3 Transfers Liverpool Should Target in January

Scott Burns@@scottb86Featured ColumnistOctober 10, 2013

3 Transfers Liverpool Should Target in January

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    Following Liverpool's impressive start to the 2013/14 season, it is important that they are still fighting in and amongst the big boys when the chance to strengthen the side next comes around.

    When the transfer window opens in January, the Reds will no doubt be linked with numerous players both domestically and from abroad. 

    It is important the Reds strengthen in the right areas and do not pay over the odds for players as they have in previous years.

    However, if last January's window is anything to go by, then Brendan Rodgers' eye for a bargain is second to none.

    The £8.5 million signing of Philippe Coutinho and £12 million capture of Daniel Sturridge may have looked like extravagant purchases at the time, but both players settled quickly at Anfield and have been nothing short of sensational.

    The January transfer window often sees clubs paying over the odds for players and managers left red-faced when their expensive acquisitions fail to set the world alight, with Andy Carroll being a prime example.

    If the Reds go into the window with the kind of form that they have shown in the early weeks of the season, then one or two quality additions could make a huge difference to how the second half of the season pans out.

    This article will analyse one "dream target," then three individuals who could make a real difference to Rodgers' side in 2014.

The Dream: Juan Mata

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    However unlikely and unrealistic it may seem at the moment, Liverpool's chances of landing Juan Mata may be greater should they maintain their position in the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

    Mata, Chelsea's outstanding player of last season has been out of favour in the early stages of this season with Jose Mourinho preferring Oscar in the hole behind the attack.

    The Spaniard on his day is as good as anybody in the country and in a World Cup year may find his chances of featuring in Brazil harmed if not featuring regularly.

    Mata would add craft, skill, trickery and an eye for a killer pass that at the moment the Reds rely so heavily on Coutinho to produce.

    It appears unlikely that Mata—who will no doubt have many suitors—will end up in a Liverpool shirt and as a result misses out on the definitive list.

Arda Turan

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    Despite the return of Luis Suarez enhancing the Reds' attacking options and easing the burden on Daniel Sturridge, the side still appears to lack options in the wide areas.

    With both Stewart Downing and Oussama Assaidi (loan) leaving the club in the summer, Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses appear to be the only recognisable out-and-out wingers in the current squad.

    Jordan Henderson, Iago Aspas and Coutinho have all been used in the the wide areas in the early weeks of the season, but all appear more comfortable when playing in a more central position.

    Turan has been an integral part of the Atletico Madrid side that has started the season so impressively and already has four goals and four assists to his name in all competitions so far (via ESPN). The Turkish international is comfortable on either wing and would add power and pace to Brendan Rodgers' side as well as the ability to beat an opponent.

    Whether Turan would be available would be another question.

    Charles Perrin of the Express reports that the Rodgers has shown an interest in Turan before. Should Liverpool be given any indication that Atletico are willing to sell, then the Turk is one player they should seriously consider.

Will Hughes

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    Will Hughes is arguably one of the brightest young prospects in English football and, despite being only 18 years of age, has made over 50 appearances for Derby County (via ESPN).

    There were reports by Sam Wallace of The Independent that Liverpool were close to sealing a £10 million deal for Hughes during the summer in a deal that would have seen the talented midfielder loaned back to the Rams for a season.

    Peter Guy of the Liverpool Echo has claimed that the Reds are favourites to land Hughes when the window reopens and that Brendan Rodgers sees him as an eventual replacement for captain Steven Gerrard.

    Despite a change in management at Derby following an indifferent start to the season, Hughes has been in relatively impressive form and notched this goal during his side's defeat to Reading last month—a goal that Gerrard himself would have been proud of.

    Hughes has wonderful vision and technique for a player of such a young age. While the natural talent is there for all to see, ensuring he keeps his feet on the ground and listens to those around him will be crucial if he is to reach his potential.

    There is always a risk when pursuing a young English player tipped for a bright future.

    Many years ago Nigel Clough, Hughes' former manager, moved to Anfield tipped to be the next big thing but struggled to make any sort of impact, while more recently Jonjo Shelvey, who despite showing flashes of his talent, left the club during the summer.

    If Hughes is to be judged on his performances in the early stages of this season, then he could be one risk worth taking.

Javier Pastore

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    It is no secret that Brendan Rodgers tried unsuccessfully to add a creative playmaker to his Liverpool squad during the summer transfer window.

    Reports from The Telegraph and BBC linked the Reds with moves for Brazilian midfielder Willian and Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who later went on to join Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund, respectively.

    Falling into the category of creative playmaker is Paris Saint-Germain's Javier Pastore, the Argentinian international who moved to France from Italian side Palermo in 2011.

    Despite a fairly respectable return of 25 goals in all competitions over two seasons (via ESPN), the classy midfielder has failed to hit the heights that were expected of him following his big-money move.

    Talk of the player's agent claiming that his client is unhappy with life in the French capital has led to talk of a big-money move to Anfield for a player who was once the hot property of world football. Reports in the Metro state that Pastore is looking to secure a move as early as January.

    Pastore—like Mata—would bring buckets of creativity to the Reds midfield and also has that eye for a killer pass that the likes of Suarez and Sturridge would thrive on.

    His ability to retain possession would fit perfectly into Brendan Rodgers' pass-and-move style of play and would complement fellow midfielder Coutinho superbly.

    From the list of three, Will Hughes seems most likely to arrive at Anfield in January, but moves for either Pastore or Turan would add creativity and real attacking quality to a Liverpool side already impressing so far this season.

    Comment below on who you would like to see the Reds bring in in January.