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Premier League Transfers: Battle for Fourth

With fourth place in the Premier League up in the air, the contesting teams are earmarking players to rope into their campaigns; but are they after the right talent?

A quick look at the log will indicate two unfamiliar names occupying spaces in the top seven – namely Southampton in 4th and West Ham at 7th. Almost every Premier League season has at least one team punching above their weight and competing with the elite clubs. On the flip side, almost every season that team falters in the second half. Whether or not that will happen to Southampton remains to be seen, but if history is anything to go by the usual suspects will be fighting it out for the last Champions League spot fairly soon.

We’ve already had a look at the transfers that the title-chasers are aiming to secure, but what about the sides vying for fourth spot?

Tottenham Hotspur:

Players linked with Spurs: Paulo Dybala (Palermo), Saido Berahino (West Brom).

Paulo Dybala

What do they need?

Spurs are a tough nut to crack when it comes to the January transfer window, as Pochettino made clear in a recent conference that he “did not believe” the club would sign anyone. They’ve come into some great form in their last few league games, sitting at 5th on the log with 4 wins in their last 6 games, the most recent being a shock 5-3 blitz of Chelsea at the Lane. If Tottenham have any weaknesses they’re probably in central defense, as Spurs have only scored two more goals than they’ve conceded (29 and 27 respectively). At the moment Fazio, Kaboul, Chiriches and young Eric Dier are their best candidates for the center back berths. Among those center backs none are incredibly quick or of the quality required for a top 4 side. A quick, decisive CB like Fabian Schär of Basel FC could help their climb up the table and their attempt to grab a Champions League spot, but any distinct transfer activity isn’t quite on the radar at the moment.

Who are they likely to get?

At the moment, that’s up in the air and anyone’s guess. The window stays open until the 31st of January so there is still tons of time for a deal to pop up. There are rumours that Spurs are looking to cash in on high-flying ‘keepr Hugo Lloris for a high fee, which would concern Spurs fans as he’s been integral to their recent good form. Fortunately this is just idle speculation (like everything related to the January window) so it shouldn’t cause concern yet, but if those rumours develop it’s possible Tottenham may go on the hunt for a replacement ‘keeper. If Tottenham do happen to lose Lloris, they’ll have ample funding for improvements to their squad.

Arsenal:

Players linked with Arsenal: Edinson Cavani (PSG), Krystian Bielik (Legia Warsaw), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund).

Morgan Schneiderlin

What do they need?

Like Manchester United, Arsenal has needed a strong defensive midfielder for the last few seasons, with the thrifty Arsene Wenger defiantly avoiding any standout acquisitions in that area. Arsenal are always slick in their build-up and quick on the counter, but they can be bullied out of games by less talented opposition purely because they lack the physicality to compete for possession or aerial balls. Morgan Schneiderlin, who plays for Southampton, has been repeatedly linked with a move away over the last 18 months. Arsenal, among other Premier League clubs, are usually linked with interest in him. If Wenger decided to loosen the purse strings again, Schneiderlin would be a good target to chase. He’s experienced in the Premier League and has the physical attributes to protect possession and buy more time for the skillful players to create goals. There’s been a need for an imposing center back at the Emirates for some time as well, but in terms of speculation for that position it has been quiet.

Who are they likely to get?

Arsenal recently had a bid of £2.4m turned down for Bielik, and are reportedly intent on returning with a raised bid of £4m. Over the last two seasons Wenger has shown a willingness to spend big with the pricey but successful purchases of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez. Despite that fact it is more likely that he’ll go for the cheaper options, making Bielik a better bet than someone like Schneiderlin who will command a fee in excess of £20m in all likelihood.

Liverpool:

Players linked with Liverpool: Saido Berahino (West Brom), James Milner (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Palermo).

Saido Berahino

What do they need?

Liverpool have endured a rather forgettable season so far, having trouble with performances at both ends of the pitch. They’ve statistically had more defensive errors leading to opposition chances than most teams in Europe, so defensive reinforcement is of paramount importance. Daniel Agger departed, and a combination of injuries and subpar keepers have made Liverpool skittish when facing opposition attacks. Moving further up the pitch, they’ve also struggled to score, with both Balotelli and Lambert failing to register the goals required for a club of Liverpool’s standard. The prolific Daniel Sturridge is nearing return to fitness, but Liverpool are being linked to a few other needed striking options.

Who are the likely to get?

The most likely signing so far looks to be Saido Berahino, the young England international making his name at West Brom. All indications point to West Brom being satisfied with a fee of between £15m and £20m. Berahino is quick and a good finisher, so his direct style would fit in well with forward partners like Sterling and Sturridge. Brendan Rodgers is between a rock and a hard place at the moment, and with their leaky defense Liverpool’s best bet of putting up a fight for 4th is probably to add some proven goal scorers to their selection.

There is probably a lot more drama to come in this transfer window, with these clubs looking to several options that could improve their current fortunes. If you were the one trusted with adding some names to your team’s squad, which would they be?

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