In one month’s time the January transfer window will open and French financial heavyweights AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain are expected to be busy once again.
PSG are top of the league, four points clear, and only in need of fine-tuning. However, Monaco are third and five points off top spot with a number of areas to strengthen.
Laurent Blanc’s side is well stocked and PSG boast squad depth that any club in Europe would envy. But Les Monegasques and their coach Claudio Ranieri are still in the early stages of putting together their ambitious project.
Here are some possible big-money January transfer targets for both sides.
Although it has been a largely impressive start to the season for Monaco and the Principality outfit’s new signings, a number of problems have recently started to make themselves obvious on the pitch.
Firstly, what had initially looked a solid defensive unit has suddenly become fragile and seems vulnerable at the moment. The experienced partnership between French international Eric Abidal and Portuguese veteran Ricardo Carvalho has been exposed for its relative lack of pace and mobility.
As a result, Ranieri will no doubt be looking to strengthen his central defence when the January window opens.
Les Monegasques were linked with a bid for FC Porto’s strong 22-year-old defender Eliaquim Mangala over the summer. According to Mercato 365 (translated from French as a bilingual), that move is still under consideration and a scout was dispatched to watch the former Standard Liege man in Champions League action recently.
It is not only in the centre of defence where cracks are starting to appear though.
After an impressive start to the season, left-back Layvin Kurzawa has started to show his inexperience with some below-par performances. Experienced right-sided full-back Andrea Raggi is now also being preferred to summer signing Fabinho, as Ranieri has identified a lack of maturity in the pair of youngsters.
Although Kurzawa has shown immense promise and will undoubtedly continue to improve, there is an opening in this side at left-back with no experienced alternative to the 21-year-old.
Used sparingly at Real Madrid this season, Fabio Coentrao’s current situation could encourage Monaco to once again tap into Jorge Mendes’ long list of clients, having tried already this summer per ESPN FC.
A number of the Portuguese’s star names are stationed at the Stade Louis II and the opportunity would probably appeal to both club and player.
Should the Principality outfit decide against a move for the Portuguese international, a cut-price swoop for Manchester United’s former ASM man and current French international Patrice Evra could materialise.
According to the Daily Star, both Monaco and PSG are interested in signing Evra as a free agent next summer. But, with Ranieri’s side in need of reinforcements and the English Premier League champions no doubt loath to see such a player leave for nothing, a deal could be done sooner.
Outside of that, Monaco might be in the market for a striker, but that depends on star man Radamel Falcao’s future.
Despite scoring nine times in 14 league starts so far this year, rumours continue to link the Colombian marksman with a move away from France.
The latest club linked with a bid are Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who, according to le 10 Sport via the Mirror, are preparing a record-breaking January swoop for the 27-year-old.
However, Monaco will be loath to part with the prized asset after just six months in Ligue 1.
Table topping PSG on the other hand are in no real hurry to do any business in January.
In fact, their first port of call, if they do eventually move for a player this winter, could be for someone that they were believed to have come close to signing at the end of the last transfer window.
Chelsea’s Juan Mata has an agreement to join the French giants in January according to le 10 Sport (in French), something that could have been in the pipeline since September. If PSG are lacking in one or two areas at present, then arguably one of them is a creative midfielder.
With Javier Pastore badly underperforming in the French capital and Lucas Moura only just starting to find his feet, the Spanish international would be an excellent addition to Blanc’s squad should the move materialise.
Currently, uncertainty surrounds Thiago Motta’s future at PSG past the end of this season, according to recent reports from Tutto Mercato Web (h/t ESPN FC). There is also a continued stalemate in the dispute between Blaise Matuidi’s past and present agents (also ESPN FC), preventing him from signing a new contract.
Despite both being key players for PSG, there is a chance that the club will have to start contemplating the future without one or both if January arrives with no resolution to either situation. That would create two considerably large holes in the centre of Blanc’s midfield that will cost a large amount of money to adequately fill.
French international and Juventus star Paul Pogba is arguably one of the few players capable of filling the holes that either player would leave should they depart. It is therefore no surprise that the Daily Star recently linked PSG with a bid for the Serie A talent.
Should both Motta and Matuidi eventually fail to commit their futures to the club, the second player that PSG turn to could be Benfica’s Nemanja Matic according to Eurosport France (in French). The Serbian international is thought to be seeking an exit from the Portuguese side in January, with his employers’ consent, but Manchester United are hot favourites to sign him per the Mirror.
Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Jeremy Menez could all be close to the door in the French capital. However, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi claimed after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Olympiakos in the Champions League that nobody will be leaving in January as reported by Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t football-italia.net).
The PSG chief did suggest though, in the same report, that there is concrete interest from the French giants in Pogba.
219 – Only Arturo Vidal (270) has won more duels in Serie A since 2012/13 for Juventus than Paul Pogba. Millionaire.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 28, 2013
Of those mentioned, Monaco moves for a central defender and a full-back appear the most likely to bear fruit early in January. A striker will be an absolute priority if Falcao departs, but it seems unlikely at this stage that the Colombian will be allowed to depart before the end of the season at the earliest.
Aside from those moves, PSG’s bids for Mata and Pogba also appear to be an increasing probability.
However, the chances of landing both are slim, particularly considering Pogba’s key role for Juventus. A move for the French international will almost certainly have to wait until the summer.
Mata on the other hand continues to be frustrated at club level and a move in January is perhaps the only way he can guarantee his place in Spain’s World Cup squad next year. Of the mooted deals mentioned here, the 25-year-old to PSG seems to be the most feasible.