A new year will bring along a new transfer window and the opportunity for clubs to fix any flaws in their squads.
January is not typically a time when big money is spent, but clever acquisitions can impact on how the season pans out - and some teams are even already thinking about the next campaign.
Here we rundown five of the most intriguing club situations to keep an eye on as we head into 2022.
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Chelsea

There are three positions that need work, and recruitment staff are busy exploring options for left-back, while having already pinpointed both Jules Kounde and Aurelien Tchouameni as prime targets.
Antonio Rudiger is likely to leave while Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta will have their situations cleared up one way or another in the coming weeks.
Kounde almost joined in the summer, and it is possible he has an agreement set up to arrive in 2022. The same goes for Tchouameni at a time when the club are starting to wonder if this will be N’Golo Kante’s last season with them.
The left-back issue is not one they thought would be pressing, but Ben Chilwell’s long term injury means they are indeed looking at ways to fix the problem.
Barcelona’s Dest has always been someone they admired, and there are calls going out to discover whether he could be signed on loan. Lucas Digne is almost certain to leave Everton, so he is also an easy target.
This is a big test for Thomas Tuchel as his side attempt to remain in the Premier League title race and also defend their crown as Champions of Europe.

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Newcastle

Emerging as one of the richest clubs in world football isn’t much fun unless you can actually capitalise on it, so Newcastle need to make sure they stay in the Premier League.
The links are endless. In the past couple of weeks, they have been rumoured to be on the trail of Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Manuel Lanzini, Dele Alli, Divock Origi, Nathan Ake, James Tarkowski, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek, Phil Jones, Lloyd Kelly, Steve Cook and Philip Billing. That’s just from England - and there are probably others.
From the foreign market, they are pursuing Kieran Trippier, Aaron Ramsey, Philippe Coutinho, Sven Botman and Samuel Umtiti. Some sources believe that they will have more success signing players from abroad because there is not much willingness in the Premier League to help them out.
It’s complicated, though, as the new Saudi ownership has plenty of people with opinions on how they should recruit. Amanda Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi have a major say. Still, director Jamie Reuben, transfer consultant Nick Hammond, chief scout Steve Nickson and manager Eddie Howe will all have input.
How do Newcastle save their season? The aim is to add as many as four players, and it will be fascinating to see who signs up.

Newcastle United's Saudi Arabian chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (C) and Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (centre right)

Image credit: Getty Images

Juventus

Max Allegri knew he had a big job on his hands when he returned to Juventus but possibly not this big.
Reaching the top four of Serie A this season will be an achievement in itself given the start to the season they had, and now is the time to start transforming the squad.
It will be their search for a new striker that gets most headlines in January. Alvaro Morata could be Barcelona bound and, anyway, Juve have been seeking new options for goals.
Dusan Vlahovic would be ideal but might prove too costly at this stage of the season while Mauro Icardi has been targeted, and new reports also suggest that Arkadiusz Milik could become an option. Juve also hold an interest in Fulham’s Alexander Mitrovic but will not pursue him as it stands. They are also checking on Sassualo forward Gianluca Scamacca.
Juve might yet even look to sign Memphis Depay or Ousmane Dembele from Barca if they persist with a move for Morata.
The focus is on the midfield in terms of other outgoings, and primarily there are four names with their future in the air. Aaron Ramsey, Arthur, Weston McKennie and Adrian Rabiot can not be certain of an ongoing role in Turin.
Ramsey - who is being touted around - is most disposable, and club directors expect an English club will take him off their hands in January. McKennie is more wanted in the Premier League at this stage, Spurs are watching him, and an offer might prove tempting, yet there is also reason to believe he could stick it out. Arthur is likely to join a Spanish side, while Rabiot is potentially available if anyone can afford his wages.

Real Madrid

They might not seem overly active in the coming weeks, but the preparation for summer 2022 is getting underway.
Think back to how PSG approached last summer’s market - that’s similar to how Madrid view the coming year.
On their wanted list are Antonio Rudiger, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. Paul Pogba is not completely out of the thinking, either. Three of those players are on expiring contracts, while Haaland has a very reasonable release clause at Borussia Dortmund. A very interesting overhaul could open up if they are clever about their business.
In order to start getting their pieces in place, they have to start cutting the wage bill.
Isco and Gareth Bale are both out of contract at the end of the season, and to get both out of the club in January would be ideal.
Their ears are also open to offers for Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard, two men who have failed to live up to their big moves to Spain and might welcome a new challenge.
Part of the thinking in Madrid is that 2022 could open up a fantastic opportunity to strike for big players at a time when Barcelona can’t compete for all the same names.

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Barcelona

From a general view, Barca appear pretty stuck at the moment when it comes to signings. They are cash strapped in terms of transfer fees and also can’t offer the same level of salary as past years.
However, their €55m deal for Ferran Torres proves that they are alive in this window. They might yet pull off more surprises.
The money for Ferran will be spread over the duration of his contract and helps them balance the books. Barca are focusing on a young core to help them through this phase in their history, but there are a few storylines that could yet make things very interesting in 2022.
Sergino Dest and Ousmane Dembele are two players who have their future in doubt, and clarification on both players will emerge very soon.
Barca are angling to prioritise the signing of a new full-back and striker when the time comes, and as such, they are now involved in early discussions over Alvaro Morata, Cesar Azpilicueta and Noussair Mazraoui.
It is worth considering, too, that Barca very much consider themselves in the hunt for Haaland and will strive to offer him a tempting package, knowing that he is already convinced of La Liga and the history he would become part of.
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