Christmas Shopping and New Year Resolutions: The January Transfer Market

JanuaryTransferWindow

Major transfer targets (left to right): Loic Remy, Charlie Austin, Domenico Berardi, Leroy Sane, Jackson Martinez [Getty Images]

In the middle of every soccer league season, there is an all important month: January. This month can save or doom a club. Hated by some, loved by others, the January transfer window has been a hallmark of every league’s mid-season spectacle. Here, we will be talking about what players should be bought and what needs to be changed in order to have the best chances of a high finish for each club in the Barclays Premier League. During what perhaps is the most unexpected, yet extraordinary season, with surprises like Leicester City’s success and Chelsea’s collapse, the January transfer window is all the more essential for anything from avoiding relegation to winning this season’s title.

 

Arsenal 

Rank: 1stArsenal

Christmas Shopping (Who should be bought?): Jackson Martinez (Atletico Madrid), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG), Mohamed Elneny (FC Basel), Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen), Edinson Cavani (PSG), Havard Nordtveit (Borussia Monchengladbach), Nelson Semedo (Benfica)

New Year Resolution (What needs to change?): It seems that every year, Arsenal has issues with injuries during the second half of the season. As of Wednesday December 30th, 7 Arsenal players are injured: Alexis Sanchez, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Santi Cazorla, and Francis Coquelin. Arsenal’s resolution is to get these players back and buy or loan players in to provide depth. Players like Javier Hernandez, who has been lighting it up in the Bundesliga, or Jackson Martinez, who has been linked to Arsenal since last summer, can provide Arsenal with a much needed back up striker. Arsenal is fortunate enough to have the budget to bring in big players with lots of potential. If their squad continues to perform at their best and injuries are limited, they will have the ability to win the title.

 

Aston Villa

AstonVillaRank: 20th

Christmas Shopping: Andre Gray (Burnley), Emmanuel Adebayor (Free Agent), Ashley Cole (Roma), Hatem Ben Arfa (Nice), Antonio Adan (Real Betis), Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Steven Naismith (Everton), Loic Remy- for loan (Chelsea)

New Year Resolution: Aston Villa can’t be doing much worse right now with 8 points, and only one win, in 19 games. None of their players are at their best and coupled with a managerial change and controversies concerning Charles N’Zogbia and young Jack Grealish, who has huge potential, the club seems doomed for relegation. They need to improve several aspects of their game, both offense and defense, including their goalkeeper, out-of-form Brad Guzan. Right now, the future seems bleak for Villa, even with new manager Remi Garde, and the best they can hope for is that their players wake up and get good chemistry along with smart January transfers. The most likely seem defender Ashley Cole and striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

 

Bournemouth

AFC_BournemouthRank: 16th

Christmas Shopping: Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace), Demarai Gray (Birmingham), Alan Judge (Brentford), Charlie Austin (QPR), Matt Lowton (Burnley), Lewis Grabban (Norwich), Juan Iturbe (Roma)

New Year Resolution: Unfortunately for Bournemouth, they have been a victim of several injuries. First, a few of their summer signings got injured at the beginning of the summer, and then a devastating blow came when their top striker and scorer Callum Wilson got injured later. This certainly slowed the club down and now it seems that owner Maxim Demin is willing to spend more than a few million pounds. They are playing the best they can, but there is clearly not enough depth in their squad after the numerous injuries. The best solution is to buy quality players for a relatively good deal, which has happened January 1st by signing striker Juan Iturbe on loan with view to a permanent transfer. Demarai Gray and Matt Lowton would also be smart signings and massive help for avoiding relegation.

 

Chelsea

Chelsea haven't performed well this season, but Mourinho's sacking could change the course of their season [Bleacher Report]

Chelsea haven’t performed well this season, but Mourinho’s sacking could change the course of their season [Bleacher Report]

ChelseaRank: 14th

Christmas Shopping: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Odion Ighalo (Watford), Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Nelson Semedo (Benfica), Wallace (Carpi), Marco Verratti (PSG), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Edinson Cavani (PSG), Gregory van der Wiel (PSG), John Stones (Everton)

New Year Resolution: Chelsea have not started their 2015-16 campaign on the right foot. Failing to score goals and win games early on in the season, in both Premier League and Champions League play, lead to the firing of manager Jose Mourinho. Interim Manager Guus Hiddink has stepped in and managed to spark something in Chelsea’s players. Chelsea have picked up 5 points in Hiddink’s first 3 games. Hiddink has a difficult job right now. Since his is only the interim manager, it is unlikely that he will become Chelsea’s manager for the next season. Because of this, he might avoid making big signings and leave it up to the next coach to do so in the summer transfer window. However, Hiddink could also try to make his case for manager by signing important players like Edinson Cavani and Alex Teixeira to help win games. Whatever Hiddink chooses to do, Chelsea fans should be optimistic with how the players have performed under him.

 

Crystal Palace

Crystal_PalaceRank: 5th

Christmas Shopping: Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn), Michy Batshuayi (Marseille), Ashley Cole (Roma), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon), Simone Zaza (Juventus), Cheikh N’Doye (Angers), Charlie Austin (QPR)

New Year Resolution: Crystal Palace is doing very well so far despite their injuries in attack, now more than ever since striker loanee Patrick Bamford decided to end his loan early. A striker is a must, and it seems that Palace has a difficult choice, but high risk, high reward situations are nothing new for the club. Yohan Cabaye, a relatively expensive summer signing, has shown determination and skill on the pitch, producing goals at the same time. Keeping him and other key players should be pretty easy the way things are going for the club. Other than a new striker, a full-back and/or centre-back should be bought due to the lack of depth in those two positions. Ashley Cole seems like a safe short-term option, while Austin or Zaza would be the most likely of choices for striker. Palace must continue to play their own brand of soccer and shouldn’t let their fifth place spot get into their head too much because only two points separate them from tenth.

 

Everton

EvertonRank: 11th

Christmas Shopping: Sam Byram (Leeds), Moussa Dembele (Fulham), Andre Gray (Burnley), Shani Tarashaj (Zurich), Havard Nordtveit (Monchengladbach), Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev)

New Year Resolution: Everton have as of late been a frustrated club, with injuries piling up as results don’t seem to go their way. The one bright spot, an important one too, is their main striker, 22-year-old Romelu Lukaku, became joint-top scorer in the Premier League with 15 goals in 19 games. He has been extremely impressive with an 8-game scoring run that had gone unnoticed due to Leicester striker Jamie Vardy having his own 14-game scoring run. Everton rank 3rd in goals scored Lukaku’s goals accounting for about 43% of those. Still, their defense has not been good, shown by their rank of 14th in goals conceded, with 28. Everton has shown an over-reliance of right-back Seamus Coleman, centre-back Phil Jagielka, who has lack of fitness at 33 years of age. Even 36 year old American goalkeeper Tim Howard has been struggling. The best solution is to buy a young goalkeeper, striker, and defenders to serve as understudies this season for players at their respective decision. Defender Sam Byram and striker Shani Tarashaj seem like sure bets to come in this transfer window.

 

Leicester2

Deadly duo Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy (center left and right) from Leicester have been revelations this season [FOX Sports]

Leicester City

Leicester_CityRank: 2nd

Christmas Shopping: Alan Judge (Brentford), Demarai Gray (Birmingham), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Andre Carrillo (Sporting Lisbon)

New Year Resolution: Leicester is without a doubt the surprise of the season and are doing extremely well for a club of their size. They have 38 points right now, which means that they have practically guaranteed manager Ranieri’s goal of avoiding relegation. Now, they need to keep on doing well and play the best they can. Their starting XI have been relatively healthy and Leicester has been fortunate with injuries. Thus, the just need to keep key players like Jamie Vardy (15 goals in 19 appearances) and Riyad Mahrez (13 goals and 7 assists in 17) and try to strengthen their bench. 19-year-old winger Demarai Gray has the most potential and seems like the most likely transfer to the club.

 

Liverpool

LiverpoolRank: 7th

Christmas Shopping: Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Leroy Sane (Schalke), Joel Matip (Schalke), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Marko Grujic (Red Star Belgrade, almost a done deal), Lucas Moura (PSG), Saido Berahino (West Brom)

New Year Resolution: Liverpool have endured a rocky start to the season with their manager Brendan Rodgers being fired and much coveted Jurgen Klopp coming in. There is stiff competition for the coveted Champions League this season, with the top ten really in contention for the four spots, so Liverpool are going to need to strengthen if they want to secure their place with Europe’s elite next season. They have struggled to find secure partnership at centre-back, so Klopp may look to bring in one to help ease the woes from injuries, including the most recent one, Martin Skrtel, who will be out for six weeks. There are many options on the market, such as Joel Matip and attacking midfielder Leroy Sane both from Schalke in the Bundesliga. Liverpool have also failed to bring back the creativity they once had, and with Coutinho, Lallana, and Firmino playing so erratically, Klopp will look into young, highly-rated and expensive players such as Lucas Moura, Saido Berahino, and Marko Grujic, who only has to complete a medical before joining the Anfield side. Finally, Liverpool have struggled on the goalkeeping front this season with both of their keepers playing inconsistently. The standout man is Steve Mandanda, who has been very unsettled at Marseille and is looking for an exit, an ideal transfer.

 

Manchester City

ManCityRank: 3rd

Christmas Shopping: Leroy Sane (Schalke), John Stones (Everton), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Isco (Real Madrid), Kelechi Nwakali (ASJ Football Academy)

New Year Resolution: Manchester City have started off the season strong and are currently sitting in the third spot in the BPL table behind Arsenal and Leicester City. The club has shown their moments of brilliance, starting off the season with five straights wins and not conceding any goals. Since then, however, MCFC have been a bit inconsistent, even with the major signings of Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi. These two players have added to City’s depth and have assisted in keeping City at the top of the table despite being plagued by injuries including those to Vincent Kompany, David Silva, and Sergio Aguero. January should be a relatively quiet month in comparison to other teams when it comes to transfers, mainly because once they obtain a completely healthy lineup, they will be nearly good to go. However, players mentioned above including Romelu Lukaku and Isco would only add to City’s depth, making them a better team overall. In addition, much speculation has been made about Pep Guardiola and where he will go after he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season. City need to either sign him as manager and release Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the season or come out with a firm statement saying Pellegrini will remain their coach and Guardiola will not sign with them. While Guardiola would be a fantastic signing for City, Pellegrini has repeatedly proved that he is up for the job at Manchester City. City should not be ruled out of any competition, and if they remain consistent and play at their highest level, they could definitely end up winning the BPL and could even go on a run in the Champions League.

 

Could attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson be the answer to offensive problems for United? [Getty Images]

Could attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson be the answer to offensive problems for United? [Getty Images]

Manchester United

ManUtdRank: 6th

Christmas Shopping: Bojan Krkic (Stoke), Sadio Mane (Southampton), Moussa Dembele (Fulham), Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Felipe Anderson (Lazio), Goncalo Guedes (Benfica)

New Year Resolution: Manchester United have had a turbulent year as manager Van Gaal is on the hot seat this season. Captain Wayne Rooney is underperforming and some summer signings, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, have disappointed fans, so much so that they have been calling Van Gaal out more than ever. Still, despite the sputtering offense, their defense has been doing very well, with only 16 goals conceded in 19 games, joint-2nd-best in the league. De Gea has been a rock-solid wall all season and even with a seemingly rotated defense with Daley Blind in the back, it has been going very well for them there. However, they are currently on a 6-game winless streak, so something needs to change. Even though young Frenchman Anthony Martial has had a good beginning of the season, it’s time for United to buy an established striker or at least a supporting attacking midfielder or winger. Anderson and Guedes seem like good moves for United, especially at their young age. The club must unite all players, manager, and board, so that the Van Gaal tactics can be taught well and the players play that way on the pitch. A manager change at this part of the season would signal panic in the higher-up executives, so that is not happening until at least the summer.

 

Newcastle United

NewcastleRank: 18th

Christmas Shopping: Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Benik Afobe (Wolverhampton), Charlie Austin (QPR), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Alex Mowatt (Leeds), Henri Saivet (Bordeaux), Diego Rolan (Bordeaux)

New Year Resolution: Newcastle has not had a good year at all, especially after finishing 15th and just 4 points above the relegation zone last year. Manager Steve McClaren brought in this year has made things seem more structured off-field, but on-field nothing much has changed. Their squad continues to look disjointed with no real attack, shown in their rank of 17th in goal scored and a relatively porous defense with a goal difference of -15, third worst in the league. At this point, they must accept that they are rebuilding and should not expect a miracle after the transfer window. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t improve, especially with the abundance of players available. Relatively cheap Championship players seem like a solid choice because they know what it’s like to be under pressure and work hard in a united squad. Charlie Austin and Alex Mowatt would be effective players to buy and would certainly bolster an underperforming squad.

 

Norwich City

Norwich_CityRank: 15th

Christmas Shopping: Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Steven Naismith (Everton), Dwight Gayle (Norwich), Benik Afobe (Wolverhampton)

New Year Resolution: Despite the seemingly not-so-good position Norwich is in, they are meeting expectations after having been promoted from the Championship last year. Their offense has not been the best, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst either having scored the same number of goals (22) as big clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United. However, their defense has not been good at all this season conceding 32 goals, an area that desperately needs improvement, especially at centre-back. They have already bid £10 million of Italy international defender Andrea Ranocchia, a transfer that could be one of the best moves this transfer window if Norwich don’t get relegated. He has both club and international experience and at 27 years of age, it would be the perfect signing for the club. Another move that could happen is with Everton striker Steven Naismith, who can also play attacking or wing midfield, who would be a welcome addition to the squad.

 

Southampton

SouthamptonRank: 12th

Christmas Shopping: Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord), Demarai Gray (Birmingham), Solly March (Brighton), Loic Remy (Chelsea)

New Year Resolution: Southampton are at a difficult point right now. Their offense and defense has been very average this season especially with the lack of fitness of strikers Jay Rodriguez and Graziano Pelle and defender Cedric. To some fans, this seems like the perfect time to splash cash and try to turn this season around to try to imitate their surprise 7th place finish last season. But, to manager Ronald Koeman, his priorities are to keep key players Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama rather than sign anyone. Still, defense has been a problem especially since most of the games they’ve lost have been by one-goal margins. 21-year-old defender Terence Kongolo seems like the best option and Koeman knows him very well since it was him who gave Kongolo his debut in April 2012 at Feyenoord. Welcome additions to the wings to support Mane would be El Ghazi and Gray, both fast-paced and talented players. Cash may be well spent this transfer window despite Koeman’s relative silence on it.

 

Stoke's front three (Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Bojan) as been unstoppable lately [Sky Sports]

Stoke’s front three (Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Bojan) as been unstoppable lately [Sky Sports]

Stoke City

Stoke_CityRank: 10th

Christmas Shopping: Jonathan Calleri (Galatasaray), Alexandre Pato (On loan at Sao Paulo), Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax), Sardar Azmoun (On loan at FC Rostov)

New Year Resolution: The boring old Stoke has long gone with manager Mark Hughes as they have shown the strength and determination of their team recently. On Boxing Day (December 26th), the Potters beat Manchester United 2-0 and two days later beat Everton 4-3. Stoke’s front three of Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Marko Arnautovic have been explosive this season, contributing 12 goals and 7 assists. Alongside other talented players such as Ibrahim Afellay, Marco van Ginkel, and Joselu, Stoke have found themselves 10th in the league. If Stoke can continue to beat teams in the top 10, they can keep Butland and their front three as their Europa League goal becomes more and more realistic. Even though they might not buy big name players this transfer window, don’t be surprised if they keep their form up.

 

Sunderland

SunderlandRank: 19th

Christmas Shopping: Lamine Kone (Lorient), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Charlie Austin (QPR), Joel Matip (Schalke), Sebastien Haller (Utrecht), Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim), James Collins (West Ham)

New Year Resolution: After Dick Advocaat resigned earlier this season and Sam Allardyce has come in, Sunderland still hasn’t gotten much better. Still, the worst seems to have gone past them after they’ve played four big clubs in their past five games, losing all of them. Their offense is sputtering and their defense looks even worse, which is why Allardyce is looking for a more reassuring defender after poor performances from John O’Shea and Wes Brown. Kone, Matip, and Collins are all players that would be very useful to shore up Sunderland’s porous defense. As for the attacking front, winger Townsend and forwards Haller or Austin seem like good moves to go far this transfer window. The failure so far of Dutch international and summer transfer Jeremain Lens is on the back of everyone’s minds at Sunderland so they will definitely be much more cautious this time around to make sure to bring established players.

 

Swansea City

Swansea_CityRank: 17th

Christmas Shopping: Loic Remy (Chelsea), Bas Dost (Wolfsburg), Michael Keane (Burnley), Patrick Bamford (Chelsea), Callum McManaman (WBA), Sam Byram (Leeds), Alan Judge (Brentford)

New Year Resolution: After their best ever finish (8th) in the Premier League last year, their season could be described as a debacle after big expectations for this season. Previous manager Garry Monk, who used to be described as a man who could do wonders for a team at only 36 years of age, was sacked after one win in eleven games in early December. Alan Curtis, a long-time coach of the club, had been appointed interim manager and Swansea still hasn’t appointed a permanent manager as of recent. Frank de Boer, current manager of Ajax, has been strongly linked to the post. Still, Swansea haven’t improved, even dropping to current 17th place after Monk’s departure. They need to strengthen offense at all costs, since they rank 2nd-worst in goals scored with only 16 in 19 games. Loic Remy seems like a likely transfer even if Chelsea would probably want it to be a loan rather than a permanent move.

 

While Tottenham's Harry Kane (left) continues to be a goal machine, Dele Alli has been a revelation in midfield [The Guardian]

While Tottenham’s Harry Kane (left) continues to be a goal machine, Dele Alli has been a revelation in midfield [The Guardian]

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham_HotspurRank: 4th

Christmas Shopping: Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Saido Berahino (WBA), Sandro Ramirez (Barcelona), Michy Batshuayi (Marseille), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG), Moussa Dembele (Fulham), Jackson Martinez (Atletico Madrid)

New Year Resolution: Spurs look a solid side at this stage of the season and look like top four contenders, thus need minimal changes in their squad. Their main concern is what happens if Harry Kane (11 goals this season) gets injured? They had already bought a replacement in the summer, Clinton N’jie, but he has gotten injured and is out for a couple months. A super sub striker is definitely needed, and many lay before Tottenham with their large budget. The most likely seem Berardi (44 goals in 105 appearances) and Berahino (22 goals in 88). Other than keeping their key players healthy, Spurs also need to stay compact in defense, especially in the counter-attack, although it has been much better recently and have been rewarded with the best defense (15 goals conceded) and best goal difference in the league (+18).

 

Watford

WatfordRank: 9th

Christmas Shopping: Emmanuel Adebayor (Free Agent), Simone Zaza (Juventus), Nathan Ake (For permanent transfer from Chelsea)

New Year Resolution: Newly-promoted Watford has shattered expectations with their excited offensive duo Odion Ighalo (14 goals) and Troy Deeney (6 goals), who have scored 83% of Watford’s goals this season. Because of their seemingly amazing striking prowess, it will be manager Quique Sanchez Flores’ desire to keep both key players from offers of bigger clubs. But, Flores has also repeatedly stated that he would like a more experienced striker to cover for one of the two in case they get injured or he just wants to rest them. Emmanuel Adebayor seems like the ideal move despite his high wages. Watford ranks 6th in goals scored and joint-5th in goals conceded (a surprisingly low tally of 20 goals), an amazing feat considering they were in the Championship last year. If they keep on playing as well as they have been and keep their unity, they could finish better than their current 9th place.

 

West Bromwich Albion

WBARank: 13th

Christmas Shopping: Diego Rolan (Bordeaux), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Matt Phillips (QPR), Sandro Wagner (Darmstadt), Kerim Frei (Besiktas), Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal)

New Year Resolution: West Brom have been an unfortunately mediocre team this year. Their offense ranks 3rd-worst in goals scored with a lowly 18 goals in 19 games. It isn’t the striker that are more of the problem, with Salomon Rondon doing relatively well so far, but rather the service that is coming in, especially from the wingers. This is why Townsend and/or Frei would be effective additions to the team. They should also sell striker Saido Berahino because he hasn’t done much this season compared to the last and he has had a negative attitude ever since trying to force a move to Tottenham when they bid for him last season. This would get them £20-25 million, a big boost in the money that they could spend this transfer window. Townsend and Phillips seem to be the most likely moves this month.

 

West Ham United

WestHamRank: 8th

Christmas Shopping: Andre Gray (Burnley), Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn), Gokhan Tore (Besiktas), Simone Zaza (Juventus), Emmanuel Adebayor (Free Agent), Sam Byram (Leeds), Anderson Talisca (Benfica), Federico Mancuello (Independiente), Charlie Austin (QPR)

New Year Resolution: New manager Slaven Bilic has done wonders for West Ham as they finish the calendar year in 8th. This transfer window, however, doesn’t seem like the right time to make many changes. Despite the high number of players that the club has been linked to, they will most likely buy one or two players at most. West Ham rank 4th-best in goals scored, but help up front and on the bench would likely do good especially with the several minor injuries players have sustained, such as key midfielder Dimitri Payet. A swoop for big money players like Tore, whom has been coached by Bilic before, or Talisca seem more likely. Young full-back Sam Byram seems like an obvious choice due to the reliance on crosses from not only the wingers but the full-backs themselves, in order to serve big man Andy Carroll. This seems to be West Ham’s turn around year, especially after securing the rights to the Olympic Stadium, and could be their most successful season yet.

 

Comment below whether you agree with us or not and what you think your club should do to improve this season. [All sources and statistics come from BBC, Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Telegraph, and ESPN, all club logos are from Wikipedia]

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