The Premier League is busily going through its annual Christmas fixture pile up, despite a spate of fixture postponements. When every manager has the chance to catch his breath, what will they all be hoping the festive season brings them, a returning star? a contract dispute resolved, a January signing or two (or in one case an entire squad). Here we look at what we think every Premier League club would like for Christmas.
Liverpool- An Early ACON exit for Egypt and Senegal
Liverpool have the best front three in world football (yes better than PSG’s!). However they are about to lose two thirds of their frontline when the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on 9th January. The group phase concludes on January 20th, with the final on 6th February. Add in a fluid COVID situation and Liverpool could be without Mo Salah and Sadio Mane for four or five games. An FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury and a home game in the league against Brentford aren’t too scary but a tricky trip to Selhurst Park and possibly a home game with Leicester are games they will have their star duo around to play if they make an early exit in Cameroon.
Manchester City- A Number Nine
It’s unlikely to happen in January, but City’s one deficiency has been clear since the summer. The like of an outright striker hasn’t cost them much yet, but it’s likely City need one to win the Champions League. The problem is Messrs Kane, Haaland, Lewandowski et all aren’t available in January. However Guardiola seems happy to rotate the positions of his creative players and with Raheem Sterling returning to for this can will be kicked until next summer.
Manchester United- A Defensive Midfielder
It’s not exactly a revelation where Manchester United have a major issue, and there’s little chance of a move for Declan Rice midseason. However United should cast their net a little wider and if they do the name Marcelo Brozovic should come into the reckoning. Brozovic has six months left on his contract at Inter and if the Italian giants can find an early replacement they may let the Croatian go for a fee in January.
Newcastle- A Sporting Director…and a new squad
The most intriguing club in Europe for the next month. They have all the money in the world, but no Sporting Director to spend it. That leaves an inexperienced board who very publicly botched their attempt to secure Unai Emery as manager and the coach they did get has a bad track record with big signings. Nick Hammond has arrived as a ‘transfer consultant’ but it’s easy to imagine agents will be descending on Tyneside, but with a relegation battle ahead will they inform their premium clients? Add to that the seeming unwillingness of Premier League clubs to trade with Newcastle and you have the most unpredictable transfer window in living memory.
Norwich- Help for Temmu Pukki
Now fully fit, Teemu Pukki remains a predatory striker whose goals give Norwich hope of avoiding the drop, he’s currently on five goals for the season, the rest of the Norwich squad a combined three. Norwich aren’t going to risk a huge fee on a striker, but a loan move for another forward (not named Josh Sargent) to chip in and support the main man could prove vital in Norwich’s bid to avoid the drop.
Southampton- An Experienced Striker
Southampton were blind sided by Danny Ings’ refusal to sign a new deal last summer, and although Adam Armstrong is talented he’s learning on the job at Premier League level scoring just twice thus far. Che Adams isn’t the most prolific either so Southampton could use some veteran savy in front of goal. They did it before with Ings and further back with Graziano Pelle, a similar move would help guarantee Southampton’s Premier League survival for another year.
Tottenham- Whatever Antonio Conte Wants
Tottenham finally got their man, and results have improved under Antonio Conte. However, Conte is notoriously demanding in transfer windows (just ask the Inter board!) Conte will demand huge bids for the players he wants, but Daniel Levy doesn’t generally work that way. Conte appears to have the upper hand and Levy can’t afford to lose him this summer, so giving the prickly manager what he wants in this window appears the clever option, but will Daniel see it that way?
Watford- Defensive Cover
Watford are keeping their heads above water under Claudio Ranieri despite multiple injury problems. The likes of Nicolas Nkoulou and Christian Kabasele are expected back soon, but Watford’s margins are tight so they could use more cover in defence. Out of favour Leicester man Daniel Amartey has been mooted for a move to Vicarage Road.
West Ham- A Central Defender
David Moyes has been quick to point out he needs a new central defender in January. It’s not hard to see his point with Angelo Ogbonna done for the season and Kurt Zouma’s tender hamstrings. James Tarkowski has been mentioned and seems a very Moyesian move, West Ham are not a direct rival of Burnley this season so they could be tempted. However, that would mean spending big on a player with six months left on his contract, the calculation for West Ham is whether or not paying that premium would be repaid with a top four berth?
Wolves- A Creative Spark
It’s been a fine start to life at Molineux for Bruno Lage. However Wolves haven’t exactly set the goal scoring chart alight. Lage will want to give more time to the returning Raul Jimenez, but Wolves could do with some added impetus in attack. They tried for Lille star Renato Sanches in the summer only to see injury ruin their chances. The French champions have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League so may be less willing to sell, but after a quiet summer Sanches is a signing that would reignite Wolves in attack.