What transfers do Premier League 'big six' need in January? Inside Football updates on key targets
The January transfer window is now open, so Inside Football looks at what each of the 'big six' teams in the Premier League really need right now - and the type of business we can expect. Dean Jones examines the state of play at the biggest clubs and identifies a number of the big storylines set to dominate the coming month.
Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool and Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United at Anfield on December 16, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom
Published 01/01/2021 at 10:59 GMT | Updated 04/01/2021 at 08:09 GMT
Champions Liverpool are top of the table but the rest of the Premier League has an unfamiliar look to it right now.
A couple of the traditional big-guns are struggling, with Arsenal all the way down in 13th, while Manchester City are sitting at eighth. Tottenham had a great start and were being tipped as potential title contenders, yet after a run of four winless games they are now seventh.
Chelsea are sat in sixth as Frank Lampard attempts to get to grips with his new squad but Manchester United are all the way up in second, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being touted for the sack on several occasions already.
It’s a weird old season, and there are plenty of twists and turns to come — but the next month is a chance to make crucial fixes in the transfer window, and we can bring you updates on all the top teams.
Defence is Liverpool’s big issue as injuries have hit the squad hard. Since Virgil van Dijk suffered a cruciate ligament injury in mid-October there has been talk that Jurgen Klopp would need to enter the market for back-up. However, there are still no concrete plans to do so.
Ozan Kabak of German club Schalke is a realistic target but AC Milan are also tracking him and the Serie A leaders are in a good position to go and seal the deal if they decide he is the man to suit their needs at the back.
If Liverpool do sign a centre-back though, look out for Sporting Braga’s David Carmo and RB Salzburg’s Max Wober among the potential options they could pursue. Sven Botman from Lille is also emerging as an option.
Liverpool’s main focus right now is to convince Gigi Wijnaldum to sign a new deal. Klopp is desperate for him to stay and there are other figures at the club too who are stunned that he could be allowed to become a free agent.
Klopp: '2020 had one highlight and lots of challenges'
The club remain fully behind Solskjaer as they head into the new year and are happy with the squad and culture he is building.
This window will be about adding a bit of competition and stability if the right players become available. That could happen both at right-back and centre-back.
Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier and Norwich City's Max Aarons are on the shortlist of full-back options being explored as they seek to find an option to help and challenge Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has started 19 of the club's 20 games in the Premier League and Champions League this season.
Centrally they continue to look for someone to add depth to their options but they will not be expecting someone of the status of Dayot Upamecano, who has been on their radar, until the summer.
The club are far down the line in a potential deal for midfielder Moises Caicedo of Ecuadorian club Independiente del Valle but have not yet completely committed to the signing.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image credit: Getty Images
Frank Lampard has found himself under plenty of pressure publicly in recent weeks but he has not been phased by any of it. Sources say he is loving every minute of the challenge as Chelsea boss and, for now, has the full backing of the club.
What Lampard needs more than anything is to figure out how to put the pieces of his team together. The club spent almost £200 million on new talent in the summer, and when Roman Abramovich puts his hand in his pocket, he expects results.
The squad will be trimmed with the likes of Kepa Arrizalabalaga, Marcos Alonso, Emerson Palmieri, Antonio Rudiger and Danny Drinkwater being allowed to find new clubs.
At this stage it is felt there has been enough changes to the set-up for a season, so unless Declan Rice becomes available at a reasonable price, there will be no major incoming business.
Spurs were very busy in the summer but that is not expected to be the case this time around. Jose Mourinho is generally happy with his squad but if there is anything that needs changing it’s that he would love to add a bit more depth and nous.
They will need to get players out the door and Danny Rose, Gedson Fernandes, Paulo Gazzaniga are all likely to leave, while they would listen to offers for any of Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela.
A new midfielder is a possibility if Daniel Levy does agree to some incoming business.
Atalanta’s Marten De Roon has been looked at but it will be difficult to get him away from Serie A at this stage of the season.
Marcel Sabitzer of RB Leipzig is also a target that has been in Spurs’ sights for some time but is going to be a tough get in January.
One other name that Mourinho admires hugely is Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, who would add versatility and experience to his attack for the season run-in if they could find a way to strike a deal.
Pep Guardiola's biggest need is a new left-back and the club are increasingly hot on Lucas Digne, although Everton hope to put an end to that by giving him a new contract. Atletico Madrid's Renan Lodi is being linked but getting him is going to be tough midway through the season.
Sources around the club think it is pretty unlikely they will spend money in January and will instead look towards big changes in the summer.
Instead their focus is on getting star names on new contracts. They are delighted that Guardiola has already signed his deal, and expect Kevin De Bruyne to be next. Once the ink is dry on his extension they will then focus on signing up Raheem Sterling on improved terms.
Look out too for a new contract offer for John Stones, who has had a complete turnaround in status at the club and is now viewed as a very important member of the side.
Guardiola on City improvement: We stopped making stupid mistakes
The Gunners need a new creative midfielder and will focus all their attention on making it happen.
Their top target Dominik Szoboszlai joined RB Leipzig instead, and their long-term admiration of Houssem Aouar looks set to pass without any action being taken. He is expected to remain at Lyon.
A couple of options being spoken of now are Real Madrid's Isco and Emi Buendia of Norwich.
Isco has a decision to make at Madrid, where he has been struggling for game time. He has flirted with the idea of moving to the Premier League before but not made the move and sources in Spain say it would be no surprise it he still opts to stay in Spain for the rest of this season.
Buendia would be a smart signing who could certainly fit in with what Mikel Arteta is building, but reports of a £15 million transfer from Norwich are optimistic. The Canaries want to keep hold of him and it would take more than that to take him away. It’s thought they would want at least £25 million.
Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt is being explored as a target but it is felt it will be difficult to get him midway through the campaign.
Anyone hoping for a U-turn on Mesut Ozil's role will be disappointed, as his situation is unchanged and he is looking for an exit strategy.
Another midfielder they have been checking on is Joan Jordan of Sevilla.