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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?

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