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One essential signing for every Premier League club in January

The first half of the 2023/24 season is nearly in the rear-view mirror and Premier League clubs are gearing up for a crucial opportunity to bolster their squads in January.

From title contenders to teams battling relegation, each club faces unique challenges that could be addressed with strategic signings, especially with injuries becoming more prominent than ever.

Every Premier League could do with an additional ace up their sleeve, and we’ve assessed an essential signing for each club that could make all the difference in the second half of the season.

Arsenal – Douglas Luiz – DM

After a pulsating 4-3 victory over Luton Town, Arsenal have established a five-point lead at the Premier League summit, although title rivals Liverpool and Man City will get a chance to respond on Wednesday.

After folding in the run-in last term, Arsenal will be wary of allowing Man City room to reclaim their spot at the pinnacle of English football, but the Gunners will need a full squad to keep the champions at bay.

Midfield reinforcement should be at the top of Arsenal’s wishlist heading into the January window, considering Thomas Partey has spent the better part of the season confined to the hospital.

Arsenal hold a long-standing interest in Douglas Luiz and could rekindle their interest in the Brazilian, although snatching him from Aston Villa could be a more difficult task than winning the league.

Liverpool – Andre – DM

Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool turned to Wataru Endo to sort out their defensive midfield crisis after losing out on their two top targets during the summer.

The Japanese holding midfielder has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of but has struggled to displace Alexis Mac Allister at the base of Liverpool’s midfield.

While Mac Allister has adapted reasonably well to his role at Liverpool, it’s clear the former Brighton & Hove Albion star could offer the Reds so much more when deployed in a more advanced midfield role.

Perhaps the acquisition of Fluminense midfielder Andre, who remains a long-term target for the Reds, could allow Mac Allister to push further up the pitch where he’s most dangerous.

Manchester City – Antonee Robinson – LB

It’s challenging to pinpoint an area where a treble-winning and seemingly complete squad like Manchester City might require reinforcement, but their lack of alternatives at left-back has left Pep Guardiola with limited options.

The Spanish tactician appears content with Nathan Ake and Josko Gvardiol in the role, but a recognised full-back allows Guardiola additional tactical and structural flexibility.

Man City were linked with a move for Fulham’s Antonee Robinson before he penned a new deal, but the Cottagers could have a fight on their hands if the champions reignite their interest in the impressive left-back.

Aston Villa – Salis Abdul Samed – DM

Aston Villa are one of the most complete sides in the Premier League, but their remarkable form could be their own undoing amid growing interest in their star players from top clubs.

Luiz, in particular, has repeatedly been linked with an exit from Villa Park, with not just Arsenal but also Liverpool closely monitoring his development.

Convincing Villa to sell is a huge ask but not impossible, and if the Birmingham club are forced to part ways with the 26-year-old, his potential exit opens the door for other alternatives.

One option is Salis Abdul Samed, who has made a name for himself at RC Lens, anchoring their midfield as the French side finished runners-up in Ligue 1 last term. He could be a like-for-like replacement for Luiz.

Tottenham Hotspur – Lloyd Kelly – CB

Tottenham Hotspur have been decimated by injuries, which has played a significant role in their recent fall from grace, although they remain in and around the top four.

English playmaker James Maddison has been a huge miss for Ange Postecoglou’s side, but Giovanni Lo Celso has done his best to soften the blow.

However, defensive issues continue to haunt Spurs with Cristian Romero’s suspension and a long-term injury to Micky van de Ven forcing Postecoglou to field two full-backs at the heart of the defence.

Tottenham have paid dearly for their lack of defensive depth, but it’s an issue that can be rectified with a move for Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly in January.

The Cherries have been reluctant to sanction his departure, but with one year left on his existing deal, Spurs could use his contract situation to their advantage in the winter window.

Newcastle United – Kalvin Phillips – DM

It’s a mystery how Eddie Howe has kept his Newcastle United side firing on all cylinders despite their concerning injury problems, which continue to rise at an alarming rate.

The Magpies were without 11 first-team players when they welcomed Manchester United to St. James’ Park at the weekend, but it mattered little as the Toons ran out 1-0 winners after a dominating performance.

Sandro Tonali was amongst the 11 absentees as the Italian continues to serve his ten-month ban for breaching betting rules, and Howe has struggled to replace the ex-AC Milan man.

January offers the Magpies a chance to bolster their midfield options, and Man City’s Kalvin Phillips is on their radar. They can offer the Englishman safe haven in Tyneside after more than a year of languishing on the bench at the Etihad Stadium.

On the bright side, Phillips can brag about being a treble winner – but at what cost?

Manchester United – Serhou Guirassy – ST

Rasmus Hojlund has showcased his goalscoring prowess in the Champions League this season, netting five times in five games but has drawn blanks in his ten Premier League outings.

Manchester United are in dire need of some potent attacking outlet, considering they boast the worst attacking output of any side in the top half of the table, returning just 16 goals from 14 games.

To put their paltry attacking statistics into context, Man United have scored just one more goal than two of the three teams in the relegation zone, while only five sides have a worse scoring return than the Red Devils.

Their struggles in the final third have significantly contributed to their disappointing start to the season, and they should be in the market for a prolific forward to ease their goalscoring problems.

VfB Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy could be the answer to their final third misfortunes, with the 27-year-old netting as many goals as the entire Man United team (16 in 11 league games), making him one of Europe’s top goalscorers in 2023.

Brighton & Hove Albion – Valentin Barco – LB

Brighton & Hove Albion are grappling with a mounting injury crisis, with seven key players sidelined, including dynamic left-back Pervis Estupinan. 

While Tariq Lamptey has stepped in admirably on the left side of Roberto De Zerbi’s defence, the absence of the Ecuadorian has exposed a vulnerability in the Seagulls’ line-up. 

With Lamptey also joining the injury list, Brighton is in dire need of additional cover at left-back and highly rated Boca Juniors talent Valentin Barco emerges as a potential solution.

Famed for their penchant for nurturing emerging talents, Brighton could provide a platform for Barco to hone his skills while addressing their defensive problems.

West Ham United – Vangelis Pavlidis – ST

West Ham United spent their Declan Rice windfall by making several shrewd acquisitions in the summer market, but they failed to address their centre-forward problems.

Michail Antonio is not the reliable bulldozer he once was, and the same can be said about Danny Ings, who looks every bit like a striker way past his prime.

Despite their recent success on the continental scene, West Ham could do with a prolific striker to fire them toward the European places, and that’s where AZ Alkmaar hitman Vangelis Pavlidis comes in.

The 25-year-old has notched 18 goals in 22 games across all competitions this season and could be the first Alkmaar marksman to thrive in the Premier League where the other two failed.

Chelsea – Takefusa Kubo – RW

After a difficult start to the season, especially in the final third, Chelsea appear to have clicked into gear, scoring 14 times in their last five games across all competitions.

However, chance creation has been a hot topic at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues unable to create significant goalscoring opportunities consistently, particularly against sides employing a low block.

Conor Gallagher, Cole Palmer and Reece James rank joint first for big chances created at Chelsea (five each), but none rank in the Premier League’s top ten when this metric is expanded.

Chelsea’s long-standing need for a forward who excels in both goalscoring and chance creation could potentially be met by Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo.

The 22-year-old has been in sensational form for the Spanish side this season, notching five goals and two assists in 14 La Liga games while creating eight big chances.

Brentford – Maximilian Beier – ST

Speculation surrounding Ivan Toney’s long-term future at the Gtech Community has hit a fever pitch over the past few weeks, and repeated links to Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United have only fanned the flames.

However, Brentford remain steadfast in their quest to keep the England international at least until summer and are anticipated to demand £100 million from potential suitors.

That figure could be negotiated especially if Toney demands an exit, and Brentford should be looking at Hoffenheim’s Maximilian Beier as a potential alternative.

The 21-year-old has notched six goals and four assists in 13 Bundesliga appearances, establishing himself as one of the most in-form strikers in the division and should cost only a fraction of Toney’s asking price.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – Samuel Iling-Junior – LW

Since losing Pedro Neto to injury in the 2-2 draw against Newcastle at the back end of October, Wolverhampton Wanderers have been knocked off their stride.

While they managed a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory over Tottenham, Gary O’Neil’s side had lost three of their previous four games before returning to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday.

The positive for Wolves is that they’ve barely struggled in the final third, netting seven times in their last five games, but they could do with more attacking firepower to complement Neto.

Juventus youngster Samuel Iling-Junior fits the bill, having caught the eye with his power, pace, and versatility, with the 20-year-old able to feature on either side of the flank.

He has barely featured for Juventus this season, which bodes well for Wolves’ chances of snapping him up.

Crystal Palace – Hugo Ekitike – ST

Crystal Palace’s need for more attacking firepower is underscored by the fact that they’ve only managed 14 goals this season, one of the worst records in the Premier League.

Only newly promoted duo Luton Town (14) and Sheffield United (11) have scored fewer goals than the Eagles, whose goalscoring problems have significantly contributed to their struggles.

Palace were one of several clubs interested in Paris Saint-Germain outcast Hugo Ekitike last summer, and it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to reignite their interest in the Frenchman.

The 21-year-old only has eight minutes of Ligue 1 football under his belt but represents a cut-price target for Palace after showing plenty of promise last season.

Fulham – Gift Orban – ST

When you fail to replace a prolific striker, you’re bound to struggle, and Fulham have struggled. The Cottagers have barely scratched the heights they reached last season.

Marco Silva’s side are one of the worst teams in the Premier League in terms of attacking returns, scoring just 16 times as they languish in 14th position.

They need goals, and both Raul Jimenez and Carlos Vinicius have failed to effectively shoulder the goalscoring burden in the absence of Aleksander Mitrovic.

For context, 35-year-old Willian is Fulham’s top goalscorer this season with three goals, yet the ex-Chelsea man has scored more times than Jimenez and Vinicius combined (one each).

Launching a bid for Gent striker Gift Orban could be a smart move for the Cottagers. Although he’s going through a bit of a rough patch, the Nigerian has managed 12 goals in 23 games for the Belgian outfit.

Nottingham Forest – Trevoh Chalobah – CB

After sanctioning a spending spree over the last three windows, Nottingham Forest have managed to piece together a squad capable of avoiding relegation with relative ease.

There is some daylight between the Tricky Trees and 18th-placed Everton, but a mere six-point gap means Steve Cooper’s side are not out of the woods yet.

Given the recent injury to Wily Boly, Forest may need to dip into their purse once again to reinforce the centre-back area and should be looking at Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah.

The England international has struggled under Mauricio Pochettino’s leadership and a January exit could be on the cards – although his campaign has been hampered by recurring injury problems.

Bournemouth – Patson Daka – ST

Bournemouth were one of the most active sides in the transfer market last summer, completing nine deals in an eye-catching squad overhaul. 

However, they refrained from adding a new striker to their roster, betting on Dominic Solanke to lead the line after his impressive performances last season.

The ex-Liverpool man has repaid the club’s faith, scoring seven goals in 14 Premier Leagues thus far. He’s averaging a goal every two games, which is impressive, especially in a side just six points above the drop zone.

However, hedging their bet on Solanke by providing competition in the form of Leicester City’s Patson Daka could prove a shrewd move by the Cherries, solidifying their ambition to retain top-flight status.

Daka has struggled for playing time at Leicester and should have no problems playing second fiddle to Solanke at Vitality Stadium.

Luton Town – Japhet Tanganga – CB

Luton Town are on course to become the story of the season, with the Hatters sitting two points above the relegation zone 14 games into their debut Premier League campaign.

However, after their gut-wrenching 4-3 defeat to Arsenal, the Hatters could drop back into the relegation zone if Everton beat Newcastle on Thursday.

Before the goal glut against Arsenal, Luton had the second-best defensive record of any side in the bottom five, conceding 26 goals – only Everton have shipped in fewer (20).

Fortifying their defence even further could be instrumental to their ambitions, and what better way than to snap up a player with Premier League experience.

Without even a single Bundesliga appearance to his name, Tottenham are poised to recall Japhet Tanganga in January to bolster their defensive set-up, which has been decimated by injuries and suspensions.

However, the north Londoners can be convinced into sanctioning another loan move for Tanganga, who isn’t fancied by the ruthless Spurs boss.

Everton – Kerem Akturkoglu – RW

Everton were docked ten points during the last month’s international break, but they’re still heavily fancied to avoid the drop despite the setback.

They’ve been in impressive form, losing just two of their last eight games in all competitions, but Sean Dyche’s side could do with more creativity on the flank to complement Dwight McNeil.

Galatasaray winger Kerem Akturkoglu represents an interesting option the Toffees could look at in January following his impressive performances in the Turkish top flight.

Akturkoglu has notched three goals and five assists in the Super Lig, creating ten big chances, more than McNeil (four) and James Garner (four) have mustered collectively.

Burnley – Ian Maatsen – LB

Charlie Taylor has deputised effectively for Burnley at left-back this season, but the Clarets may be better off reigniting their interest in Chelsea full-back Ian Maatsen in January.

The Dutchman is reluctant to pledge his allegiance to the Blues after a scarcity of game time, and Burnley should be looking to pounce on the uncertainty over his future.

Vincent Kompany’s side finally snapped a seven-match losing streak in all competitions with a 5-0 victory over Sheffield United in their last outing, picking up their first win since beating Luton 2-1 in October.

However, they returned to losing ways on Tuesday night, falling to a 1-0 defeat to Wolves on yet another disappointing matchday for the Clarets.

It’s evident that Kompany’s brand of football will lead the Clarets back to the Championship, but the Belgian has stuck to his guns despite the appalling results.

If Burnley have a few quid left in the bank, perhaps a new manager could be more essential after signing more than half the players on the market last summer with nothing to show for it.

Sheffield United – Sammie Szmodics – AM

United are surefire candidates for relegation this season, and only a divine intervention can alter the course of their campaign headed for doom.

Losing manager Paul Heckingbottom has only plunged the club further into crisis, and the Blades supporters will be craving some semblance of stability over the next few weeks.

Whatever incoming transfer United sanctions in January may do no more than just papering over the cracks, but fixing their goalscoring and defensive problems could be a solid start.

Blackburn Rovers midfielder Sammie Szmodics has been in sensational form, leading the Championship goalscoring chart with 14 goals in 19 games. 

His finishing would be much appreciated by a United side that has scored just 11 goals, which is by far the worst attacking record in the Premier League.

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