As the first half of the 2020-21 football season comes to an end, teams are undoubtedly starting to think about where their squads need strengthening.
So what – and who – will the Premier League managers have on their wishlists?
Arsenal need creativity and inspiration from somewhere as those brought in have so far either been injured (Thomas Partey) or hopeless (Willian) while their season has descended into crisis.
Former Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has flopped badly at Inter Milan, has been mentioned as a potential signing, as has Houssem Aouar of Lyon, who was a summer target. Getting players out of Lyon is tough at any time under the iron-hard negotiating style of president Jean-Michael Aulas – January may prove impossible.
Norwich’s Emi Buendia is a possibility and may be one player available within Arsenal’s price range.
Manager Mikel Arteta has been promised support by technical director Edu; financial calculations are being made. As Arsenal look at their budget and consider their options, will January be the time they finally manage to get the expensive Mesut Ozil off their wage bill?
Don’t expect any big-money moves here but manager Dean Smith may look at his attack. Ollie Watkins, the £28m club-record signing from Brentford, has been outstanding but Keinan Davis has not produced enough goals when he has had a chance.
January is a fraught market, especially for acquiring the priceless commodity of goals, as Villa discovered with the failed £8.5m signing of Genk’s Mbwana Samatta last year. He is already out on loan at Fenerbahce.
Villa have long been linked with Werder Bremen’s Milot Rashica but at this stage there are no plans for any serious spending.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton owner Tony Bloom has never been a fan of investing in the January market. But if a lack of goals continues to prove a problem, then there could be a change of plan with a move for a striker – although the Seagulls always attempt to balance the books.
They will also want to keep coveted defender Ben White.
BBC Sussex Brighton and Hove Albion commentator Johnny Cantor says: “Manager Graham Potter says a ‘silver bullet’ isn’t always the right option but a forward who can get into double figures may be essential if the Seagulls are to secure a fifth season in the Premier League.”
Sean Dyche would love to strengthen after working miracles on a tight budget but the big money just isn’t there at Turf Moor and a proposed takeover has yet to materialise, so it is unlikely there will be any serious movement in January.
Jeff Hendrick, now at Newcastle, is still missed in central midfield, with Everton’s Fabian Delph a name doing the rounds. As for the defence, Dyche will hope no tempting offers come in for centre-back James Tarkowski.
The Clarets fought off serious summer interest for Tarkowski from West Ham and, while his sale could generate big money very quickly, his importance to the team has been emphasised after his return to fitness.
It is pretty well known who Chelsea manager Frank Lampard would like next after his spectacular summer spending – but what he wants and what he gets are likely to be two different things when it comes to the January market.
Lampard would love to sign Declan Rice – a midfielder with the added attraction of being able to play in central defence – but would West Ham consider selling in January? Very, very unlikely.
It may be Chelsea and Lampard have to wait and concentrate on shifting some players off the wage bill, such as Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso.
Do not expect any major moves from Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson. There may even finally be a break from the endless speculation surrounding Wilfried Zaha, forever linked with a move away that never materialises.
There could be a buy similar to the one that brought Eberechi Eze from QPR, with Reading’s France youth international Michael Olise touted as a possibility. Bodo/Glimt striker Kasper Junker has also been mentioned but it would be no surprise if January is very quiet at Palace.
Everton director of football Marcel Brands is not a fan of January business but manager Carlo Ancelotti may wish to strengthen a squad that has suffered injuries but is also in position to have a strong second half of the season.
Ancelotti was looking for right-flank reinforcements last summer but two intriguing names with big connections to the Italian’s time at Real Madrid have been mentioned. They are Isco, who is still at the Bernabeu, and Sami Khedira – the German midfielder now at Juventus, who has admitted contact with Everton’s manager.
Leicester’s Demarai Gray has been linked with a move to Goodison Park, while Tottenham’s Dele Alli has also been touted, but I think we can file that one in the folder marked ‘highly unlikely’.
A striker may be an area of interest but any move there may depend on offloading Cenk Tosun, as easing the wage bill is still a top priority.
Fulham’s rapid improvement in recent weeks means the January transfer window does not look quite as defining for manager Scott Parker and his team.
The Cottagers have been linked with Philadelphia Union’s 23-year-old Germany-born left-back Kai Wagner.
The word is Leeds United are unlikely to make any moves in January and that is only likely to change if they have a very poor run or if Marcelo Bielsa’s squad is suddenly hit by injuries.
Bielsa likes a relatively small squad all honed to his ideas and fitness requirements, as illustrated by the contentious failed loan move for RB Leipzig’s Jean-Kevin Augustin, who barely figured in their run to promotion after arriving in January last year.
There has been talk of a loan move for Manchester United’s Daniel James, who scored when Leeds were beaten 6-2 at Old Trafford on 20 December.
Central midfield may be an area that needs strengthening but the suggestions are that next summer will be the time for major moves.
Brendan Rodgers has spoken about developing the players he has after his summer spending but the Foxes currently look light in central defence, where they rely so heavily on the experience of Jonny Evans and the outstanding French 20-year-old Wesley Fofana.
Caglar Soyuncu has been badly hit by injuries while Wes Morgan, a key figure in the 2016 title-winning team, is 37 in January.
City have also been linked – along with lots of others – with Sporting Lisbon’s talented teenage left-back Nuno Mendes.
One big question here: will Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp move for cover to replace Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez? Both are recovering from serious knee injuries and may not play again this season.
Klopp will only move if he is convinced it is 100% right for Liverpool and not a short-term fix or second option. So far, the combination of Fabinho, Joel Matip and youngsters such as Rhys Williams have put Liverpool at the top of the Premier League once more.
Liverpool have been linked with a deal for Schalke’s Ozan Kabak and Lille defender Sven Botman but past experience tells us Klopp will weigh up any move very carefully. He would have to be convinced any signing would bring serious benefit to his squad.
Divock Origi, Liverpool’s Champions League hero when they won it in 2019, may well be one to leave.
It looks like being a quiet January at Etihad Stadium, although Pep Guardiola may be tempted to explore improvements at left-back if there is a chance. Benjamin Mendy has been inconsistent and injury prone, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is not quite top class.
Looking further ahead, City and Guardiola will eventually have to plan for life without the great Sergio Aguero.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to strengthen in central defence and in the wide attacking positions. It is doubtful he will get to do that in January, though.
Borussia Dortmund’s England wide man Jadon Sancho remains a long-term target. Future defensive possibilities include the usual suspects: RB Leipzig’s Dayet Upamecano – who will not be sold with Bundesliga side in the Champions League – and Brighton’s Ben White.
There is one deal set to go through. Solskjaer fully expects to complete the £19m signing of teenage Atalanta winger Amad Diallo at the turn of the year.
Who knows how the mid-season window will work out on Mike Ashley’s watch? The Newcastle United owner did a fair bit of business during the last transfer window to bring in Callum Wilson, Jamal Lewis, Jeff Hendrick and Ryan Fraser. So it may be a quiet January.
Adding numbers in defence may be something manager Steve Bruce looks at, though, with Manchester United’s young left-back Brandon Williams a potential target. He may also try to lure Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori on loan.
Sheffield United will be looking at loan deals rather than permanent signings unless their desperate plight at the foot of the Premier League alters thinking at Bramall Lane.
Manager Chris Wilder may well prioritise a left-sided central defender with the injury to Jack O’Connell having a serious impact, not simply because of his defensive qualities but his energy around the pitch.
Will the club’s ownership gamble in an attempt to salvage their Premier League status – or be cautious in a notoriously difficult January market? Their current position may also make it more difficult to attract targets.
Southampton may look to add quality and depth at left-back. Manchester United’s Brandon Williams was the target of a summer loan move – and that may be revisited in January. He offers versatility on both flanks, which may appeal to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, although he has also attracted interest from Newcastle. In addition, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be reluctant to let the defender go out on loan.
The big activity may come via new contracts, with deals for Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand on the table.
At Tottenham, the big January question is whether Dele Alli, marginalised by Jose Mourinho, will be at the club at the end of the month, with Paris St-Germain still very interested.
Mourinho has been linked with a potential deal for Juventus’s experienced midfield man Sami Khedira but most of the debate will surround Alli, whose star has fallen since he was touted as one of England’s great future talents.
West Bromwich Albion
Albion are in desperate need of reinforcements and it is highly unlikely Sam Allardyce would have accepted the manager’s job without firm assurances of decent room for manoeuvre in the market.
He has already been linked with Crystal Palace’s 31-year-old defender James Tomkins, who played under him at Selhurst Park as well as at West Ham.
In addition, would Allardyce be tempted to look at Everton’s Turkish striker Cenk Tosun, a player he brought to Goodison Park for £27m in January 2018?
Allardyce has been linked with Newcastle’s Andy Carroll, but the former England striker is surely too expensive in terms of wages, and his record suggests he is too prone to injury as well.
West Ham United
David Moyes would like to add firepower to his attack and has been linked with Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud. This would be a superb signing but would Chelsea really consider letting a player who is still so influential leave Stamford Bridge?
The Hammers were heavily linked with Bournemouth’s Joshua King last summer. Will Moyes revisit that deal?
They may even get an offer from Chelsea for Declan Rice – but this will surely be resisted in January.
Wolves were already suffering from a shortage of goals before their outstanding striker Raul Jimenez suffered a fractured skull in the win at Arsenal on 29 November.
This has increased the need for striking reinforcements in January – especially given that Diogo Jota was sold to Liverpool in September.
Would Liverpool’s Divock Origi fit the bill now? Could he then continue to be a useful squad addition when Jimenez is cleared to return?