Ranking the Top 10 Most Wanted Players for the January Transfer Window

Lee RobertsContributor IIISeptember 1, 2011

Ranking the Top 10 Most Wanted Players for the January Transfer Window

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    After a frantic day of transfer activity, with many surprising, and some less surprising, deals taking place, the Football Transfer Window is shut tight. Over £430 million was spent over the two-month period in the Premier League alone, and now the clubs will be hoping that all the money has been well spent.

    One thing that is certain, however, is that there will be more spending during January, as clubs look to build on a good start to the season, or begin to repair the damage caused by poor form.

    Another certainty is that some players will be discontent at either warming the substitute's bench or with their under-performing team, and push for a transfer at the next opportunity.

    January may be four months away, but with the current window ending, now seems an appropriate time to look ahead at the next transfer window and look at the players who could well be the centre of attention, whether they have been for the past two months or not.

    Now all of this is purely speculation, and anything can happen in the crazy, unpredictable world of football, but hopefully I can explain why I think that each player will be attracting interest once Jan. 1 is upon us.

    This was a tough one, since my original short-list of players was decimated by the final day dealings, and there's so many things that can happen between now and January that it's impossible to tell who could move on. This list is based on current situations and speculation, and is by no means a definitive guide.

    Finally, let me know if you agree, or if you can think of any other players you feel could be likely to move on in January by leaving a comment below. Enjoy! 

Gary Cahill

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    The best place to start would be the player who has suffered the most speculation over the past year without actually moving: Gary Cahill.

    Cahill started his career at Aston Villa, under contract there for four years where he was loaned out on two occasions, before his move to Bolton in 2008.

    His fine form in the white shirt of Bolton Wanderers has reportedly led to interest from some of the Premier League's biggest clubs, most notably Liverpool and Arsenal.

    Despite speculation over a move away from the Reebok Stadium having raged for over a year now, the only confirmed firm offer in that time has been Arsenal, who were well short of Owen Coyle's valuation of his prized centre-back.

    It seems now that interest from those two will cool, with Liverpool opting for young Sebastien Coates, while the Gunners bought the highly experienced, yet still relatively young, Per Mertesacker.

    This could, however, open the door for another club to make their move for the most sought-after Premier League centre-back of recent times.

    It seems unlikely that he will remain at Bolton after so much interest, but that could all depend on Owen Coyle's hefty price tag, reportedly £17 million, and his willingness to leave for anything less than European football.

Neymar

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    The latest in a long tine of Brazilian wonder kids, Neymar is an incredibly talented footballer. Just as capable of scoring with his left foot as his favoured right foot, he's also scored a surprising number of headers for a player of his build.

    As is traditional in Brazil, he takes on players in that unmistakable samba style of play: changing direction and pace with the ball so fast that defenders seem unable to stay on their feet.

    As of today, he's scored 70 goals for Santos in all competitions, has played 10 times for Brazil, scoring six goals. He's achieved all of this, despite being eight days younger than I am, at the tender age of 19. Jealous? What gave you that idea...

    In all seriousness, Neymar has attracted a lot of attention from all of the big European clubs this summer, with the strongest interest reportedly coming from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea.

    In fact, it was widely believed that he would sign for Real early in August, but Santos president Luis Alvaro wanted him to play in the Club World Championships this December, thus allowing him to leave in January, once the "Campeonato" also ends.

    This would seemingly open a bidding war, should the big European sides still have concrete interest by this point.

    Once again, however, the Santos president could well be the stumbling block. He has recently said that he is trying to sign Neymar to a "life-contract," tying him to commitments to Santos until the age of 80.

    This may seem ridiculous, but he is huge in Brazil right now, and a huge marketing machine there in one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

    His loss would not only lose valuable sponsorship, but also invoke a huge fan backlash. Ultimately, I think that Neymar will be the one to decide, but until January, it seems as though he has a lot of thinking to do...

Wesley Sneijder

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    Wesley Sneijder has blossomed over the past few seasons since his move to the Serie A, the play-maker's paradise.

    He first showed his prodigious talents at Ajax, before moving to Real Madrid for €27 million in 2007.

    He performed quite well during his two-year spell, but moved to Inter Milan in 2009, for almost half of what was paid for him, and he hasn't looked back since.

    Widely regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the world today, his pinpoint passing, vicious long range shooting and deadly free-kicks would be welcomed into any team.

    With the standards of the Serie A seemingly declining over recent years, and with Inter Milan failing to win the Serie A for the first time in five years, it seemed a perfect opportunity for other clubs to test Inter's resolve to keep their top stars.

    Samuel Eto'o did leave, opting to follow the trail of oil and money into Russia to play for Anzhi Makhachkala, but despite definite interest from Manchester United, as well as possible interest from Manchester City, Sneijder eventually pledged to stay at the Nerazzurri, although it was only at the last minute.

    Right now, Manchester United seem just fine without him, with Anderson and Cleverley performing well so far this season. However, should this change before January arrives, Ferguson could well reignite his interest for the mercurial Dutchman. 

Liam Ridgewell

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    Liam Ridgewell may not be on the same level as some of the other names on this list, but not only is he a good player, but it's also hard to see how he can remain at Birmingham much longer after the events of this summer.

    Ridgewell joined Birmingham City from bitter rivals Aston Villa for £2 million back in 2007, which caused some doubt over how the fans would take to him. His performances on the field would soon end any unrest, as his form at both centre-back and the more unfamiliar position of left-back would shine.

    He would play a part in a club-record 12-game unbeaten run in the Premier League in 2009, and he would also play a major part throughout the season as part of a notoriously solid defence, alongside Scott Dann and Roger Johnson.

    However, Birmingham would struggle after a League Cup win last season, and would ultimately find themselves relegated from the top flight. Key players would leave, with Dann, Johnson, Sebastian Larsson and Cameron Jerome, amongst others, all leaving for Premier League football.

    Ridgewell would also be the subject of interest from Premier League clubs, and whilst Birmingham would fight to keep hold of him, he would hand in a transfer request late in August.

    Even though he didn't move in the last window, a bold move such as a transfer request must mean that the player wanted to move and cannot be happy at the club rejecting his wishes. Surely, there will be more interest in January. 

Carlos Tevez

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    I think this one speaks for itself. Carlos Tevez has been one of the most exciting players in the Premier League over the last five years, ever since his controversial time at West Ham.

    Since then, he's gone on to play for both Manchester clubs, scoring 86 goals in all competitions, including sharing the Premier League golden boot award with Dimitar Berbatov last season. 

    Whilst most players would be content playing for the richest team in the world, being paid more in a month than most of us earn in 10 years, and playing alongside some of the most expensive talent in world football, it seems that Carlos simply doesn't like Manchester and the good old English weather that accompanies it, saying it is "small and wet" and "wouldn't return there, even on vacation."

    At first it was thought that losing Tevez would be a disaster for City, but with the arrival of Sergio Aguero and the reborn Edin Dzeko firing goals left, right and centre at the moment, it seems that City can all of a sudden afford to lose their ex-talisman.

    Whilst it's all been quiet on the Eastlands front recently, should Tevez decide to stay in England, then it would be the biggest turnaround since Wayne Rooney wearing that infamous "Once a blue, always a blue" shirt, before promptly leaving for United.

    Expect another move from Corinthians in January, when the South American season has ended, where he almost joined earlier in August. 

Eden Hazard

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    Eden Hazard is a 20-year-old with the world at his feet.

    Already named Ligue 1 player of the season  last year for his exploits during Lille's double winning season, the youngest player ever to do so, twice named in the Ligue 1 team of the year, and with 20 caps for Belgium to his name already, he is one of the most exciting talents in Europe.

    There was a fair amount of speculation regarding Hazard, particularly to Arsenal, since his age would follow Arsene Wenger's transfer policy, whilst his ability to play on either side of midfield was just what Arsenal needed. With the signing of Mikel Arteta, however, that particular route seems closed. 

    There is speculation that Joe Cole's loan move to Lille involved an agreement between the French club and Liverpool for first refusal regarding Eden Hazard, which if true, would suggest that a move could be on the cards.

    I'd like to stress that this is just speculation, however, and neither club are likely to shed more light on the situation; such is the way both are run. What is more than certain, is that Eden Hazard will continue to gain admirers, and that soon enough, I'm sure he will join one of Europe's elite.

Dimitar Berbatov

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    Dimitar Berbatov is a strange one. He was dangerous at both Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham, scoring regularly and impressing many people, so much so that Manchester United would shell out over £30 million for his services.

    Despite scoring nine league goals in his first season at the club, he was deemed a failure and began to look disinterested at times.

    However, last season he hit a rich vein of goal-scoring form, including a hat-trick against Liverpool at Anfield, and a five goal haul against Blackburn Rovers, equalling the Premier League record for goals scored in a single match.

    This would culminate in finishing joint top goalscorer alongside Carlos Tevez, and named in the Team of the Year.

    Despite all of this, he was left out of the squad for the Champions League final in May, and appears to be fourth in the pecking order of current Manchester United strikers, with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck all preferred so far this season.

    For a striker of the proven calibre of Berbatov, surely he won't be content with a place on the bench every week, especially after his exploits last season.

    I would be surprised if there was no interest in January should his lack of games continue, and with Michael Owen still lurking in the wings and Federico Macheda also at the club, Ferguson may see fit to sell if the right offer comes in.

M'Baye Niang

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    There really isn't much to write about M'Baye Niang: He's only played in seven first-team league games for SC Caen, scoring three goals in his breakthrough season.

    The fact that he's playing in the first team at the age of 16 is impressive, while showing a goal-scoring touch at such a young age is always a good sign.

    Over the summer, there was a lot of minor speculation linking Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal in a battle for his signature, yet this was always unlikely for a player who has played so little, and is still unproven over a busy competitive season.

    However, should he continue his impressive start into the new season in France, and if these clubs are already keeping an eye on him, there could well be a scramble to secure his signature ahead of the chasing pack.  

Luka Modric

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    Luka Modric has been plastered all over the back pages of every newspaper in England for the past two months.

    After three impressive seasons at Tottenham, culminating in being named the fan's Player of the Year, serious interest came in the form of Andre Villas Boas' Chelsea, with Harry Redknapp reportedly rejecting bids as high as £40 million for the Croatian international.

    With the arrival of Raul Meireles at Chelsea from Liverpool in a last-minute deal, it seems as though interest from those quarters will cool.

    However, with Ledley King publicly stating that the Modric speculation has affected the team, and Modric apparently asking not to play in the 5-1 defeat to Manchester City, this could carry on beyond the Chelsea interest.

    Should Modric not regain the right state of mind, and Tottenham struggle in the dressing room, Redknapp could be forced to cut his losses and do what's best for the team.

Nedum Onuoha

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    I was surprised that Onuoha wasn't loaned out by Manchester City this season. Having played first-team football for Sunderland whilst on a season long loan, he returned to City and stated that this is what he wants.

    Yet he hasn't been named in the first-team squad for the opening games, and is yet to even be given a squad number.

    Nedum Onuoha is a lifelong Manchester City fan, and a result of the City academy, which may be why he has remained at the club; in order to fulfill the home-grown players rule within the 25 man squad.

    As of the time of writing this, the squad hasn't been named, but he would surely be included. The fact is though, for a player who wants first-team football and who plays centre-back or right-back, it seems as though first-team football will be limited.

    City already had Vincent Kompany, Kolo Toure, Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott, before the arrival of young Stefan Savic, while right-back is currently held down by Pablo Zabaleta.

    If Onuoha is so desperate for first-team football, then a loan move in January could be on the cards, while City can bring extra cover in if needed.