Premier League Transfers: 10 Predictions for the January Window
Perhaps you are a fully paid-up devotee to all things transfer-related, or maybe you harbour an irrational hatred for rumours and gossip, but you have to admit—it keeps us going during the barren spells of the offseason and international breaks.
Why not look to January instead?
The next transfer window is still months away, but it's going to be an interesting period for the Premier League. On the back of a record-breaking summer spend, will top-flight clubs still pay out enormous amounts of money for new players?
With one eye on the 2014 World Cup, will some of football's biggest names be on the move, as they try to secure a berth in their national team?
Arranged in no particular order, over the following slides we make some predictions about who will be going where this winter, including: Eliaquim Mangala to Manchester City, Will Hughes to Liverpool and Luis Suarez to Real Madrid.
Read on for more!
Will Hughes to Liverpool
Derby County midfielder Will Hughes is being linked with a number of Premier League clubs.
However, it's comparisons to Steven Gerrard that have seen him targeted as a potential long-term successor for the Reds captain. The Mirror's Alan Nixon claims that Liverpool are the favourites to sign Hughes in January.
Elsewhere, it appears that Brendan Rodgers may face a battle to bring him to Anfield as John Drayton, of the Daily Mail, suggests that Man United are also preparing a bid.
In May, Hughes was the youngest player to make it into FourFourTwo's ranking of the top 50 players in the Football League. They described the then-17-year-old as "one of English football's hottest properties."
This season, the midfielder has started every game in the Championship for Derby and is seen as a key player in the Rams' promotion aspirations. Hughes has also represented England at U17 and U21 level.
A New Striker at Arsenal
Arsenal lack sufficient backup for Olivier Giroud and tried to sign a number of strikers over the summer.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema has been repeatedly linked with Arsene Wenger's side. As the Guardian's Sid Lowe reported in August, Madrid may have been prepared to let the forward leave, if they managed to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool.
The transfer window closed, with neither player making a move from their respective clubs. However, as January approaches, the same rumours seem to be cropping up once again.
Arsenal will sign a new striker in January, the only question is—who will it be?
Luke Shaw to Leave Southampton
Luke Shaw's performances for Southampton have made a number of top clubs sit up and take notice.
The left-back distanced himself from rumours of a move away from St. Mary's over the summer when he signed a new five-year deal with the club.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino told the club's official website: "We hope that Luke's new contract will bring to an end any remaining speculation about his future, and that he can now focus fully on what promises to be an exciting season."
However, rumours are still rife.
According to the Daily Star, Manchester United and Spurs are interested in signing the highly rated teenager.
Both clubs need a new left-back, and Southampton may find themselves unable to fend off big-money advances in January.
Burak Yilmaz to Chelsea
Burak Yilmaz is a player whose name is a regular fixture in the rumour mill of late.
The Galatasaray striker was the subject of interest from Chelsea, among others, over the summer. The Guardian's Dominic Fifield reported in May that the Blues had lodged an inquiry with the Turkish club to see if the 28-year-old was for sale.
Galatasaray then informed the Blues that they'd have to bid in excess of £20 million to sign the striker.
Last season, Yilmaz scored 24 goals in 30 Superlig appearances and also netted eight in the Champions League.
Chelsea have played seven games in the Premier League this season, scoring 10 goals. Not one has come from a striker—a glaring matter that must be addressed in January.
This week, Skysports.com claim that Galatasaray are prepared to listen to offers for Yilmaz. Club chairman Unal Aysal said: "If he wants to go and Chelsea are interested then of course, why not? I favour Turkish players going to Europe to play in European leagues."
Leaving Liverpool: Suarez and Skrtel
Despite insisting that he was happy at Anfield when the last window closed, it seems pretty reasonable to imagine that, come January, Luis Suarez will welcome advances from Real Madrid.
Back in May, the striker went public about his desire to leave Liverpool and the Premier League, as seen in the Guardian:
To say no to Madrid would always be difficult and more so with the team they have. I have a contract with Liverpool, but it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid. There are a lot of rumours in the transfer period, but you never know until firm offers are made.
Currently, it seems that Madrid are preparing a January bid for the Uruguayan, according to Paul Collins in the Daily Mail.
Defender Martin Skrtel has also been continuously linked with a move away from Anfield. The Mirror claims that he could be set for a switch back to former club FC Zenit St. Petersburg, whereas ESPNfc.com says that Rafa Benitez may try to bring the 28-year-old to Napoli.
Liverpool have a wealth of options in defence and may be tempted to cash in on the Slovakian this winter.
New Premier League Striker: Dieumerci Mbokani
It looks like Dynamo Kiev's Dieumerci Mbokani could be on his way to the Premier League.
According to this report on Skysports.com, the 27-year-old is unhappy with Oleh Blokhin's squad rotation policy and has been rather outspoken about his desire to leave, despite this being his first season with the club:
I am not happy at the moment with the squad turnover, I like to play my football week in, week out, to have my rhythm.
I like the club, I like being here but the way the coach rotates I do not like it.
I am here to play football, if it does not change I will ask to be transferred away from here, there was a big club in England after me.
Mbokani has scored six goals and registered six assists in 12 Premier Liga games this season. He has also notched one in the Europa League.
Metro's Jamie Sanderson claims that Spurs are interested in buying Mbokani in January. Earlier this year, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool were credited with interest in the former Anderlecht and Monaco forward, as seen on Skysports.com.
Manchester United Will Not Spend
Manchester United may need new players, but this does not mean they are going to act in the January transfer window.
The club's failings over the summer have been well documented—new manager David Moyes and new chief executive Ed Woodward getting a hard lesson in how not to operate in the international transfer market.
The Red Devils are rumoured to have £50 million to spend this winter, as seen in this article by the Mirror's Miguel Delaney.
However, on Manutd.com, Moyes has moved to play down the possibility of bringing in new names in January:
I think I'll look at January but I wouldn't want people to have big expectations of what we would sign or do in January. Because I don't think January has, in the main, been a great month to sign really at the top [level].
I think if you're in trouble near the bottom you might [sign players] as you're desperate for something. But where I think we will be with Manchester United is looking for [only] the top players.
It's Moyes' first season at the club, and perhaps he will focus on getting performances out of his existing squad rather than bringing in new names. If, as Moyes says, he thinks he can't sign top players in January, the new United boss may hold on until next summer before really stamping his authority on the side.
Lacina Traore to Liverpool
There seems to be little doubt that Lacina Traore will leave Anzhi Makhachkala this January.
The Russian club have sold off almost all of their big-name players, including the likes of Willian, Lassana Diarra, Yuri Zhirkov and Samuel Eto'o in recent months, following continued financial problems for owner Suleyman Kerimov.
Traore has been on Liverpool's radar for a while. As the Daily Mail's David Kent reported this week: "Brendan Rodgers has been chasing the Ivorian international for some time and failed to sign him last year when the Russian Premier League club decided to pull out of the deal at the last minute."
In Metro, Jamie Sanderson reports that Traore's agent Dmitry Selyuk said: "If a good offer arrives that suits us then Lacina is free to leave in January."
The 23-year-old striker cuts an imposing figure at 6'8", he is an Ivory Coast international and he scored 17 goals in all competitions for Anzhi last season.
According to the Express' Ben Jefferson, Galatasaray are also interested in securing his services in January.
Iker Casillas to the Premier League
According to several reports, including this on talkSPORT, Iker Casillas could be on his way to the Premier League in January.
The Real Madrid keeper has fallen down the pecking order at the Bernabeu—he has not made a single appearance for the club in La Liga this season.
As the World Cup draws nearer, it seems highly likely that the 32-year-old will push for a move in January, to ensure he remains Spain's No. 1.
Arsenal and Manchester City could be equally viable destinations, with City perhaps a more attractive proposition due to the club's Spanish contingent and Chilean manager, not to mention the current form of goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Expect Casillas to be on the move this winter, with the English top flight his potential new home.
Eliaquim Mangala to Manchester City
FC Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala is just what Manchester City need this January.
The club have a shortage of centre-backs, which they tried to address over the summer—Martin Demichelis arrived from La Liga, but is yet to play a game after picking up an injury in preseason.
The Argentine is joined on the injury list by Vincent Kompany, who has already been sidelined with two separate injuries this term.
According to the Express, Manuel Pellegrini made an approach for Mangala over the summer, the 22-year-old said to be "flattered" by his links with the Manchester club.
Elsewhere, the Daily Star has claimed that City will make a renewed bid in January.
The French defender has a £37.8 million release clause in his contract and is also attracting interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, reckons the Guardian's Daniel Taylor.
With many clubs in Europe in need of a world-class central defender, City will face a tussle for Mangala's signature in January.