If football is a soap opera, then the transfer window is the juiciest storyline of all.
January's transfer window is particularly full of drama. With just a month for clubs to conclude their business, January is fraught with tension.
We're not even halfway through the month yet, and already the transfer-window narrative is scripting itself like the screenplay of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Here are the 10 biggest storylines of the January transfer window so far.
After his goalscoring exploits at St James’ Park, Demba Ba’s buyout clause became an open secret in the football world.
With the striker available for a bargain £7 million, it was obvious that sooner rather than later, a club would make a move for Ba. It was Chelsea who eventually took the plunge, as they sought to find a striker to provide competition for the misfiring Fernando Torres.
As much as Newcastle will miss Ba, they are in the fortunate position of already having his replacement at the club. Alan Pardew has struggled all season to find a way of combining the talents of Ba and Papiss Cisse, with each striker preferring to play alone rather than as one of a pair.
Now that Ba has gone, Pardew has the opportunity to play Cisse centrally and, ideally, buy a striker that can play through the middle when needed but is equally happy on the flanks.
Marseille’s Loic Remy would fit the bill and has been linked with a move to the northeast of England by the Daily Mirror.
It is easy to forget that only last summer Wesley Sneijder was heavily rumoured to move to either Manchester United or City.
Just a few months later, Sneijder’s stock has seemingly fallen, and the playmaker finds himself linked by ESPN with a move to Galatasaray.
Inter Milan want Sneijder to take a pay cut, and with the player unwilling to reduce his circumstances, a cut-price transfer has become inevitable.
Whoever takes the plunge to buy Sneijder, still aged only 28, could find themselves with the biggest bargain of the transfer window.
Whoever is in charge of player contracts at Arsenal should count himself lucky if his own is renewed.
Time after time, Arsenal have allowed their star performers’ contracts to run down, putting themselves in situations in which they have to consider selling their prize assets rather than losing them for nothing.
The latest player that Arsenal are struggling to keep hold of is Theo Walcott.
The England international wants a pay rise and assurances that he will be played as a striker, rather than out on the wing.
Walcott’s form of late looks like it will be enough to persuade Arsenal to offer the forward the contract he wants. If they fail to come to an agreement, then you can bet that the Premier League’s top sides will look to strip Arsenal of another top player.
Spanish international striker Fernando Llorente’s contract at Athletic Bilbao expires in the summer, fueling speculation that the target man could leave Bilbao in January for as little as £7 million.
Juventus have been heavily linked with a move for Llorente, as have several Premier League clubs.
Whether Llorente moves this winter or on a free transfer in the summer, one lucky club is going to land themselves a world-class striker for very little money.
David Beckham left the L.A. Galaxy last year, and since then there has been endless speculation as to where the England legend will play next.
It seems unlikely that Beckham will return to the Premier League. Paris St Germain have been linked with a move by Metro that would see Beckham make a return to the Champions League, while there has also been talk of a move to such far-flung locations as China, Qatar and Australia.
Mrs. Beckham will surely have a big say as to where David goes next, so I’d be putting my money on a move to Paris rather than embracing another "brave new world."
It says much for the attacking riches at Barcelona’s disposal that a player of David Villa’s talent could be deemed surplus to requirements.
Villa has struggled to find regular football at the Camp Nou this season, alerting a number of teams which still think that the 31-year-old has plenty to offer.
With the possibility of a loan-deal, Daily Mail have linked Arsenal with a move for Spain’s all-time-record goalscorer.
Tottenham came incredibly close to signing the Porto playmaker Joao Moutinho in the summer, only to fail to complete the deal before the transfer window slammed shut.
Andre Villas-Boas is still keen to reunite with his former midfield lieutenant, and Daily Mirror have rumoured that Tottenham will make another move for Moutinho.
However, with Porto through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, Spurs might have to wait until the summer until they get their man.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea contract will expire in the summer, and as yet the player hasn’t come to an agreement with the club for a new deal.
It looks as though Lampard will soon be moving on, raising two big questions: Where will Lampard go next, and who will replace him?
Lampard has been linked with moves to rival Premier League clubs, European giants and the MLS. When the Chelsea legend departs, he will leave big boots to fill. Chelsea have been rumoured by the Daily Mail to be watching Everton’s Marouanne Fellaini.
It seems that Mario Balotelli has finally run out of lives at Manchester City. The Italian striker’s eventful stay at City looks like it will come to an end, after he was pictured having a physical disagreement with his manager, Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli was famously once pictured wearing an A.C. Milan shirt and, The Independent claim that the Rossoneri are the favourites to buy the erratic striker for a cool £25 million.
While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo blur the traditional boundaries between midfield and striker, one La Liga frontman is resolutely committed to the traditional business of goal-poaching.
Radamel Falcao is the most wanted striker in the world. It was heavily rumoured that Chelsea would make a January move for the Columbian, but the London club eventually signed the much cheaper Demba Ba.
Now the consensus of opinion seems to be that Falcao will move across Madrid to join Real (per Marca,com).
Together, Ronaldo and Falcao could be the deadliest combination in world football.