The January transfer window is about to open – but which Premier League side will do the best bit of business this time?
From title contenders looking to strengthen their squad to struggling teams searching for new faces who can turn their season around, it is a chance for sides to spend some cash – well, some of them at least.
BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson looks at each top-flight side and examines who they need to sign, or whether they need to put down the shutters to fend off bids for their best players.
Key: GK: Goalkeeper; CB: Centre-back; LB: Left-back; RB: Right-back; CM: Central midfielder; LM: Left-midfielder; RM: Right-midfielder; FW: Forward; CF: Centre-forward
Arsenal – 4th (position in Premier League)
Stat attack: Arsenal’s shot conversion rate of 19.6% is second only to Liverpool, but they have created the fewest chances of any of the top six teams and their overall shooting accuracy is only the 11th best in the top flight.
Window shopping: Collectively, Arsenal are having a very average period so their squad is under scrutiny with the window about to open but, being realistic about who they might get, it is hard to solve their problems with one or two signings in January.
Their problems are more mental than physical. They have got the players and there are no obvious weaknesses in the team other than in the centre of midfield, where they are missing Santi Cazorla.
The Spaniard makes them tick – but they are not going to sign someone to replace him when he will be back from injury in a couple of months.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Dimitri Payet, 29, CM (West Ham United), Jordan Pickford, 22, GK (Sunderland), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 27, CF(Borussia Dortmund), Isco, 24, CM (Real Madrid), Guillaume Hubert, 22, GK (Standard Liege), Kostas Manolas, 25, CB (Roma), Jose Gaya, 21, LB (Valencia), Marco Reus, 27, LM (Borussia Dortmund), Diego Laxalt, 23, CM (Genoa), Carlos Bacca, 30, CF (AC Milan).
Bournemouth – 12th
Stat attack: Bournemouth are ranked 14th for number of chances created but are seventh in shooting accuracy (46.47%) and shot conversion (15.3%).
Window shopping: I agree with Cherries boss Eddie Howe when he says he does not think his squad needs major surgery – I don’t think they have a desperate need to sign anyone, which is one of the reasons they are not being linked with many players.
They are good going forward and have started to improve a little bit defensively, too. They have still got quite a bit of work to do at the back, but they are an improving team who are looking up rather than down the table.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Nathan Ake, 21, CB (Chelsea) – permanent deal, Conor Chaplin, 19, CF (Portsmouth).
Burnley – 14th
Stat attack: Burnley have the highest tackling success rate of 76.4% but have faced the most shots on target (113) and, between them, their goalkeepers have saved the most shots as well (84).
Window shopping: Signing Joey Barton makes sense. He played under Sean Dyche last season and they have got a good relationship. Dyche knows what Barton is like in the dressing room and how to handle him, so it is a no-brainer really.
That deal obviously depends on any ban the midfielder gets over his betting charges. I imagine his contract will be designed so that if he gets a 20-game ban, then there will no longer be a contract.
I would understand if Dyche brought in a couple of other players, but they are not going to be signings that will blow anyone out of the water.
For starters, he will not risk upsetting the spirit of the squad because that is one of their major strengths – and Burnley are also not going to break the bank to try to stay up.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Luciano Narsingh, 26, FW (PSV Eindhoven), Marc Roberts, 26, CB (Barnsley), Jordan Rhodes, 26, CF (Middlesbrough).
Chelsea – 1st
Stat attack: Chelsea have conceded the fewest goals (11) and have kept more clean sheets (11) than any other team in their first 18 games. Blues boss Antonio Conte has made the fewest changes to his starting XIs than any other Premier League manager – just 15 since the start of the season.
|Premier League line-up changes, 2016-17|
|1. Man City – 61||18. Hull City – 23|
|2. Swansea – 45||19. West Brom – 18|
|3. Sunderland – 43||20. Chelsea – 15|
Window shopping: Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi joined for £33m in the summer but is obviously not ready as far as Conte is concerned. Whether the Italian thinks the 23-year-old will be ready soon is unclear, but the fact he left him out when Diego Costa was suspended against Bournemouth said a lot.
Up front is the only area where Chelsea look a bit short. I don’t think they will sign anyone, but if they do it might be similar to when Manchester United signed Henrik Larsson at the age of 35 during the 2006-07 season.
By that I mean an experienced striker who would get them goals in the short-term. I don’t know who the 2017 version of Larsson would be, or whether they could get him, but that is the type of player they might be after.
I don’t see any other weaknesses in their squad. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was right when he said recently that Chelsea’s best players have remained free of injuries so far, but they have got cover and they would have to have quite a few injuries to affect them badly.
For example, Willian can come into the regular trio of attacking midfielders, Cesc Fabregas replaces Nemanja Matic or N’Golo Kante when they are not available and John Terry and Kurt Zouma back up the back three.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): James Rodriguez, 25, FW (Real Madrid), Diego Laxalt, 23, CM (Genoa), Dimitri Payet, 29, CM (West Ham United), Radja Nainggolan, 28, CM (Roma), Jan Oblak, 23, GK (Atletico Madrid), Hakan Calhanoglu, 22, FW (Bayer Leverkusen), Steven N’Zonzi, 28, CM (Sevilla), Virgil van Dijk, 25, CB (Southampton), Marco Verratti, 24, CM (Paris St-Germain), Franck Kessie, 20, CM (Atalanta), Djibril Sidibe, 24, LB (Monaco), Tiemoue Bakayoko, 22, CM (Monaco).
Crystal Palace – 17th
Stat attack: Only the top five teams have scored more goals than Palace this season and the Eagles are ranked ninth for total shots (173) and sixth for shot conversion (16.76%).
However, along with Hull, they have only had one clean sheet this season – and only the Tigers and Swansea have conceded more goals.
Window shopping: There is no doubt that new Palace boss Sam Allardyce will buy players in January. He is very good at finding players from outside the UK, so I don’t necessarily think it will be a case of him signing people who have played under him before.
Generally, Allardyce works from the back and then moves up the pitch. I can see him signing another centre-back, even if it is just a way of getting the ones he has already got to up their game.
Palace did not always have a natural holding midfielder in their team under Alan Pardew – Mile Jedinak was sold to Aston Villa, Joe Ledley has not always played and Yohan Cabaye is not that sort of player. I think that position will also be one of Allardyce’s priorities.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Kieran Gibbs, 27, LB (Arsenal), Lucas Lima, 26, CM (Santos), Aleksandar Mitrovic, 22, CF (Newcastle United), Jermain Defoe, 34, CF, (Sunderland).
Everton – 7th
Stat attack: Plenty of shots on target, but not many goals. Everton have the third-best shooting accuracy – 48.9% – but their shot-conversion rate of 13.5% is only the 13th best.
Window shopping: Teenage forward Ademola Lookman is on his way from Charlton and that will only be the start. I think they will do quite a bit of business in every area of the team.
I can see them being one of the busier teams and their manager Ronald Koeman will do as much as he can.
The Dutchman will have money to spend too. I get the impression that the new owner might be thinking to himself, ‘let’s have a little bit of a go’.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Memphis Depay, 22, FW (Manchester United), Morgan Schneiderlin, 27, CM (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko, 27, CM (Tottenham), Jordan Amavi, 22, LB (Aston Villa), Aymen Abdennour, 27, CB (Valencia), Callum Wilson, 24, CF (Bournemouth), Rodrigo, 25, CF (Valencia), Lamine Kone, 27, CB (Sunderland), Virgil van Dijk, 25, CB (Southampton), Alan Dzagoev, 26, CM (CSKA Moscow), Manolo Gabbiadini, 25, CF (Napoli).
Hull City – 20th
Stat attack: Hull are the lowest scorers with 14 goals and have also faced the most shots (353).
Window shopping: We already know the problem at Hull was what happened over the summer – or rather did not happen in terms of strengthening their squad after getting promotion.
That has left them in an awful mess and they need to improve every area of their team, but their problem is who is going to go there?
When you are down at the bottom of the table, the reality of the situation is that it is a nightmare attracting players.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Jefferson Montero, 27, LM (Swansea City), Carl Jenkinson, 24, RB (Arsenal), Ravel Morrison, 23, CM (Lazio), Matty James, 25, CM (Leicester City), Will Hughes, 21, CM (Derby County), Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 20, CM (Chelsea).
Leicester City – 16th
Stat attack: This time last year, Leicester were top of the table and joint top scorers in the Premier League with 37 goals in their 19 matches – Jamie Vardy (15) and Riyad Mahrez (13) contributed 77% of them.
This season, Leicester are 16th, and the joint-eighth highest PL scorers with 23 goals in their 18 matches. Vardy (five) and Mahrez (three) have contributed 35% of them.
Window shopping: Leicester brought in plenty of players in the summer and I am not sure they need any more new faces while those signings continue to bed in.
But you could argue they need to change something because the cracks have started to appear – the two centre-backs have looked rocky and, in attack, Mahrez and Vardy have not got near last season’s form.
I can’t help but make the connection between the way some of their players are performing and the big contracts many of them signed after winning the title.
You normally get the odd one or two at every club who take their eye off the ball a little bit in that situation, but at Leicester it is as if it has happened to everyone at the same time.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Wilfred Ndidi, 19, CM (Genk), Luka Milivojevic, 25, CM (Olympiakos), Joe Hart, 29, GK (on loan at Torino from Manchester City), Davie Selke, 21, CF (RB Leipzig).
Liverpool – 2nd
Stat attack: Liverpool have not only scored the most goals (45), they also have the most goals from inside the area (38) and the most from outside it (seven). On top of that they have the best shooting accuracy of 51.57% and the highest shot-conversion rate of 20.18%.
Window shopping: They need a left-back, although I am not sure they will do anything about it.
James Milner has done really well since being asked to play there but they need an alternative because it will be a long season. Alberto Moreno can come in and play, but you cannot trust him. If Liverpool got a young player who is not ready to play there every week, that could be the answer.
There is also some talk about them selling Daniel Sturridge in January, but why would you weaken your attack and make another team stronger? Liverpool know what he can do and they should keep him.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Quincy Promes, 24, RM (Spartak Moscow), Kasper Schmeichel, 30, GK (Leicester City), Thiago Maia, 19, CM (Santos), Gabriel Barbosa, 20, CF (Inter Milan), Franck Kessie, 20, CM (Atalanta), Gregoire Defrel, 25, CF (Sassuolo), Moussa Dembele, 20, CF (Celtic), Jamaal Lascelles, 23, CB (Newcastle), Javier Hernandez, 28, CF (Bayer Leverkusen), Christian Pulisic, 18, LM (Borussia Dortmund), Virgil van Dijk, 25, CB (Southampton), Lorenzo Insigne, 25, FW (Napoli).
Manchester City – 3rd
Stat attack: Manchester City have the most possession (65.5%), had more touches in the opposition area (676) than any other team and have the best passing accuracy of 84.8%, but are ranked joint 11th for number of clean sheets (four) with Burnley and Everton.
Window shopping: City are getting linked with Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, but the money being talked about has gone a bit mad. £50m? Do me a favour. He is a good player but he is not £50m worth of centre-back yet.
If that is the going rate in January, then what do you do? City do not just need one defender, they need three because their full-backs are not good enough. So, a centre-back, right-back and left-back and where are they going to get them now unless they go nuts with the money?
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Virgil van Dijk, 25, CB (Southampton), Steven N’Zonzi, 28, CM (Sevilla), Moussa Dembele, 20, CF (Celtic), Darijo Srna, 34, RB (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ederson, 23, GK (Benfica), Koke, 24, CM (Atletico Madrid), Aymeric Laporte, 22, CB (Athletic Bilbao), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 27, CF(Borussia Dortmund), Isco, 24, CM (Real Madrid), Kasper Dolberg, 19, CF (Ajax), Jack Wilshere, 24, CM (on loan at Bournemouth from Arsenal), Ever Banega, 28, CM(Inter), Grzegorz Krychowiak, 26, CM (Paris St-Germain).
Manchester United – 6th
Stat attack: Manchester United have won 62.5% of games when Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo start together, compared to 40% without at least one of them.
|Man Utd PL 2016-17 with/without Jones & Rojo starting|
|With both||Stat||Without at least one|
|0.8||Average goals against||1.2|
Window shopping: I’ve seen Victor Lindelof a couple of times and can understand why United like him, even if they don’t end up getting him in January now because of the form of Jones and Rojo in the centre of their defence.
Lindelof is not a player you look at and think: ‘Woah, how good is he?’ However, he can play and he is versatile – as well as centre-half, he can play right-back and central midfield.
Elsewhere, I am not sure what manager Jose Mourinho will try to do in January. His team is taking shape and he has lots of options on the bench already.
Yes, United are being linked with France forward Antoine Griezmann but I don’t think Atletico Madrid are going to sell him now.
They might be open to offers at the end of the season, but they are in the Champions League so why would they let him leave? Not only that, why would the player want to go and play in the Europa League instead?
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): James Rodriguez, 25, CM (Real Madrid), Virgil van Dijk, 25, CB (Southampton), Antoine Griezmann, 25, CF (Atletico Madrid), Nelson Semedo, 23, RB (Benfica), Tiemoue Bakayoko, 22, CM (Monaco), Antonio Rudiger, 23, CB (Roma), Franck Kessie, 20, CM (Atalanta), Edinson Cavani, 29, CF (Paris St-Germain), Ivan Rakitic, 28, CM (Barcelona).
Middlesbrough – 15th
Stat attack: Only Burnley (163) have had fewer shots than Boro (164). Boro have had the fewest shots on target (47) and scored the second-fewest goals (16).
Window shopping: It is easy to say Middlesbrough do not score enough but that is more down to the way their manager Aitor Karanka plays.
With the way things are going, I don’t see him throwing money at the situation or changing his team’s style of play.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Rudy Gestede, 28, CF (Aston Villa), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, 26, CM (Udinese).
Southampton – 8th
Stat attack: Southampton have faced the second-fewest shots on target (50) and kept the joint second-most clean sheets (seven).
Window shopping: Like so many previous windows, it is going to be a case of who they keep hold of.
Jose Fonte seems the most likely player to leave but, then again, Saints might feel they won’t let him leave until they get a replacement, and that might not happen until the end of the season.
That way of thinking would certainly stop Virgil van Dijk going anywhere too, but with him it might depend of how much money is being offered.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Eric Choupo-Moting, 27, FW, (Schalke), Wylan Cyprien, 21, CM, (Nice), Lucas Perez, 28, CF, (Arsenal), Fabian Schar, 25, CB, (Hoffenheim), Molla Wague, 25, CB, (Udinese), Kevin Wimmer, 24, CB, (Tottenham), Dani Parejo, 27, CM, (Valencia), Jacob Murphy, 21, RM, (Norwich City), Nemanja Gudelj, 25, CM, (Ajax).
Stoke City – 13th
Stat attack: Stoke have conceded 28 goals in 18 league games. They had conceded 16 after 18 games last season.
Window shopping: Stoke are making a lot of defensive errors and are shipping goals, which is very unlike them under Mark Hughes.
They need to turn themselves back into a side that is difficult to beat, and difficult to play against and maybe a new centre-back could help to make the difference.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Leon Bailey, 19, FW, (Genk), Asmir Begovic, 29, GK, (Chelsea), Saido Berahino, 23, CF, (Stoke City), Eric Choupo-Moting, 27, FW, (Schalke) Manolo Gabbiadini, 25, CF, (Napoli), Sam Johnstone, 23, GK, (Manchester United), Orjan Nyland, 26, GK, (Ingolstadt), Sandro Ramirez, 21, CF, (Malaga) Fedor Smolov, 26, CF, (Krasnodar), Daniel Sturridge, 27, CF, (Liverpool), Linus Wahlqvist, 20, RB, (IFK Norrkoping), Axel Witsel, 27, CM (Zenit St-Petersburg).
Sunderland – 18th
Stat attack: Sunderland have had the fewest shots – 108 in 18 games, or an average of six per game – of any top-flight team this season. They have only scored one goal from outside the box – and are the only team yet to score a header.
Jermain Defoe has scored 50% of their 16 league goals this season, the highest percentage of any Premier League player this season.
|1. Jermain Defoe||Sunderland||8||16||50%|
|2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Man Utd||12||27||44.4%|
|3. Romelu Lukaku||Everton||10||23||43.5%|
|4. Robert Snodgrass||Hull City||5||14||35.7%|
|5. Michail Antonio||West Ham||8||23||34.8%|
Window shopping: They have a lot of long-term injuries but there is no money to sign new players.
When it comes to making signings, David Moyes does not just have his hands tied, it is his arms and legs, too.
There is talk of Defoe leaving, but it is game over for Sunderland if that happens. His goals make him priceless and he should be untouchable. Letting him leave would be like selling the crown jewels.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Robbie Brady, 24, LM, (Norwich City), Martin Caceres, 29, CB, (free agent), Peter Crouch, 35, CF, (Stoke City), Shane Long, 29, CF (Southampton), Luciano Narsingh, 26, FW, (PSV Eindhoven), Federico Santander, 25, CF, (FC Copenhagen), Lukasz Teodorczyk, 25, CF, (on loan at Anderlecht from Dynamo Kiev), Leonardo Ulloa, 30, CF, (Leicester), Adam Webster, 21, CB (Ipswich Town).
Swansea City – 19th
Stat attack: Swansea have conceded 41 goals, the most in the Premier League this season. They are ranked fourth-worst for shots faced (272) and shots on target faced (93) and have made more errors leading to shots (eight) than any other side.
Window shopping: The new manager will take over a team that has no problems scoring but is all over the shop defensively.
I can understand Swansea selling Ashley Williams to Everton for £12m in the summer because it was good money for someone who turned 32 in August, but he was a lot more than just a player for them and they have not recovered from losing him.
Swansea are not going to find the new Williams – someone who will be a leader in the dressing room as well as on the pitch – but they need someone who can replace him as a solid presence at the back.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Kieran Gibbs, 27, LB (Arsenal), Carl Jenkinson, 24, RB (Arsenal,) Dimitar Berbatov, 35, CF (free agent), Michael Bradley, 29, CM (Toronto FC), Chris Gunter, 27, RB (Reading), Aleksandar Mitrovic, 22, CF (Newcastle United), Tom Carroll, 24, CM (Tottenham), Aleix Vidal, 27, RB, (Barcelona), Luciano Narsingh, 26, FW, (PSV Eindhoven).
Tottenham Hotspur – 5th
Stat attack: Tottenham have had the most shots (335) and their accuracy (49.1%) is second only to Liverpool – but their conversion rate is only the 12th best (13.98%).
Window shopping: Their summer buys have not done much for them so far, but I don’t think they need to do a lot in January – other than find an alternative goal threat to Harry Kane.
Dele Alli has started to score more but Christian Eriksen can go for long spells without finding the net, especially from open play.
It is a difficult one to solve because Kane likes to play on his own up front. Basically they need someone who can play behind him who is a good finisher to offer goals as well as creativity. Someone like Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson would fit the bill, although Spurs have already had him once.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Ross Barkley, 23, CM (Everton), Javier Hernandez, 28, CF (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Brandt, 20, LM, (Bayer Leverkusen), Jordan Pickford, 22, GK, (Sunderland), Max Meyer, 21, FW, (Schalke), Marc Cucurella, 18, LB, (Barcelona), Memphis Depay, 22, FW, (Manchester United), James Rodriguez, 25, CM, (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozovic, 24, CM, (Inter Milan), Moussa Dembele, 20, CF (Celtic), Sandro Ramirez, 21, CF, (Malaga), Wilfried Zaha, 24, FW, (Crystal Palace).
Watford – 10th
Stat attack: This time last year, Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo had contributed 58% of Watford’s Premier League goals, scoring 14 of their 24 strikes. Six of the other 10 were scored by his forward partner Troy Deeney.
This season, Ighalo has scored only one league goal and Deeney went 10 games before scoring his fourth of the season – and 100th for the club – against Crystal Palace on 26 December. Between them, they have scored 22% of Watford’s 22 goals, compared to 83% at this stage last season.
Window shopping: The Hornets now mostly play with only one up front and they seem to lack a little bit of creativity.
The goals have dried up for the team as well as for Deeney and Ighalo – the Hornets have scored only nine goals in their past nine games – and if they are going to carry on using that system, they need players who can give their striker more service.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Sergi Enrich, 26, CF, (Eibar), Henri Lansbury, 26, CM, (Nottingham Forest), John Mikel Obi, 29, CM, (Chelsea), Riccardo Orsolini, 19, RM, (Ascoli), Ashley Young, 31, LM, (Manchester United), Ben Osborn, 22, CM, (Nottingham Forest).
West Brom – 9th
Stat attack: The Baggies have the lowest average-possession rate (36.95%) and second lowest passing accuracy (69.95%).
Window shopping: Tony Pulis is in a position of strength, because of the Baggies’ league position and because he has money to spend – and he should strike while the iron is hot.
Pulis is shrewd enough to want to see if the club’s owners – who did not appoint him – will back him. They have had a good season so far and I can see him trying to do a few deals to try to push on.
If he can get Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United, he will go for him – and West Brom have the attraction of being a top-half club as well as offering regular football.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Rudy Gestede, 28, CF, (Aston Villa), Sead Kolasinac, 23, LB, (Schalke), Jay Rodriguez, 27, CF, (Southampton), Mamadou Sakho, 26, CB, (Liverpool), Jeffrey Schlupp, 24, LM/LB, (Leicester), Morgan Schneiderlin, 27, CM, (Manchester United), Lukasz Teodorczyk, 25, CF, (on loan at Anderlecht from Dynamo Kiev).
West Ham – 11th
Stat attack: West Ham have got the lowest shooting accuracy in the Premier League with just 35.8% of their shots hitting the target. They have also made more errors leading to goals (seven) than any other side.
Window shopping: They have got injured players coming back to full fitness and have more of a need to ship some players out than to add to their squad.
West Ham’s recruitment in the summer just has not worked and it is hard to think of a summer signing who has made them better.
Their results have picked up recently, but if Hammers boss Slaven Bilic does want to strengthen anywhere then the owners will back him.
They always do stay up – but this season, with the new stadium, it is crucial. I cannot see them getting relegated, but they will not want to take any risks.
Linked with (Player, age, position and club): Carlos Bacca, 30, CF (AC Milan), Michy Batshuayi, 23, CF, (Chelsea), Martin Braithwaite, 25, CF, (Toulouse), Jermain Defoe, 34, CF (Sunderland), Dani Garcia, 26, CM, (Eibar), Scott Hogan, 24, CF, (Brentford), Alexander Isak, 17, CF, (AIK), Carl Jenkinson, 24, RB, (Arsenal), Lamine Kone, 27, CB, (Sunderland), Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 20, CM, (Chelsea), Anthony Martial, 21, FW (Manchester United), Lucas Pratto, 28, CF, (Atletico Mineiro), Marcus Rashford, 19, CF, (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge, 27, CF, (Liverpool).
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan