January Transfer Window
Photo: Tottenham HotspurGetty Images

This season’s January transfer window in the Premier League should be far different to its predecessors given that most teams are only a third of the way through their seasons, rather than at around halfway as they usually are. There’s also this whole COVID thing going on – you may have heard about it – that has seriously affected the revenues of clubs up and down the league pyramid. That said, the offseason wasn’t supposed to bring a lot of spending either….

It’s expected that loans and moves around the edges rather than big money signings will be the standard this January, with some clubs choosing to sit proceedings out altogether.

Arsenal

Needs: shift the deadwood; midfield creativity.

The Gunners recent uptick in form has been led by youngsters who might just of filled that creativity void. Nonetheless, they’ve been linked with a loan move for Isco from Real Madrid – of course, they still have a certain German World Cup winner sitting outside of the squad, should they need.

Arsenal’s most pressing need at the moment is to offload as many of the under-performing veterans on bloated contracts as possible. Saed Kolasinac has joined Schalke and William Saliba has moved to Nice, both on loan. Expect others to join them as the deadline approaches.

Aston Villa

Needs: defensive depth.

Dean Smith’s summer business has worked out fabulously, with Villa riding high in 8th. They are a little thin across the board, though they have players close to returning from injury. A priority will be trying to turn Ross Barkley’s loan from Chelsea into a permanent move. They will also look for defensive reinforcements, in particular at left back and ideally a left footed centre back.

Brighton

Needs: goals and creativity; swat away the circling vultures.

Graham Potter has his team moving the ball wonderfully well, but despite being so pleasing on the eye the Seagulls just can’t put the ball in the back of the net. To that end, the team will likely recall South African striker Percy Tau from Anderlecht should they be able to secure a work permit for him.

Polish midfielder Jakub Moder will also return from loan and whilst he’s most comfortable sitting deeper in midfield, he has been known to get forward and let fly – something a shot shy Brighton squad desperately need.

With the team struggling, the Premier League big boys will be trying to get their hooks into the likes of Yves Bissouma, Ben White, and Tariq Lamptey. Holding on to their better performers will be paramount to their survival bid.

Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan has fallen out of favour and will be moved on if the price is right.

Burnley

Needs: right midfield; general depth; hold onto Tarkowski.

Burnley’s recent takeover will see the club flush with the levels of cash they’ve never experienced. Whether that comes to pass in time for this window remains to be seen. Boss Sean Dyche, who spent a mere $1 million in the offseason, has made a habit of turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse. He won’t know what to do with himself with all this expendable cash.

His wafer-thin playing list needs propping up. As soon as the team has a run of injuries they inevitably struggle, so depth across the list is needed, though you would expect Burnley to try to bring in first-team players where possible.

It seems that just about every club has had a go at prying imposing centre back James Tarkowski away from Turf Moor. With new investment, expect him to stick around a little while longer.

Chelsea

Needs: clear out unwanted veterans; make a call on their manager.

Frank Lampard’s struggles have been well documented. Before deciding on another spending spree the Blues board have to decide if Lampard is their man long term, or if they shoot Bambi.

A January cash splash is unlikely in any case. It’s reported that Fikayo Tomori wants out, and there are a number of established names that Lampard will surely want to get rid of: Kepa, Antonio Rudiger, and Marcos Alonso to name but a few. Bayern Munich remain long term admirers of Callum Hudson-Odoi and with the youngster not getting minutes behind an out of position (and out of form) Timo Werner, he may agitate for a move.

Crystal Palace

Needs: the same thing as in every other window – keep Zaha.

Groundhog Day in South London, again. In literally every transfer window since Zaha’s move back to Palace in January 2015, Palace’s main priority has been to keep hold of their talisman. Now aged 28, if he wants to again move to a bigger club he’ll have to get his skates on. Serie A leaders Milan are rumoured to be interested and newly installed Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is a know admirer of Zaha’s talents.

Everton

Needs: depth in midfield and forward.

After too many new regimes – and the associated spending of each new manager – over the past few years, Everton have a multitude of players on big money that they would like to get rid of. They will likely take any reasonable offer for Cenk Tosun, Mo Besic, Yannick Bolasie, Jonas Lossl, and the perma-crocked Fabian Delph.

Despite those wage budget cloggers, the Toffees are expected to bring in some reinforcements. Like Arsenal, they’re heavily linked with Isco. They’re also in the running to bring in Sami Khedira from Juventus, either when his contract expires at season’s end, or immediately on a cut price deal.

The club will be hoping that Southampton want to make Theo Walcott’s loan deal permanent. It will be fascinating to see what they do about PSG’s reported interest in making Moise Kean’s loan stay in Paris a permanent one.

Fulham

Needs: goals.

Fulham’s defensive signings made in the offseason took their time to bed in, but are now giving boss Scott Parker a solid base to build from. He didn’t make any serious signings upfront, with the combustible Aleksander Mitrovic expected to slot them in, though with the Serb only tallying a pair of goals so far this campaign, another striking option is sorely needed.

Jean-Michael Seri – left out of the Premier League squad – will again be shopped around Europe, hoping for a buyer to come forward.

Leeds United

Needs: depth.

Marcelo Bielsa is a vocal critic of the mid-season transfer window. That, alongside Leeds’ excellent off-season shopping, likely indicates a quiet window at Elland Road.

Given the team’s injury issues in central midfield and across the back line, there could be some loan signings made. Aside from that, don’t expect too much from Leeds.

Leicester City

Needs: not too much, really – maybe defensive depth?

When quizzed on his team’s January plans, Brendan Rogers told Sky Sports “If there’s something we think can really help us and improve us then the club will always look at it. But I don’t think there will be anyone coming in for the sake of it.”

The club will listen to offers for Islam Slimani and Demarai Gray and could do with some serviceable backups to Johnny Evans and Wesley Fofana in defense, but given they’ve come through an injury crisis and remain in 3rd place, they have to feel pretty content heading into the window.

Liverpool

Needs: defensive reinforcements.

Liverpool’s unfortunate rash of injuries has been strangely concentrated on their central defenders; Joel Matip becoming the latest to succumb to knack. Jurgen Klopp is famously averse to mid-season signings though he may have his hand forced this time around. At the moment, he’s forced to rely on youngsters like Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips, or play central midfielders like Fabinho (working well so far) and Jordan Henderson (not so well) out of position. No names have been linked thus far, though expect that to change as the rumour mill begins to churn.

As for outgoings, the club are not expected to shop anybody in particular, though should a solid bid come though for either Xherdan Shaqiri or Divock Origi they’ll surely be tempted to sell.

Manchester City

Needs: a new striker.

Pep Guardiola is another that is traditionally reluctant to make January signings, though given his lack of forward options, he may break the habit this month. Veteran superstar Sergio Agueroooooooo has been limited to a pair of league starts and Gabriel Jesus has struggled with both form and fitness. Precocious Borussia Dortmund goal machine Erling Braut Haaland is most often linked to City – the club his father captained, it should be noted – though it’s unlikely the German club will be open to selling right now.

Eric Garcia has repeatedly turned down contract extension offers and has his heart set on returning to Spain in the offseason with boyhood club Barcelona the most likely destination. Speaking of Barcelona…. most interest around this window for City surrounds their ability to secure the signature of a certain Barca forward. Though they’ll face stiff competition from PSG, City will be at the front of the cue for Lionel Messi. Will the Argentine choose to reunite with his former boss in Guardiola?

Manchester United

Needs: patience; offloading some deadwood.

The United squad looks to be gelling quite nicely after some patchy form to begin the season. All the talk from the team is about focusing on next off-season rather than buying in January. Having said that, young Ivorian winger Amad Diallo is joining from Atalanta in a deal agreed a few months ago that could rise to $40 million.

United’s main goal will be to find takers for the high priced players on the periphery of the squad: Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Sergio Romero, Brandon Williams and Jesse Lingard are all solid club men and well liked in the dressing room, but their contracts won’t be missed by the bean counters should they leave.

Newcastle United

Needs: as always, a new owner.

In a window where a thin squad desperately needs reinforcements to deal with injury, a compressed schedule, and Corona virus related absences, maligned owner Mike Ashley is choosing to spend his money in a legal battle with the Premier League over the failed take over bid last year. Ugh.

Manager Steve Bruce will have to be satisfied with loan signings, assuming he makes any signings at all. He needs cover at centre back and some competition for left back Jamal Lewis. The team are a little too reliant on Callum Wilson for goals, so an alternative up top would be welcome, as well.

Sheffield United

Needs: a miracle.

Rooted to the foot of the table, last season’s darlings will need to produce something truly special to stay up. Given the club’s COVID ravaged finances and their precarious position in the table, it’s highly unlikely that the club makes any desperation signings. The one exception could be Preston centre back Ben Davies, who would be the ideal replacement for the injured Jack O’Connell on the left of a back three.

Instrumental midfielder John Lundstram hasn’t signed the new contract the club has put on the table; if a suitable offer is received he could be on his way out of the club.

Southampton

Needs: tie down Danny Ings.

Southampton’s star man has 18 months left on his current deal, though the team have offered him new terms. Keeping him at St. Mary’s is vital. Aside from that, don’t expect the high-flying Saints to make any huge moves, though they’re expected to put in a loan bid for Manchester United’s Brandon Williams. They may also put in an offer to keep Theo Walcott, currently on loan from Everton.

Tottenham Hotspur

Needs: defensive depth; a resolution to the Dele Alli conundrum.

Tottenham are in good shape, on the whole. As always, they need to find a viable alternative to give Harry Kane a rest every now and again, though his partner in crime Son Heung-min in capable of playing centrally if required. Jose Mourinho has stated publically that he’d like another option in central defense and holding midfield, though it remains to be seen what funds Daniel Levy will make available.

Dele Alli’s situation will be one to watch. The club would ideally like to keep him, though Mourinho is clearly unconvinced by the English midfielder. PSG made overtures towards him in the offseason. With Pochettino now in charge in Paris, a move (probably a loan) to again team up with his favorite manager makes sense for all parties.

In other possible moves, the club will accept offers for Danny Rose and Paulo Gazzaniga. They also know that they can bring back former White Hart Lane hero and current Inter flop Christian Eriksen if they so desire.

West Brom

Needs: talent.

The Premier League’s least gifted squad desperately needs an infusion of talent, though their unlikely to get much beyond a few cheaper purchases and some loans. New manager Sam Allardyce has apparently given his wish list to the club and is expected to try to strengthen the team’s spine. The only player linked thus far is Cenk Tosun, who Allardyce brought to Everton whilst in charge at Goodison Park.

West Ham

Needs: injury cover.

With mid-table security all but secured, don’t expect a busy month in East London. They have already brought in 21 year old Danish defender Fredrick Alves though he’s more long term prospect than immediate plug-and-play.

With injuries to left back Arthur Masuaku and forward Michail Antonio, David Moyes will surely look to sign some cover at those positions. They’re reportedly pursuing Slavia Prague forward Absallah Sima, though like Alves the 19 year old Sengalese is one for the future.

Wolverhampton

Needs: an experienced front line striker.

Wolves have but one glaring need – a forward to replace Raul Jiminez, who continues his long rehabilitation from a fractured skull suffered in November against Arsenal. The 18 year old Fabio Silva has worked his socks off but just isn’t yet ready to lead the line game in and game out.

The difficulty for manager/jedi-cosplay-aficionado Nuno Espirito Santo is that finding a forward that is capable of playing for a team with European aspirations and who would be willing to drop to the bench once Jiminez returns is a tough ask. Though if anybody can swing a deal it’s super agent Jorge Mendes.