50 Premier League Transfers Which Could Happen in January 2012
The English transfer window slammed shut on Wednesday night, after a flurry of activity that saw Arsenal and Stoke bolster their squads significantly, Spurs sign the PFA Player of the Year 2010-11, Fulham land a major coup with a deal for a hot Peruvian striker, and Chelsea land Liverpool's Player of the Year.
For all of these positive moves, there were clubs who lost out and will need to strengthen their squads considerably in January if they struggle to keep up with the big spenders: Everton, Newcastle United, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur immediately come to mind.
So in this slideshow, I look at 50 players in world football who could be the subject of frenzied auctions when the window to sign players re-opens on 1 January 2012.
10 Football League Players Who Might Rejuvenate Early Relegation Candidates
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Several excellent Premier League footballers have begun their careers not in the youth teams of top-flight clubs, but rather in the first-teams of clubs from the Football League: Arsenal's Theo Walcott, Tottenham Hospur's Gareth Bale and Manchester United's Chris Smalling are all fine examples.
This may be because there are certain clubs, such as Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Southampton, who have a strong record of nurturing teenagers into good footballers. And Premier League clubs with more cash but without the know-how and set-up required to create first-team players consider paying £5 million for a good Championship prospect as a fairly low-risk investment.
Therefore, if Blackburn Rovers, Fulham and the three newly-promoted clubs look to be struggling for form and results come December, expect their chairmen to look to some of the following players currently excelling in the lower divisions:
Wilfried Zaha and Owen Garvan (18 and 23, both Crystal Palace), Luke Williams and Marvin Emnes(18 and 23, both Middlesbrough), Max Gradel (23, Leeds United), Lewis McGugan (22, Nottingham Forest), Adam Lallana and Andrew Surman (23 and 24, both Southampton), Craig Mackail-Smith (27, Brighton & Hove Albion), and Nicky Maynard (24, Bristol City).
10 Fringe Players at Top Six Clubs Who Might Need First-Team Action
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Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was linked over the summer with moves for Jermain Defoe (pictured) and Roman Pavlyuchenko, both forwards at Tottenham Hotspur.
Eventually, he decided to move for Ipswich Town teenager Connor Wickham, and borrowed Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal.
However, if Wickham does not adapt quickly to his new surroundings and marquee signing Asamoah Gyan does not start to fill Darren Bent's boots for the Black Cats, Bruce could be knocking on Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy's door again in the New Year.
Indeed, the two Spurs forwards are just a couple of dozens of players at top-six clubs who may not see much playing time over the next five months.
Other potential departures could includes Sebastien Bassong, Giovani Dos Santos and Heurelho Gomes (all also from Spurs), any of Chelsea strike trio Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba or Salomon Kalou, and Manchester City duo Wayne Bridge and Adam Johnson.
Goalscorers Are a Commodity: Expect Frenzied Striker Auctions in January
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Beside the names already mentioned, it is likely that clubs such as Everton, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur - who all look to lack sufficient firepower to achieve their respective goals - will bid for the most in-form forwards available on the transfer market.
Spurs should have secured enough funds through their player departures last month and the television revenue playing in the Europa League group matches will bring to inquire again about the availability of $40 million-rated, Spanish-based trio Fernando Llorente, Alvaro Negredo and Giuseppe Rossi.
Several international media outlets have also suggested they retain first option on Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao, who has starred this season for Internacional, a team with which Spurs have formed a professional link.
Everton and Newcastle United's transfer targets may be more modest, and it is feasible that the clubs go head-to-head to attract goalscorers such as West Bromwich Albion's Peter Odemwingie (pictured), Espanyol's Pablo Osvaldo, prolific Senegalese international Papiss Demba Cisse or Glasgow Rangers' Nikica Jelavic.
Sunderland's Ghanaian entertainer Asamoah Gyan and young England forward Daniel Sturridge, currently warming the bench at Chelsea, are other players who may be in demand.
5 Premier League Youngsters Who Could Benefit from an Intra-League Loan
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The richer and more powerful Premier League clubs have increasingly taken to buying or developing the best young players, only to loan them out to other clubs within the league to reduce their wage bills and trim their playing squads while exposing their future stars to the competition as early as possible.
This was the case last year when Chelsea sent Daniel Sturridge to Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United loaned Tom Cleverley to Wigan Athletic and Danny Welbeck to Sunderland.
This year, five players who could make similar moves at the insistence of their club managers or on the advice of their international coaches are: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Coady (Liverpool) and Chelsea trio Ryan Bertrand, Josh McEachran and Oriol Romeu Vidal.
7 Transfers Which Nearly Happened over the Summer
For some reason which I find difficult to guess, several clubs who desperately needed to sign players as Wednesday's trading drew to a close did not get their business done in time and may live to regret their tardiness through five months of inadequate performance and discontent among supporters.
So although Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas will not lose much sleep over missing out this time on talented Racing Genk midfielder Kevin de Bruyne (pictured), there are other managers who will surely be ruing the stubborness of their chairmen or who will be frustrated by the inflated prices their club were quoted for players with little to no experience of playing in the Premier League or in any other major competition.
Nevertheless, here are seven expensive transfers which could be re-visited in the new year:
Gary Cahill (Bolton Wanderers to Tottenham Hotspur, $30 million)
Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur to Chelsea, $50 million)
Kevin de Bruyn (Racing Genk to Chelsea, $15 million)
Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers to Arsenal, $25 million)
Carlos Tevez (Manchester City to Internazionale, $70 million)
Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale to Manchester United, $50 million)
Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers to Paris Saint-Germain, $20 million)
8 Rising Talents Premier League Clubs Have an Eye on
Sometimes, top Premier League clubs seem to have it all their own way.
The television revenues and sponsorship money which the league generates means that often only German and Spanish clubs can compete financially with England's biggest clubs.
An unfortunate consequence of the league's success and also of the lenient rules allowing wealthy individuals to use clubs as playthings is that the divide between the rich and the poor is increasing and that the Premier League and La Liga in particular are becoming monotonously predictable.
Not in terms of results, as demonstrated by the stunning hammerings of North London duo Arsenal and Spurs by Manchester rivals United and City, but in terms of which clubs will be fighting for the title. To ensure this divide remains and even increases, Barcelona, Real Madrid and the two Manchester clubs may well spend big again in January and could target any of the following players, even if they have no pressing need in such positions:
Neymar (forward for Santos, 19)
Marko Marin (playmaker for Werder Bremen, 22)
Xherdan Shaqiri (winger for Basel, 19)
Willian Borges da Silva (Shakhthar Donetsk, 23)
Mario Goetze (playmaker for Borussia Dortmund, 19)
Neven Subotic (defender for Borrusia Dortmund, 22)
Christian Eriksen (midfielder for Ajax, 19)
Juanmi (forward for Malaga, 18)