With the January transfer window set to open, talk of potential deals for the Premier League’s title chasers is becoming frenzied.
At the half-way point of the season, Manchester City, who spent £100 million in the last window, find themselves in second place, one point behind leaders Arsenal.
It’s a tight situation at the top of the table. Nine points separates the top eight sides, so any advantage gained in this window could be crucial to a team’s success.
Chelsea look a top striker short of completing their first XI, as do Arsenal, while Liverpool’s squad is light on numbers and quality. It’s arguably City who have the least pressing need to spend given the depth and quality they possess.
Asked whether or not he was considering bringing players in during the window, Manuel Pellegrini was reluctant to confirm whether the club would be active, saying:
No, for the moment, we are not talking about that. We are always analysing what we need and what we don’t need. The possibility of the transfer window for every club. We will see what we are going to do in the next days.
With City’s squad looking strong and their form so impressive, spending money again in January seems somewhat unnecessary, unless, of course, a top class defender was to become available.
If there is one area of the squad that City could improve, it’s undoubtedly the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov’s form has improved hugely this season, but the jury remains out on whether he is of the level City need to dominate England and challenge consistently in Europe, and Gael Clichy, City’s first-choice left-back, has had a mixed season. After his excellence last year, his form has been patchy under Pellegrini, but he seems to have regained confidence again in recent matches.
If a young left-back with huge potential, such as Southampton’s Luke Shaw, became available, City would probably be keen to do a deal, but that is unlikely during January, which is a notoriously difficult transfer window.
A top class centre-back is also likely to still interest Pellegrini, especially given City’s struggles whenever Vincent Kompany has been absent. Again, though, the chances of City landing the kind of player that would improve their squad during January seems remote.
Given the clear improvement in Joe Hart’s form, the once urgent need to bring in a goalkeeper has now subsided.
City’s options in January were limited anyway. With Hart out of the side, it looked liked a goalkeeper who wasn’t cup tied in the Champions League was needed to come in and see City through to the end of the season, and there aren’t too many experienced ones available who haven’t participated in this season’s competition.
Hart’s improvement means City can now wait and assess his progress between now and May before making a decision in the summer. If Pellegrini and his technical staff are still unconvinced, a move for either Iker Casillas or Victor Valdes seems likely.
City’s squad isn’t perfect, but of the main title challengers theirs is probably the strongest. Big January deals have happened in the past, so don’t rule out a player moving to City next month, however, the likelihood is that no big deals will be done at the Etihad.
All quote obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.