Few things in soccer divide people as January transfer window does. Arsene Wenger, for instance, believes it’s a pointless distraction that should be scrapped, whereas his nemesis Jose Mourinho seems to welcome the idea of winter transfer windows. However, the former himself hasn't avoided doing business in January having brought in Andrey Arshavin, Nacho Monreal, Theo Walcott and Mohamed Elneny in winters.
Despite what the managers feel about doing business in January, much like English journalists’ instigating fans and clubs’ responding with winky emojis and GIFs, the January transfer window is here to stay.
TheSportster did an article on Premier League club's winter needs last season and, here we are again, with another installation of it for our soccer-frenzy readers. The following article discusses the issues at every Premier League club and, with league leaders Manchester City themselves finding themselves in a defensive crisis of sorts, the other clubs aren’t short of issues.
We'll first look at what needs to be done in order to ensure the clubs’ second part of the season is better than their firsts. He essentially picks out one player the clubs should sign in January.
As Arseblog’s Andrew Mangan and Gunnerblog’s James McNicholas said in a recent Arsecast Extra episode, a football writer covering 20 clubs might not boast the expertise a fan who discusses matters regarding his club all day long on Facebook and Twitter does. Thus, if you disagree with his assessment of your club’s problems or believe we're wrong, you can use the comments section accordingly.
20 Arsenal: Julian Draxler
With both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil murmured to be on the lookout for new employers, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal now face a situation where they need to line up replacements. In Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler, they have a target who would make losing either of the wantaway stars feel less terrible. With the club rumoured to be scouting him for many seasons now, the coaching staff will know his strengths, weaknesses and where he would be the most effective on the pitch for the Gunners.
With the player himself now languishing in the shadow of high-profile summer signings Neymar da Silva and Kylian Mbappe at PSG, he may already be looking for greener pastures, and a move to the 13-time English champions wouldn’t be a bad move for the World Cup-winner.
19 Bournemouth: Omar Richards
Bournemouth had a rocky start to their league campaign with six defeats in eight games but, with wins against Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town, manager Eddie Howe has been able to steady the ship. All four departments look stacked but, since January is not a bad time to do good business, they should look to sign future stars.
With Reading’s Omar Richards, who’s looked solid whenever he’s started at left-back this season, set to be up for grabs in January ─ with his contract running out in summer ─ the Cherries ought to be keen to seal a deal for him. As failing to flog him in winter will mean Reading will lose him for free in summer, the Royals manager Jaap Stam will look to squeeze out a couple of millions from Bournemouth.
18 Brighton and Hove Albion: Daniel Sturridge
Playing for the national team at FIFA World Cup is at the top of the agenda for a lot of players, and Daniel Sturridge is no exception. With many younger and sharper strikers staking their claims to spots in the national set-up already, the Liverpool striker needs a lot of catching up to do having stayed injured for a while now. At Liverpool, where he’s often started on the bench, he likely won’t get ample playing time to do that going forward as well.
Despite his fragility, though, many Premier League sides would love to have him on their roster. Brighton and Hove Albion, for instance, would largely benefit from his arrival, as they have been struggling for goals despite proving a solid defensive mid-table side. Although they can’t afford to bring him down on a permanent deal, a loan deal until the end of the season would please everyone involved.
17 Burnley: Jordan Jones
Sitting seventh with 22 points from 12 games, Burnley have upset all odds under much-maligned manager Sean Dyche. The England manager will, however, need his side to be consistently good over the course of the season and, although they’ve been rock-solid at the back, there’s been a dearth of creativity in the attacking half.
In comes England-born Northern Ireland international midfielder Jordan Jones, whose speed and artistry will prove valuable addition to the high-flying Clarets. Currently contracted to struggling Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock, convincing him to sign a big-money deal with a Premier League side won’t be an uphill task, but with Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke seeming to build the team around the 23-year-old, the Lancashire club may need to shell out more than a few millions to secure his signature.
16 Chelsea: Lucas Moura
After producing a humdinger of a campaign in his first season at Chelsea, Antonio Conte has now become a subject of widespread criticism. Losing talisman Diego Costa and falling out with key players Willian and Michy Batshuayi hasn’t helped things either. The January transfer window presents him an opportunity to set things right and, as club legend Frank Lampard believes, he should make top-quality signings come transfer window. With little cover for £70 million striker Alvaro Morata, signing a striker should be his priority.
Lucas Moura, who has played a grand total of 71 minutes for Paris Saint-Germain this season, may help the Italian prove that his winning the title in his first season in England was no fluke. Adept at playing down the flanks, he’ll prove a crucial signing should a winter deal materializes.
15 Crystal Palace: Jack Wilshere
Crystal Palace’s season thus far has been uninspiring, with just two wins in 13 games. Their managerial signings haven’t been inspiring either as both Frank de Boer and Roy Hodgson don’t seem to be motivating the players enough to get out of the rut they find themselves in, currently. With the January transfer window coming up, the bigger English clubs have reportedly been looking to hijack their top stars such as Wilfried Zaha, and it’s time for the Eagles to showcase their hunger for success by bringing down a top England international themselves: Jack Wilshere.
With Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka forming quite a partnership in the middle of the park for Arsenal, the former Bournemouth loanee has found first-team starts few and far between. With the FIFA World Cup on the horizon, he may want to show Gareth Southgate that he can play at the highest level and, and he can do just that by inspiring a struggling side to top-flight survival.
14 Everton: Moussa Dembele
Many pundits touted Everton to compete with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool for Champions League places this season, after they had brought down Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the summer. However, their predictions couldn’t have been more wrong, for now they’re battling relegation, losing twice as many times as they win. Sacking Ronald Koeman hasn’t helped them secure wins either, as their form under David Unsworth has been equally appalling. They now need to make signings who will go on to be crucial in their finishing in the top half.
Such players are seldom available in January, but a willingness to part with a huge sum of money may see them bring down a player who can have an immediate impact. In Celtic’s Moussa Dembele, they have a player who can not only convert chances into goals but also do an underperforming Everton side into a formidable attacking side, and the club should try to bring the AC Milan, Manchester United and Chelsea target to Goodison Park when the transfer window opens in January.
13 Huddersfield Town: Daniel Sturridge
Stopping the opponents from scoring hasn’t been a problem for Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town. One needs to look no further than their recent performance against potential runaway champions Manchester City to acquaint with their solidity at the back. Their league position also backs their defensive prowess up. However, going forward seems to be their Achilles’ heel as they’ve only outscored one team: Swansea City.
Desperate for goals, they’ll look to make striker signings in the winter, and they can’t get a better striker than Daniel Sturridge, who’s on the lookout for a Premier League club that would play him enough for him to show his national coach he’s ready to don the Three Lions shirt. Given Jurgen Klopp’s close association with Huddersfield manager David Wagner, a move is likely in the event that the Terriers show interest in the Liverpool man.
12 Leicester City: Hatem Ben Arfa
Paris Saint-Germain now have quite a few names who would walk into a lot of teams’ starting line-up, and Leicester City must look to cash in on the situation to fix a few issues at their club. With Riyad Mahrez rumoured to be a transfer target for a host of bigger clubs, they’ll need to bring a creative winger and, in PSG’s Hatem Ben Arfa, who’s likely to be made available in winter, they have a proper replacement.
The France international is no stranger to English football, too, having played for Newcastle United and Hull City between 2010 and 2015. With Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy playing ahead of him in the line-up, the Foxes may even go on to secure a top-half finish.
How the mighty have fallen!
11 Liverpool: Leon Goretzka
With just a few months left before his Schalke contract expires, a lot of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool’s old nemeses Arsenal, have been queuing up for his signature. However, no club seem to need him as much as Liverpool currently do, so they need to wrap up a deal for him in the winter instead of looking to complete a free transfer at the end of the season.
With Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho rumoured to be leaving the club in the near future, signing the German international midfielder is now imperative. Not as prolific a scorer as the wantaway Brazilian playmaker, he’s known to be adept at carving chances out of nothing. Plus, with Schalke lately losing a lot of their players on free transfers, receiving over £30 million for a player who surely won’t be wearing their shirt next season ought to sound exciting for the high-flying Bundesliga outfit.
10 Manchester City: Inigo Martinez
Given the amount of humiliation a journalist goes through for making a wrong prediction these days, no one would dare to predict which team would end up lifting the title when the first half of the season itself isn’t over yet. However, with an eight-point cushion, Manchester City have shown that it’s only a matter of time before they’re crowned champions.
Averaging 3.2 goals per game, their attack has been dismantling defences left, right and center. Their backline has been great as well, with only Manchester United boasting a better defensive record. However, with key defenders Benjamin Mendy and John Stones injured and Eliaquim Mangala and Vincent Kompany struggling for form, they’re just an injury away from a full-on defensive crisis, so they must go all out on Spain international defender Inigo Martinez in January.
9 Manchester United: Willian
Manchester United have always been cunning when it comes to intra-league transfers having signed Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic from rival clubs in the recent past. Now is the time to do a Manchester United once again by bringing down Chelsea winger Willian, who has won the Premier League title twice.
With the player only sparingly used by controversial Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, it’s unlikely that he’ll want to be with Chelsea in February, so the Red Devils should scrap plans to bring down Ivan Perisic or Gareth Bale temporarily to lure the wantaway Brazilian star to Old Trafford. Given his quality, he’ll not only provide much-needed competition to young strikers such as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial but also help Jose Mourinho challenge local rivals Manchester City for the title.
8 Newcastle United: Danny Ings
Liverpool are in a strange position. They need to make top-class signings such as Virgil van Dijk and Leon Goretzka, but they also need to offload deadwood, as their fringe players have been dragging the club down for some time now. Danny Ings is one of those players who have hardly made Liverpool better; however, he is definitely good enough to prove a quality signing for a lot of English clubs and Newcastle United are one of them.
Touted to challenge for Europa League spots in their first season back in the Premier League after a decent start to their campaign, the Magpies are now struggling, sitting just a few places above the danger zone. With strikers Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle struggling in front of the goal, the one-cap England international will surely help them turn their fortunes around.
7 Southampton: Theo Walcott
Southampton haven’t been amazing, but they haven’t been awful either. The same can be said about former Southampton striker and ex-wunderkind Theo Walcott as well.
At Arsenal, he’s been at the periphery this season, only making Europa League and Carabao Cup appearances with teenagers. If he’s keen on representing England once again in FIFA World Cup, he must force a move away from Arsenal, and Southampton, his childhood club, would love to sign him on loan until the end of the season to ease the pressure off Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini a little bit. As a loan deal would benefit everyone involved – Arsenal, Southampton, the player and the media – the Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino should probably give Arsene Wenger a buzz already to discuss the possibility of a loan.
6 Stoke City: Kyle Walker-Peters
Only Everton have a worse defensive record than Stoke City, and it’s about time they weighed up moves for defenders who would at least restore some of their glory from the Tony Pulis days, when they were hard to penetrate.
Many British tabloids have claimed that the Potters are in the market for a wingback, and they can only do worse than engineering a loan deal for Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kyle Walker-Peters, who has found first team appearances few and far between under Maurcio Pochettino. A FIFA U-20 World Cup winner, he ought to be keen to rack up top-flight experience at this stage of his career, and Tottenham should also be open to sanctioning a loan move to a Premier League club who are not their direct rivals. Mark Hughes knows he needs to fix his shoddy defence and, in the 20-year-old lad, he already has a short-term fix.
5 Swansea City: Jonathan Viera
When you look at Swansea City’s defensive record, their sitting 19th looks undeserved, for they have conceded fewer goals than Champions League hopefuls Arsenal and Liverpool and fellow bottom-half sides. In the attacking third, however, they’ve greatly struggled, scoring fewer goals than any other side in Premier League.
In newly-capped Spain international Jonathan Viera, they have answers to their attacking woes, with the Las Palmas attacking midfielder playing the best game of his life lately; skippering the club from which he graduated as a youth, he has scored a goal or created one every 156 minutes. After pulling out of a deal for him over the summer, the Swans now need to rekindle their interest in him as he’s exactly the type of player who can turn their season around. His release clause is set at a modest £27 million so, given the amount of money the club gets just by playing in the Premier League, manager Paul Clement shall be able to convince his employers to break the bank.
4 Tottenham Hotspur: Ryan Sessegnon
Given the money Danny Rose makes at Tottenham Hotspur and the amount of chances he seems to get as of late, it won’t be surprising to see him leave for greener pastures in the upcoming transfer windows. In Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon, however, the Lilywhites seem to have an alternative for whom they can just pay ‘Tottenham amounts of wages’.
The 17-year-old left wing-back will surely take only a fraction of what a full England international may demand only to play for a Champions League side in Tottenham, and Fulham will also be keen on receiving Premier League money as compensation.
Tottenham should prepare for the inevitable by signing the England youth international, who has a huge fan in Mauricio Pochettino. With the Tottenham manager only keen on putting the pressure upon eventual league winners, they may as well sign youngsters with a lot of potential instead of signing world beaters.
3 Watford: Islam Slimani
Watford, in the build up to the nascent Premier League season, looked to bring down Leicester City striker Islam Slimani, and it looks as though they now don’t desperately need him, as they sit in the top half of the table, scoring more goals than a lot of other bigger sides. However, as more is often better in Premier League, they should look to sign him again in January.
The 29-year-old Algerian international striker, who’s one of the best targetmen on the planet today, is rotting on the Foxes’ bench having earned just 114 league minutes. In the Carabao Cup, however, he’s been on fire, scoring four goals in three games, including a superb brace against Sheffield United. Moving to the Vicarage Road club won’t only revive his career but also improve Watford’s chances of climbing up the league table.
2 West Bromwich Albion: Okay Yokuslu
It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for West Bromwich Albion, with the club sacking survival specialist Tony Pulis after realizing relegation is a possibility this season. Sitting just above the drop zone, they don’t only need to scour the market for a manager, for they need to look at players who will help the new manager keep their heads above water.
Neither their defence nor their attack has been awesome, so they need to bring a player who’d improve both aspects of their game in the January transfer window. Trabzonspor’s Okay Yokuslu is someone who can do just that. The 23-year-old holding midfielder has proved to be a rock for both his club and country and, given his age, he’ll be a long-term investment at just £20 million.
1 West Ham United: Lewis Dunk
West Ham United have been linked with a host of high-profile players, but the club owners will have now realized that signing quality players is more important than signing so-called big players. Languishing in the relegation zone, the club’s bringing down names such as Javier Hernandez, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic has only attracted derision.
In Brighton and Hove Albion’s Lewis Dunk, however, the club have a player whose fame doesn’t seem to be a great indicator of his talent. At 26, he has not only racked up close to 200 league appearances but also proved a crucial cog in the team that helped Brighton secure promotion last season. David Moyes would be stupid not to even try and sign him in January, as a defensive partnership between Kiwi defender Winston Reid and him will offer the solidity the Irons have been lacking at the back this season.
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