Will there be big transfers during the January transfer window in the Premier League? While it's not always the most active period, there can be expensive moves and big transfers on occasion. Even if there's not, there can also be key additions without the big names.
Manchester City are in position to win the Premier League at a canter.
Liverpool and Chelsea must both beat City and continue to win each week to catch up to them. If they don't do that, then the title race will never really begin. But even in that worst case scenario, there are still battles taking place up and down the Premier League table.
Whether teams are fighting for places in Europe or places in the Premier League itself next season, additions made in January will be critical.
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal are building an impressive shape. Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka are leading the midfield, with Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli acting as ideal complements. Arsenal will hope that Martinelli eventually becomes the leading striker with the remaining three players playing in behind him.
They could turn their eyes to a defensive midfielder. The likes of Wilfred Ndidi would be ideal. But the more pressing need right now is another option at right back. Ben White played right back against Norwich because Takehiro Tomiyasu was absent.
Arsenal have high hopes for Tomiyasu so they won't spend the big money required to land Tariq Lamptey.
Kieran Trippier is likely to join Newcastle. But he would be the perfect fit at Arsenal, bringing experience to a relatively young squad. If not Trippier, then Max Aarons of Norwich offers a completely different age profile but would fit seamlessly into the team also.
Aston Villa need midfield depth despite the development of Jacob Ramsey this year. There isn't an obvious midfielder to link them to though, so it makes more sense for them to look elsewhere. During West Brom's Premier League campaign last season, Darnell Furlong stood out for all the right reasons.
He would offer Villa a new dimension as a more attacking left-sided defender than Matt Targett, but he can also play on the right side if needed. Since he is a 28-year-old playing in the Championship, he won't command a huge transfer fee.
Steven Gerrard's arrival has propelled them forward in that regard, so they just need to keep fleshing out what is already a good squad.
Prior to his injury, Joe Gomez was an emerging star for Liverpool.
The 24-year-old England defender suffered a serious knee injury last season that impacted his preparation this season. Unlike Virgil Van Dijk, he did not go straight back into the the starting lineup upon his return. Gomez is now behind Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip in the Liverpool pecking order.
He's too valuable for Liverpool to sell but he's too good to sit on their bench also. Gomez needs games. He'd start every week for Brentford and fit into a team that attempts to play in a way that would maximize his impact. Gomez can play anywhere across a back four or a back three.
Anyone who watched Brighton play against Chelsea understands just how promising this team is. They have everything in midfield and defence, but they're just lacking that potent striker upfront. Neil Maupay leads the team with seven goals in 16 games, Leandro Trossard has four in 17 and nobody else has scored more than twice.
Part of that might be the setup of Graham Potter's side but this is also a team noted for its inability to take advantage of chances created.
Enock Mwepu is yet to live up to expectations, but he still has potential. Mwepu is an attacker but not a lead-the-line striker. Although he has played in the Premier League before and proven to be ineffective, Aleksander Mitrovic could be the perfect fit for Brighton. The 27-year-old offers a physical presence and focal point that the current options in the Brighton squad do not.
Dan Neil recently signed a long-term contract extension with Sunderland. But that hasn't stopped the suggestions that Neil could move to the Premier League. Burnley are reportedly interested in a £3 million move and considering the lack of funds available to them, the 20-year-old would be an ideal addition to the midfield depth.
Sean Dyche famously uses a small squad and will continue to do so moving forward. Snapping up under-the-radar signings such as Neil early is his best chance of building the team.
Ben Chilwell's injury gave Chelsea a problem. Marcos Alonso has his good days, but he can be taken advantage of in space against better teams. Reece James played left wing back against Brighton and got injured in the process. Chelsea obviously need a left wing back.
Lucas Digne has been a very impressive player for Everton for a while. Digne is 28 years of age and Everton have financial challenges after so many bad deals. It could make sense for both sides even while Everton can't really afford to lose any of their proven players.
Keeping Conor Gallagher on loan from Chelsea should be enough to make Crystal Palace fans happy.
Patrick Viera's Crystal Palace are happily 11th ahead of the new year. Palace have scored 27 goals and conceded 27 goals. They are the definition of a mid-table team right now. Odsonne Edouard could have a similar impact to a new signing in the new year as he continues to develop after moving down from Scotland in the summer.
With Edouard and a slew of other attacking players available to them, Palace have more concerns in midfield than attack. Aaron Ramsey is expected to leave Juventus either in January or at the end of the season. The 31-year-old will likely drop down a level and a loan move to Palace could be perfect.
One of the first things Rafa Benitez did as Everton manager was push James Rodriguez out the door.
Benitez has always been a manager who will not play attackers who don't prioritize defending. Ross Barkley, a former Everton player, runs just about enough to be a Benitez player. If Barkley can return to past form, he could create a strong triangle in midfield and act as a link player for attacks in front of Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Marcelo Bielsa has endured a rough season. Stuart Dallas has been forced to play fullback, Kalvin Phillips is hurt and Mateusz Klich is struggling for form. Leeds don't necessarily have one specific major area of weakness that needs to be addressed but Bielsa needs to continue to add versatile pieces to his squad.
Lewis O'Brien is a target who Leeds tried to bring in during the summer.
O'Brien is a 23-year-old Huddersfield midfielder. He's technically proficient and Leeds attempted to sign him for £13 million. O'Brien signed a long-term extension in September but Huddersfield's financial issues may force their hand. Leeds could capitalize and add greater depth to their midfield.
Leicester are underachieving this season. They are ninth in the table.
Brendan Rodgers' side simple concedes too many goals. After losing Wesley Fofana early in the year, their defence has been too often exposed in space despite playing three defenders at the back. Even once Fofana is back to full effectiveness, Leicester need to add defenders. They could also use a new goalkeeper as Kasper Schmiechel's form has dipped over recent seasons.
John Egan of Sheffield United and Ireland has proven himself as a Premier League defender in the past. Sheffield United aren't on the precipice of a return to the Premier League so Egan should be available.
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have made big transfer moves over the years but not consistently.
Signing the likes of Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk worked out. But the squad hasn't kept pace with Manchester City in terms of building it out with stars. When Georginio Wijnaldum left in the summer, a gaping hole opened in midfield. Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are both stars, but the third spot has rotated between the likes of Thiago, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Injuries have played a significant role in that rotation but there is no clear star to round out the midfield.
Should Liverpool spark a return to the title race, then adding an impact player to that third midfield spot is vital. At the very least, adding another starting calibre player will mean they won't have to turn to James Milner off the bench when chasing games. Jude Bellingham is the perfect fit.
Bellingham will cost a huge sum and he's young so he might take time to adjust just as Jadon Sancho and Christian Pulisic have. But he's also so talented that the patience with him would be worth it over the long term.
Harry Kane or Erling Haaland aren't going to sign in January. Cristiano Ronaldo would have made a lot of sense based on how City's season has developed, but that's obviously not happening in January either. Man City don't really need anything but adding another striker would make sense.
Pep Guardiola is looking for an impact substitute ahead of a potential Champions League run.
Outside of an outlandish move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Manchester City's best route is to sit on their money and wait for Haaland in the Summer.
Tariq Lamptey is the inverse of Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Manchester United must begin their rebuild. They don't know who the manager will be moving forward, so their signings must be smart and versatile to fit any philosophy. Lamptey is a star player. He will excel in any system filling any role so long as he's not forced to sit deep and defend all game.
United need building blocks. Lamptey is one.
Newcastle have plenty of talent in attack, but they have no foundation to build on in defence.
James Tarkowski is a proven Premier League starter who teams have tried to sign away from Burnley over recent seasons. Newcastle are now in position to force Burnley's hand. Tarkowski will come in immediately and solidify the defence to ignite Newcastle's survival during the second half of the season.
Dean Smith is Norwich manager for the foreseeable future. He is building for the long term, not just trying to stay up this season. Smith is going to focus on the security of the club rather than making aggressive moves.
Conor Hourihane, a former player of Smith's, makes perfect sense because he will come in cheaply and seamlessly transition into the team.
Danny Ings departure in the summer is still hurting Southampton.
Adam Armstrong isn't scoring. Shane Long never scores. James Ward-Prowse is Southampton's leading scorer with five goals. They desperately need someone who can spark life into their attack.
Kyogo Furuhashi is ripping up Scottish football. Southampton will get in ahead of the queue if they make an aggressive move to sign him in January. Kyogo can play on the wing or upfront and offers a level of movement that the current Southampton strikers don't.
He will diversify the attack, opening up options for the manager.
Antonio Conte is primarily focused on revitalizing the talent that is already in the Tottenham squad.
But he also desperately needs to add to the defence. Matt Doherty enjoyed a cameo on the left side recently but he is not expected to feature heavily despite the manager change. Stefen de Vrij is the ideal fit. De Vrij can play on the left side of the back three, freeing Ben Davies to move back into a left wing back position if needed.
De Vrij is a regular starter for Inter but his contract runs out in the Summer so the opportunity is there to pry him away.
Watford are just above the relegation zone. They struggle to score goals and they struggle to stop other teams scoring goals. The bigger concern is the defence.
Nat Philips will leave Liverpool in January. Philips started for Liverpool last season during their centre back struggles. Although not on the same level as those he was replacing, Phillips proved himself a capable Premier League defender. His ability to win the ball in the air makes him a threat on attacking set pieces and a lynchpin defender against set pieces.
He's also good enough on the ball for his size.
Renato Sanches is Portuguese so he's obviously a target for Wolves.
Sanches previously struggled in the Premier League. The midfielder has rebounded since and become a proven international-calibre player for Portugal. He is just 24 years of age and playing well for Lille. While Wolves would ideally add a striker to create a more potent attack, Sanches offers them stability and depth in midfield that is lacking.
His robust style of ball retention would perfectly complement the ball-playing midfielders that Wolves already employ.
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