Red-hot form: every top team in Europe will now be monitoring the situation of Liverpool forward Luis Suarez ahead of the January transfer window after the Uruguayan's sensational recent form for the Reds
With the winter transfer window now less than a month away from reopening for business once again, we take a look at the most pressing requirements that Europe’s top teams are all in need of come January 2014.
And so whether that be the addition of a world-class goal poacher, a rock-solid centre back, a tricky wide man, a clever playmaker, a goalscoring midfield player or an adventurous and attack-minded full back, we reveal exactly what type of signing the Continent’s big-name sides will be seeking to recruit come the new year.
Most in need of in January: Striker
Unless you have been on Mars these past few months, then you will be well aware that the Premier League leaders are hoping to sign a new front man come January as concerns continue to grow about the possibility of lone marksman Olivier Giroud suffering burnout in the second half of the season.
Giroud has so far featured in a whopping 25 matches in total in all competitions for both club and country, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger unable to rely on back-up forward Nicklas Bendtner, unless against Hull City.
Meanwhile, other alternative attackers such as Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott have also been sidelined with long-term injuries, further increasing the workload on Giroud’s shoulders.
And while the 27-year-old may have held up just fine so far, he must be getting dangerously close to entering the dreaded red zone that Wenger uses to monitor his players' physical condition, which is why the north London club would be wise to recruit some additional help up front for their only recognised centre forward at the Emirates in the new year.
Other than that, everything is seemingly going swimmingly for Wenger and Co.
Most in need of in January: Striker
Much like their city rivals from the Emirates, the West Londoners are also in urgent need of striking reinforcements at Stamford Bridge in the second half of the season, especially if the Blues want to realistically maintain their challenge for trophies on multiple fronts.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho may, unlike his rivals from North London, be able to call upon the services of three international front men, however, you get the very distinct impression that the self-styled Special One is not particularly enamoured with any of them.
Whether it be Spain international Fernando Torres, Senegalese Demba Ba or Cameroon legend Samuel Eto’o, none of that trio of attackers has truly managed to nail down a regular starting berth up front so far.
And as a result, it can come as no real surprise that the Portuguese was spotted in the crowd at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels last month scouting prolific AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao.
And that is because it does not take a rocket scientist to work out that despite Chelsea still very much being in the hunt for four trophies this campaign, the addition of a world-class goal poacher would be the final piece in the Blues' jigsaw as far as Mou is concerned.
Most in need of in January: Centre back and goalkeeper
What to buy the club that has everything? Well, the problem is that in actual fact the mega-rich Premier League outfit clearly do not have everything, despite their lavish summer spending and a seemingly bottomless pit of cash in which to lure new stars to Eastlands.
However, luckily for new City boss Manuel Pellegrini, the winter window will soon be open and the Chilean can start to put right the current unbalanced nature of the squad he has at his disposal ahead of the second half of the campaign.
And that includes signing both a new goalkeeper, with Pellegrini clearly not convinced by the first-team claims of either backup shot-stopper Costel Pantilimon or former No. 1 Joe Hart, and a dominant central defender too.
The latter requirement, though, appears the more pressing of the two needs, especially in light of key centre-back Vincent Kompany’s continued travails with a series of muscle-related injury problems.
But finding a world-class defender in the January transfer window may prove problematic, to say the very least.
Most in need of in January: Left back
With usual first-choice left-back Jose Enrique having recently been ruled out of action with a knee injury until February, and Reds coach Brendan Rodgers still seemingly unsure about the claims of those defenders trying to replace the Spaniard in the club’s back four, it is clear that the Merseysiders will re-enter the market once again next month to rectify this defensive headache.
The Northern Irishman has so far utilised the likes of France international centre-back Mamadou Sakho, wing-back Aly Cissokho, who is on a season-long loan from Valencia, and now young right-back Jon Flanagan in the position in an effort to find a solution to this long-running problem.
However, with none of that trio having so far put forward a convincing argument for being handed the role on a full-time basis, it looks likely that Rodgers will now have to use the winter window in order to find some suitable cover for Enrique at Anfield in the immediate future.
Most in need of in January: Left back, winger and a marquee signing
With first-choice left-back Patrice Evra expected to leave Old Trafford at the end of this season and current back-up Alexander Buttner having so far failed to convince when called upon to cover for the Frenchman, a new attacking left-sided full back is urgently needed at United.
However, that much was already abundantly clear when recently appointed United manager David Moyes attempted to sign Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao on a season-long loan deal in the final hours on transfer deadline day, only for the paperwork not to be completed in time.
Meanwhile, with the Scot having then used the early part of this campaign to take a look at his entire squad, he swiftly came to the conclusion that neither Anderson, Luis Nani, Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young were up to the standards required of a United player.
All of which means that Moyes now urgently needs both a replacement for his underwhelming and ineffectual Brazil international in the centre of the park, most likely Athletic Bilbao youngster Ander Herrera, who was on the verge of moving to the Theatre of Dreams on transfer deadline day only for that deal to collapse at the very last minute as well.
And the United boss is also desperate to recruit a penetrating wide man with the final ball to match, while the long-running search for that still elusive marquee signing that first began when he arrived in the north west last July continues.
Most in need of in January: Left back and a striker
Like many of their Premier League rivals, the North London club have also been experiencing issues at left back at White Hart Lane so far this campaign following an early-season injury sustained by first-choice Danny Rose.
And Rose’s toe problem has forced head coach Andre Villas-Boas to utilise centre-back Jan Vertonghen at left back in a role the Belgium international is far from happy playing, making the addition of a new left-sided full back an absolute necessity for the Portuguese come the turn of the year.
And despite blowing most of the proceeds from Gareth Bale’s world-record 100 million euro transfer to Real Madrid on new recruits to replace the brilliant Welshman last summer, Villas-Boas’ newly constructed multi-million pound side have still struggled terribly to put the ball in the back of the net so far this season.
So much so that incredibly, despite splashing out a then club-record £26 million in order to sign Spain international forward Roberto Soldado from Valencia in August, Spurs are actually in urgent need of more attacking firepower for the second half of the campaign, especially if back-up striker Jermain Defoe does still decide to leave the club in January.
Most in need of in January: Centre-back
Everything appeared so rosy in the Camp Nou garden just a few weeks ago after the long unbeaten start to the season that the Catalans had made under new coach Tata Martino.
However, just recently a few cracks in the Spanish champions have started to appear following surprise losses both in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.
And those defeats have been accompanied by the now familiar questions about the Barca back four, in particular the two centre-backs, whatever combination of players the Argentinian has gone with.
Martino said back in August before the campaign got under way that he was more than happy with the defenders he had at his disposal, but should he need to reinforce his back line, then he would do so in January.
Well, if Barcelona have any hope of retaining their league crown and finally get their hands back on the UEFA Champions League after a three-year wait, then the club should enter the winter market and return for one of the two central-defensive targets they were monitoring closely over the summer, either Chelsea’s David Luiz or Liverpool’s Daniel Agger, with Paris Saint-Germain certain to resist moves for first-choice Thiago Silva.
Most in need of in January: Luis Suarez
Los Blancos have done incredibly to fight their way back into this season’s title race in Spain, especially after the electric start that arch rivals FC Barcelona made to the campaign.
However, it would be both foolish and naïve of the La Liga giants to suddenly think that everything is all of a sudden fine, especially if they really do maintain ambitions of finally bringing to an end their 11-year wait to win the coveted Decima.
And in order to realise that dream, as well as keep up with Barca at the top of La Liga, then Madrid president Florentino Perez must once again open his cheque book and splash the cash so as to be able to lure brilliant Liverpool forward Luis Suarez to the Santiago Bernabeu in January.
By that point, the Merseysiders’ already slim top four dreams could well and truly be over for yet another year, meaning a frustrated Suarez—who is not cup tied in Europe this season—will be itching to quit the Reds.
And a big money offer in the region of £50 million should be enough to convince Liverpool’s American owners, the Fenway Sports Group, to part company with their mercurial, yet controversial, star man four months earlier than they would have originally envisaged.
Meanwhile, Madrid will have secured an attacking genius who would then form a front three alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale that could fire the club all the way to an historic La Liga and UEFA Champions League double come May.
Most in need of in January: Nothing
Many pundits rightly questioned just how incoming coach Pep Guardiola could possibly improve on last season’s historic treble achieved by previous Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes.
Well, the former Barcelona boss has already delivered his answer in some style, with the Bavarian giants seemingly well on their way to another record-breaking campaign, with the possibility of five trophies to come by next May still very much on the cards.
So much so, that there really is nothing that the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League holders could possibly want for when the winter transfer window does finally reopen in January.