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Transfer window: What EVERY Premier League club is missing – and who they could sign to fix it


Needed: An athletic central midfielder

Arsenal have required a new combative central midfielder in every single transfer window since Gilberto Silva’s decline in 2007, and 10 years on (!) this remains their number one priority. Poor recruitment has played its part, but this is largely because Arsene Wenger’s tactical openness makes patrolling the Arsenal midfield one of the most difficult jobs in the Premier League. Granit Xhaka has joined a long list of footballers clearly unable to play such a role at the Emirates.

Wenger’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation heaps further pressure on the midfield, and although Aaron Ramsey has been in excellent form this season there isn’t enough energy or agility in reserve. Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Jack Wilshere are on borrowed time.

Suggested signing: Abdoulaye Doucoure


Needed: A wide playmaker

Eddie Howe’s biggest problem is scoring goals, which is surprising considering they have Jermain Defoe, Callum Wilson and Josh King in their ranks. The real issue is chance creation rather than conversion, and with King playing behind the striker Bournemouth can only realistically hope to improve their creativity on the flanks.

Ryan Fraser is a tricky player but isn’t consistent enough, and the same can be said of Junior Stanislas. Howe won’t have the funds needed to bring in a top quality player, but following the Wilshere deal in 2016/17, he might find a good loan option at Arsenal.

Suggested signing: Theo Walcott


Needed: A centre-forward

It isn’t hard to see where Brighton need to improve. Chris Hughton’s team have scored just 14 times this season in the Premier League and are currently on a run of one goal scored in their previous six outings.

The 34-year-old Glenn Murray can't be expected to lead the line for a top-division side long-term, while Pascal Gross surely won't repeat his form if there isn’t anyone to finish the chances he creates. The Brighton board must back Hughton by spending big on a goalscorer.

Suggested signing: Daniel Sturridge


Needed: An attacking midfielder

Burnley’s league position isn’t a fluke (it’s a misreading of xG stats to suggest they’re fortunate to have such a good defensive record), but they won’t maintain it unless Sean Dyche finds a way to play more expansively.

Jeff Hendrick is a hard-working footballer but he isn’t creative enough to play at the tip of a 4-4-1-1 formation or provide Chris Wood with the service he needs. Dyche must sign a more creative footballer to play between the lines, and one who isn’t going to mind working hard defensively. It’s a tough combination to find.

Suggested signing: Nacer Chadli


Needed: A direct winger

Staleness in attack seems to be Chelsea’s biggest issue this season, and while part of the issue is an overly defensive formation, it's also partly because Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s only performing inside-forward. Pedro has been involved in just five goals from 16 league matches so far this season.

Antonio Conte could do with a different sort of player to complement Hazard, perhaps a more direct converted winger to break the lines and run in behind Alvaro Morata.

Suggested signing: Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace

Needed: A goalkeeper

Wayne Hennessey was finally dropped recently by new Palace manager Roy Hodgson, but at 38 his replacement Julian Speroni is only a short-term solution. There's no reason why this talented squad can't challenge for seventh spot this season given the form of Wilfried Zaha, but their plans will be scuppered should Hodgson fail to bring in a new goalkeeper.

Palace are an attractive club and on the up. They should be able to lure a top player away from a Premier League rival.

Suggested signing: Jack Butland


Needed: A striker

Sam Allardyce needs a powerful fulcrum for his direct style of football to be implemented successfully, while Everton desperately need to replace Romelu Lukaku regardless of whether or not Big Sam will remain in charge beyond the end of the current campaign.

His use of Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been pleasing – the youngster is doing a good job of chasing those searching Wayne Rooney passes into the channels – but the 20-year-old needs support. Set-piece goals are important to Allardyce, as are crosses into the box from overlapping full-backs. A targetman is the missing piece of the jigsaw.

Suggested signing: Olivier Giroud


Needed: A centre-back

Only three teams have conceded more goals than Huddersfield’s 30 in the Premier League, which is largely a consequence of their high defensive line and bold approach against the bigger teams. However, this tally could also be improved with an upgrade at the back; while Christopher Schindler has been one of the outstanding performers of the season, his partner Zanka, a new signing from Copenhagen, isn’t as strong.

Zanka averages 1.3 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, whereas Schindler hits 2.9 tackles and 2.4 interceptions, as well as winning almost twice as many headers: 4.1 per match compared with Zanka’s 2.1. Given that Schindler could be poached by a bigger club, the hunt for a new defender is urgent.

Suggested signing: Rob Holding


Needed: A right-wing-back  

Leicester are most definitely on the up under Claude Puel but one crucial flaw remains – Danny Simpson's struggles to play as a full-back. There's little doubting that the former Manchester United youngster has been brilliant for the Foxes since the beginning of 2015/16, but he doesn't offer much going forward and that hinders Leicester when they want to switch up systems.

Marc Albrighton is sometimes asked to fill in as a wing-back but it's not an ideal scenario for Puel, who would ideally love a player in the mould of Ben Chilwell or Christian Fuchs to complement his good left-sided options. It's a tad harsh on Simpson, who does very little wrong, but he's not the progressive choice (and neither is Daniel Amartey). 

Suggested signing: Ricardo Pereira


Needed: A consistent goalkeeper

Liverpool’s defensive record has dramatically improved since Jurgen Klopp instructed his full-backs to sit deeper following the 4-1 defeat to Tottenham, as Jamie Carragher highlighted on Monday Night Football, but reinforcements are still needed. Joe Gomez could develop into a world-class defender and Joel Matip is a good player, which means signing a new centre-back isn’t as urgent as it seemed.

Instead, Klopp should focus on signing a new goalkeeper. Those individual errors would surely diminish if the defence was better organised by the man between the sticks, while the likes of Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren would be considerably more efficient if they had confidence in who was behind them.  

Suggested signing: Jasper Cillessen

Manchester City

Needed: A defensive leader

Manchester City’s near-perfect Premier League half-season means the title is virtually guaranteed, but eventually teams will work out how to attack such a vulnerable-looking back four. When they do, City’s Champions League opponents will threaten Pep Guardiola’s chance of a treble.

It's a testament to Guardiola’s incredible positional coaching that City have conceded just 10 league goals, but Nicolas Otamendi’s individual errors will be punished by Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG in Europe. They need a powerful leader at the back to complement John Stones’s more elegant approach.

Suggested signing: Virgil van Dijk

Manchester United

A delicate playmaker

United have struggled to play fluid attacking football ever since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, despite having scored four goals on seven separate occasions this season. Instead, Jose Mourinho's team are overly reliant on grinding teams into submission.

To fix this issue, the Portuguese should first employ a new attacking coach (currently, Mourinho reportedly leaves attacking patterns up to the players themselves). But United must also find a replacement for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who clearly doesn’t have a future at the club. It just so happens that Arsenal have a playmaker available on the cheap who has already worked – successfully – under Mourinho at Real Madrid.

Suggested signing: Mesut Ozil


Needed: A traditional striker

For all his hard work, Dwight Gayle just doesn’t look like a Premier League footballer – something which could be said about the majority of Newcastle's squad. Rafa Benitez has done well to organise the defence, but without a targetman up front it's unlikely they will survive the drop.

Newcastle tend to sit deep and look to hit teams on the counter, and while Ayoze Perez is a talented forward, he needs a stronger partner to take advantage of breakaways. With Matt Ritchie’s crossing ability and Christian Atsu’s pace, signing a tall – and proven – striker could do wonders.

Suggested signing: Bas Dost


Needed: An all-round striker

Southampton lack a clear tactical identity under Mauricio Pellegrino, and as results continue to disappoint the Argentine seems increasingly desperate in his attempts to solve the problem. Across a five-game winless run in December, Saints used three very different formations and scored just four goals in that time.

If Southampton had a consistent goalscorer then everything else would fall into place; they rank ninth for most shots (12.4 per game) in the Premier League and sixth for key passes (9.8 per game). Charlie Austin is good in the air but not great at linking play, making an all-round striker a top priority in January. He’d do for Brighton as well as the Saints, but there’s a proven Premier League scorer who isn’t first choice at Liverpool.

Suggested signing: Daniel Sturridge


Needed: A strong defensive midfielder

Stoke have been poor in most areas this season, but their biggest weakness is in central midfield. Mark Hughes’s insistence on playing a 3-4-3 formation (with three attackers rarely tracking back) means fielding a two-man midfield comprised of Joe Allen and Darren Fletcher. The former isn’t strong enough to be paired with a 33-year-old veteran.

Stoke never really replaced Steven N’Zonzi at the heart of midfield, and in the absence of someone fiercely competitive in the middle, Stoke will likely go down.

Suggested signing: Morgan Schneiderlin


Needed: A right winger

It's difficult to know where to start with Swansea; they need to improve in all areas, and until their new manager is confirmed it's hard to predict who the Swans need to sign. But one area that could do with an upgrade no matter what direction the club take tactically is the right wing. Luciano Narsingh clearly isn’t working out, while both Tammy Abraham and Jordan Ayew are better forwards than wingers.

It is a damning indictment of the lack of pace in wide areas that veterans Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer have played 659 minutes of Premier League football between them this season. Some speed on the right might help raise the tempo of Swansea’s overall play, as well as increase the number of chances created for poor Wilfried Bony.

Suggested signing: Adama Traore


Needed: An unpredictable winger

If Mauricio Pochettino has one flaw it’s that he coaches Tottenham too well. Their organisation and attacking discipline sometimes makes Spurs predictable, with forward movement invariably filtered through central midfield via intricate passing moves that, though commendable, can lack an edge.

Spurs need a maverick winger capable of creating a sense of chaos in games, pulling confused defences out of position so the likes of Dele Alli can find space in the No.10 zone. Pochettino needs a disorganiser who can grab unlikely goals in tight matches. Crystal Palace’s prize asset would be ideal for Chelsea too, but he'd also aid Spurs.

Suggested signing: Wilfried Zaha


Needed: An intelligent goalscorer

Watford’s string of poor results could be the result of Marco Silva’s desire to take the Everton job before Sam Allardyce was eventually appointed, or it could be thanks to their numerous injuries. Either way, Silva is doing a superb job at Watford; their bold, aggressive attacking football shows this is a side being very intelligently coached.

But the Hornets need a striker to match the creativity in midfield. Troy Deeney’s second red card of the season showed why he isn’t the cultured forward they need, and Andre Gray’s record of two goals from 947 minutes of league football suggests he isn’t up to the task of leading the line.

Suggested signing: Michy Batshuayi

West Brom

Needed: A quick winger

Alan Pardew hasn’t got off to the best of starts at West Brom, partly because Tony Pulis has left him a squad ill-suited to the type of football he likes to play. Pardew invariably deploys a wing-focused, counter-attacking system, and his teams regularly topped the stats charts for attacks via the flanks when at Newcastle, West Ham and Crystal Palace.

With this in mind, West Brom need to sign a quick winger who can chase down those long punts into the channels. Currently Jay Rodriguez is the best they’ve got, but his natural propensity to drift infield means the Baggies need a counterbalance on the opposite flank.

Suggested signing: Albert Adomah

West Ham

Needed: A box-to-box midfielder

David Moyes’s switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation has been impressive. By playing in an intelligent hybrid system (Arthur Masuaku drives forward and the defence swing to the left when West Ham are in possession, creating a 4-3-3), the Scotsman has showed he is both versatile and relevant. The only thing still lacking during the Hammers’ fine run of results is a central midfielder to complement Pedro Obiang.

Mark Noble sadly isn’t of a high enough standard should West Ham harbour ambitions of a top 10 finish, and there isn’t really a back-up option. A typical No.8 - someone athletic, strong in the tackle and capable of arriving late in the penalty area – is what Moyes will be looking for. 

Suggested signing: Harry Arter

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