January Transfer Needs for EPL Clubs
Like buying a Christmas tree in October, singling out players for the January transfer window may seem a little premature.
Yet, after seven games, it's starting to become clear where the strengths and frailties among Premier League clubs lie, with gossip and rumours already in full swing.
Imagine if each side was limited to addressing just one need this winter—be it reinforcing a certain position, retaining a star player or even finding a new manager, what would YOU pick for your team?
Over the following slides, we look at every club in the top flight and pinpoint the biggest January need for each one.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Summer Spend: £45 million
Biggest January Need: Striker
For a club that was widely considered to be in "crisis" at the start of the season, Arsenal are coping very well indeed.
Currently on the top of the Premier League, the Gunners are unbeaten in 11 games (in all competitions) and look to have picked up two of the best signings of the summer in free transfer Mathieu Flamini and £42 million man Mesut Ozil.
However, it seems unlikely they can maintain their current form all season without bringing a key player on board.
Arsene Wenger needs a new striker to provide cover and competition for Olivier Giroud.
Giroud and midfielder Aaron Ramsey are currently on great form—the pair have both scored four goals and registered two assists from their first seven top-flight outings.
If Arsenal could add a 20-plus goals-a-season striker to their ranks, they would be formidable contenders for their first piece of silverware since 2005.
Summer spend: £17 million
Biggest January need: Playmaker
Aston Villa have made big strides since last season. Going into the international break, Paul Lambert's young side are 10th in the top flight—on a par with Manchester United who sit a place above due to goal difference.
Keeping hold of Christian Benteke over the summer was a fantastic piece of business. Villa managed to convince the Belgian striker to pen a four-year deal after he'd initially handed in a transfer request, as seen in the Daily Mail.
What the Villans lack, however, is a playmaker—someone to provide a creative spark in midfield.
With Barry Bannan sold to Crystal Palace over the summer, Stephen Ireland loaned out to Stoke City and Charles N'Zogbia injured, Villa are short on options in the No. 10 role.
During the last transfer window, they were linked with Nurnberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake, as seen on ESPNfc.com and Montpellier's Younes Belhanda, as reported by Skysports.com, but neither move materialised.
With three points taken from both Arsenal and Manchester City this season, Villa are on the up. Their ascent up the table will be even swifter if they can capture a playmaker in January.
Summer Spend: £33.5 million
Biggest January Need: A level-headed chairman
Last season, Malky Mackay's Cardiff City were promoted to the top flight of English football for the first time in 51 years.
After years of coming tantalisingly close, they finally made it, their defence key in winning the division as they kept 18 clean sheets during the course of the Championship season.
The Welsh club spent the most of the promoted sides over the summer with, among others, Gary Medel signing from Sevilla, Steven Caulker from Spurs, Peter Odemwingie joining from West Brom and Andreas Cornelius making the switch from FC Copenhagen.
The man to be credited with a key role in bringing these names to the club is Iain Moody, head of recruitment.
That is, until this week.
As reported by the BBC Sport website: "Cardiff City have suspended head of recruitment Iain Moody and brought in Kazakhstani Alisher Apsalyamov as his acting replacement."
The move by chairman Vincent Tan will be sure to unsettle Mackay, with the Daily Mail's Riath Al-Samarrai suggesting that Moody's replacement is 23, with no known experience in football.
It can be difficult to find a chairman with a level head in modern football. Hopefully, Tan won't have any more surprise moves up his sleeve in January...
Summer Spend: £66.5 million
Biggest January Need: Striker
Currently third in the Premier League, it's damning to consider that not one of Chelsea's 10 goals have come from a striker this season.
After pursuing Wayne Rooney for most of the summer, Jose Mourinho signed Samuel Eto'o from Anzhi Makhachkala, the 32-year-old joining the club on a free transfer.
Much has been said about the decision to loan Romelu Lukaku to Everton for the entire season, the Belgian having scored four goals in five games for the Toffees.
Chelsea have an amazing pool of talent in midfield and the side are not short on chances. Most notably this season, Chelsea had 21 shots when they faced Everton at Goodison Park, yet their lack of killer instinct led to them losing 1-0.
It's scary to think what they would be capable of should they have a player of the ilk of Wayne Rooney or Luis Suarez up front.
Summer Spend: £18.5 million
Biggest January Need: Bring back former Eagles
Currently 19th in the table, Crystal Palace have one win and six defeats from their opening fixtures.
The Selhurst Park side brought in no fewer than 16 new players over the summer transfer window, strengthening the squad with much-needed depth and adding players with Premier League experience.
I am disgusted.
I have never been presented to the press, I have never had an official photo and I am still waiting for my club suit. I stayed for 15 days in a hotel before finding somewhere to live and the club told me I had to pick up the bill.
Suggesting that Palace need to draft in new players may sound crazy, but a couple of new faces may give the side what they need to improve as the season goes on.
As reported by Ben Jefferson in the Express, former Eagles striker Andy "AJ" Johnson has been linked with a move back to the club. Johnson had his most prolific strike rate of his career with Palace, where he netted 40 goals in 79 games before getting a move to Everton in 2006.
Wilfried Zaha, currently of Manchester United, played a huge role in getting Palace promoted last season and gossip suggests that he could go back to the club on loan in January, as reported this week by the Mirror's Matt Law.
The return of AJ and Zaha would be sure to give the team a lift as they try to keep out of the relegation scrap at the end of the season.
Summer Spend: £26 million
Biggest January Need: Keeping hold of Leighton Baines
In case you hadn't heard, Manchester United are rather keen on signing Leighton Baines.
Everton managed to hold on to the left-back over the summer, despite David Moyes' repeated attempts to take him to Old Trafford, as seen on the BBC Sport website.
Baines has been at Everton since 2007, when he signed from Wigan Athletic. In that time he has made more than 250 appearances for the side, scoring 24 goals and registering 39 assists.
The England international is a key component in Everton's defence and his attacking contribution cannot be underestimated—last season Baines created 116 chances, the most of any player in the top flight, as seen in the Daily Mail.
Under new boss Roberto Martinez, Everton are enjoying a superb start to the season. Unbeaten in all but one game, the Toffees currently sit in seventh place.
They made shrewd acquisitions over the summer—bringing in Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku on loan and signing Wigan Athletic trio Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz and James McCarthy.
According to an interview he gave to the Liverpool Daily Post, Martinez may look to bring in more new names in January.
However, keeping hold of Baines must be the club's top priority.
Summer Spend: £12.5 million
Biggest January Need: A new manager
Unfortunately for Martin Jol, it's unlikely to imagine that he will still be in the Fulham hot seat by January.
The Cottagers' new owner, Shahid Khan, has already disposed of one MJ this season, as seen in the Express, and it looks like the Dutch manager might be next.
After winning just one of their first six games, Jol won temporary reprieve with last weekend's 1-0 win against Stoke City.
At the end of October, US-based Khan will fly to England with his NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and hold talks about Jol's future.
As reported by Paul Doyle in the Guardian, Jol is hopeful that Khan will give him his backing to continue.
I haven't spoken to Khan. It's not up to me. I have great plans for the club and if I can do that, fine.
And it's fine for them as well because I think when I came here they were quite happy and lucky to get me. I was used to good clubs and I want to make Fulham a good club. So I will listen to them. I don't know what their intentions are but if they want to work with me, then I'm fine.
Summer Spend: £13 million
Biggest January Need: Striker
Going into the international break, Hull City are eighth in the table, having taken 11 points from their opening seven games.
Steve Bruce's team didn't spend big over the summer, but they did spend wisely. Tom Huddlestone has been one of the side's most outstanding performers so far this season, the £5.1 million Hull spent on him looking like a real snip.
Hull also acquired Jake Livermore and Danny Graham on loan from Spurs and Sunderland, respectively, and Ahmed Elmohamady, Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davis are among 10 new faces that came to the KC Stadium.
Unbeaten at home, Hull's two losses came against big opposition—both matches lost 2-0 away to both Chelsea and Man City.
In order to push on, Hull need to sign another striker. Danny Graham can't be faulted for his work rate but has failed to find the back of the net.
Hull have managed to keep three clean sheets so far this season and Bruce has got them looking organised and resilient in defence. If they can add goals at the other end, they stand a very strong chance of staying up this season.
Summer Spend: £50 million
Biggest January Need: Creative midfielder
Liverpool's fine start to the season sees them going into the international break level on points with table-topping Arsenal.
Daniel Sturridge has scored in every game this season, apart from the Reds' 0-1 home loss against Southampton.
Sturridge's form, paired with the return of Luis Suarez and the pre-injury creativity of Philippe Coutinho, is largely to thank for Liverpool's current position in the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers spent well over the summer, bringing in defensive cover in Kolo Toure, Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho, a new goalkeeper in Simon Mignolet, and further attacking options in Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto.
Loan moves for Chelsea's Victor Moses and Valencia's Aly Cissokho have added further depth to the squad.
Liverpool's most pressing matter at the moment is providing cover for Coutinho. The Brazilian's ability to drop deep and link defence with attack is invaluable—Liverpool need that creative player to unlock opposition defences and Rodgers does not have a direct replacement in his position.
Missing out on Christian Eriksen and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a blow over the summer and, in January, the Reds must try again.
The Anfield side have been linked with Javier Pastore in recent weeks, as seen in the Express. The Express also claims that Keisuke Honda is a target, whereas the Liverpool Echo suggest that the Reds are considering a move for Swansea's Michu and Atletico Madrid's Koke.
Summer Spend: £100 million
Biggest January Need: Central defender
With 17 goals, Manchester City are the highest-scoring side in the Premier League so far this season.
Unbeaten at the Etihad, fans of the club should be concerned about their away form—City have faced Cardiff, Stoke and Aston Villa on the road and have yet to register a win.
Joe Hart's performances have been under the microscope in recent weeks—however, it's in defence that the Citizens are really lacking.
Vincent Kompany is one of City's most important players, yet has been in and out of the side with injuries, and there is a glaring lack of replacements for the Belgian defender.
City have such a dearth of options in the role that Javi Garcia, a defensive midfielder, has been drafted in as a makeshift centre-back in Pellegrini's side.
Against Cardiff, it was the patently uncomfortable pairing of Garcia and Joleon Lescott in central defence that was the side's undoing, as they were beaten by three set-pieces from the promoted Welsh club.
As the BBC reported this week, Kompany faces a month on the sidelines after picking up a thigh injury. With new signing Martin Demichelis yet to play after injuring his knee in preseason, this leaves Matija Nastasic and Lescott as the only fully fit centre-backs available to the club.
Last season, when Kompany was out of the side for two months, City went from trailing Manchester United by two to 15 points in the time that he was out of the side. No coincidence there.
Summer Spend: £30 million
Biggest January Need: Strength in midfield
Manchester United had a disastrous summer transfer window. After being linked to a string of high-profile names, only Marouane Fellaini and Guillermo Varela joined the Old Trafford side.
The Red Devils have had their worst start to a Premier League season in 24 years and attention has already shifted towards January, where David Moyes needs to strengthen United's attacking midfield.
Had United managed to sign Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera on deadline day, they might have had a very different start to the season.
The Spanish midfielder does have a buyout clause in his contract and is eligible to play in the Champions League, should United be successful in a second attempt to buy him.
Moyes' side have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan, reports Jack Wilson of the Daily Star.
However, the German international has only played once this season due to a spine injury and he may be a more viable option next summer. Wilson also claims that United are tracking Bayer Leverkusen's Lars Bender.
Reports coming out of Old Trafford seemed to suggest that Moyes would have £50 million to spend this winter, as seen in Miguel Delaney's Mirror article.
Yet, in the last week, Moyes has played down the idea that he might spend big in the New Year. He was quoted by David Anderson in the Mirror as saying:
I'll look at January, but I wouldn't want people to have big expectations about what you would sign or do in January because I don't think January, in the main, has been a really great month to sign [players] at the top [of the league].
If you're in trouble near the bottom of the league, you might, if you're desperate for something. But I think where we’ll be with Manchester United, we'll be looking for the top players.
Summer Spend: £2 million
Biggest January Need: Striker
It was a disappointing summer for Newcastle United fans. Not only did they have to deal with the arrival of Joe Kinnear as director of football, but they also had to make do with just one signing during the transfer window.
Loic Remy was the only player to arrive at St James' Park, coming in on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
After sitting out the first two games of the season with a calf injury, the Frenchman has played in the Magpies' last five games. He has acquitted himself well, scoring five goals and proving instrumental in his side's most recent 1-2 win, a tricky away tie at Cardiff.
According to David Wright in the Express, Newcastle want to sign the striker on a permanent basis but face competition from West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur.
The waters are muddied somewhat by the court case that is fast approaching for Remy. The player was arrested in May on suspicion of rape—an allegation he denies—and is on bail until November, as seen in the Telegraph.
With rumours continuing to circulate about a potential move for summer target Bafetimbi Gomis, as seen in the Daily Mail, Newcastle should make a new striker their top priority in January.
Summer Spend: £26.5 million
Biggest January Need: Keeping the faith in Chris Hughton
With his team currently in the bottom three, Chris Hughton is already under enormous pressure in his position as Norwich boss.
Hughton bought well over the summer. The addition of Gary Hooper from Celtic, Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon, Leroy Fer from FC Twente and Nathan Redmond from Birmingham City was designed to tackle last season's lack of goals.
Yet time is needed for the new signings to gel.
The Canaries have scored five and conceded nine, winning just two games so far this season. However, it's worth pointing out that, last term, Norwich did not get their first win of the season until their eighth game, against Arsenal.
After that 1-0 win, Hughton's side went on a nine-game unbeaten run and, over the course of the season, took the scalps of Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton.
This is a side that can improve. It's a work in progress and Hughton just needs time.
Summer Spend: £35 million
Biggest January Need: Keep hold of Luke Shaw
Southampton have conceded two goals this season, fewer than any other side in the Premier League.
They have yet to face Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, but the Saints are currently fourth in the table, with only one loss to their name.
Mauricio Pochettino strengthened the spine of the team over the summer—bringing in Pablo Osvaldo up front, Dejan Lovren in defence and Victor Wanyama in midfield—and his side are progressing nicely.
Southampton have good strength in depth and they do not need to spend big in January. However, they should do all they can to hold on to in-demand defender Luke Shaw.
Currently being linked with a host of top-flight clubs, Pochettino faces a battle in holding on to the 18-year-old. If reports in the Daily Star are to be believed, Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs are all keen on signing the England U21 player.
However, apart from Danny Fox, Shaw is the only recognised left-back at the club and Fox makes for a poor replacement.
Summer Spend: £6.2 million
Biggest January Need: Striker
No side has scored fewer goals than Stoke City this season and in January, Mark Hughes must look to the transfer market for a new striker.
The Potters managed to keep hold of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic over the summer and they strengthened their defence with the addition of Marc Muniesa and Erik Pieters from Barcelona B and PSV Eindhoven, respectively.
And they look like a side drastically improved under Hughes. This season Stoke have enjoyed 50 percent of possession, according to Squawka. They have a pass accuracy of 79 percent and they have created 54 chances.
They just need to turn those opportunities into goals.
Up front, Stoke have Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters, with new signing Marko Arnautovic also able to play in a striker's role. Between the four of them, they have not registered a single Premier League goal this season.
Summer Spend: £23.5 million
Biggest January Need: Consistency
It hasn't been a good start to the season for Sunderland. Rooted to the bottom of the table, the Black Cats have conceded 16 goals, scored five and taken just a solitary point from their opening seven games.
Following Paulo Di Canio's departure, they can also boast the dubious honour of having the first managerial sacking in the Premier League this season.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Over the summer, Sunderland brought in some good reinforcements. They may have gone slightly overboard by signing 14 new players, but in there are some genuinely good names, such as former Juventus man and Italy international Emanuele Giaccherini, USA international Jozy Altidore and centre-back Modibo Diakite, signed from Lazio.
Following his summer spree, it's highly unlikely that Ellis Short will be looking for new players in January. Hopefully, for the sake of consistency at the club, he won't be looking for a new boss either.
This week Gus Poyet was unveiled as the club's new manager, as seen on the BBC Sport website. There are 13 games to go until the January transfer window opens and, funnily enough, Paolo Di Canio was fired after 13 games in charge...
There is still time for Sunderland to save their season. Will Poyet be the man to do it? Watch this space.
Summer Spend: £21.5 million
Biggest January Need: Stay Injury Free
Swansea bought well over the summer, adding Wilfried Bony, Jonjo Shelvey, Jordi Amat and Jose Canas, among others, to their ranks.
All in all, Michael Laudrup drafted in nine new players, essential for a club heading into a busy season of domestic and European football.
The Swans may have lost four out of their opening seven Premier League games, but they are performing well in Europe, where they have lost just one game in six and have defeated the likes of Valencia 0-3 on Spanish soil.
Looking ahead, Swansea will be playing two games a week for the entire month of December, including tricky away ties against Manchester City and Chelsea and a trip to Switzerland to face St Gallen in the Europa League.
They will need everyone fit if they want to emulate the successes of last season, where they finished ninth in the top flight and took home silverware in the shape of the Capital One Cup.
Summer Spend: £105 million
Biggest January Need: Left-back
Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed very successful dealings in the summer transfer market. They welcomed Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches and Nacer Chadli to White Hart Lane and still had money left over from their departures, including the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
The club are in a period of transition at the moment, as the new signings take time to bed into the side. Perhaps a cause for concern is a lack of goals from Soldado, who has registered just two strikes—both penalties—so far this season.
However, if Spurs were to address just one key area in January, it would have to be at left-back.
At the moment, Danny Rose is the club's first choice. Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Naughton can both deputise in the role, but neither seems comfortable and both are better suited to other defensive positions.
With Rose missing out on several games this season due to a toe injury, left-back can be a big weakness for Andre Villas-Boas' side, which must be remedied in January.
Luke Shaw has already been linked with a move to the club, as seen in the Express in May. Fabio Coentrao has also been mentioned, in the Mirror and even Manchester United target Leighton Baines seems to be attracting interest from North London, according to the Daily Mail's John Drayton and Rob Draper.
West Bromwich Albion
Summer Spend: £13.5 million
Biggest January Need: Sign up Morgan Amalfitano
Over the summer, West Bromwich Albion brought in some quality players—Stephane Sessegnon joined the side from Sunderland, Morgan Amalfitano came on loan from Olympique Marseille, Scott Sinclair joined on loan from Man City and Victor Anichebe made the switch from Everton on deadline day.
Steve Clarke's side failed to win any of their opening four fixtures, but after beating Sunderland 3-0, they seemed to grow in confidence, leading to a huge win against Manchester United at Old Trafford and a draw against Arsenal at the Hawthorns last weekend.
The Baggies have a very strong squad, with one of their most impressive players this term being Amalfitano. The Frenchman has taken no time to bed into the Premier League, where he has scored twice and registered one assist in four games so far.
There is an option to make the 28-year-old's move permanent, as seen in the Mirror.
Sign him up!
Summer Spend: £20.5 million
Biggest January Need: Striker
West Ham are in desperate need of a new striker. Over the summer Sam Allardyce brought in Andy Carroll from Liverpool for £15 million, but the forward has yet to play this term after injuring his foot in a preseason game.
The Hammers are so short of options upfront that they took to the field against Spurs without a striker last week. It was a gamble that ultimately paid off in a 0-3 away win, but Allardyce's team cannot function without a targetman all season.
West Ham failed in their attempts to bring Demba Ba to Upton Park in January and were rumoured to be interested in Romelu Lukaku and Niklas Bendtner, as seen in the Daily Mail.
Instead, they managed to capture winger Stewart Downing, left-back Razvan Rat from Shakhtar Donetsk on a free transfer and 32-year-old striker Mladen Petric.
There is a bright spot in the emergence of Ravel Morrison, but Allardyce will have to act fast in January to avoid missing out on his targets once again.