touted recently as a possible loan signing. Slightly further down the list (placed higher than the scarcely believable Harry Kane at 75%, and the slightly desperate Wesley Sneijder at 80% and Dirk Kuyt and 65%), 82% of Southampton fans would be keen to see a move for Zenit’s defensive-minded midfielder Javi Garcia, presumably in anticipation of the imminent sale of Morgan Schneiderlin to either Arsenal, Napoli, Manchester United, Inter Milan or someone else.
It’s a case of quality over quantity at Stoke, with comparatively few players even linked with a move to the Britannia Stadium. In climbing slowly to 11th in the table, Stoke have had success hitting teams on the counter, with impressive victories over Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton illustrating their threat in breaking at speed.
An inability to pick apart the supposedly inferior teams such as Leicester, Aston Villa and Burnley has cost them dearly so far, so it’s little surprise Stoke fans are clamouring for players who can pose a greater threat in front of goal. Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon (81%) could up the pace, Barcelona’s central midfielder Sergio Roberto (80%) could bring the cunning, and move in with Bojan, while either Burnley’s Danny Ings or Arsenal’s Joel Campbell (both 77%) might add to the goals for column.
Having masterminded a great and seemingly impossible escape from relegation with the players inherited from crackpot dictator Paolo Di Canio last season, Gus Poyet had the summer to fashion his own Sunderland and ship out the dead wood. Seventeen went out, most of them sold for a pittance, while six came in, three on loan and Patrick van Aanholt, Will Buckley and Jack Rodwell in particular for big-ish money.
What the fans had really wanted back then was the exact same thing they want now, however: a prolific goalscorer. It’s just now they want it more desperately than they did back then. With just 18 goals in 20 games (and 30 against), Sunderland’s problems are blindingly obvious, and Connor Wickham, Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore in particular are not the answer, though it’s easy to see why Poyet kept faith with Wickham.
If Sunderland are to escape again, they’ll need many more goals and the men Sunderland fans crave most to create them are Atletico Madrid’s Cristian Rodriguez (85%) and Tottenham’s Andros Townsend (82%), playing either side of Fabio Borini (83%), if he could be persuaded to return. That would make the Mackems happy. The prospect of Dirk Kuyt (73%) in a Sunderland shirt, less so.
If Manchester City have their wicked way and steal Wilfried Bony away during this January window, Swansea will be deprived of their star man and chief goalscorer and a quietly impressive season that has taken them into the top 10 would surely lose altitude. Even if City don’t steal and then ruin Bony, the club will lose the Ivorian to the African Cup of Nations, which is why a prolific goalscorer is the high on the list of most Swansea City fans.
Step forward, then, Arsenal’s Joel Campbell (73%), a man in high demand among clubs in need of goals, despite him being far from prolific. Lazio’s French centre-back Michael Ciani would be welcome by a similar percentage (73%) of Swans fans, but the man who would please most if he joined would be Marseille’s left-winger Andre Ayew (77%), the son of the legendary (i.e. quite old now) Abedi Pele.
It’s taken Mauricio Pochettino half a season to work out his best Tottenham team and formation, but slowly and finally he seems to have a clear idea. Which is bad news for a large number of costly fringe players who will probably be shipped out (probably all to QPR) this window.
A lack of goals – relative to the title chasers – means Tottenham fans are most hoping for additional firepower this window, to relieve the pressure on the flying Harry Kane. Lyon’s prolific (20 goals in 25 games) and very highly rated striker Alexandre Lacazette is understandably top of most fans wish list (84%), closely followed by Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle (83%) and Napoli’s stout Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain (81%).
Interestingly, sort of, Pochettino’s former charges Jay Rodriguez (80%) and Morgan Schneiderlin (78%) are both deemed less essential. As is Newell’s Old Boys’ magnificently monikered striker Ezequiel Ponce (46%), more’s the pity.
West Bromwich Albion
First, a timely and very necessary caveat. Although the list of players linked with West Bromwich Albion is very short indeed (surprisingly short given the need for changes), they were largely compiled before Tony Pulis arrived and started shouting and kicking things.
Now the miracle worker is in situ, we fully expect the number of names linked with a move to The Hawthorns to jump markedly in the coming weeks. However, to help Mr Pulis on his way, allow us to enlighten you. The fans are keen for you to recruit a striker (Joel Campbell, 82%), a defensive midfielder (Stade Rennes’ Vincent Pajot 73%) and a left-back (Inter’s Yuto Nagatomo, 72%).
In truth, Pulis will discover West Brom do have the spine of a decent team, but like every team at the wrong end it lacks confidence and goals. The Baggies’ £10m man Brown Ideye has only one goal thus far, while Saido Berahino is playing and celebrating goals like a man who’d rather be elsewhere. If Pulis can work his magic on those two, West Brom may already have enough to survive this season.
West Ham United
When the summer transfer window creaked shut back at the start of September, the three players West Ham fans had wished they’d signed but hadn’t were Manchester City pair Matija Nastasic (94%) and John Guidetti (73%), plus Sunderland striker Connor Wickham (77%). The fact Nastasic ranks so highly with a ridiculous 94% suggests most Hammers fans expected a season spent repelling attacks and battling relegation.
Yet we all now know that hasn’t happened, and thanks to some inspired summer transfer dealings that saw Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Alex Song, Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate slot in, the most impressive West Ham in years sit sixth and within reach of the Champions League places.
The expected departure of Winston Reid will leave them lighter at the back, but Hammers fans are more interested in bringing in Atletico Madrid’s defensive midfielder Mario Suarez (90%), making Alex Song’s loan spell permanent (86%) and resigning Carlos Tevez from Juventus (85%).
Andros Townsend and Marseille’s Andre Ayew (both 82%) have also been mentioned as additions on the left and right wing respectively. But the suggestion that Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard might be signing convinced only 65% of Hammers fans, all of whom now know better.
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