Next month’s transfer window promises to be one of the most interesting of the last few years with several Premier League teams looking to strengthen their hands.
Starting from the top, Liverpool look the most likely to boost their ranks and if Robbie Keane departs then Rafa Benitez will be armed with a decent pot of cash to replace him with. Full-back Philipp Degen could also leave after joining in the summer after failing to make the grade.
Chelsea are unlikely to make any significant moves in the market unless Didier Drogba decides to leave and then Big Phil will be looking for a replacement.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is also unlikely to be getting out his cheque book, but Martin O’Neill’s fourth-placed Villa could be ready to pounce. The Irishman has one of the smallest squads in the top division and a striker is top of his wish list.
Arsenal are in desperate need of some experience and Xabi Alonso, who was a target in the summer, could still be a target for Arsene Wenger.
Hull City, who have shocked the football odds compilers with their terrific start, look unlikely to add to their ranks, but seventh-placed Everton are desperate for a striker. Injuries to Yakubu, Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan have left the Toffees short in attack and Henrik Larsson has been mooted as a potential stop gap.
Pompey boss Tony Adams wil be armed with around £20million after agreeing to sell Lassana Diarra to Real Madrid and he will have his own target list in his head. He will also have to fight off the attentions of former boss Harry Redknapp for some of Fratton Park’s crown jewels.
Wigan and Fulham could be quiet in the transfer window as they take stock of things at the midway point, but Bolton boss Gary Megson has said he needs to bolster his threadbare squad and expect signings at The Reebok.
Middlesbrough‘s incoming business will depend on any exits at The Riverside. Wingers Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson have been linked with moves away and if either of those two leave then expect Gareth Southgate to draft in replacements.
Stoke will be on the lookout for bargains and striker Dave Kitson could be on the move – freeing up some cash for Tony Pulis to manoeuvre with.
Joe Kinnear is keen to strengthen his Newcastle squad and has set his sights on several targets from the Dutch league, while Michael Owen’s future is still up in the air.
Redknapp’s Spurs will be busy as Harry ships out the dead wood and balances his squad at Tottenham.
West Ham are a club who must tighten their belts and expect more outgoing deals than incoming ones.
And Manchester City are going to ‘surprise’ people in January and club officials have said there will be more big names arriving at Eastlands. AC Milan’s Kaka has been linked along with the rest of Europe, but a defender will surely be the call from Mark Hughes.
Managerless Sunderland will also be active once the window opens with their new man in charge is sure to want to develop his own squad, while new Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce is likely to want to do the same at Ewood Park.
And finally West Brom, like Everton, are in desperate need of a striker who is proven in the Premier League. That won’t come cheap and a loan option is likely to be the answer with Manchester United’s Manucho or Arsenal’s Jay Simpson mentioned.
By Phil Tomlinson