It’s that time of year again when millions of dollars are exchanged as teams look to strengthen their squads. The January transfer window can be a time for great pickups (Luis Suarez, for example) but can also be a time of tremendous overspending (ahem, Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll). With that in mind, here is one move that each Premier League team could make to strengthen their squad in January.
Top of the table:
Manchester City: Alexis Sanchez
What do you buy for someone who already has everything? Well, for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad, who are currently running away with the Premier League title, Alexis Sanchez is the only player who could make a legitimate difference. With two world-class keepers, a front line strong enough to terrify every defence in the Prem, and a well-rounded midfield and defence, Manchester City can score at will. However, with Alexis Sanchez’s contract primed to expire, City can approach him to sign a pre-contract deal to join on a Bosman transfer in June. Of course, if Pep Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain wanted to add Alexis’ firepower for extra depth, Manchester City could easily lodge a bid of anywhere from 15 to 25 million dollars to try to pry him away from Arsenal this January.
Manchester United: Trim the squad
Jose Mourinho might not have spent as lavishly as his Manchester counterpart (or so he whines claims), but his squad is rife with expensive talent. One only has to look at Paul Pogba, who transfered for 95 million pounds, or the signings of Nemanja Matic (40 million pounds), Victor Lindelof (31 million pounds), and talisman Romelu Lukaku (76 million pounds) to see that the Red Devils have considerable financial power. However scintillating their play has been at times, United have yet to truly hit their best run of form; this is largely due to the lack of a proper starting XI. Jose Mourinho has changed formations and tactics to try and appease the many egos in the squad, as well as the many styles of player (the squad is overloaded with wingers, while short on outside backs, etc). However, this lack of consistency has led to many players lacking game time to develop essential confidence and tactical understanding. The best thing for United to do this window is sit tight, trim the unessential members of the squad, and prepare for an eventful close to their Champions League and Premier League campaigns.
Chelsea: Richmond Boakye
It’s time for a striker change at Stamford Bridge, as this January window should see Michy Batshuayi go the way of fellow former failed French forward Loïc Remy. Either a loan move or a permanent move would suit him and Chelsea perfectly, with a return to France or a move to a mid-table Premier League side the most likely options. This would leave space for another striker to come into the squad, and a cheap option would be Ghanaian Richmond Boakye. The Red Star Belgrade striker has already been signed by Conte once before (when he managed Juventus in 2012) and he has been prolific so far for his new club, scoring 27 goals in 30 league appearances over the past two seasons. At the age of 24, Boakye would be a perfect rotation option for this Blues squad.
Liverpool: Keep Coutinho
While Liverpool already got the transfer their supporters yearned for – the 75 million pound deal for center back Virgil van Dijk – their most important piece of business will be keeping hold of their star players, namely the Barcelona-linked superstar Philippe Coutinho. The mercurial playmaker is certainly the caliber for the Catalan side, but with the Brazilian already being cup-tied, spending over a hundred million pounds would not be a pragmatic move for either side. Liverpool are in no way guaranteed a top-four spot this year, and losing their star player would only weaken their squad. While he will certainly depart this summer, the fee will be similar irregardless. Jurgen Klopp must make sure not to give into media demands.
Tottenham Hotspur: Ryan Sessegnon
Ryan Sessegnon would add creativity and youth to a Spurs side that is burdened by overreliance on Harry Kane. The pacy 17-year old can play anywhere from wing-back to winger, and he has an eye for goal – he scored two goals in three minutes for Fulham last weekend. Sessegnon is a prospect for the future, but he could certainly add much-needed depth to the Spurs squad.
Arsenal: Figure out contracts
All of the transfer business that takes place at the Emirates this January will be contingent on Arsenal’s two contract rebels – the aforementioned Alexis Sanchez and the mercurial Mesut Özil. Determining which, if either, of the two will stay will determine the Gunner’s transfer policy. Both players can sign pre-contract deals at any time, and if Arsenal cannot successfully extend either of them (or Jack Wilshere, who is also out of contract this summer), the Gunners will have plenty of work to do in the window. Potential Alexis Sanchez replacements include the Jamaican Leon Bailey or the Mexican Hirving Lozano, both youthful, pacy wingers with plenty of upside.
Burnley: Danny Ings
Burnley have played in a similar style to the Leicester team that won the league two years ago, with resolute defence and long balls providing many of their goals. However, they lack a clear goal-scoring powerhouse up top, with their team’s leading scorer Chris Wood having contributed a meager 4 goals on the campaign so far. An ambitious transfer would be to try and bring in Michy Batshuayi on loan, but with Burnley’s team being the most racially homogenous in the entire top flight, such a move looks unlikely. Perhaps a move for former player Danny Ings, who has successfully returned from a long injury layoff and would likely be available for cheap, would make more sense.
Leicester: Joel Veltman
The Leicester method, as detailed above, is fairly concrete, but injuries have wreaked havoc on their back line. Furthermore, their defense is aging – Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan are both over 30 (31 and 33 respectively). Therefore, a signing like Joel Veltman from Ajax would make sense. Capable of playing at center back and right back, Veltman would add leadership, composure, and international experience to the Foxes. While it is likely that he is playing at close to his full potential, his attacking ability down the right flank is something that Danny Simpson does not possess; while he is the Ajax captain, he would most likely be available for fewer than 15 million pounds.
Everton: Figure out tactics
As has been noted with other teams, the best thing the Toffees can do this window is stay put. Everton went on such a spending spree this summer only to have disastrous results, perhaps a testament to the value of chemistry; many of their signings have been displaced by youth players such as Tom Davies and Mason Holgate. The best thing Everton can do now that their proverbial ship has been righted is establish a proper rotation and let Sam Allardyce do his job. The recent switch to four at the back has worked wonders for what was once a leaky Everton defence, and while another striking option (perhaps Turkish phenom Cenk Tosun) would not be amiss, the less is more philosophy could work wonders on Merseyside this January.
Watford: Simone Scuffet
With the Hornets’ early season tear over and Watford comfortably sitting in the middle of the table, there is likely little that can be done to improve this team in the immediate future. However, there are several areas in the squad that could be bolstered up for the future, and as Watford look set to remain a Premier League club for the long term, lining up a replacement for the old-but-reliable Heurelho Gomes would be a wise investment. Udinese keeper Simone Scuffet would be practically free – the two clubs share an owner – and at the age of 21, would be primed to take over from Gomes when the elder statesman chooses to (literally) hang up his boots.
Huddersfield: Charly Musonda
Huddersfield have fought the traditional battles many recently promoted teams suffer from, most notably a lack of Premier League quality players. With a squad burdened by players out of their league, Huddersfield have managed to put in an impressive amount of crosses – sixth most in the entire league. By bringing in a creative player like Chelsea’s youth product Charly Musonda, who can play on the wing or in central midfield, Huddersfield’s attacks will become much more dynamic and skillful.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Lucasz Teodorczyk
Another recently promoted team that has struggled to score, Brighton and Hove Albion would also benefit from a player like Charly Musonda. However, Brighton have scored an incredibly high proportion of their goals from inside the box (14 of the 17 total goals scored). Not only do they need to create more chances if they want to stay up, but they are in need of a more prolific attack. An ambitious move for Anderlecht’s Polish striker Lukasz Teodorczyk, who at 1.85 meters would be a sturdy target in the box, could suit the Premier League newcomers this January.
Newcastle: Danny Ings
It is easy to sympathize with Rafa Benitez, as he evidently has not been given a transfer budget due to the pending sale of Newcastle. However, his side have underperformed so far, with a resolute midfield providing one of the few bright spots on Tyneside. A move for an experienced striker, such as Watford’s Troy Deeney or Liverpool’s Danny Ings, could be advantageous, as Newcastle have the league’s worst rated attack, per FiveThirtyEight.
Crystal Palace: Keep hold of Zaha
In south London, Crystal Palace have slowly put together an impressive run of form, nearly knocking off Manchester City and Arsenal in the span of a few weeks. With a defence that ranks in the upper echelon of the Premier League, Palace need to improve on the attacking front, if at all. However, the most important thing Palace can do this window is keep hold of Wilfried Zaha. The 25 million-pound rated winger has been linked with both Spurs and Arsenal in recent weeks, and his creativity and end product has been vital for the Eagles this season.
Bournemouth: François Kamano
For a squad whose net worth is only slightly more than that of Paul Pogba, any quality that Eddie Howe can add to his squad would be welcome. The Cherries have underwhelmed both offensively and defensively so far this season, and their aging midfield has not been able to keep up with their counter-attacking play. Perhaps a signing of François Kamano, the pacy Guiana-born winger currently at Bordeaux, would add some much needed speed and youth to the squad.
West Ham: Andre Schurrle
Andre Schurrle is poised to leave Borussia Dortmund this window, and West Ham should look to bring him in, either permanently or on loan. The Hammers are in a fight for survival, and the experience on the wing that Schurrle possesses will be vital in their second half of the campaign. While Schurrle did not have the quality to succeed at Chelsea, he is still a German international who would mesh well with fellow stars Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini in the West Ham attack.
Southampton: Juventus squad players
Perhaps the biggest underperformers so far this season, Southampton are the beneficiaries of a 75 million pound fee for wantaway center-back Virgil van Dijk. This money must be reinvested in their squad if they want to improve on their abysmal first half of the season. Perhaps a move for veteran midfielder Stefano Sturaro of Juventus would aid their midfield – Sturaro is viewed as a mere rotation option for the bianconeri. A similar move for perennial squad player Kwadwo Asamoah, who can play anywhere across the midfield and at outside back, would also bolster their squad’s depth.
Stoke: Gerard Deulofeu
Mark Hughes would appear to have limited time to fix the Potters’ woes. However, his squad boasts an impressive amount of talent – Ramadan Sobhi, Jesé, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – and it is surprising that their team has struggled to perform so far. To that end, a player who would mesh well with the squad is Spanish winger Gerard Deulofeu, who has not been given consistent minutes at Barcelona. Deulofeu, a former international teammate of Jesé, proved last year at Milan that he can thrive when given consistent minutes and license to attack, and a Stoke team bereft of goals would benefit from his pace on the wing.
West Brom: Guido Carrillo
Despite having over a 50% chance of going down, West Bromwich Albion can take solace in their impressive defense. However, West Brom have scored the second fewest goals in the whole division (only ahead of Swansea, which mirrors their league position). The Baggies’ top scorers, Salomon Rondón and Jay Rodriguez, are on three goals apiece, meager pickings by any standard. Guido Carrillo would provide a pacier upgrade to the aforementioned strikers, and as he is Monaco’s fourth-choice striker would most likely be available for minimal funds. He is an elusive center-forward who would allow Rondón to play as a target man.
Swansea: Get the most out of Renato Sanches
Carlos Carvalhal has stated that he will have “sardine money” this window, as his side sit rock-bottom. It is hard to foresee the Swans making any major dip into the transfer market, as they have to reconcile with their likely drop – FiveThirtyEight gives them a 69% chance of relegation. Therefore, Carvalhal has to make do with what he has in the squad, particularly the on-loan Renato Sanches. If Carvalhal can bring Sanches back to his best form, Swansea’s hopes of survival will get much higher.