Arsenal—A team in need of more strikers.
It was a summer of steals, coups and mega-deals. It was also a summer of near-misses, almost-signings and ineptitude. Mostly by Manchester United.
Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil, but they failed to land a striker as backup for Olivier Giroud. Real Madrid wooed Gareth Bale but were unsuccessful in signing another forward and Manchester City ended the summer in desperate need of new defenders.
It looks like many of Europe's top clubs are already looking towards January as a time to bring in new players.
But what are the most pressing needs for the winter transfer period?
We take a look over the following slides, which are assembled in alphabetical order, and discuss the positions that Europe's biggest hitters need to fill.
Any teams that you think need to make urgent transfers this January? Let us know who and why in the comments section below!
AC Milan need defensive recruits to partner Phillipe Mexes.
AC Milan have needed to bolster their defence for some time, yet no notable reinforcements arrived over the summer.
With Matias Silvestre, Daniela Bonera, Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio all sidelined, defensive dutes rely on the fitness of Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata.
New recruit Jherson Vergara is still new to Serie A, having joined Milan from Colombian side Deportes Quindio in July.
With the Champions League bound to take its toll on Massimiliano Allegri's side, it's crucial that the Rossoneri strengthen their back line in January.
Milan could also do with signing a top-class goalkeeper, in order to provide cover and competition for 36-year-old Christian Abbiati.
Olivier Giroud—four games, four goals.
Olivier Giroud has been in fine form this season, with a goal in every game for the Gunners so far.
If he gets injured it will be disastrous for Arsenal, who have little in the way of striking options to fall back on.
The arrival of Mesut Ozil is a coup for club and Premier League alike, but it does not mask the fact that Arsenal will be hamstrung if they do not buy a new striker.
Expect the Gunners to go all-out to bring in a new face this winter.
Arsenal would also benefit from the acquisition of a new centre-back. Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou departed over the summer, and Thomas Vermaelen has a stress fracture in his back—which saw him miss the start of the season. Should anything happen to Per Mertsesacker or Laurent Koscielny, the side will be in trouble.
Puyol—"Like a new signing" for Barcelona.
Barcelona have been trying to do just that all summer. According to John Cross of the Mirror, La Blaugrana were linked with Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Daniel Agger (Liverpool) and David Luiz (Chelsea) among others, yet no move materialized.
There are just three recognized centre-backs at Camp Nou in Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Marc Bartra. Others, like Javier Mascherano, can deputise, but with Bartra in need of more experience and Puyol coming toward the end of his career, backup is sorely needed.
New Barca manager Gerardo Martino has even acknowledged the fact that his side need to recruit new defenders. He was quoted by Jack De Menezes in the Independent as saying: "We have Puyol, Pique, Mascherano, Bartra, even Adriano. If there's an injury, January transfer window is only a few months away."
Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has dusted off the well-worn cliche that the return of Puyol will be like "a new signing" when the 35-year-old is back to full fitness, according to ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan.
Yet that assertion may wear thin, as will the squad, come January.
Demba Ba. Good, but good enough for Chelsea?
Chelsea must make a new striker their top priority this January.
The Blues wanted to sign Wayne Rooney all summer long. Reported to have made two bids for the Manchester United striker, according to Daniel Taylor of the Guardian, their pursuit ultimately came to nothing.
Jose Mourinho's side have scored four goals in four games this season, and not one of those strikes have come from a centre-forward. They drew 0-0 against Manchester United in an uninspiring game at Old Trafford and lost out 1-0 to Everton last weekend.
Samuel Eto'o arrived on a free transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala over the summer, but after the surprising decision to let Romelu Lukaku go to Everton on loan, Chelsea still need more quality up-front.
They may have a raft of attacking talent in Andre Schurrle, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Mata and Willian, but the side's killer instinct is missing.
After firing blanks in recent back-to-back Premier League fixtures, expect Chelsea to try again for Rooney in the new year.
Joleon Lescott—One of just two fit centre-backs at City.
Who would have thought that, with £90 million spent, the Citizens would still be in need of new players?
Beaten in the spending stakes by only Tottenham Hotspur this summer, City have a wealth of options going forward. But at the back they are threadbare, and it shows.
Manuel Pellegrini's side looked very pedestrian when they played Cardiff City on August 25. Scoring two through Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo, City were undone by three Cardiff goals—all from set pieces.
Injuries ruling out Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards saw Pellegrini fielding a makeshift back line in this game, with midfielder Javi Garcia taking on defensive duties.
To ease their worries, City signed Martin Demichelis before the summer transfer window closed, yet the 32-year-old Argentina international is long past his best. After an injury picked up just days after joining the side, he won't be making an appearance any time soon.
Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott are now the only fully fit centre-backs the team has, with Kompany out until October.
If Kolo Toure had not gone to Liverpool on a free transfer, he would have been an asset to City right now. At the time of writing, Liverpool have, incidentally, kept clean sheets in every Premier League game so far.
If rumours like this from the Daily Mail's Ian Ladyman are true, Lescott might be on his way out of the Etihad in January, leaving the side even shorter on options.
City need new defenders, and they need them now.
Manchester United's only notable summer addition, Marouane Fellaini.
Manchester United have never been big spenders in January. However, this year may prove to be an exception.
Ed Woodward had a summer of transfer dealings that were nothing short of disastrous. United's new chief executive made a series of high-profile attempts to sign new players but was rebuffed time and again.
What United needed most was a creative midfielder, their seeming reluctance to use Shinji Kagawa in this position, or at all, saw them pursuing the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric, and Thiago Alcantara, as reported by Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail. No targets could be persuaded to make the switch to Old Trafford, none but Marouane Fellaini.
Fellaini, used as a second striker at Everton last season under David Moyes, looks like he will go back to the role he feels more comfortable in—that of a deep-lying, holding midfielder. The Belgian has already commented on how he hopes to emulate the tough-tackling Roy Keane at Old Trafford, as seen on the BBC Sport website.
Unless United give Kagawa the chance to breathe life into their midfield, they are going to need to add to the side in January.
Moyes will probably look to Goodison Park to make another addition in the next transfer window. United's pursuit of Everton's Leighton Baines did not come off in the summer, and the Express reports of United returning with a second bid for the defender after their initial bid was rejected—that, too, was turned down. However, the Red Devils are likely to reignite that interest during the winter months.
Benitez—Bringing Skrtel to Serie A?
Napoli have had a great start to the 2013/14 season. Managed by Rafa Benitez, the side have recorded three wins out of three and currently sit on top of Serie A.
After such a good start it's not yet clear which areas of the team, if any, are in need of urgent strengthening. However Benitez's stance that the club require a new centre-back will probably see at least one new face arrive in January.
Napoli brought in 11 new players, following the high-profile and lucrative departure of Edinson Cavani over the summer.
Benitez brought Skrtel to Liverpool, and it's rumoured that the Slovakian will join him in January, according to Sachin Nakrani of the Guardian.
Benzema—Madrid's only senior striker.
Real Madrid were fairly busy over the summer, you might have heard that they signed a player called Gareth Bale.
The La Liga club also added to their glut of midfield talent with the capture of Isco and Asier Illarramendi and, this week, Carlo Ancelotti's side also saw Cristiano Ronaldo extending his deal at the Bernabeu until 2018, as reported by Sid Lowe in the Guardian.
Outgoings included Mesut Ozil to Arsenal and Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli.
Higuain's departure means that Madrid have just one senior striker in Karim Benzema. Alvaro Morata and Jese, both 20, are coming through the ranks, but Los Blancos need to provide relief for Benzema.
James Dickenson, of the Express, reports that Madrid will make a renewed bid for Luis Suarez in January.