Dubai: January is finally upon us and that means one thing: it is time for the winter Premier League shopping spree.
With half the season gone, most sides will have a fair plan of which ares need strengthening in their squad, and one team in particular will be quite happy and watch as the others try to catch up.
In recent years it has been Manchester City who were leading the way, thanks to astute moves in the transfer market, but now the two-time defending champions find themselves languishing behind Liverpool in the title race, as Jurgen Klopp’s European and world champions look like adding a first Premier League title to their silverware haul.
Here is a look at which of the ‘top’ teams need to buy — and where — to contend over the league run-in and the race for the top four.
As you were, thanks. The Reds have already secured the services of Japan star Takumi Minamino, and Klopp will be quite content with his squad. Any other arrivals are unlikely, given their strength across the group, from Allison Becker in goals, through Virgil van Dijk in defence, to Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino up front. If anything, maybe Klopp should cast his eye over the future Anfield heroes in the academy, as they seem set with the current crop.
They look like the class of 2015-16 once again, and Jamie Vardy is leading the line once again, having scored 17 goals for the Foxes in the league so far this campaign. Support up front would help them out if they want to attempt to reel in Liverpool. However, a promising young talent may be more realistic than a big name coming in.
Maybe they need a new physio team given the number of injury problems that have hampered their season. Coach Pep Guardiola has already said he is happy with his squad once they return to fitness, but they need to unearth a long-term replacement for departed skipper Vincent Kompany at the back and soon-to-depart David Silva in the middle.
Could be big shoppers this month as they have their chequebook back following a transfer ban. Frank Lampard’s thin and youthful squad have impressed so far but a few more experience and steady heads should mature and guide their younger talents such as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount to establish them as a real power for years to come.
Offloading Christian Eriksen with help loosen the purse strings for new boss Jose Mourinho as he attempts to use his pedigree to lure in top playmakers and another defender and help put his brand on the team after a disappointing first half to the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is another coach expected to be busy in January. A jaded team are continuing to struggle on the field and many eyes will be on how the fairly inexperienced Norwegian utilises the transfer market. United missed out on Erling Haaland, who opted for a spell with Borussia Dortmund, but former City forward Jadon Sancho is still on their radar and a move for West Ham’s Declan Rice could shore things up in midfield if the price is right.
Unai Emery has gone, Freddie Ljungberg has stepped back, and now it is up to rookie Mickael Arteta to sort out the shambles at the Emirates. The defence is a mess and replacements are required for Mr Liability David Luiz at the back and for Mr Grumpy Mesut Ozil in midfield. Arteta’s biggest concern is spending money as quality comes at a price — and that is before you consider that everyone knows price tags go up when a Premier League giant comes calling for your best players.