January Transfer Rumours: Biggest Needs for Every Top EPL Club
The winter transfer window is quickly approaching for teams in world football, with clubs right around the world well aware of the significance that it could have for the remainder of their respective seasons.
Right across the English Premier League, teams will be looking to gain an advantage over the transfer window by bringing in or letting go of players so that they can improve in the latter half of the season—either building on the solid work so far or rectifying mistakes made in the opening six months.
So what moves will the big teams be looking to make this winter?
Read on to find out.
Sell Theo Walcott
First off, Arsenal need to make a decision on forward Theo Walcott, and for the sake of the club, it's best that they get rid of the England international this winter.
His price will attract plenty of suitors who are looking for a wide striker to complement their attacking corps, and his contract saga has gone on long enough for the Gunners to realize that Walcott isn't worth the heartache that he is currently causing.
The north London club needs to make some wholesale changes this summer; disposing of excess baggage such as Walcott is a good place to start.
Buy Demba Ba
Speaking of wholesale changes, Arsene Wenger should give everything he can to bring Newcastle United striker Demba Ba to the Emirates this winter.
We know that the Magpies' frontman has a release clause in his contract which could allow for a club like Arsenal to pick him up on the cheap, and with Papiss Cisse waiting in the wings at Newcastle, Alan Pardew might be willing to sell Ba for the right price this winter.
Olivier Giroud is starting to look good up front, but the Gunners need further assistance with Gervinho sputtering and Lukas Podolski best served in the middle. Signing Ba would be a great complement to their squad this summer and would give Santi Cazorla a clinical finisher ahead of him to thrive on.
Look for midfield assistance
One more need for the Gunners is to continue to solidify their midfield, which might seem bizarre given the talent they currently have in there.
But especially in terms of defensive midfield, where Abou Diaby isn't turning out to be what the north London club need, Wenger might do well to bring in further strength and composure in the middle, which will hold them in good stead against the top teams in Europe and England this season.
Kevin Strootman is the man most talked about as a possible transfer here.
Buy Radamel Falcao
Chelsea buying Radamel Falcao isn't about whether Rafa Benitez can get the best out of Fernando Torres or whether Blues fans think the Spanish international is worth the money the club spent on his phenomenal transfer in the first place.
It's about the Blues signing one of the best strikers in world football to add to their squad—strengthening their attack to the point that it becomes deadly, week in and week out. Without fail and without losses on the road to teams like West Ham.
Who knows, maybe Torres would thrive with another attacking force at the club if Benitez can figure out a way to utilize two strikers together in the same lineup.
Look at what Sir Alex Ferguson did with Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney—changing the way his team operates to best use the two strikers. He didn't sell Rooney just because they bought Van Persie, and it's working wonders for the Red Devils at the moment.
Perhaps there's something to be learned there for Chelsea.
Keep Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge is being talked about as a possible departure from Stamford Bridge this winter, but for the sake of the club moving forward, I think they've got to keep hold of him.
We've seen that Eden Hazard cannot play up front as the lone striker this season (Juventus, anyone?) and if the Blues don't sign Falcao, Torres will be left as the only frontman at the club—something that seems too big of a risk to run without Sturridge.
The Englishman isn't in the same class as Torres or Hazard, but he is skilled enough to prosper in the Premier League this season if afforded the opportunity—which will surely increase now that Roberto Di Matteo has departed from the European champions.
Di Matteo didn't give Sturridge much of a chance; Benitez should, and the Blues would do well to hold off on selling him at least until they've seen what he can do this season.
Keep Marouane Fellaini
Ever since the transfer rumors emerged that Marouane Fellaini might not be as content at Everton as we all thought he was, keeping the Belgian international became the Toffees' No. 1 transfer priority.
Fellaini has been unstoppable for the Merseyside club this season—one of the best players in the league—and his departure from Goodison Park would surely end any chance the club have of picking up a top-four spot this year and a European berth next season.
So keeping Fellaini is important, and regardless of how wild the transfer rumors might be, Everton need to make sure that they have the Belgian international satisfied and happy with the direction and success that the club is currently achieving.
Look for another goalkeeper
A very minor, minor need for Everton here, but having a goalkeeper in their squad under the age of 30 wouldn't go astray—although it isn't a pressing need for the Toffees.
Tim Howard is more than capable of performing week in and week out, but with the American now 33, it's a good time for Everton to start looking toward the future—especially since his replacement, Jan Mucha is also over the age of 30.
Goalkeepers can play well into their late 30's, but it's not worth being caught out on with Howard. And what better time to get a young shot-stopper in now to learn from a Premier League veteran so that the Toffees are in a good place in four or five years' time.
Sign Klaas Jun Huntelaar
It will be no surprise to see Liverpool make some moves over the winter transfer window—particularly on the attacking side of the ball—as they look to provide Luis Suarez with some attacking options, well, other than himself this season.
The Uruguayan international has been superb this year and with new talent alongside him, would truly thrive at the Merseyside club this season—making the potential transfer of a striker like Klass Jun Huntelaar a very interesting option for the Reds.
The now Schalke striker has reportedly told the German club he will not sign a new contract with them at the end of the season—making him a very good transfer prospect for both parties this winter.
He is thought to cost around £5 million, and while the Reds will have to beat Arsenal for his signature, the fact that they aren't playing Champions League football and both Schalke and Arsenal are could work in the Merseyside club's favor.
Sign Theo Walcott
In addition to signing Huntelaar, Liverpool would do very well to pick up Theo Walcott and play him on the left hand side of Suarez in attack—a frightening prospect given the pace and skill that the pairing would have between them.
Walcott isn't a possession-based forward and struggles with that at Arsenal; something he wouldn't have as much of a problem with at Liverpool where he could simply beat defenders and work off the creativity Suarez brings to the attack.
His presence would also attract more defenders which would open up better attacking lanes for the likes of Suarez and Raheem Sterling throughout the year.
Sell Mario Balotelli
Manchester City really don't have many needs heading into the winter transfer window. Their squad is strong right across the pitch, they have a good mix of young talent as well as older experienced players, and have able replacements to cover injuries should they arise this season.
What they can do, however, is cut off some of the excess baggage they are carrying around this winter—as we could all probably do—and for City, that starts with Mario Balotelli.
City manager Roberto Mancini has already said they will not be selling the Italian international; that's probably because they feel that they have invested to much in Super Mario already that it would be a waste for him to leave.
You go through enough of the bad days and it makes you want to stay around for the good days that must be coming sooner or later—that type of thinking.
However, Balotelli isn't doing anything for City this year. He isn't a good striker, he doesn't work hard and he isn't going to beat the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero or even Edin Dzeko for a starting opportunity in games of any real significance.
Why City want to persist with him is understandable, but it isn't practical. Selling him is practical, if only for the fact that it frees up more money for the summer transfer window.
One of the biggest questions for Manchester United this winter (other than getting injured players back) is going to be whether or not they can offload Nani for the right price.
The Portuguese international simply isn't performing as Sir Alex Ferguson would like and with rumors flowing about his possible departure from Old Trafford, now might be a good time for the Red Devils to test the water and see what they can get for the 26-year-old.
Nani is simply too inconsistent and, even at his best, not as good as he was two or three years ago, and it seems he will be one of those players who will always have plenty of potential, but not a whole lot of consistent on-field performances.
United have Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia as their regular starters as well as a number of other potential options to cover should they suffer an injury. They don't need Nani at all, and could use the money from his sale to cover the costs for a must-buy player.
Sign Victor Wanyama
Putting it out there—if Manchester United sign Victor Wanyama, they will win the English Premier League. Bold, I know, but the one hole they have at the moment is in defensive midfield, and the addition of a player like Wanyama would mean everything for the Red Devils.
Their defense is shoddy at best this season—largely due to injuries and inconsistencies—and the addition of Wanyama would make for a great long-term partner alongside Tom Cleverley in the middle of the field as they hold the side together.
Wanyama has been nothing short of superb for Celtic in the Champions League this season and while the Scottish club will be incredibly unlikely to sell Wanyama this winter, a player like him in defensive midfield is the biggest need for the club over the next two transfer windows.
Sell Demba Ba
Newcastle United have been terrible so far this season and deserve to be in the bottom half of the Premier League table, which thus makes the call to sell their best player this season (and comfortably so) a really strange decision.
Demba Ba has been excellent for Newcastle and their best attacking option, but due to the release clause in his contract, the Magpies need to sell off the striker as soon as they can in the winter transfer window and accept the reality that they will not be keeping Ba much longer.
Ba's departure would allow Papiss Cisse to play more centrally—a move that would benefit the striker and take him back towards the form that we saw at the end of last season when he was scoring goals seemingly at will for manager Alan Pardew.
Liverpool and Arsenal appear to be the two main teams interested in Ba; one of them will surely put in a significant offer for him that goes beyond the clause in his contract—which Newcastle will be forced into taking once they realize what they can do with that money.
Ba is leaving soon because of the clause in his current contract. Newcastle need to accept that and try and make hay while the sun is still shining.
Sign Mathieu Debuchy
After coming close to signing with the Magpies over the summer transfer window, French international Mathieu Debuchy is seemingly on his way to Newcastle again following the latest transfer reports—a much-needed move by the club.
The defender is still believed to be keen on moving to St. James Park, and would likely cost the club around £5-8 million for his transfer—a figure the Magpies need to splash out in order to solidify their defense and cut out the simple mistakes that are costing them Premiership points.
Lille are doing nothing in Ligue 1 this year, making him a definite transfer target for the Magpies and one that we should see happen this winter.
Swansea City did a great job over the summer transfer window bringing in quality players that didn't cost them a ridiculous price to transfer, and now they're reaping the rewards of said purchasing.
The Swans currently sit just one win outside of the top four heading into the halfway mark of the season—bettering their strong performance last season—and are playing dynamic, quality football right across the pitch but particularly in attack.
It would be disastrous then, for the club to undo all of their hard work and effectiveness over the previous summer transfer window by letting players leave this winter.
Michael Laudrup has already said that players like Michu won't be for sale, but that's not to say clubs won't come calling with offers 10 times more than what they paid for Michu six months ago—which would make for a very interesting transfer option.
Swansea need to stick to their guns and do everything they can to make sure guys like Michu and Pablo Hernandez remain at the club for as long as possible as they are vital to the long-term future of the club as well as its short-term success.
Not sign Joao Moutinho
According to latest reports, Tottenham Hotspur are believed to be lining up a new bid for Porto midfielder Joao Moutinho, who Spurs almost signed over the previous summer transfer window.
However, what the north London club need to do most is actually not sign the Portuguese international if they have the opportunity to do so, because it isn't good for the longevity of the players and current relationships that are existent at White Hart Lane.
Sandro and Mousa Dembele are two of the most talented players worldwide at their respective roles and are combining brilliantly so far this year. Clint Dempsey is strong as we all know and Jermain Defoe is seemingly in the form of his career—so much so that Emmanuel Adebayor can't find a regular starting position at the north London club.
Bringing Moutinho in, as good as he might be, will do nothing but unsettle the balance that Andre Villas-Boas has worked so hard to find once Luka Modric left. The 26-year-old Portuguese would no doubt thrive under the former Chelsea boss but, in the light of what he already has at his disposal, he would be better off not signing Moutinho and concentrating on strengthening his defensive unit.
What do you think are the biggest needs for EPL clubs this winter?
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