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Is the transfer window about to catch fire?

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Alex Teixeira pushing for a move to Liverpool
Alex Teixeira pushing for a move to Liverpool

They are the January sales shoppers with more money than sense, but the Premier League big-hitters will struggle to offload their mountain of spare change this month.

Although Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has predicted a hectic transfer window, we suspect the most experienced manager of them all will be mistaken in his assessment.

A hugely lucrative new TV contract starts next season in the Premier League, which is likely to pave the way for the biggest summer of spending we have ever witnessed.

Yet, for a variety of reasons, the cash reserves held by Manchester’s big two, fallen champions Chelsea and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool may be left relatively untouched this month.

Here is your Sunday World guide to a transfer window that may prove to be a tale of rumour, counter-rumour and, ultimately, disappointment.

ARSENAL

STATUS: Premier League title contenders.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Forward line.

LINKED WITH: Edinson Cavani (PSG, below), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund).

For once, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is not under huge pressure to splash the cash, with his side’s impressive form and the imminent return of a host of injured players unlikely to force his hand this month.

Defeat in their upcoming Champions League clash against Barcelona may work in Arsenal’s favour, as Wenger could then focus his attention on winning a first Premier League title since 2004.

His capture of Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny adds to his options, but the truth is Wenger has a squad equipped to win the Premier League title already. He may not make any more signings.

MANCHESTER CITY

STATUS: Waiting for Pep Guardiola.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Defensive holes.

LINKED WITH: Leroy Sane (Schalke), Isco (Real Madrid).

If Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini was not sitting on a lucrative contract that is due to run until the summer of 2017, you may have some sympathy for his current plight.

Everyone in the game suspects he will be replaced by Pep Guardiola next summer and that means City are unlikely to spend heavily in this transfer window, as they keep their purse strings tight ahead of the managerial handover.

City will be aiming to sign big stars when Guardiola gets his feet under Pellegrini’s desk, but this season is very much about waiting for their special one.

TOTTENHAM

STATUS: Premier League dark horses.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Quality back-up for lead striker Harry Kane.

LINKED WITH: Saido Berahino (West Brom, below), Sandro Ramirez (Barcelona).

Spurs are punching above their weight under manager Mauricio Pochettino and that much is evident when you take a glance at the wages bills in the Premier League.

They may need to raise their spending if they are to mount sustained challenges for the title and that might not be possible as they prepare to move to a new stadium,

Don't expect too much movement at Spurs in the next few days, with exits more likely that arrivals.

MANCHESTER UNITED

STATUS: Dithering over sacking Louis van Gaal.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Every facet of the team.

LINKED WITH: Andre Gomes (Valencia), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Sadio Mane (Southampton).

Manager Louis van Gaal (below) may have survived a Christmas storm to hold on to his job, but you wonder how many more blows can be inflicted on the Dutchman before he is counted out.

United have failed in a bid to sign Atletico Madrid starlet Niguez, with Valencia playmaker Gomes next on their agenda, yet the marquee names United want will not arrive until next summer at the earliest and if Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo arrive next season and by then, Van Gaal will almost certainly be gone.

LIVERPOOL

STATUS: Finding their feet under boss Jurgen Klopp.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Reshape forward line, get a Klopp stamp on the team.

LINKED WITH: Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich).

Liverpool boss Klopp has suggested he will not be spending too much of the club’s transfer kitty this month, as he keeps his powder dry for a remodelling of his squad next summer.

Expect more short-term loan moves to follow the temporary deal for defender Steven Caulker, with Klopp reluctant to sanction what would be a big money move to sign Teixeira this month, even though the player wants to move to Anfield.

Klopp has hinted that he may return to his former club Borussia Dortmund to sign players, with Mats Hummels and Subotic possible defensive targets. A summer move for Bayern Munich’s World Cup final match-winning striker Mario Gotze would also set pulses racing at Anfield. 

CHELSEA

STATUS: Starting all over again after their miserable title defence.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Forward line, defenders also needed.

LINKED WITH: Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Alexandre Pato (Corinthians).

FORMER boss Jose Mourinho didn’t have too much control over transfers last summer, with director Marina Granovskaia failing to impress in her role as the club’s transfer guru.

A series of failed bids for Everton defender John Stones and an aborted attempt to sign Anthony Martial before he joined Man United suggest Granovskaia – who is a long-time aide of Roman Abramovich – has much to prove as she battles to establish herself.

Brazilian attacking star Teixeira is a long-term target, while fading Brazilian star Pato (below) is expected to seal a move to Stamford Bridge imminently, but this is very much a window where Chelsea are waiting to make their move.  

A little like Man City, expect Chelsea to have a relatively quiet January as they await the appointment of their next head coach, with Granovskaia’s role under threat if the next Blues manager demands transfer control.

LEICESTER CITY

STATUS: Defying all logic by staying in the title race.

AREAS TO STRENGTHEN: Back-up for lead striker Jamie Vardy.

LINKED WITH: Boss Ranieri says he will not spend this month.

A bet on Leicester finishing in the top four of the Premier League last summer would have looked like an appeal to be sectioned, but the longer their remarkable fairy tale continues, the closer they get to the promised land.

The temptation may be for Leicester to splash the cash and sign a big-name star in a bid to secure a place in Europe’s elite competition, but Ranieri has made it clear that he does not want to upset the balance of his team with a new addition.

It may well be a sensible move from a manager who can do no wrong and even if the Leicester bubble bursts now, Ranieri deserves to be hailed as Manager of the Year.