Big-Name January Transfer Targets Arsenal Could Go After

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 6, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24:  Diego Costa of Atletico de Madrid celebrates after scoring his 2nd goal during the La Liga match between Atletico de Madrid and Osasuna at Vicente Calderon Stadium on September 24, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The January transfer window is close to two full months away, but Arsene Wenger and his team will already be whittling down their short lists in search of picture-perfect additions.

With Arsenal sitting five points clear at the top of the table, the pressure to maintain dominant form and put up a strong title fight is paramount. Fans have had their appetites whet by the signing of Mesut Ozil in the summer, and now they want more.

To put it simply, the Gunners need bodies this winter, and they must be of premium quality. Re-signing Sebastian Squillaci just won't do this time.

Here are three big-name targets Arsenal could check in on, and no doubt the majority of fans would be delighted to see these players hold the shirt aloft.


Blaise Matuidi, Paris Saint-Germain

ATHENS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17:  Vladimir Weiss (R) of Olympiacos FC is challenged by Blaise Matuidi of Paris Saint-Germain FC during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Olympiacos FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC held on September 17, 2013 at
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Matuidi will be top of many top clubs' shopping lists this winter, but the situation is far more complicated than most people believe.

He has emerged as one of the finest defensive midfielders in world football, combining simple passing techniques with athletic surges and powerful tackles. As such he's a wanted man—in Paris too—but complications involving a changing of agent have meant he is unable to sign the new deal PSG have offered.

If it drags on long enough, his new representation, Mino Raiola, may be able to shop him out in January, but the likelihood of this is low.

He's worth an enquiry, and given the slightest glimmer of hope, Arsenal should be throwing money at Raiola to facilitate a deal, but don't hold your breath.


Nemanja Matic, Benfica

LISBON, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Fabrice N'Sakala (L) of RSC Anderlecht challenges Nemanja Matic of SL Benfica during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between SL Benfica and RSC Anderlecht held on September 17, 2013 at the Estadio do Sport Lis
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Matic put together a stunning 2012-13 season with Benfica and now looks a prime defensive midfield target for Europe's top clubs.

He arrived at the Estadio da Luz as part-payment for the David Luiz transfer—an ignominious way to be dealt with, it must be said—and he's set about proving to Chelsea that he's a world-class prospect.

Over the past 18 months he's transitioned from prospect to elite talent, and possesses all the desirable quantities any team would want from their primary holding midfielder.

He's got immense size (6'4"), range and leg-span, he's a magnet for interceptions and he executes tackles superbly. He has the requisite mean-streak for the position, knows when to take a yellow card and can stamp his authority on a midfield with ease.


Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 27:  Diego Costa of Atletico de Madrid strikes  the  ball during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Betis Balompieat at Vicente Calderon Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroy
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

At this point, you don't need telling about Diego Costa and his undeniable brilliance.

He's made a successful transition from La Liga's most hated player—an uncontrollable source of aggression—to a clinical, complete forward who can shoulder the needs of his team.

He's outscoring Lionel Messi in La Liga this season and is tied with Cristiano Ronaldo with 13 goals, scoring in every game but two over the course of his first 12 appearances.

That is some measure of consistency, and it's arguably a finer feat than Radamel Falcao's last season, as the Colombian tended to be very streaky and score sporadic braces and hat-tricks to boost his total.

Olivier Giroud's improvement has been a vital part of Arsenal's resurgence, but he can't do it all on his own. The Capital One Cup provided a snapshot of how untrustworthy Nicklas Bendtner can be, and Wenger cannot miss the chance to sign a supplemental striker to his in-form Frenchman.

Gary Jones of the Daily Star believes the Gunners have already checked in.


One for the Summer: Mario Mandzukic, Bayern Munich

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Mario Mandzukic of FC Bayern Muenchen walks out of the tunnel during a training session at Etihad Stadium on October 1, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Competition for places in Bayern's forward line is tough, and although Mandzukic remains a regular goalscorer, all signs point toward the Croatian falling out of favour.

Pep Guardiola has used Thomas Mueller as a centre-forward ahead of "Mandzu" when it's mattered this season, with Arjen Robben also being given a shot up top at his expense.

If Robert Lewandowski does indeed make the switch from Dortmund to Bavaria—as expected by it's fair to say Mandzukic, who will be 28 years of age in May, is a bargain waiting to be exploited.

Should Arsenal miss out on top striking targets in January, this would be one hell of a consolation prize.