Some clubs have been busy in the opening two weeks of the January transfer window, others appear to be happy with what they’ve got/not willing to spend.
Joao Felix joined Chelsea on loan and got sent off on his debut, the club followed that up by beating Arsenal to the signing of Mykhailo Mudryk while plenty of clubs like the look of Brighton’s Moises Caicedo.
But who would be the best (realistic) signing for your Premier League club this month?
We asked our Premier League reporters to make their picks…
Well, it’s back to the drawing board for Arsenal, and for this writer. It’s probably not giving too much away to tell you this entry was originally about Arsenal’s interest in Mykhailo Mudryk, but the less said about how that turned out probably the better.
So where next? Well, the intention was for Mudryk to provide cover and competition for Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli on the flanks — a game-changing option from the bench as well as a potential future star. Arsenal also have another need to address, however: with Gabriel Jesus expected to be sidelined for several months, Eddie Nketiah is the club’s only recognised centre-forward.
An ideal signing then might be someone who can play on either wing, as well as through the middle. In a perfect world, they might also have some Premier League experience.
Enter Ferran Torres. The 22-year-old Barcelona forward has the versatility and quality to provide an option all across the Arsenal front-line.
Mikel Arteta is among those at Arsenal who admire his talent, and Barcelona’s precarious financial position means they are potentially vulnerable to tempting bids. The obstacle to a deal here is Torres himself: having only moved to Barcelona a year or so ago, his current preference is to remain at the Nou Camp. The onus would be on Arsenal to make both player and club an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Unai Emery is said to be keen on a reunion with 23-year-old Matteo Guendouzi, whom the Spaniard managed at Arsenal. Guendouzi would be the third French midfielder in two years to swap sunny Marseille for less sunny Birmingham after Boubacar Kamara (a success) and Morgan Sanson (less so).
Guendouzi had disciplinary issues at Arsenal and was exiled from the squad by Mikel Arteta but there is a feeling he has matured since being thrown into the intense pressure cooker of a top team at a low ebb, while still very young.
Guendouzi is a box-to-box player with great athleticism and close control, averaging a goal or assist every three games in his time at Marseille, which has earned him seven caps for France. He would provide competition for Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey, who are all good but inconsistent over the past couple of years.
If Guendouzi’s natural aggression and competitiveness can be controlled it would be a great asset for a Villa team that often seems a bit of a soft touch.
Bournemouth’s attack has been stale in recent weeks, with the team failing to score in their last four Premier League games.
Without the injured Marcus Tavernier, no other player is able to progress the ball through the thirds as quickly or effectively as the former Middlesbrough winger — leaving space for a buccaneering, creative presence to breathe life into Bournemouth’s attacking patterns.
Who better to fill that role than the livewire that is Danjuma? Dribbling, shooting, creating chances — the Villarreal forward can do it all and Bournemouth supporters have already seen it for themselves during his two seasons at the club. Bournemouth are interested in bringing the 25-year-old back to Dean Court and any move would likely be a six-month loan until the end of the season.
If Bournemouth can agree a deal ahead of the other Premier League clubs, it would go some way to strengthening their survival credentials.
Brentford’s squad is in a pretty good position. Kevin Schade’s arrival from Freiburg on loan, with an obligation to buy for a club-record €25million if certain conditions are met, means they now crucially have cover for Ivan Toney.
They are heavily stocked with wide forwards, including Keane Lewis-Potter, Yoane Wissa and Byran Mbeumo, and Aaron Hickey’s impending return from an ankle injury gives them an extra option at full-back.
There is no obvious area that needs to be strengthened, which means our task is to anticipate future problems. Pontus Jansson, Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen and Mads Bech Sorensen are all out of contract in June. They might be offered new deals, but it could make more sense for Brentford to recruit a younger centre-back and develop them instead.
Levi Colwill is an exciting option but he is on loan at Brighton, so we will go for Andrew Omobamidele who is impressing for Norwich City even though they have been struggling this season and recently sacked Dean Smith.
Brighton & Hove Albion — Mykola Matviyenko
The well-worn theory that all Brighton need is a goalscorer has dissipated somewhat now that they are scoring goals for fun from everywhere under Roberto De Zerbi and Evan Ferguson has emerged as a centre-forward with serious potential.
There is no urgency to sign anyone in January. It’s more a case of looking into the future at what could happen in the summer window and beyond that to have succession plans in place, which Brighton are very good at.
With that in mind, another forward wouldn’t hurt, given the uncertainty surrounding Leandro Trossard’s future. The same logic can be applied to central midfield and the possibility of losing Moises Caicedo, but don’t forget about the centre of defence.
Levi Colwill is only on loan from Chelsea. Brighton would love to have him permanently, but he’s still in Chelsea’s plans and, even if he became available, they’d face plenty of competition for the 19-year-old.
It’s Roberto De Zerbi’s first transfer window as head coach. The Italian will be keen to make his own recruitment mark on the squad, whether that’s January or the summer.
So, take your pick from left-sided centre-backs Alessandro Buongiorno (Torino) and Matviyenko (Shakhtar Donetsk), or Matviyenko’s midfield team-mate Artem Bondarenko at the club De Zerbi coached before joining Brighton.
Matviyenko’s Champions League experience at Shakhtar and international pedigree with Ukraine is particularly attractive.
Chelsea — Dusan Vlahovic
The arrival of Mudryk, plus Joao Felix on loan, signal the ownership’s desire to address Chelsea’s startling lack of creativity in the final third.
However, the right side of defence is still a gaping void whenever Reece James is injured and central midfield clearly requires a high-quality refresh.
TAKE A BOW DUSAN VLAHOVIC 🤯
The Serbian gives Juventus the lead with a stunning free-kick just 76 seconds into the match ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/ei3ULrK9DD
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 27, 2022
Goals, however, remain the key issue. Arguably all of Chelsea’s current attackers (and the new arrivals) are maximised playing around a true No 9 that isn’t in this squad (and no, unsurprisingly, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn’t the answer).
Genuinely elite No 9s are rare, but Serbia international Vlahovic might fit the bill in terms of age (22) and player profile — and given the uncertainty surrounding Juventus’ finances right now, he might also be gettable in January.
There is a Gallagher-shaped hole in the Palace midfield. His energy, tenacity and bursting runs from deep have been sorely missed this season.
After the Chelsea loanee claimed the club’s player of the year award last season, he has not been replaced and that has contributed to Palace’s inconsistent campaign so far.
He would be able to help Patrick Vieira rekindle that spark and the high press that worked so effectively for much of last year.
Seemingly unloved in west London, and struggling to make an impact, it would surely work in everyone’s interest for him to return to Palace.
Everton — Arnaut Danjuma
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Everton need more firepower.
The aim is to change that this January, but the money is not there to make the kind of splash Wolves have done by recruiting Matheus Cunha on loan with a €50million obligation to buy.
So their use of the loan market could well be crucial.
Recent days have seen links to Villarreal’s Danjuma. The Netherlands international could offer Lampard elements he’s missing. He scored 16 times last season, 17 in 2020-21 for Bournemouth and already has six strikes to his name this time around.
Competition is likely to be fierce but Danjuma’s signature would be a potential game-changer.
Fulham — Sacha Boey
Fulham are looking to shuffle the pack at right-back this month and Arsenal’s Cedric has been of interest. On paper, he would be a decent temporary option. Fulham based much of their recruitment this season around one key characteristic: Premier League, or high-level experience, and though Cedric has fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, he has spent the past seven years based in England.
Cedric would take little time to adapt, and has played under Marco Silva before at Sporting Lisbon. Kenny Tete is Silva’s first choice so an option to provide competition, perhaps on loan, could make sense.
Wages are a deterrent to a possible move but if Fulham do decide to open up the purse strings a little, Galatasary’s Sacha Boey, 22, could be a smart transfer and would be The Athletic’s pick. He is an attacking full-back with his best years ahead of him, and has been a key player for the Turkish side who are flying high in the Super Lig. He has two assists from 15 league appearances.
A cheaper alternative could be his former team-mate Hamari Traore. Silva has ruled out interest in the 30-year-old Rennes captain, but he has only six months left on his contract.
Ideal signing you ask? Any please. Absolutely any and more the merrier. Leicester are desperate for reinforcements and Rodgers says he wants to bring in players with real quality. He isn’t bothered where they come from, what league or level, just as long as they have quality.
His side also need heart, desire, character and a will to win that is currently missing from his current group – those who are fit of course, and there aren’t too many of them.
So, whether it is Fiorentina winger Nico Gonzalez or Copenhagen’s promising young left-back Victor Kristiansen, Rodgers desperately needs fresh faces, as many of his current group seem to have switched off.
Ultimately, Leicester need some leadership on the pitch as well.
Rodgers said he wanted three new signings. He should double that figure.
Leeds United — Azzedine Ounahi
Georginio Rutter has sealed his transfer from Hoffenheim. He was the striker they wanted in this window, the name at the top of their list.
So with Rutter in the building, what are they after next? All eyes are on a central midfielder after the release of Mateusz Klich last week. Leeds have been linked heavily with Angers’ Moroccan World Cup star Azzedine Ounahi in this window and multiple sources are telling The Athletic that the Elland Road side are seriously keen — keen to the point of genuinely considering a move for him before the end of this window.
👋 Hi from our record signing! pic.twitter.com/Ens0pPoNcZ
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 14, 2023
Ounahi’s price has gone up, naturally, to around £20million after his performances in Qatar and Napoli are chasing him too. Leeds would need to find room in their budget to make it happen but do not rule it out.
Liverpool supporters are desperate for midfield reinforcements. It’s been a problem area for Jurgen Klopp during the first half of an increasingly difficult season.
A major overhaul of that department is on the horizon with Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner all out of contract in the summer. Arthur Melo is set to return to Juventus after the end of his loan spell.
Fans want to see that revamp get underway in January. Jude Bellingham is the club’s top target and would be the perfect fit, but Borussia Dortmund are determined to keep hold of the England international for the rest of the season.
So where else should Liverpool turn? Brighton’s Moises Caicedo is widely admired and understandably so.
The Ecuador international would provide them with the kind of energy and dynamism in midfield that they’ve been sadly lacking.
The 21-year-old also fits the bill in terms of being a young player with rich potential for Klopp to develop further on the training field.
The stumbling block? Price. Brighton showed when they held out for £62million from Chelsea for Marc Cucurella that they drive a hard bargain.
Caicedo is under contract until 2025 and Brighton CEO Paul Barber recently joked that £42million would only be enough to buy the laces in his boots. Talk of a £70million price tag is likely to prove prohibitive but in terms of his skill set, he would certainly be ideal.
It is rare for Manchester City to move in the January market.
Last year, Julian Alvarez was snapped up and immediately loaned back to River Plate until the summer. The last time City spent a major fee in January for a player who slotted in right away was the £57million signing of Aymeric Laporte. That was five years ago.
City’s squad is typically refreshed and recycled during the summer window, not the winter. Spending in January is really only saved for emergencies and so whether or not they need to spend depends on whether or not this is an emergency.
You sense that City’s current issues would be more easily solved by a consistent, coherent tactical plan rather than entering the market but one problem position remains: left-back.
Joao Cancelo is badly out of form and favour, Nathan Ake has filled in adequately but is naturally a centre-half. Sergio Gomez was viewed as a development player on arrival last summer.
Ferland Mendy has been linked and might be the most realistic option with Champions League pedigree.
But a different, potentially cheaper and more suitable alternative to tide City over until their summer rethink and refresh could be Rico Henry, who has impressed for Brentford this season and would contribute to City’s homegrown quota.
Erik ten Hag has made it very clear that his side is in need of a striker, but United’s precarious financial situation means there is a gap between the sort of players he wants and what can be acquired this window.
The United manager ideally wants an attacker who can hold the ball up and bring others into play, but also has the pace to run behind defences and help with pressing efforts. If he had a time machine, he would probably look to get a 25-year-old Edison Cavani. If he had £80million to spend, then Victor Oshimen or Tammy Abraham might be on his radar.
But United are thought to only be in the market for loans or short (ie, less than three-year) deals. Wout Weghorst’s services have already been secured, but that’s a sticking plaster for the next six months. Someone who could be acquired for relatively affordable prices and could play for the next six years is 25-year-old Thuram, who is also in the final six months of his contract at Borussia Monchengladbach and has scored 10 goals in 15 league appearances this season.
Newcastle United — Moises Caicedo
Newcastle really like Caicedo — which Premier League side doesn’t? — and that’s because he would provide the defensive-midfield dynamism that Eddie Howe is so desperate to add to his side.
Dan Ashworth, Newcastle’s sporting director, was influential in bringing the Ecuador international to Brighton and, like Howe, he greatly admires the 21-year-old’s characteristics. With Jonjo Shelvey sidelined, Howe only has four fit senior midfielders, one of whom, Joelinton, is excelling as a left-sided forward. Caicedo’s energy, ability to break up play and calmness in possession from deep would free Bruno Guimaraes into a more attacking role and ensure Howe has greater depth in the engine room.
However, it has been suggested that it would require a fee north of £60million to extract Caicedo from Brighton and, given potential financial fair play restrictions, Newcastle are unlikely to sanction such a deal in January, instead postponing most of their substantive business until the summer.
It’s a shame because a player of Caicedo’s talents and attributes may just give them that extra push they need to win the League Cup and secure Champions League qualification.
With Taiwo Awoniyi carrying a groin problem, Morgan Gibbs-White playing through a calf issue and Sam Surridge and Emmanuel Dennis both struggling to find their form, Forest need to strengthen their attacking options.
Danilo and Gustavo Scarpa will both add quality in midfield and they continue their search for a central defender. But it is up front where they most need more.
When you consider what is required — somebody who can hit the ground running, who can add physical presence and power — Davis would tick so many boxes.
The on-loan Watford man already knows how Steve Cooper likes his sides to play, he knows the club and some of his teammates… and, once he has recovered from a hamstring issue, he is somebody who could make an immediate impact on the pitch. Little settling-in period would be required.
Cooper also remains a big fan of the forward and Forest were keen to sign him permanently last summer — if not for the inflated price tag put on his head by parent club Aston Villa.
Getting a deal done might be a different issue entirely. But the question was who would be an ideal signing — and Davis would be that.
Southampton — Terem Moffi
Southampton’s thirst for a striker is well-known and prolonged. It may even have predated Prince Harry’s first couple of interviews.
Moffi, the third-highest scorer in Ligue 1 behind Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, would certainly fit the bill. Moffi is regarded as one of the best forwards currently available on the market and is attracting the interest of Premier League clubs.
However, Bournemouth’s owner Bill Foley new minority stake in Moffi’s club Lorient may throw a spanner in the works. Foley’s presence might have a say on whether the Nigeria forward stays or if he is allowed to join one of Bournemouth’s rivals for relegation.
After missing out on Cody Gakpo and Goncalo Ramos in the summer (alas) a forward of Moffi’s calibre will help Southampton fans stop thinking about what could have been and hopefully look forward to what might now happen (more goals).
Squad improvement is the name of the game for Tottenham this month — injuries have left them looking short in certain areas, particularly up front.
But what Spurs really need is a couple of top-level signings to elevate the first XI, just as they did when signing Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus last January.
Aside from a forward, priority positions feel like a left-sided cente-back at the level of Cristian Romero, a goalkeeper to succeed Hugo Lloris and a right wing-back.
Spurs have three of them, but Antonio Conte doesn’t seem to rate Matt Doherty too highly, the form of Emerson Royal has been an issue all season and Djed Spence is a bench-warmer who Conte seems extremely reluctant to let free.
Pedro Porro of Sporting is a target and he certainly fits the “ideal signing” category. But a personal opinion would be Dumfries of Inter Milan and the Netherlands would be perfect. He’s experienced at the highest level, fast, can provide goals and assists and is a solid defender. The problem would be the fee… and as we know with Spurs, that’s never a simple issue to overcome.
West Ham United — Alejandro Grimaldo
Despite spending more than £160million on players in the summer, West Ham are still no closer to finding Aaron Cresswell’s long-term successor. Emerson Palmieri joined from Chelsea in August but has featured sporadically this season.
Cresswell, 33, is entering the twilight of his career. West Ham need a left-back who has pace, intelligent positional awareness, consistently dangerous delivery and resale value. For that reason, Alejandro Grimaldo would be an ideal signing. The Benfica left-back has Champions League experience and his contract is set to expire in the summer.
The 27-year-old has impressed for this season, having scored four goals and provided five assists in 21 appearances across all competitions. West Ham missed out on signing previous targets Rico Henry, Aaron Hickey, Luca Pellegrini and David Raum. Grimaldo could solve some of their long-standing problems at left-back.
Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jose Maria Gimenez
This might sound a little unlikely but bear with me…Wolves need a central defender, they have spent much of the last few months in discussions with Atletico Madrid and they are spending a fair few quid in January.
So how about a cheeky enquiry for Gimenez?
At 27 years old and with 10 seasons in La Liga and almost 100 caps for Uruguay under his belt, Atletico’s 6ft 1in (185cm) defender would bring the experience Wolves need without being over the hill.
He has two and a half years remaining on his contract so wouldn’t come cheap, but as Wolves fans when they swooped for Matheus Cunha, the La Liga side need money.
Cheaper options seem more likely at the back, but we can dream.
(Photos: Getty Images)
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