Since there are just two transfer windows during the year it’s important that soccer teams get it right when they have the chance. The next window is about to open from January 1st, to 31st, 2018. Just about every club across Europe will be looking to strengthen their squads and millions of dollars will be spent during the four weeks, some wisely and some unwisely. This list deals with the 10 biggest needs in the January transfer window for some of Europe’s biggest teams.
Some clubs such as Barcelona are simply looking to hang onto first place and stay one step ahead of their rivals while others such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are hoping to qualify for the European Champions League. At the other end of the scale, Stoke City and Swansea City are just hoping to avoid relegation at the end of the season.
10. Barcelona – Attacking Midfielder
With Barcelona sitting atop the Primera Division in La Liga the Spanish giants arguably don’t need to do a thing in the January transfer window. That’s not their style though. Since their main rivals for this year’s league crown, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Real Madrid are likely to strengthen their squads. Barca likely won’t sit idly by. Their main targets are believed to be attacking midfielders Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool and Mesut Ozil of Arsenal. Barcelona attempted to buy Brazilian international Coutinho in the summer, but Liverpool wouldn’t budge. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens in January. Meanwhile, the Gunners have offered German international Ozil a new and improved deal since his contract runs out in June, but so far he hasn’t signed on the dotted line. And don’t be surprised if Barca makes a play for Chilean international forward Alexis Sanchez as he’s in the same contract situation at Arsenal. They may also move for striker Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid.
9. Manchester United – Attacking Midfielder/Winger
Man United critics may argue that manager Jose Mourinho could do with a new bus to park for Christmas since the old one’s getting worn out. There’s no hiding the fact United is nowhere near as exciting as they were a few years ago and they need some type of spark. They appear to have enough scoring power with Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front with support from Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, but another proven goalscorer wouldn’t hurt. Since midfielders Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be sold in January, Mourinho will be looking for an attacker such as Mesut Ozil from Arsenal or Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. Man United’s currently playing their best wingers as fullbacks, so a good winger may also be a target. Something needs to be done for sure to give the team a jolt of enthusiasm and creativity.
8. Inter Milan – Attacking Midfielder
Inter Milan is in a dogfight in the Italian Serie A this season and with a bit of tweaking could take the title. They really need to score a few more goals to hoist the trophy next spring and reports say they’ve been looking at Paris Saint Germain midfielder Javier Pastore. The Argentine international has seen his playing time reduced in the French capital since Neymar and Kylian Mbappe arrived in town. Pastore should be in his prime now at 28 years of age and he knows what Italian football’s all about since he played with Palermo from 2009 to 2011. Paris Saint Germain then paid about €40 million for his services. Pastore’s a fine playmaker and also has a decent scoring touch with close to 70 goals and 70 assists in the past decade. His attacking skills means he can also play out on the wing or as a second striker and could help Inter Milan stay in the title race.
7. Arsenal – Goalkeeper
Like all other English Premier League teams not named Manchester City, the 2017/18 title appears to be out of their grasp. Manager Arsene Wenger may very well lose Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere in the transfer window and will need to find replacements for them. But he’s also going to need a top goalkeeper sooner rather than later. Czech Republic international Petr Cech has been one of the best keepers of his generation, but he’s now 35 years old and has been slipping lately. Colombian international David Ospina is a fine backup and just 29 years old, but Wenger doesn’t appear to have much confidence in him and has played him only once in all competitions this campaign. Emiliano Martinez and Matt Macey are also in the system, but a keeper will be needed at the Emirates in the near future. However, it’s going to be hard to find anybody better than what Arsenal already has in the upcoming transfer window.
6. Atletico Madrid – Striker
With Real Madrid struggling in the standings this season it has opened the door for cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid to challenge for the La Liga title. Of course, they’d still have to somehow catch up to and then leapfrog Barcelona while keeping an eye on Valencia and Real Madrid in the rear-view mirror. At the moment, it looks like French international Antoine Griezmann may be headed out of town and he could end up anywhere between Barcelona and Liverpool. If the 26-year-old does hit the road then manager Diego Simeone will want to replace him. But it seems he has the bases covered already since former Atletico striker Diego Costa is expected to return to the club in January after agreeing to contract terms from Chelsea several months ago. He wasn’t allowed to join earlier due to Atletico’s transfer ban until January, 2018.
5. Borussia Dortmund – Defender/Midfielder
Some fans feel German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund should be shopping for a goalkeeper. However, it looks like new manager Peter Stoger is anxious to see if he’ll lose anybody in the transfer window first before deciding what to do. Dortmund’s been struggling this season and it’s already cost former manager Peter Bosz his job as he was recently replaced by Stoger. If the press reports are to be believed, it looks like Stoger’s top target may be 22-year-old Swiss international defender Manuel Akanji from FC Basel. The German club may also be interested in Armenian international midfielder/winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has fallen out of favor with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. The 28-year-old Mkhitaryan played with Dortmund from 2013 to 2016 and chipped in with 41 goals in 140 matches so it could be a successful reunion.
4. Liverpool – Defenders
You could make a solid argument that a goaltender is needed at Anfield, but manager Jurgen Klopp really needs a central defender to fix his leaky defense. The squad has enough scoring power with Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings waiting in the wings in case of injury, but needs to stop its habit of blowing leads. Klopp tried to pry Dutch international defender Virgil Van Dijk away from Southampton in the summer, but didn’t have any luck. But the 26-year-old Van Dijk alone won’t be able to solidify the Reds’ back four and Klopp may need to recruit a couple of good players to help out in his own end. Southampton appear to have dropped Van Dijk from their squad, but he could end up with league-leaders Manchester City in January rather than Liverpool.
3. Real Madrid – Striker/Attacking Midfielder
Real Madrid fans must be drowning their sorrows by now. After getting thumped 3-0 at home in the latest El Clasico on December 23rd the team was sitting in fourth place, a whopping 14 points behind Barcelona in the title race. That loss was probably the final nail in the coffin this season as Real won’t be able to make up the deficit unless Barcelona completely falls apart. The team’s scoring has dried up compared to previous seasons with Cristiano Ronaldo having just four league goals as of Christmas and Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema chipping in with only a pair each. Manager Zinedine Zidane is reportedly interested in 24-year-old Argentine forward Paulo Dybala from Juventus as well as attackers Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. Even if Zidane lands just one of these players it’ll help strengthen the squad, but a miracle is needed for Real Madrid to catch Barcelona.
2. Stoke City – Defenders
Heading into Christmas, Stoke City was by far the worst defensive team in the English Premier League. The club had allowed 40 goals against in 19 games and had a goal differential of minus-18. West Ham was next on the list with 35 goals conceded and a minus-16 goal difference. Manager Mark Hughes, who may soon find himself sacked, needs to shore up his porous defense as soon as possible if he hopes to keep his job. The team’s a mess with Glen Johnson, Charlie Adam and Stephen Ireland all possibly leaving in the transfer window and they’ve only scored 22 goals this season too. Jack Butland’s a 24-year-old English international goalkeeper and he’s quite good, so the first thing Hughes needs to do is acquire some quality defenders. But that’s easier said than done as it’s hard to lure available players to Stoke when they are so many more attractive places to play.
1. Swansea City – Striker
The basement of the English Premier League belongs to Welsh side Swansea City and they’re not likely to vacate it unless they start scoring some goals. The squad had found the back of the net a grand total of 11 times in 19 league games at the halfway mark of the season and it cost former manager Paul Clement his job a week before Christmas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they need help scoring first and foremost as the team had the 10th-bnest defensive record in the league. But like Stoke City, who wants to sign with a team that has such a poor record? The club doesn’t have much money and will be resigned to going after strikers such as England’s Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings from Liverpool, Dutchman Bas Dost from Sporting Lisbon and Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar from Porto. At this point any of the above players is worth a try or Swansea will likely end up in the Championship League at the end of the season.