The 10 Premier League Players Who Need to Move Clubs in January
The January transfer window can be a valuable time for clubs who are desperately trying to avoid relegation, win silverware or patch up a threadbare squad.
But, for some players, it provides an escape route.
Perhaps, as for Demba Ba, sitting on the bench has become an all-too-familiar pastime. Maybe, like Cesar Azpilicueta, you can't see how you'll ever get back into your manager's plans, or even, like Ashley Young, your form may necessitate a move.
Whatever the reason, some players want out—they crave playing time and need to be in contention for a World Cup spot with their respective nations.
Assembled in no particular order, over the following slides, we look at 10 Premier League players who need to make a switch in January.
As would be expected, most of the names on the list come from the top flight's biggest clubs, whose great wealth affords them the luxury of keeping legions of talent on the fringes of the team.
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This time last season, the striker was still at Newcastle United, where he played every single game of the 2012/'13 campaign before getting a move to Stamford Bridge.
Ba made 13 Premier League appearances for his new side and scored one goal after signing for £7.4 million in January. The Senegalese had been far more prolific at St. James' Park, where he'd notched 14 goals in 21 games.
This season, his time on the pitch has been limited under Jose Mourinho. In fact, the 28-year-old has played just 136 minutes of top-flight football, in games against Aston Villa and Norwich.
It doesn't look like Ba is going to feature much at all in Mourinho's Chelsea plans, and the club will probably allow him to go out on loan in the New Year.
Arsene Wenger needs backup for Olivier Giroud, and Ba ticks all the necessary boxes. However, it's worth bearing in mind that the striker is cup-tied for the Champions League after playing against Basel in September. It's also fairly unlikely that Mourinho will allow Ba to join one of Chelsea's direct rivals.
Perhaps a return to Newcastle would be more fitting, as reported in the Daily Mail in August. Or maybe a move back to former club West Ham, as mooted in Metro last month, with interest from Napoli and Valencia also mentioned over the summer.
Javier Hernandez or "Chicharito" has played even less top-flight football than Demba Ba this season. The Manchester United striker missed the first two games of the campaign due to a hamstring injury and has featured in just 88 minutes of league football since then.
Chicharito is an undeniable talent. When it comes to a striker's skill set, he has it all—quick, good in the air, can shoot with both feet, great movement and an incredible ability to find space.
He could be a prolific goalscorer if he was given more time on the pitch.
It will be to Manchester United's detriment if they let the 25-year-old leave in January but, for the player, a move is key.
According to the Independent's Tom Collomosse, Tottenham Hotspur are keen on bringing him to White Hart Lane in January, despite the Mexico international's claims that he is willing to fight for his place at Old Trafford.
In an interview the player gave to TV channel Telemundo, via the Independent, he said:
I am going on four years here at Manchester United and, like I have always said, I am happy to be able to play for one of the best clubs in the world.
I am happy, doing my best every single day to earn more minutes on the pitch.
All of us want to be able to contribute our part so this team can win championships.
I know my performance on the pitch will allow me to achieve that goal some day either here [in Manchester] or elsewhere for any other club.
I just need to be given more opportunities to showcase what I can do.
The blossoming partnership between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in Arsenal's back line has seen Thomas Vermaelen grow increasingly marginalised.
He may be Arsenal's club captain but after suffering through various injuries the 27-year-old had struggled to force his way back into contention for the Gunners.
His is a classic case of needing a move to improve his chances of representing Belgium at the World Cup in Brazil next year.
In an interview with the Daily Mail's Neil Moxley, Vermaelen hinted that a January exit may be on the cards:
I'll have to think about that when it’s necessary. January is still a few months ahead. Of course, never playing will not be the ideal situation for me to go to the World Cup, that’s for sure.
People ask me if I panic because I’m not playing a lot but I'm not.
I have spoken to the manager but it will remain private between us. Things can happen in a split second and change my situation. That can happen tomorrow or next weekend.
In that case, we will speak differently in January. I have to be ready for that.
Wilfried Zaha is yet to make an appearance for Manchester United in the top flight.
The winger's game time has been limited to just one outing with the Red Devils, in their 2-0 win against Wigan in the Community Shield.
According to a report from Metro's Jamie Sanderson this week, Zaha needs to improve to get a place in David Moyes' starting XI. Moyes said:
I want Wilf to get used to what happens here. The competition is hard.
It is important Wilf gets to see the level of the training here, the level of the players and the quality they have got.
He is getting better which we are pleased about.
It is just impossible to get all these players a game at the one time. You can only ever play 11.
Zaha was signed by United last January but played for Crystal Palace on loan for the rest of the 2012/'13 season, where he played a huge part in the club's promotion to the Premier League.
As reported by the Independent's Simon Rice, it's thought that the 20-year-old could return to Selhurst Park on loan this winter.
Elsewhere, the Mirror's David Anderson suggests that Fulham and Newcastle are also interested in securing Zaha's services in the New Year.
It's no coincidence that Nikica Jelavic's return to the Everton bench has coincided with Romelu Lukaku's arrival at Goodison Park.
After being substituted off in the Toffees' 3-2 away win against West Ham, Jelavic has not made another Premier League appearance since. Whereas the on-loan Lukaku has put away four goals in three games and looks to continue as first-choice striker.
The Croatian has been at Goodison Park since January 2012, scoring 19 goals in 64 games. He made an incredible start to life on Merseyside, scoring 11 goals in his first 16 games with the club.
He has struggled to find that kind of form again and, with Lukaku and former Wigan man Arouna Kone now on the books, a place in Roberto Martinez's starting XI is beginning to look unlikely.
Over the summer, it looked like Jelavic might join Hamburg, the Bundesliga club's sporting director Oliver Kreuzer saying in the Independent:
Jelavic would be exactly the right player for us. He is a really dangerous striker.
But we have to scrutinise whether it is financially possible. I have heard that Everton's new manager wants to sell him.
Day in, day out, I talk to all the agents, but nothing has come up yet. If we manage that (to sell two or three players) we could work out if a loan or a payment in instalments would be possible.
Kevin De Bruyne
With a wealth of options to choose from in the Chelsea midfield, Kevin De Bruyne is finding his first-team chances limited.
The 22-year-old has been at Stamford Bridge since January 2012 but has played just four games with Jose Mourinho's side.
Last season, he was on loan at Werder Bremen, where he made 34 appearances, notching 10 goals and 10 assists.
Over the summer, there was interest from a number of German teams, including Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen but, according to De Bruyne's agent Patrick de Koster, Jose Mourinho assured him that he had a place at Chelsea, as seen on ESPNFC.com.
Things have not quite worked out that way.
After playing in the first two games of the season, the Belgian has fallen down the pecking order and was even sent to train with the U-21 players after losing his spot in the first team, as reported by the Independent's Jack de Menezes.
In the Guardian this week, De Bruyne said he is happy to fight for his place. However, there are still rumours that he will look elsewhere in January.
De Bruyne is still being picked by national team coach Marc Wilmots, yet if he wants to remain in the frame for the World Cup, he will need to make a move.
It looks like Emmanuel Adebayor will be on his way out of White Hart Lane in January.
If this report, by the Independent's Tom Collomosse is to be believed, the striker's sale will help fund a move to buy Javier Hernandez from Manchester United.
The former Arsenal and Manchester City forward has failed to make a big impact with Spurs, since signing a permanent deal, following a season-long loan spell with the side, in 2012.
Adebayor earns a reported £100,000 a week—a huge amount for a player who scored just five Premier League goals last season and is yet to play this term.
Behind both Roberto Soldado and Jermain Defoe in the pecking order, and with plans to sign another striker in the next window it's highly unlikely that Adebayor will find himself called upon this season. Although the Mirror's Darren Lewis suggests that the Togolese striker may be played, if only to drive up his asking price.
A move to Turkish side Besiktas has been mentioned by the London Evening Standard's Tom Collomosse, who said: "Besiktas remain interested along with clubs in the Middle-East and Russia, but Standard Sport understands the player would prefer to move to a higher-profile European league."
According to Metro's Jamie Sanderson, Harry Redknapp is also keen on bringing Adebayor to Queens Park Rangers.
His drop, or plummet, in form has been steadily increasing over the last couple of seasons. Injuries, a loss of confidence and getting dropped from the England squad have all played a part in the winger's demise. Criticism levelled at the 28-year-old for diving has not helped his cause.
Whether he has the required level of quality to play for Manchester United is up for debate but Young has been consistent in just one thing since arriving at Old Trafford in 2011, and that, tellingly, is inconsistency.
Perhaps his career could be reinvigorated with a loan move at another club.
If Edin Dzeko decides to leave Manchester City in January, he won't be short of suitors.
Over the summer the striker was linked to a number of clubs, including Napoli and Atletico Madrid, as seen in the Daily Mail.
With 44 goals scored for Manchester City and 85 scored for previous club Wolfsburg, in 117 and 142 games, respectively, it's easy to see why the Bosnia and Herzegovina forward is an attractive proposition.
The form of Sergio Aguero and summer signing Alvaro Negredo looks like we may see Dzeko falling down the pecking order at the Etihad this season, despite featuring in five of seven Premier League fixtures so far.
As has often been the case in his time at City, Dzeko could start to find himself pushed out of the side's starting XI.
He does seem to be playing with more confidence, following Manuel Pellegrini's arrival over the summer yet a player of his quality deserves more than a supporting role.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been at Chelsea for little over a year.
The Spaniard enjoyed an impressive debut season at the club, where he featured in 48 games in all competitions under Roberto Di Matteo and his subsequent replacement, Rafael Benitez.
The right-back even played 90 minutes as Chelsea won the Europa League final against Benfica last term.
Under Jose Mourinho, Azpilicueta has not featured nearly as much—the 24-year-old has played just nine minutes of top-flight football this season—leading, inevitably, to talk of a January exit.
According to another Express report by Charles Perrin, the Spaniard could also get a move to Athletic Bilbao, as a long-term replacement for Androni Iraola.
After representing his country at every youth level, the right-back was called up to the senior squad last February by Vicente del Bosque, who said on ChelseaFC.com: "Azpilicueta is playing many games for Chelsea. He has a lot of energy, defends well and is always willing to attack. We have a lot of hope for him."
If he wants to remain in contention for a place at the 2014 World Cup, Azpilicueta will need to look elsewhere for consistent playing time.