The first three months of the Premier League campaign have flown by, and a quarter of the season is already down with the league table already starting to take shape.
The top eight already features last season's top seven, with the upwardly mobile Southampton in there as well and the gap between second and eighth a mere two points.
As such, we aren't far away from January and the opening of the winter transfer window, where manager's of all 20 Premier League sides will be looking to improve their squads.
However, we're taking this opportunity to not only look at the division's top-eight sides and the players that fans would love to see making moves to those sides, but, more than that, players that they need to improve.
Therefore, here's a look at eight (realistic) deals that fans of the league's current top eight sides would love to see.
Konstantinos Mitroglou—Olympiacos to Arsenal
The Gunners have made an excellent start to the 2012-13 campaign and have taken 25 points from their opening 10 games, leaving them five points clear at the top of the league table.
However, there remains that nagging sense that, sooner or later, Arsenal will fall away, and a big reason for that is the risk of injury to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman has been outstanding so far, scoring and creating goals and generally leading the line in excellent fashion, but if he picks up an injury, Arsene Wenger's side simply don't have a like-for-like deputy of the requisite quality.
Fernando Llorente won't be leaving Juventus, as reported by Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph, having begun carving a starting spot for himself in Turin alongside Carlos Tevez. Though Luis Suarez no doubt remains an interest, Liverpool won't be letting him leave.
Additionally, the fact that Giroud is so important and clearly first-choice now means that only a certain type of striker is an option—someone young, looking to move to a bigger club, who is happy to sit on the bench for a period or someone from an unfashionable league ready to step up to the Premier League.
Mitroglou has been in prolific form for the Greek side so far this season, notching 16 goals in 13 appearances, and a move to the Gunners would no doubt appeal for the dynamic striker.
Xabi Alonso—Real Madrid to Chelsea
The Spanish regista was an integral part of Jose Mourinho's starting XI during his three years at Real Madrid, and according to the Daily Mail last month, the Portuguese is keen on reuniting with the former Liverpool playmaker at Stamford Bridge.
However, while both have their strengths—Ramires with his energy and vertical running, Lampard with his eye for goal—neither has Alonso's classic ability to control the tempo, while both can't match Alonso's eye for a killer pass between the lines.
Both of those qualities would no doubt strengthen the Blues in their pursuit of a title challenge while Alonso's arrival would also add defensive stability in the zone directly ahead of the back four.
A Real Madrid without Xabi Alonso is like a Barça without Busquets. Great team, but lacking that aggressive bite and pin point passing— Tom Conn (@TomConnISF) November 2, 2013
Aiden McGeady—Spartak Moscow to Everton
Republic of Ireland international Aiden McGeady was something of a whirlwind dervish during his time in Scottish football with Celtic, capable of weaving intricate patterns and taking on opposing defences single-handedly.
His time in Russia with Spartak Moscow has enhanced him as a player, adding greater tactical understanding and responsibility to his precocious talents to the extent that, when Zenit St. Petersburg registered an interest in taking him from Spartak, they were quoted in the region of £20-£30 million as a transfer fee some 18 months back, according to the player.
The Ireland international winger, 27, sees his contract expire next summer, and according to the Express, with no interest in staying in Russia, Everton boss Roberto Martinez is keen on taking McGeady to Goodison Park in January.
Martinez's side have enjoyed a decent start to the season as they get used to the Spaniard's more technical, possession-based style, but one thing they do lack is genuine talent in wide areas—Kevin Mirallas is brilliant, but Steven Pienaar has struggled since returning from injury and Gerard Deulofeu is only on loan.
As such, a cut-price McGeady, set to enter his peak years, could be an excellent pick up for the Toffees.
Ivan Rakitic—Sevilla to Liverpool
"I'm really flattered that I'm being linked with such a big club like Liverpool," said Sevilla captain Ivan Rakitic during the summer (Goal.com), and while no deal was forthcoming, the Reds would be foolish not to make a play for the Croatian in January.
I go into the qualities of Rakitic elsewhere on this site—you can find that here—and make no mistake when I say that the 25-year-old has been one of the stars of the present La Liga campaign, despite being part of a frustratingly inconsistent Sevilla side.
Rakitic is so, so good. Definition in the final third unreal.— David (@davidjaca) October 30, 2013
And, the truth of the matter so far this term is that Liverpool's central midfield is, at present, somewhat lacking, and that is something that will only continue with the current personnel, no matter the attacking exploits of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge—that duo really are covering a multitude of sins in other areas.
Indeed, Matt Ladson, founder of This is Anfield, penned a fantastic piece on how Arsenal exposed Liverpool's midfield weaknesses— find that here—and Rakitic, with his technical qualities and all-round intelligence, would prove an excellent acquisition in that central area, both from an offensive and defensive point of view.
With only 18 months left on his contract at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, the former Schalke man's future is somewhat open to interpretation.
After Brendan Rodgers' side's start to the season and Sevilla's own travails, he is an opportunity in January that the Reds hopefully believe they cannot afford to pass up.
Blaise Matuidi—Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester City
The Manchester City squad is pretty complete following Manuel Pellegrini's summer dealings, with Fernandinho adding a responsible dynamic midfielder alongside Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas giving pace and verticality on the right flank, something not so forthcoming from the wandering styles of Messrs. Silva and Nasri.
However, something they still perhaps lack is an out-and-out midfield destroyer, someone, like former star Nigel de Jong, who sits in midfield, keeps play simple and shuts down opposing attacks.
Certainly, they have Javi Garcia, but he is yet to show the form that made him a £15.8 million signing from Benfica 15 months ago, while Jack Rodwell's injury struggles mean that, even at the age of 22, there still isn't a clearly defined best position for the former Evertonian.
I've watched all PSG games this season and I haven't seen Matuidi been poor in any of them.— Lenny Aidefors (@lfcindex) November 5, 2013
The 26-year-old has recently undergone a legal battle with a former agent, which has meant that any new deal in Paris has been on hold, and if a cut-price deal in January can be done, he'd be a perfect option for Pellegrini.
Strong, physical, dynamic, he's offered a destructive base at the heart of Laurent Blanc's midfield so far this season, while his passing ability is an underrated part of his game.
With City hunting for trophies on four fronts this term, Matuidi's presence (despite being unavailable for the Champions League) would be a major boost.
Miralem Pjanic—AS Roma to Manchester United
David Moyes struggled to improve his midfield over the summer, and, though he eventually spent £27 million on Marouane Fellaini, the jury remains out regarding the Belgian and his rather one-paced demeanour.
Manchester United were linked with a number of different types of midfielder during the summer—the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera and Luka Modric are all very good players, but they and Fellaini all have very different individual styles.
Nonetheless, what has noticeably been lacking at Old Trafford during the last two-to-three years is the type of quick, technical midfielder who can both link midfield with the front players and beat a man without rejecting his defensive duties.
And, perhaps the latest rumours are signs that Moyes is making a move in that general direction, with Luke Edwards in the Express saying that the Red Devils will be making a move for AS Roma star Miralem Pjanic.
The Giallorossi have enjoyed a magnificent start to the Italian season under new boss Rudi Garcia, and Bosnian playmaker Pjanic has been a major part of that, weaving his way through opposing midfields with consummate ease and remarkable composure for a 23 year old.
His displays under Garcia make it easy to see why the Frenchman refused to even discuss any sale of the former Lyon and Metz youngster during the summer.
Probably why Rudi Garcia was so insistent that he didn't want to part with Miralem Pjanic this summer. http://t.co/nykQ5kTUdP— Alex Richards (@AA_Richards) September 1, 2013
Of course, pulling off a deal would no doubt cost United heavily—the £25 million fee mooted is almost three times what Roma paid in 2011—and there is no guarantee Pjanic would trade in the Eternal City, the undoubted trust of his manager and a potential Scudetto for a move to the Premier League.
Nonetheless, his tenacity, ability to fill a variety of midfield roles and all-round class would make the Bosnian technician a wonderful addition to Moyes' Old Trafford evolution, no matter the cost.
Whether it can done is another matter, of course.
Fabio Coentrao—Real Madrid to Tottenham Hotspur
Danny Rose's early-season injury troubles and Benoit Assou-Ekotto's loan to QPR have left Spurs with a gaping hole at left-back so far this term; Jan Vertonghen, for all his quality, is far more comfortable and (quite simply) better at centre-half, while the right-footed Kyle Naughton takes away from the side's attacking threat when he plays on the left.
Thus, as reported by ESPN, Portuguese full-back Fabio Coentrao is back on the radar of the north London club, possibly on a loan move, having been largely overlooked at Real Madrid by coach Carlo Ancelotti and playing just 282 competitive minutes so far this term.
Nevertheless, despite being unable to shift starter Marcelo, the 25-year-old remains one of Europe's premier left-backs; very good going forward, quick, tenacious, he has plenty to his game.
But, with Marcelo being Ancelotti's preferred option, a move to Spurs would solve both Andre Villas-Boas' problem in that position and Coentrao's problem of a lack of playing time.
Ever Banega—Valencia to Southampton
Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton have been the outstanding surprise package of the Premier League season thus far, their high pressing and defensive resilience seeing them lose just once in their opening 10 league matches.
The defence is rock solid, Dejan Lovren's and midfield anchor Victor Wanyama's signings having built a solid central core and they've only conceded four league goals, while Morgan Schneiderlin continues to impress.
However, there is still more to come from the Saints as an attacking force and a top-quality central midfield schemer—James Ward-Prowse has bags of potential but is only 19—could go someway to improving them as an attacking force.
According to the Express, Valencia's uber-talented Argentine No. 10 Ever Banega is looking for a move away from the Mestalla, having fallen out with manager Miroslav Djukic, and Southampton could rekindle their interest in January.
With his range of pass, driving runs and tenacity, if Pochettino could get his hands on the Albiceleste international ahead of the World Cup next summer and keep him fully focused, then the Saints chances of a top-six finish—seemingly outrageous at the start of the season—could vastly improve.
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