With the January transfer window just around the corner, plenty of managers will be setting the wheels in motion on some mid-season deals.
Last January wasn’t the busiest time, with some of the more successful transfer deals involving loan moves for the likes of Martin Odegaard, Joe Willock and Jesse Lingard.
We may see more investment this time around, with Newcastle United ready to flex their muscles after a recent takeover and new managers at an array of clubs – including Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – potentially being given resources to strengthen their squads.
We take a look at what a number of teams and players need as we move into 2022, identifying 10 transfers which should happen before the window shuts.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona
After stripping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy, Mikel Arteta may decide now is the time for the Gunners to get the striker off their books altogether.
There might not be a huge market for a 32-year-old currently in the midst of a goal drought, but Barcelona will surely be on the lookout for a player of the former Dortmund man’s calibre.
The Catalan club are a man down in attack after Sergio Aguero was forced to retire on medical advice, and Xavi’s side will need someone who can deliver instantly as they aim to make up the gap to the top four in La Liga.
Nat Phillips to West Ham United
Phillips’ importance to Liverpool last season was plain to see, but the return of the Reds’ first-choice defenders has seen his opportunities severely limited this term.
The 24-year-old had to wait until December for his first start of the season, and while he may have shown his Premier League capabilities, it would likely take another injury crisis for Liverpool to need him on a regular basis.
One team which has been suffering from an injury crisis at the back is West Ham, who need reinforcements with Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma ruled out for a number of months.
The Hammers were linked with Phillips over the summer before moving for Zouma, but could be tempted to come back in for the centre-bac
Dele Alli to Newcastle United
After a brief revival under Nuno Espirito Santo, Dele Alli looks to be back on the market with Tottenham prepared to part ways with the midfielder.
While Antonio Conte hasn’t been able to find room for the 25-year-old, Alli is still young enough to turn things around, and might just need new surroundings.
Newcastle could be the best destination for a man who might have to be considered a ‘former’ England international, having not turned out for the Three Lions in more than two years.
Player and club alike may look at the success Jesse Lingard had at West Ham last season, dragging himself back into the England picture and breathing new life into a career which looked to be flagging.
Kieran Trippier to Newcastle United
Dele Alli’s former Spurs teammate Trippier could also find himself on the move, with suggestions Atletico Madrid may cash in before his contract expires in the summer.
Newcastle are in the position of needing a combination of quality and a willingness to engage in a relegation battle, and the right-back has experience of both after winning La Liga last season and playing every game for Burnley in 2014-15 as they ultimately failed to stay in the top flight.
The England international was a target for Manchester United last summer, but Magpies boss Eddie Howe has made him a principal target after the pair worked together in their Burnley days.
Aaron Ramsey to Arsenal
With Arsenal still responding to their captaincy change, the balance between youth and experience in their squad has become more evident.
Arteta’s summer signings point to a manager aiming to build for the future, but the Gunners have lost some big characters in the years since Arsene Wenger’s departure.
One way to fix that could be a return for fan favourite Ramsey, who has struggled to make an impact at Juventus.
The Italian club are reportedly prepared to let the Welshman leave for nothing in order to get his wages off the bill, and if that proves to be the case then north London may be the best place for him to reprise his international form at club level.
Dusan Vlahovic to Tottenham Hotspur
Antonio Conte has already made an impact on Tottenham’s results, but investment in the squad is still needed.
The need for goals up top has become even more stark with Harry Kane’s underwhelming numbers, and the situation may well prompt Spurs to go back in for a striker to reduce the burden on their number 10.
Vlahovic has been linked plenty of times in the past, and he’s a player Conte will have seen a lot of in Italy.
The Serbian has been banging in the goals for Fiorentina this season, but has reportedly turned down a bumper new deal, alerting Spurs as well as a number of other Premier League clubs.
Franck Kessie to Manchester United
Ralf Rangnick has already begun to turn Manchester United into a more solid team than they were under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but reinforcements may be needed to ensure the improvement is not short-lived.
A defensive midfielder is seen as a priority, and Kessie’s name is one which has been mentioned in connection with the club before.
With Milan out of Europe and Kessie’s contract running down, a January investment might not set potential suitors back too much.
The Ivorian international is already well-known to compatriots Eric Bailly and Amad,. while Rangnick’s talks with Milan before Stefano Pioli’s appointment as manager in 2020 mean the manager will be well-versed in Kessie’s qualities.
Eden Hazard back to the Premier League
Hazard’s Real Madrid spell has been underwhelming to say the least, with former manager Zinedine Zidane lost for words when trying to explain the Belgian’s struggles.
The former Chelsea man has been beset by injury and fitness issues, preventing him from reproducing the form he showed with the Blues.
A return to England could be the kick-start the 30-year-old needs, especially with what might be his last World Cup less than a year away.
However, given the huge wages which come with a big-money move, a loan switch akin to teammate Gareth Bale’s season at Spurs could be the best option.
Nicolas Pepe out on loan
While a departure from the Premier League has harmed Hazard, the opposite is true of Pepe.
Arsenal’s record signing has fallen out of favour under Mikel Arteta, dropping down the pecking order thanks to the development of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli.
A January sale might be tough, especially if the Gunners want to recoup a chunk of the fee they paid for his services, but both player and club could benefit from a loan move with an option to buy.
There’s a good player in there somewhere, but it’s looking increasingly likely that we won’t see that good player emerge in north London.
Anthony Martial to a club where he will play
While some Manchester United players have given Rangnick food for thought, Martial is one man whose future appears to be in the balance despite the managerial change.
The former Monaco forward has seen his opportunities further limited this term by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, starting just twice in the league under Solskjaer before United’s new interim boss arrived.
Put simply, the 26-year-old needs minutes if he wants to remain in the conversation for inclusion in France’s squad in the lead-up to next year’s World Cup.
Juventus is a potential destination for the want-away forward, with Barcelona also mentioned, though Premier League clubs may be tempted to test the water.
Four arrests made as West Ham fans clash with police after Man Utd defeat
Four people have been arrested after disorder in the West Ham section of Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
The Hammers suffered a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United after a late Marcus Rashford goal.
Footage later surfaced showing disorder in the away end with West Ham investigating the reports of trouble.
And Greater Manchester Police confirmed to Sky Sports News that four arrests have been made, including a 33-year-old on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.
A 21-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of drunk and disorderly behaviour, possession of cocaine and common assault.
A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of throwing missiles and a 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
Greater Manchester Police added: “Two other men were detained and will be summonsed at a later date for football-related offences.”
West Ham felt hard done by after their narrow defeat, with some question marks over whether Rashford’s winner should have been ruled out for offside.
Speaking after the game, Hammers manager David Moyes said of the goal: ” I’ve not seen it again, by all accounts everyone seems to think it’s fine so we have to trust VAR that they’re getting decisions right.”
Discussing the game, he added: “I just see it as them having a strong squad. I didn’t think them bringing them on made it that much different,” he said.
“We defended well enough but we completely switched off, we didn’t do things you learn as a young player when trying to see games out.
“We had a good defensive organisation but we lacked what we’ve had in recent weeks, our attacking play wasn’t at the level. There was a lot of good things about it but the result is the key thing.
“I’m not coming to these games to roll over and lose, I’m really disappointed with the result but really pleased with how the players have performed.
“For long parts today I was pleased with them, defensively rather than our attacking play. We’ve moved up a level or two over the last year, I’m enjoying it but that result today was hard to take.”
Pep Guardiola to be offered Holland job when he decides to leave Man City
Pep Guardiola will be offered the chance to take Total Football back home when he decides to leave Manchester City – by becoming manager of Holland.
The KNVB (Dutch FA) have drawn up plans to convince the City boss that he should realise his dream of becoming an international coach with the Oranje once his Etihad reign comes to an end.
Guardiola, 51, has a contract with City that expires in the summer of 2023.
And the Premier League champions are hoping the Catalan can be persuaded to extend his stay in Manchester even further.
The Dutch sounded out Guardiola about his future plans before he signed a new two-year extension with City last August.
They were told that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had unfinished business with the Blues.
But a future link-up was not discounted.
Guardiola is represented by his brother, Pere, who recently joined forces with influential Dutch agency SEG.
He has made no secret that he harbours an ambition to manage a top international nation.
And the prospect of taking charge of the country of his mentor Johan Cruyff would be tantalising given it was Holland’s brilliant team of the 1970s that introduced Total Football to the world.
Cruyff brought Guardiola through from Barcelona’s youth team to play as a deep-lying midfielder in the team that won the club’s first Champions League in 1992.
The late Dutchman’s influence on the City boss is so profound that Guardiola once said: “I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff.”
His coaching beliefs have been shaped by the Total Football philosophy that had Cruyff at its heart when Holland reached the 1974 World Cup final before losing to West Germany.
The KNVB turned to 70-year-old Louis van Gaal for a third time after sacking Frank de Boer in the summer following a disappointing Euros.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provides update after return to Arsenal for heart tests
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has confirmed he’s “absolutely fine” after returning to London for health checks.
The Arsenal forward was away at AFCON with Gabon when he experienced some heart issues.
A scan revealed possible issues after Aubameyang tested positive for Covid 19 in the lead up to the tournament.
The Gunners recalled the 32-year-old, who is currently not being selected by Mikel Arteta following a disciplinary breach.
Aubameyang has taken to social media to share that he is “completely healthy” following further tests.
He said on Instagram : “Hi guys, I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!! Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it”
Gabon boss Patrice Neveu revealed that Arsenal were keen to get their player back once news of his possible issues broke.
He said, as quoted by Sky Sports : “What I know is that they’ve been Covid free for the last 72 hours. We couldn’t arrange an MRI for them, and as a result they couldn’t train.
“It was really annoying for them to stay in their rooms. We made the decision yesterday with the President and under pressure from the clubs too, because they’re worried so that [Aubameyang] should go back to Arsenal and Mario [Lemina] back to Nice.”
Despite Mikel Arteta’s recent shunning of the forward, Neveu did admit that it was the club’s right to recall their player.
Aubameyang is currently out of the first team picture as his future remains up in the air.
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