Chris Hughton’s career as Norwich City’s manager is off to a fine start, but the road forward will be difficult, and a few reinforcements this January will greatly help his chances to finish strong.
After facing high expectations as Paul Lambert’s replacement, Hughton has outperformed his predecessor this season. He led the Canaries on an incredible run that featured wins over Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United.
But the last few weeks have not brought the same success, and after losing his last four Premier League matches, Hughton has admitted to needing more talent up front. As the BBC reported, the manager responded to a question about his needs to add depth behind Grant Holt and Steve Morison—who have both struggled with injuries—by saying, “It's an area that of course we have looked at."
The article also quotes him saying, “We won't look to strengthen the squad in areas that aren't right for us. If we see there is an opportunity, and it's right, we'll endeavour to do it."
Here are the players Hughton should be looking into this month.
Danny Graham, Swansea City
After earning a place as the team’s top attacking option under Brendan Rodgers, Danny Graham was forced to the bench when Michael Laudrup arrived and brought Michu with him.
The Spanish attacker has made a roaring start to his Swansea career, and has 13 goals this season. But Graham was able to get back onto the pitch after Michu suffered a minor injury, and the Englishman has scored in each of his last two matches.
This will be Norwich’s best option to add to its stable of attackers, and Hughton should heavily pursue Graham in the coming weeks.
Craig Mackail-Smith, Brighton
If no Premier League side is willing to part with a striker for a reasonable fee, Hughton should look to the Championship’s top attacking options.
The Daily Mail’s Joe Bernstein notes that Hughton made a run for Mackail-Smith in the summer and that he will once again be willing to send £3 million to the south of England in order to secure the striker’s services.
Mackail-Smith has 11 goals this season, and he would be a productive option for the Canaries when Holt and Morrison are either in poor form or injured.
With Brighton sitting ninth in the table, the club may be more responsive to Norwich’s offers this time around.
Ibrahima Toure, Monaco
Who should be Chris Hughton's top target?
Convincing a team in position to earn promotion to give up its top goalscorer is always difficult, but Ibrahima Toure is a talent worth taking a chance on.
The 6’2” striker has 16 goals in 19 Ligue 2 matches for Monaco, and his team is currently second in the table. As The Daily Mirror’s James Nursey reports, Hughton has already made an unsuccessful bid of £2.5 million for Toure.
While there are certainly factors working against this possible transfer, Hughton would be wise to up his bid and make a strong push for the Senegalese striker.
He has the size to be successful against Premier League defenses, and he is undoubtedly in fantastic form. Toure would be an quality option for the Canaries if Graham is unavailable, and Hughton must continue exploring options for bringing him to England.