Liverpool and 10 More Teams in Desperate Need of New Players This January
- Who has the most to gain from a transfer signing? Preferably European play.
- What is an apparent position that needs to be filled by said team?
- If possible, who could be named a solid fit at the position?
For big-name clubs like Liverpool, the January transfer window can be the turning point of a season. The chance to sign the help or star your team so desperately needs is huge, and that is evident this season. Whether it be multiple players for depth or a signing to replace an injured player, the January transfer window is important to most clubs' success throughout a season.
The criteria for each spot was three questions:
Before getting to the main list, here are a few of honorable mentions of teams that already made a huge signing this window:
Atletico Madrid: Atleti needed a central forward to help with the goalscoring responsibilities, and they may have found that in the loan signing of Fernando Torres. Torres has returned to his boyhood club from AC Milan, and so far, his two scores against Real Madrid last weekend have proven that he's a great signing.
Manchester City: The Citizens needed a striker to help take the load off Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, City's primary strikers. Bony was signed for £25 million from Swansea City, and his signing will be important depth for City going into the spring.
Sunderland: Since his signing in the summer of 2013, Jozy Altidore has been extremely disappointing. Sunderland are now rid of him thanks to a trade deal with Toronto FC for Jermain Defoe, the club announced Friday, which will bring about a much-needed change.
With the criteria listed and the honorable mentions out of the way, it's time to look at the top 11 teams that desperately need a transfer signing this window.
11. Olympique Lyonnais
In a surprising turn of events, Olympique Lyonnais have found themselves at the top of the table in January. The Ligue 1 side has had an incredible season, securing 42 points and scoring a total of 43 goals in 20 games.
This is primarily thanks to forward Alexandre Lacazette, who has scored an amazing 19 goals in 20 starts. Lacazette has made a name for himself in Ligue 1 this year, and his performance has been the driving force of Lyon's attacking identity.
However, only four points separate Lyon from defending Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are in fourth, with Marseille and AS Saint-Etienne between them. Marseille and PSG both have strong attacking sides; Marseilles scored 39 goals so far and PSG with 34 goals. If Lyon wishes to stay on top, they need some defensive reinforcement.
With defenders Bakary Kone and Henri Bedimo currently tied up in the Africa Cup of Nations until February and Milan Bisevac currently dealing with nagging injury issues, the need for a defender has been amplified, especially on a short-term basis.
Lyon would need a cheap, sensible defender to reinstate some depth and power to the back line, and Luca Antonini of Serie A side Genoa C.F.C. would be a sensible fit for Lyon defense.
Antonini is 32, a proven defender and is currently sitting on the Genoa bench. He's only started three games so far this year, but he would fit in fine with the Lyon defense talent-wise. He's tenacious and does not quit, evidenced by his score to stun Juventus in Genoa's 1-0 win back in October.
Antonini, or a player of a similar situation, would be the best fit for Lyon going forward.
10. FC Schalke 04
In a Bundesliga season that has seen some surprises (Borussia Dortmund's relegation battle) and some familiarities (Bayern Munich's dominance), Schalke 04 have found themselves in a precarious position.
They cannot challenge for the Bundesliga title, being 18 points behind Bayern Munich, but they can still land a productive season, and qualify for the Champions League. However, they currently sit in fifth, tied with Borussia Monchengladbach at 27 points, but below them because of goal differential.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been Schalke's lead scorer since his arrival before the 2010 season, with 66 goals. However, The Hunter is now 31 years old and has only scored three goals in his past 10 starts for Schalke, and that was a hat-trick against Mainz.
The rise of Maxim Choupo-Moting has been huge for Schalke, and Choupo-Moting's nine goals have been crucial to Schalke's current standing. However, Choupo-Moting's Cameroon responsibilities at the African Cup of Nations has left Schalke with just Huntelaar to take the primary responsibility.
To assist Huntelaar—and eventually Choupo-Moting—a forward signing would be extremely helpful. A young talent would probably be best at the current time, whether it be on loan or on an actual signing. Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan's 21-year-old superstar, has scored 10 goals in 16 games. Icardi has been incredible for the first half of the season, and in terms of playmaking ability, Icardi may be the best fit.
Why No. 10?
Lyon is in the best position in their league than anyone else on this list and could probably survive for Champions League play even without a signing. Schalke aspires to play in the Champions League every year, and while they could make it without a signing, a signing would be huge for their chances, possibly even essential.
9. Everton FC
Everton comes in at No. 9 on the list. Everton had a huge summer, signing their most valuable signing in club history in Romelu Lukaku for £28 million, and then signed Samuel Eto'o for free from Chelsea. However, the two high-profile signings have not led to results.
Despite scoring 30 goals in the season so far, Everton is in 12th. They have conceded 34 goals, and their defense has been abysmal. Despite having some great defenders in Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, Everton has disappointed as a whole defensively.
While the defense has been disappointing, the primary issue is at goalie. American goalkeeper Tim Howard has disappointed this season, conceding 28 goals. Typically considered one of the top goalies in the world, Howard has performed poorly, conceding an average 1.56 goals conceded per game, according to squawka.com. He averaged 1.00 goals conceded per game last season.
Howard is currently out until February with a calf injury. Manager Roberto Martinez has recently said that he wishes to sign a goalie to compete with Howard long-term but isn't going to act irrationally. "We won't bring someone in for the sake of it," Martinez said, per the Mirror's David Anderson. "We're going to explore that avenue and if we find the right personality, we will act."
If Martinez does end up signing a goalie this window, he may find his answer in Memo Ochoa. Per the Express' Ben Jefferson, the Mexican World Cup star has recently been linked to Merseyside rivals Liverpool, but if Everton can meet with Ochoa's club, Malaga, first, they could obtain him.
One thing is for certain: Everton needs an answer this window, and while Martinez may feel the need to take his time, a sense of urgency needs to be present. Thirty goals conceded in just over half a season is not going to lead to a return to European play like Everton wishes.
Why No. 9?
Martinez stating that they truly plan to go after a goalie shows that the club itself recognizes the need and is willing to do something about it. They are above Lyon and Schalke because of their position (12th) compared to their finish last season (fifth).
8. Swansea City A.F.C.
Swansea City's signing of Bafetimbi Gomis this past summer put them on the map because they now had a striker to match up with star striker Wilfried Bony, in more ways than one. They were both strong, both proven and both were excited to continue Swansea City's barrage of goals.
However, their partnership has been broken with Wilfried Bony's transfer to Manchester City, as mentioned before. As of now, Swansea is left with just Gomis, who's only started five games in the Premier League and has scored only one goal. The £25 million that Swansea has received from the transfer will go toward replacing Bony's absence, but don't expect all of it to.
The need for a striker to match up with Gomis is overbearing. In Swansea's situation, they could probably go after an aging striker, preferably one with a different skill set than Gomis.
However, Swansea has stayed up in the Premier League since 2011 for allocating money in a responsible and intelligent way, and their purchase of a striker will depend on what they decide is a fair amount of money to spend. Manager Gary Monk has recently explained in a recent press conference that Swansea plans to spend a large portion of the money in developing their infrastructure.
If Swansea City decides to plan for the long term, they'll be left with Gomis, whose performance as of late is relatively poor. It may be a rough spring for the Welsh side.
Why No. 8?
Swansea has just had their best attacking player taken from them, and filling that gap is typically a necessity that should be filled sooner than later. However, Monk's comments on the plans for the money is not necessarily reassuring on whether they'll make a signing before the month's over.
7. AS Monaco FC
In the 2013-14 season, AS Monaco had two of the best attacking players in Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez. Falcao has always been a hot commodity since his time at Porto, and James Rodriguez's incredible showing at the 2014 World Cup proved he deserved to play at the top level of the game, and his signing with Real Madrid this past summer was inevitable.
James signing with Real Madrid, and Falcao's last-second loan to Manchester United left Monaco high and dry on the attacking side of the ball, with the primary forward positions left to 33-year-old Dimitar Berbatov and 24-year old Valere Germain.
The two have scored seven of Monaco's 23 total Ligue 1 goals. There was no way Monaco was going to replace James' and Falcao's attacking play from last year, however, for a team with the finances to contend consistently for the Champions League and Ligue 1 title every year, this is not an acceptable performance.
With Monaco currently in fifth place in Ligue 1, and only five points out of fourth place, there is still very much a chance for Champions League qualification. However, Monaco has to have a proper goalscorer to connect with midfielders Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco and Joao Moutinho. A good fit for this role would be Stevan Jovetic.
The Manchester City striker is currently facing a dilemma that Alvaro Negredo faced last season with the Citizens, and that's a saturation of strikers. City now has four high-quality strikers, and considering the money spent on Wilfried Bony, Jovetic may be at the bottom of the totem pole right now, even with his 10 goals in all competitions.
Jovetic would probably be available on loan, which may be the best overall deal for a striker of Jovetic's caliber. A deal to the end of the season would allow City to keep Jovetic long term and more importantly, give Monaco the striker they so desperately need.
Why No. 7?
Monaco can reach the Champions League with a slightly better second half of the season, and a key striker like Jovetic could be the player to make it. Like Schalke and Lyon they are in a very close position to reach European play, so they remain towards the bottom of the list.
Palermo is currently 10th in Serie A, which is a relatively standard place for them to be. Mid-to-low table is a typical place to find Palermo, however, they could be even higher given the right pieces. They are currently tied at 25 points with Inter Milan—but below due to goal differential—and are only five points behind Sampdoria and a Europa League spot.
Palermo has been great on the offensive, scoring 30 goals in the Serie A, however, their defense has let them down, conceding an equal 30 goals. If Palermo were to sign a defender to hold the line and they continue to score goals, Palermo could make a push in the spring for European play.
The way they could obtain money for some signings would be the sale of star Paulo Dybala. Palermo has recently put the price of Dybala at £31 million or higher according to Simon Rice of The Independent.
The Palermo back line is consistently around the same talent level, but a signing that could bring in a player from a top-level club in Italy who is not foreign to success could make all the difference.
Angelo Ogbonna has been fighting for playing time with Juventus, and the centre-back may be available. He has experience with the top Italian squad, and there may be a deal that Palermo could work out to bring him to southern Italy. If Palermo could sign Ogbonna or someone of similar defensive caliber, European play may become closer than it appears.
Why No. 6?
Palermo has a lot to gain from a high-profile defensive signing. If they were to sell Dybala, they could strengthen the side as a whole, not even just defensively. If they made the sale and picked up defensive talent, it's a real possibility for Palermo to move from 10th all the way to European qualification.
5. ACF Fiorentina
Fiorentina has been one of the best clubs in Italy over the past few years, finishing in fourth place the past two years and qualifying for the Europa League. They currently find themselves in sixth place and in a position to move up. Three points behind Napoli and Sampdoria and four points behind Lazio and Champions League qualification, Fiorentina has a very realistic chance to break the top three in Serie A.
Fiorentina's main issue with why they are in sixth place is their inability to score goals, scoring only 25 goals in 18 games. The only club above them with less goals scored is Sampdoria with 23 goals, and the other four have all scored 31 or more.
Juan Cuadrado and Khouma Babacar are the clubs top two goalscorers, both with four apiece. Cuadrado is having an excellent year as a winger, but Babacar is a forward, and his production along with Mounir El Hamdaoui and Mario Gomez have only produced six goals in total.
This has proven the importance of Giuseppe Rossi, and his 16 goals in 19 league matches last season is sorely missed. Rossi injured his knee last January, and complications ruled him out of the World Cup and any matches this season. He's expected back in February, but there is no guarantee.
In the mean time, Fiorentina needs to sign a forward who can produce. Fiorentina has had a trend of cost-effective spending as of late, and considering the current crop of forwards, a forward with pace could be the type of signing they need.
Why No. 5?
Like Palermo, Fiorentina can gain a lot from a singular signing. Unlike Palermo, Fiorentina is in even closer striking distance for a Champions League spot. If that is what the club's goal is for the end of the season, the need for a signing this window is crucial.
4. Real Sociedad
David Moyes enjoys two things: 1. Eating chips. 2. Winning. After Real Sociedad's sacking of Jagoba Arrasate, the club brought in former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes. Since his appointment, Sociedad has had a decent couple of months, including the win over Barcelona on January 4.
Real Sociedad is currently at 12th in Liga BBVA, and European play is relatively out of the question. However, if Moyes wishes to make a push and potentially set up a squad for next year, this may be the time to do it.
Sociedad currently has an issue scoring goals, only scoring 19 times in 18 games, which is 11th in La Liga. To truly impact his arrival, Moyes could sign a central forward to assist Carlos Vela, who is the current club leader with 7 goals.
A player who's breakneck speed could make a difference for Real Sociedad and Moyes would be Celta Vigo forward Nolito. Nolito has scored five times in 13 appearances, and his quickness and dribbling could be exactly what Real Sociedad could use to match up with Vela.
Why No. 4?
While Real Sociedad's need for a transfer signing this window is apparent, it goes deeper than this year alone. They need a goalscorer to improve the squad as a whole this year, but an important signing this year could set up David Moyes' future as well.
At this point last year, Liverpool was the probably favorite for the Barclays Premier League title. No one could stop Luis Suarez, and the team seemed to be firing on all cylinders, and while the second half of the year didn't go as planned, it was still a solid year.
This year, the story is a little different.
Liverpool currently sit in eighth place, five points behind Arsenal, who is currently in the last Champions League spot at fourth. While that is not a large deficit to overcome, the first half of the season has given no evidence that Liverpool can make up the gap.
After the sale of Luis Suarez, Liverpool reinvested the money in players Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli—none of whom start consistently and in the case of Lovren and Balotelli, have disappointed extremely.
Despite all this, Liverpool's primary problem is at goalie. Conceding 22 goals in 18 starts, Simon Mignolet has disappointed thoroughly and as of late, has been pulled for Brad Jones instead. Liverpool recognizes that Jones is no long-term option and has currently been talking with multiple clubs about possible transfer moves for a goalie they desperately need.
As previously stated, Liverpool has been linked to Mexican keeper Memo Ochoa and Brazilian keeper Neto, as reported by John Cross of the Daily Mirror, however, neither talks have come to any apparent fruition. If manager Brendan Rodgers wishes to make a push for a goalie, he'll have to make a signing and improve the goalie position. If he doesn't and Liverpool misses European play altogether, he could be sacked by the end of the season.
Why No. 3?
After last season, Liverpool was expected to repeat results, or at the very least make it back to Champions League play. Liverpool has to have a big signing in the defense of some kind to improve their play, and if they don't, they may miss out on Europe altogether.
2. Manchester United
Manchester United had some of the biggest signings of the summer, including Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7 million and Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco. However, it hasn't exactly translated to a top of the table result.
United currently are at fourth in the Premier League, and while the team is obviously better off than David Moyes' 2013-14 squad, they were expected to do more. That is always the case with England's biggest club; they are expected to be the best, and so far, it is apparent that they aren't even close.
It will be near impossible to make a push for the title with United's current form of play, and the fact that Chelsea and Manchester City are now both playing at the top of their game in a race for the top. However, they are very much able to earn a Champions League spot but will need some help to do it, especially considering they are a point ahead of Arsenal and three points ahead of Tottenham.
The obvious issue for United is their defense. Trying various formations over the past couple of months haven't been helping, but the primary issue is with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Smalling and Jones have had to start for United as of late, and they aren't United-quality players.
United have recently been linked to multiple players like Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels and Roma's Kevin Strootman, per the Mirror's John Cross and David McDonnell. While a high-profile signing may be the way to go, they could go multiple routes, including signing players who currently play in the Premier League like Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton or Seamus Coleman from Everton.
Why No. 2?
United's goals are set at the highest bar—and deservedly so. No other club in England makes the money they do, has the history they do or has the fans they do. United needs to place in the Champions League, and to ensure that they do, they have to improve defensively or otherwise succumb to Arsenal and Tottenham's pursuit.
1. Borussia Dortmund
No one in football is having a worse season than Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund were the Bundesliga runner-ups the past two years and champions the year before that. Now they face relegation.
Currently in second-to-last place in the Bundesliga—and only up because of goal differential—Dortmund's season has gone awry in many ways. Missed potential, injury and transfers from the last summer window have taken this team from European competitors to a team struggling to stay in the top division.
Manager Jurgen Klopp seems determined to stay, and Dortmund's fans and executives likely still have faith. But for the club to turn around this abysmal season, they have to make a change of some kind.
Dortmund have multiple options, and more players are expected to leave this window than come in. Stars Mats Hummels and Marco Reus have been linked to moves, but whether that actually comes to fruition is yet to be seen, as Reus' agent recently denied a deal, per ESPNFC.com's Stephan Uersfeld. If Dortmund can use anything, they would definitely be an attacking forward.
The current crop of attackers for Dortmund is solid, with Ciro Immobile, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Adrian Ramos leading the way. However, Immobile only just came back, and Mkhitaryan and Ramos are still some time away from a return.
Dortmund have the finances to sign almost whomever they wanted within reason, but they seem to be cautious about their choice. A good fit might be Valencia striker Rodrigo, whose speed and dribbling could be game-changers for a squad that so desperately needs something extra.
Why No. 1?
Dortmund's level of desperation is far beyond anyone in Europe currently. The struggle Dortmund currently faces is going to be remembered for a long time, even if they stay afloat in the Bundesliga. The need for a change, any kind of change, is at an all-time high.
Think a club should've made the list? Think one of these clubs should sign a certain player? Post your opinion in the comments below.
All stats were found at espnfc.com.
Evan Reier is a first-year journalism major at the University of Alabama and a member of Bleacher Report's APSM program. Follow Evan on Twitter and Instagram at @evanreier.