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Premier League Transfers: Who Are The Title Challengers Targetting?

There’s set to be a few notable moves within the Premier League title hopefuls, but who exactly are they setting their sights on?

The Premier League season is at its halfway point and the log is starting to take shape. Predictably Chelsea are sitting atop the throne, but slightly less predictably Manchester City are beating down the door to the throne room and are currently level on points. For any of the would-be title aspirants January is the last opportunity to reshuffle their squads and possibly add some cards to the deck. Unfortunately January is a tough time to buy, but if a club is willing to put their money where their mouths are they might snag a player that could make their season. So, who does your club need to bring in to put as much distance between themselves and their rivals?

Chelsea:

Players linked with Chelsea: Mauro Icardi (Inter), Andrej Kramaric (HNK Rijeka).

Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi

Who do they need?:

At this point in time Chelsea have one of the most consistent starting XI’s in the league and one of the most well-rounded squads. Jose Mourinho knows how he likes his team to operate, and he’s designed a well-oiled machine that’s raking in victories like clockwork. He showed great savvy in the previous window, addressing the deficits in the squad at the time with well chosen and prudent signings, while clearing out those were surplus to requirements. Two of the signings he made, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, are currently first in the top scoring and top assist (14 each) charts respectively. Mourinho’s biggest enemy at the moment is fitness; with a fully fit squad the other hopefuls might put up a good challenge but are unlikely to unseat the London giants.

Who are they likely to get?:

At time of writing Chelsea are not being linked with too much activity. There have been reports though that they intend to sign young Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric (23), who is plying his trade with HNK Rijeka in his homeland.

Although Chelsea fans are used to seeing positive signings in most of the transfer windows their squad is in impeccable shape at the moment. Even without a blockbuster signing this January the Blues are looking odds on to add silverware to their trophy cabinet come the end of the season. With a very well rounded squad and in form players across the board, Chelsea doesn’t need to break out the cheque book in January.

Manchester City:

Players being linked with City: Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Julian Draxler (Schalke).

Wilfried Bony

Wilfried Bony

Who do they need?:

The biggest story for City is the high interest they’re showing in Wilfried Bony. The Swansea striker is being valued at around £25m, which won’t deter the high spending Mancunians if Pelligrini decides he wants to reinforce his squad. City is currently between a rock and a hard place in regards to their strikers, with both the prolific Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko out injured. Stevan Jovetic is their only fit option, which has resulted in the interest in Bony. Without an in form striker ready to grind out possibly tough victories City may start dropping points, making a signing like Bony a prudent one.

Who are they likely to get?:

Not surprisingly, the answer is still Wilfried Bony. City are the only club consistently linked to him, and for the player it would personally be massive upgrade to move from Swansea to a club competing for the Premier League and Champions League. The only thing that might deter Bony is that he’ll be aware he’s filling in for injured starters, and that his place in the team won’t be guaranteed once Aguero and Dzeko are fully fit. But if he grabs the opportunity and cracks in goals from the outset, that might not be a problem. What counts in Bony’s favour is that he’s a robust, quick forward that’s good in the air – a typical Premier League #9. With the fantastic creative players he’ll have behind him at City he might end up becoming more important than Jovetic and the mercurial Dzeko. £30m isn’t small change, but for an in form striker heading into his peak years it’ll seem like a bargain if they have a trophy or two to show for it come season’s end. At the time of writing Manchester City are believed to be in advanced talks, and chances are Bony will be a City player within a week.

Manchester United:

Players linked with United: Kevin Strootman (Roma), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Victor Valdes (Free Agent).

Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels

Who do they need?:

Essentially a solid starting option in every position in the defense. Just kidding. But not really. Louis van Gaal has managed to get a top-heavy squad up to third in the table, but in recent games the cracks have started showing. United are at the mercy of injuries, and have shown some of the most inept defensive performances in the Premier League so far. They’ve managed the results, but some United fans have probably suffered severe emotional breakdowns along the way. United are in dire need of a calm, experienced center back to lock down their defense, while an imposing midfielder has been required since Roy Keane left. Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund and Kevin Strootman from Roma have been linked with United for the past 18 months, and their (admittedly unlikely) arrivals would theoretically solve a number of United’s problems.

Who are they likely to get?:

As it stands, former Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes is strongly linked with an 18 month contract. But otherwise both Louis van Gaal and United’s CEO Ed Woodward have both suggested that business in January is unlikely. What may count in United’s favour is that Borussia Dortmund are currently languishing at the bottom of the Bundesliga, with captain Mats Hummels being publicly critical of their performances. Dortmund are still in the Champions League, but if their domestic form doesn’t improve soon it may force some of their star players to consider their futures at the club. A lot of players are being linked to United by tabloids, but nothing of real value indicates that United are nearing a pursuit of any players as it stands.

January is known for being a crazy period in the European football calendar, with any player that has scored a goal in his pub league being linked with a big money move to the Premier League. Usually it isn’t as eventful as the newspapers would lead you to believe, but crazy things have happened before. Who do you think your club needs to pull out all the stops to sign?

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. James

    January 14, 2015 at 15:35

    As far as City goes, at the moment they have nothing to lose. They play with a tenacity that no other teams in the Premier League play with. Which means they will keep Chelsea on their toes and could even snatch it on the last day. They don’t seem to have as many goal scorers as they had last season and with Yaya in Afcon, Dzeko and Aguero out they do need to bolster their attack. For me I personally don’t think that Bony is the right choice. He’s a lumbering striker who plays like a slow Drogba. He is very talented, don’t get me wrong but I don’t think he’s the right man to slot into the squad. It looks like City needs Bony more than Bony needs City. I think the move would be a mistake on his part unless he gets a massive wage increase. Once Aguero and Dzeko are fit he’ll most likely be 3rd choice striker. Dzeko will most likely move on in the Summer and I can’t see Jovetic staying if he’s 3rd choice to Bony.

    • Elan Solomon

      January 14, 2015 at 15:58

      I think Bony might surprise people. In 2014 he was the top scorer for the calendar year, and Swansea don’t have the best midfield. I’m not 100% he’ll flourish, but with the brilliant service he’ll get at City he might be a success. I agree though if Dzeko and Aguero are fit Bony will have to work hard to get a start, but if he proves himself in the interim he could push Dzeko out of the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see, hopefully for his sake he doesn’t flop.

      • James

        January 14, 2015 at 16:27

        Ya I suppose you can look at it like that. I’m not convinced about his touch and pace. i don’t think he’ll be a flop necessarily but I think he’ll get lost in the fodder. If you look at the last player to move from Swansea to City, Scott Sinclair, a player who was fantastic with Swansea – one of their best players going forward with a midfield that wasn’t great. Yet he’s been chowing bench since he left. He didn’t have a big enough name and presence. Career over. As I said at this moment City need him more than he needs City. So he needs to make sure he gets a good contract. As far as £30million goes that is too much for Bony.

  2. James

    January 14, 2015 at 15:36

    I agree with the sentiment about Chelsea. They don’t need to bolster their squad with any more players at the moment. Maybe another defender wouldn’t hurt but Kurt Zouma has stepped up and had a few great games (with a couple of goals as well). For Chelsea to win the League they do need to be aware of match fitness but I think they need to focus on goal difference. Mourinho like to win games 2 – 0 and nothing more than that but with how the Premier League has gone in the past few seasons goal difference plays a huge part. I think Chelsea are still playing at about 60% of what the team is capable of and I think this second half of the season is going to be much tougher than the first. They are still apart of all the major tournaments, so the squad will be stretched at times but need to keep their eyes on the Prem.

  3. James

    January 14, 2015 at 15:36

    Now as far as United are concerned, the only way they could have made it into this list is if the writer was a United fan! Ha ha! I think they do indeed need to get serious contenders in defensive positions but also need to settle their squad into playing more consistantly. On paper they should be major contenders for the Premier League as they have snatched up all the big name young players in Europe in the last 2 transfer windows, who just aren’t performing (except Di Maria). They aren’t playing in Europe but are in the FA cup as they’ve had quite an easy run so far. I think the best they could do is winning the FA Cup. After the last few games the selling of Mata by Mourinho is starting to look inspired.

    • Elan Solomon

      January 14, 2015 at 16:00

      At the moment an FA Cup is the limit of United’s possible aspirations. They just need a consistent starting XI like you say, they can’t be running around with a different back 4 every single game. It’s touch and go for them right now, after the loss against the Saints they need to up their performances considerably if they’re going to stay in the top 4 – Arsenal are looking dynamic lately and will be threatening 4th soon. Going to be an interesting 2nd half of the season.

      • James

        January 14, 2015 at 16:17

        Ya, I think there is going to be a different reshuffle at United. I think Januzaj, Mata and Falcao will most likely be leaving the club if not in this window but most likely the next window. Which will open up wages and positions but the wrong positions. To play Luke Shaw, United need to have two strong central defenders like Kompany or Terry with a defensive midfielder sitting in front of the defense but that’s not the style of play United want. They need to make a marquee signing in defense that has experience that can slip into the role and the younger players can learn from.

  4. James

    January 14, 2015 at 15:36

    I think what’s a more interesting discussion is around who will take the 3rd and 4th postion. I think it would be incredible if the Saints could finish in the top 4. Its questionable if they have staying power but have taken some impressive scalps so far this season. It would also be unfair to leave Arsenal out of the running. Alexis Sanchez has been senseational and has lifted the performances of the players around him. Will United be able to hold on to 3rd or 4th?

    • Elan Solomon

      January 14, 2015 at 15:56

      I think it’s possible Southampton could stay in the top 4, but unlikely. United have been scraping results with shocking performances lately, but if their players start clicking they could stick around in the top 3. I’m sure Arsenal will continue their resurgence with Sanchez’s assistance, they’ll probably get top 4.

      • James

        January 14, 2015 at 16:34

        If you look at non-top 5 teams at how many have finished in the top 4 in the age of the Premier League a lot of them have been smaller teams. The only biggish team to do it has been Newcastle but the rest have been much smaller teams (both with squad depth and finances). So I think it’s possible that the Saints could do it. I don’t know if it would be the best thing for them because Champions league would stretch their squad.

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