Managers of English Premier League live a pretty busy life. After a congested festive period, teams are returning to action on the first day of New Year. Transfer market is also re-opened. In contrast to the summer transfer window, they do not have a month to focus on scouting their targets; there is no pre-season for the new signings to adapt to the new environment; there is additional pressure on the signings to be influential saviours rather than luxurious benchwarmers.
Good scouting could earn you the Nemanja Vidic in 2006 or Clint Dempsey in 2007, but prices are often inflated in January, that the return does not always correlate positively with the investment. Afonso Alves disappointed Middlesbrough who had even relegated in 2008. Andy Carroll’s vintage form at Newcastle disappeared at Liverpool. And there of course, the infamous ┬ú50 million Fernando Torres.
It is no secret defending champion Manchester United are desperate for additional signings. A new central midfielder is almost essential. Ander Herrera will again be the prime target. Koke and Marco Reus are also reportedly under David Moyes’ radar. Ross Barkley is also Moyes’ favourite, but they will have to break their bank account to lurk him away from Everton. A more reliable left back as Patrice Evra’s understudy will be useful as well. Fabio Coentrao will hit the headline again.
Chelsea likely will be United’s main rival in the transfer market, as it is evident they are seriously weakened playing without either Frank Lampard or Ramires. Wesley Sneijder could be on the brink to rejoin Jose Mourinho, who would also welcome more resources at the back to cover for John Terry. Long-term target Eliaquim Mangala or Inter Milan Andrea Ranocchia may land at Stamford Bridge soon.
Mourinho might also face fierce competition in bidding for defenders elsewhere in Manchester, as City also realises their over-reliance on Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany. Budgets will not be City’s concern, but they definitely do not want another Martin Demichelis. Rumours also suggest Manuel Pellegrini is monitoring Iker Casillas to bring consistency to goalkeeper position, despite Joe Hart’s impressive performance lately.
League leader Arsenal unarguably has the best midfields in Premier League and have little concerns in that department. Instead, they are out again to search for strikers. As Michael Cox suggested, Olivier Giroud needs a break having sustained a high level of performance for half a season. The problem is who can they turn to? Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain are impossible to switch. Edin Dzeko is a good option but Manchester City will not allow him to go to title rival. If Diego Costa is slightly too hefty, will Dimitar Berbatov be an attractive bet with potentially wealthy return?
Berbatov’s former club Tottenham has survived a turbulent 2013 and found themselves not too far off the pace from Champions League football. Tim Sherwood will eager to anchor the squad, but having already spent over ┬ú100 million in Summer, will Daniel Levy be generous in six months time? Reality is they are short in defenders due to injuries. Barcelona Martin Montoya’s versatility could be the solution.
Liverpool is also keen to sign Montoya. Brendan Rodgers’ trust in youngsters could be an appealing point to the young full back. At the same time, Liverpool’s depth in defenders is pretty decent, so as the balance of the squad, despite they are yet to get the best out of newcomers Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto. A reliable third-choice striker will help relieve the burdens on Suarez and Sturridge.
Everton is the biggest surprise pack this season, who is also unexpectedly the team who least requires changes . They did not falter when Leighton Baines and Arouna Kone injured, nor with their awareness of over-wearing Ross Barkley. Roberto Martinez has constructed a team with incredible squad depth. With both eyes on European football, there is very little reason to risk disrupting the harmony of the squad.