With it being early in the new year and the first few moves being made, now would be an ideal time to discuss the ideal candidates for a dream move to one of the Premier League’s big six. Names and rumours are constantly thrown around the media, often with no element of truth, leaving us with the task of determining which of these rumours are the most reliable and would be most beneficial to the clubs involved.
Perhaps the easiest clubs to start with are Manchester United and Arsenal, who find themselves in very similar positions in terms of what they will be looking for in the transfer market. If it wasn’t clear already, the huge improvement Solskjaer has brought to United further highlights their weak spot. United are finally playing creative football and scoring goals so the attack can be left alone, for now. The likes of Smalling, Jones and Rojo have been inconsistent ever since joining the club and, whilst he has shown much more promise recently, Lindelof is also prone to making mistakes. The Red Devils desperately need a world class centre back, someone who can help to compose and improve his fellow defenders, much like Van Dijk has done at Liverpool with Joe Gomez. Napoli’s Koulibaly is a name repeatedly mentioned but it’s likely fans will have to wait until the end of the season, once the managerial situation has been properly sorted, for such a crucial and expensive transfer to be made.
The same can be said for Arsenal. Although they did make a few defensive acquisitions at the start of this season, such as Sokratis and Lichtsteiner, they haven’t really led to the Gunners becoming any more secure at the back; the recent 5-1 loss to Liverpool is pretty effective in displaying this. Arsenal have been somewhat unlucky in that Rob Holding, who was looking like he could be their first choice centre back, suffered a long term injury. Nonetheless, Arsenal certainly need one or potentially two new centre backs. However, if we trust the papers, Emery doesn’t seem to be prioritising this, instead looking to sign attacking players such as Roma’s winger Cengiz Ünder. Allowing his side to continue shipping lots of goals could turn out to be a mistake if they want to maintain hope of securing a Champions League spot.
Unlike United and Arsenal, Chelsea are a side who are most certainly in need of a striker. Sarri is a manager who has built a reputation as someone who gets his side playing very attractive football following his time at Napoli. Yet, you feel Chelsea have never quite hit these high standards so far this season. It has become fairly obvious that neither Morata or Giroud suit Sarri’s style, Morata being a player who looks increasingly likely to leave the club in order to make way for someone new. Although Sarri doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of Giroud, the Frenchman does benefit the side with his hold-up play, making him a joy for the likes of Hazard to play alongside. Yes, it’s difficult to argue for Giroud being Chelsea’s first choice striker, but the role he plays shouldn’t be discounted. Perhaps this is why someone like Mauro Icardi would be a perfect fit. He possesses a significant amount of quality but also isn’t afraid of the physical side of the game either. Yet, Sarri is a man with his own ideas. He has already moved Kante, the definition of a holding midfielder, to the right of a midfield three, so it would hardly be surprising if he bought someone completely unexpected.
Things become slightly more difficult when discussing the top 3. Tottenham didn’t make any signings in the summer, the more significant of the two windows, so they’re arguably even less likely to buy in January. Meanwhile, Manchester City and Liverpool have been so impressive that it’s hard to see any weak areas in their sides. Recent matches have displayed how important Fernandinho is to City, his absence contributed to a number of defeats whilst his return greatly helped his side in beating league leaders Liverpool. Fernandinho’s injury wasn’t a particularly long term one, but it could still end up being the downfall of City’s entire season. Injuries are not uncommon given how demanding Premier League football is, meaning Guardiola can’t rely so much on a single player. He will no doubt be looking to add someone who could play Fernandinho’s role to a reasonable standard if her were to suffer another injury.
As for Liverpool, they’ve now lost two games on the bounce and whilst one was away to one of the league’s best sides and the other was a cup game in which Klopp played a weakened team, it still shows the squad can’t be perfect. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s Liverpool’s midfield that has come under the most criticism. It’s not that the midfielders they have aren’t good enough; Fabinho has significantly improved, Keita has bundles of ability and Wijnaldum has been impressive this season. They also have a number of players who can fill in if needed like Milner and Henderson. The issue is, out of all those players mentioned, it’s hard to see a real playmaker. Liverpool is a team full of hard-working individuals but they don’t posses a De-Bruyne or David Silva like player. Perhaps this is why Klopp was so desperate to buy Nabil Fekir in the summer, someone who could play just behind the front 3 and really make things happen. Fekir only didn’t make the transfer due to a failed medical so there’s a chance the move could be on again in the not so distant future.
The transfer window is always a very exciting time for football fans. It provides a real opportunity to obtain what your side is missing. All the speculation builds anticipation but doesn’t really help when trying to predict who might go where. Regardless, we shall certainly find out in the coming weeks.