January Transfer Window: 10 Hottest Strikers Linked with Transfers
With an enthralling weekend of football rounded off once again, week by week we draw ever closer to the reopening of the transfer window. For some managers, the window is meaningless; going to the dentist is a bigger priority. Especially if you're Tito Vilanova, whose Barcelona side currently sit at the top of La Liga, nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid with their clasico rivals Real Madrid a massive 13 points adrift.
However, for the likes of Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and Rafa Benitez, they know that it's an important month, and with several of the biggest clubs in Europe struggling for form, it could be the biggest January transfer window yet in terms of expenditure.
Chelsea will be desperate to strengthen their squad after their disappointing 1-0 defeat to Corinthians in the Club World Cup Final, while Arsenal's League Cup defeat to Bradford highlighted the need for change at the Emirates Stadium.
If you're not a fan of a large club, be prepared for disappointment, because I'm predicting some big deals in January, and one including a 26-year-old Colombian international who used to play for River Plate and Porto. Please note: This is in no particular order.
Good, we're ready to begin. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines...
1. Taison (Metalist Kharkiv)
Good morning, sports fans. If you decide not to do anything else today, then please take a short glance at this video, showing Metalist Kharkiv striker Taison scoring one of the goals of the season against Rosenborg in the Europa League.
It was this goal which saw the 24-year-old Brazilian striker rise to prominence, with the unstoppable strike compared to Marco Van Basten's famous volley back in the 1980s. Chelsea and Arsenal had been reportedly watching him beforehand, with Chelsea's technical director Michael Emenalo keen to bring in the former Internacional striker and reunite him with former team-mate Oscar.
Eighteen goals in 69 games isn't exactly a record that classifies as "prolific," but Taison offers more than just goals. Running with the ball at pace, he'd settle into Chelsea's new style of attacking football with the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. With bundles of energy and terrific work rate, the likelihood of Taison flopping at Stamford Bridge is rather slim.
Reports from The Telegraph claim that the Blues, however, are in pole position to land Taison in a £10 million deal which will in turn provide competition to Fernando Torres. With Daniel Sturridge facing an uncertain future and Nigerian international Victor Moses heading off to the African Cup of Nations in January, a possible loan with a view to a permanent deal could be a viable option for the European champions.
2. Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Could Radamel Falcao walk into any team right now? Five goals in a 6-0 rout of Deportivo La Coruna, plus this fine lob over Victor Valdes in their 4-1 loss to Barcelona last night. The man is clearly in the form of his life, for that lob was his 17th La Liga goal of the season in just 16 games. Only Lionel Messi—now on 23 goals after his brace in the same game—has a better record.
The 26-year-old former Porto striker arrived at the Vicente Calderon with huge pressure placed on his shoulders, with the £34 million signing the star at Atletico after Sergio Aguero left for Manchester City last summer. But Falcao absorbs the pressure and channels it into his performances, scoring a magnificent hat-trick against Chelsea in the European Super Cup, while smashing in goals in the Europa League and of course, La Liga.
A move to Chelsea has been reported for some time now, although Real Madrid struggling in La Liga, and Manchester City reportedly looking to axe Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, Falcao could find himself in the middle of a bidding war in January. However, after submitting an offer worth £48 million to Atletico, Chelsea appear to have stolen a march in the race to sign the world's most in-form striker.
3. Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua)
The 34-year-old made himself a legend at Chelsea by scoring the equalising goal and, more importantly, the winning penalty which handed Chelsea their first ever Champions League triumph. For that, and his eight years of success at Stamford Bridge, Didier Drogba will be forever remembered by Chelsea fans.
Drogba decided after leaving Chelsea that he would seek a new challenge elsewhere in the world, and opted to join the likes of Dario Conca and Seydou Keita for the riches of the Chinese League by signing for Shanghai Shenhua, where former team mate Nicolas Anelka also plies his trade at present.
After scoring 11 goals in 16 games, Drogba has once again become a fans' favourite in China, but pay disputes and the inevitable language barrier mean that the former Marseille man could be set for a move to Serie A champions Juventus, with Antonio Conte keen to bolster his attacking options, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. A loan switch could be on the cards, although a permanent deal would benefit Drogba and his club in the long-term, the striker currently on a reported £250,000 per week.
4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (St Etienne)
If you haven't heard of the exotically-named Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang, then don't worry. Most football fans wouldn't have known of his existence, for the St Etienne forward goes about his business quietly but effectively.
At 23 years old, the Gabon international knows how to handle being at a big club, having come through the youth system at AC Milan. However, after a flurry of loan spells, he finally settled at the Les Verts, scoring 26 goals in 62 games.
His scoring record is said to have alerted European scouts to his availability, with a knockdown fee of £6 million quoted in the French press. And that would be a bargain when you consider Aubemeyang's potential, with pace and incredible movement, he would be a decent signing for any Premier League side.
According to Skysports.com, Manchester United sent scouts to run the rule over Aubemeyang, with AC Milan and Lyon reported to be keen on securing his signature. And if any side were to sign the highly rated forward, you could bet they wouldn't regret it.
5. Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)
Despite a slow start to his career, Robert Lewandowski (pronounced Lev-an-dov-ski) has quickly become the main man at the Westfalenstadion under Jurgen Klopp. Yet, the Polish hitman doesn't seem to be too happy about life in Germany. Could he be the marquee departure from the exciting Bundesliga?
A fee of £20 million at least would be enough to get Dortmund talking, with Lewandowski only 24 and scoring on a regular basis, but is he really worth it? 32 goals in 58 games for Lech Poznan before a £5 million move to Dortmund in 2010, and since then, he's netted an impressive 39 goals in 79 appearances, with averages as a goal every other game.
And although they possess one of the world's most feared striking departments, Manchester United are said to be keen on swooping for Lewandowski in January, with the Daily Mail claiming the Red Devils were on the verge of completing a deal back in November. A transfer could still be agreed for the Pole in time for the second-half of the season. Look out, world.
6. Robinho (AC Milan)
How many spells does a player need at one club before they realise that's where they belong? Well, usually the maximum is three. And if Robinho does, as expected, rejoin boyhood club Santos for a third reunion, could the 28-year-old form a formidable partnership with the young star who replaced him in the Brazil side; Neymar?
After experiencing some mixed fortunes at Real Madrid and Manchester City, it looked as if Robinho was finally settled in Milan under Massimiliano Allegri. However, the Rossioneri's poor start to the season has been analysed and many critics point to Robinho's lack of work rate in attack as a reason for their lack of firepower. Add in the arrivals of Giampaolo Pazzini, M'baye Niang and Bojan this summer, and Robinho's mood turns from overjoyed to sulk.
A cut-price fee is what Milan will have to accept to get Robinho off the wage bill, as he will need to take a pay-cut himself. One thing still remains uncertain: will Robinho's move to Santos in January benefit Milan? Only time will tell...
7. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04)
Obtaining the signature of the much-travelled striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could be the best piece of business done by any club this summer, or even in January. The question is, should the Dutchman leave the Gelsenkirchen where he has achieved star status?
After his outrageous haul of goals for Ajax, Huntelaar moved to Real Madrid for £20 million, but was quickly shipped off to AC Milan, where he fell out of favour and then switched to Germany. He was never short of goals, with 42 goals in 73 appearances since his transfer in 2010.
But a move back to Milan is set to become a reality with Huntelaar admitting his time in Germany could be cut short, with his three-year deal expiring this summer. And with the Dutch international free to speak to foreign clubs, Inter Milan are favourites to land the 29-year-old.
8. Leo Baptistao (Rayo Vallecano)
One of La Liga's hidden gems, "Leo" has all the required attributes to become a star name in world football despite being just 20 years old. And the ambition that the Sao Paulo-born striker has to play in the Premier League could see his dream realised sooner rather than later.
Aston Villa, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle are all rumoured to be watching the highly-rated forward, and with his six goals in La Liga helping Rayo to a respectable eighth spot in La Liga, January could be a good time to move for the 6'1" towering striker.
Despite only making his debut in August, Leo would be a bargain buy for any La Liga or Premier League side. Atletico Madrid could make a move should Falcao depart the Vicente Calderon, but would definitely face competition for a player who would cost no more than £5 million.
9. Loic Remy (Marseille)
Not your typical out-and-out striker, yet Loic Remy offers something the normal forward doesn't: agility, power, pace and finishing ability, all conjured into one player.
At 25 years of age, Remy hasn't yet entered the peak period of his career at Marseille, but a return of 26 goals in 68 games for the Ligue 1 leaders isn't a bad return for the former Nice forward. His performances were noted by Harry Redknapp, now boss of QPR, who tried to sign him when he was manager of Tottenham,
And Redknapp is still interested in signing him, although Remy wants to join a club who, like Marseille, will be playing Champions League football next season. As a consequence, this almost certainly rules out QPR and Liverpool, leaving Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea to fight it out for the France international's signature.
10. David Villa (Barcelona)
It's something I don't quite understand about Barcelona. After spending a justified £35 million on signing David Villa from Valencia back in 2010, the Blaugrana are looking to sell the 31-year-old, despite scoring 29 goals in 58 games, which is hardly a poor return.
His injury record is not great, granted, but Villa is the best striker in the world on his day. A superb return of 53 goals for Spain in just 85 caps only further highlights the stupidity behind Barcelona's decision to let Villa go, with the Catalan club looking for a fee of £15 million.
Two clubs who could be willing to pay that, Liverpool and Manchester City, are looking to sign a new striker and with Villa unhappy at the Camp Nou, a January move looks likely.