January window open
The mid-season transfer window has just opened, meaning that clubs will once again be able to do business with each other and abroad until the end of January.
Some clubs need a lot more work, and can afford to do much more than others, while others just need the odd player to ensure that they achieve their goals for the season.
But what if you could only choose one player?
In this piece, 101 take a look at one player each club from the bottom half of the Premier League table should sign this January.
Crystal Palace | Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
The player Crystal Palace should look to bring in this January is Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah.
The striker is out of contact in the summer and would likely be available for very, very little in the winter window.
Nketiah has not featured much for Arsenal this season, but he has shone in the League Cup for the Gunners, netting five in three outings.
Nketiah has also excelled for England’s under-21 side, finding the net on a record 16 occasions in 17 outings for the Young Lions.
Record breaker. History maker. Eddie Nketiah.
@EddieNketiah9 is now the all-time top goalscorer for @England at Under-21 level
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 13, 2020
So, whilst his minutes are limited in the Premier League for Arsenal, Nketiah has shown he has a keen eye for goal, he just needs to play on a more regular basis.
Nketiah was linked with Crystal Palace over the summer and those links have returned once again of late.
And, whilst Palace did end up signing Odsonne Edouard from Celtic, there still looks to be room in Palace’s squad for another young striker.
Jean-Phillipe Mateta’s loan is set to expire in the summer and, after featuring just 12 times in a year and a half for the Eagles, it is hard to see him wanting to stick around beyond 2021/22.
Therefore, Nketiah could prove to be a cheap, homegrown striking option to either play with or as back-up to Edouard.
Aston Villa | Ryan Kent (Rangers)
It was a season that promised much, but has so far delivered little for Aston Villa.
Reinvesting the 100 million pounds that they raised through the sale of Jack Grealish in a trio of players, they hover in 12th place.
But, with Steven Gerrard now at the helm, their form, and certainly performance has picked up.
They could still do with additions in January though.
And one man that could be a shrewd pickup would be Rangers man Ryan Kent.
The English winger would add pace and trickery on the left-flank, while his time spent with Gerrard at Ibrox would ease his settling in period. Additionally, he would likely not set the club back a significant chunk either, with transfermarkt valuing him at just 12.6 million pounds.
Could we see him follow Gerrard into the midlands?
Southampton | Guus Til (Feyenoord)
A product of the vaunted AZ Alkmaar academy set up, Dutch international Guus Til is enjoying a fantastic season on loan with Dutch giants Feyenoord Rotterdam in the Eredivisie that has helped De club aan de Maas remain in the thick of the title fight at the top of the table with rival duo Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven.
With 16-goals (10 in 16-apps in the league) across 30-appearances this season at home and abroad, Til is a real threat in front of goal despite being deployed as both a number 10 and in central midfield. Though he may not be the most adept passer (74.4% completion rate this season), he more than makes up for it with his efficiency in front of goal and ability to win aerial duels on both sides of the ball.
– 11 goals
– 10 goals
Til: ‘Ik heb het idee dat we steeds in dezelfde wedstrijd scoren, maar dat vind ik prima!’#heefey
— Feyenoord Rotterdam (@Feyenoord) December 22, 2021
When it comes to Southampton, a club that often thinks outside of the box when tackling the transfer market, Til could provide a badly-needed goal threat that is not James Ward-Prowse’s right foot or on loan signing Armando Broja.
With Ralph Hasenhüttl’s outfit barely registering more than one goal per match in 2021-22 and no guarantee Broja will sign on for the long term when the season ends, another market bargain (Til is currently valued at just €5million via Transfermarkt as of October) in Guus Til could be smart business by the St. Mary’s outfit while beating both Everton and West Ham to the punch in the process.
Whether or not they could convince parent club Spartak Moscow to end his loan early in order to strike a deal remains to be seen, however.
Brentford | Jesper Karlsson (AZ Alkmaar)
Brentford’s return to the Premier League has been one of the stories of the season after the Bees climbed up the ladder to the summit for the first time since 1946-47, and the fans have – largely – not been disappointed with Thomas Frank’s troops currently heading into the second half of the season sitting in fourteenth while boasting a cadre of credible results along the way.
But things could always be better for Brentford and some of the data behind their defeats this term paints a harsh picture. In five of their eight losses in the league, the Bees had a higher xG than their opponent. Yes, Ivan Toney has not been the goal-getter than many would have imagined given his record under Frank since his arrival from Peterborough in the summer of 2020 and no Brentford player has even reached the 5-goal mark this season. Enter AZ Alkmaar’s Swedish international forward Jesper Karlsson.
Currently valued at just £6.7million on Transfermarkt, Karlsson is enjoying a fantastic season at the AFAS Stadion under Pascal Jensen with his 8-goals in the Eredivisie leading De Kaasboeren in the goal charts. His ability to perform on equal footing as both a center-forward as well as on the left flank in a front three provides an interesting tactical option for Frank. Karlsson is both a considerable goal threat and a source for creativity and boasts 6-assists in the league this season for a player that can cause the opposition headaches in multiple ways. With Brentford now operating in a three-at-the-back deployment, the notion that Karlsson and Bryan Mbuemo could feature just behind Toney in a 3-4-2-1 not only offers tactical continuity but another threat in the final third that could push the Bees to more results they deserve this season.
Everton | Nathan Patterson (Rangers)
At the moment, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin having spent much of 2021/22 on the sidelines, a case could be made that Everton need a striker in January.
However, when back fit, Calvert-Lewin is clearly Everton’s main no.9, whilst Salomon Rondon is fine back-up – as is Richarlison.
So, though it may make sense to most Everton fans to land a striker right now, the Toffees should instead focus on another area of the pitch, which is right-back.
Seamus Coleman is Everton’s main right-back at present. But he is 33 years of age and out of contract in 18 months.
Outside of Coleman, Everton do have Jonjoe Kenny who can deputise. But the 24-year-old has featured just twice in the PL this term, suggesting Rafa Benitez is not a fan.
As a result, Everton should probably be looking to sign someone who can play back-up to Coleman for the next 18 months before potentially replacing him.
And, in Nathan Patterson, Everton, who have already been linked with him, look to have found the perfect option.
Patterson is only 20 years of age, but he has shown quality well beyond his years for current club Rangers, and has already garnered European experience.
The defender can also operate quite happily at left-back, making him a very useful squad option for any side.
Leeds United | Ben Brereton-Diaz (Blackburn Rovers)
Rumours that star winger and Brazilian international Raphinha was drawing serious attention from German juggernaut Bayern Munich should certainly be a cause for concern for Leeds United fans, especially in the wake of owner Andrea Radrizzani admitting that the Whites may have to offload key assets if they are to continue operations in their current visage.
But even if Leeds manages to keep Raphinha, all is not right in the world at Elland Road this season. The Brazilian sparkplug has been in bright form and the proud owner of eight Premier League goals this season; or in other words, 44% of the total goal haul of Marcelo Biela’s men.
No other player apart from Patrick Bamford (2) and Rodrigo (2) have more than two goals to their name this season. With both currently out injured, the thin nature of the squad has been exposed in a disappointing sophomore season back in the English top-flight, but Blackburn Rovers’ Ben Brereton Diaz could potentially offer a bit of reprieve.
Ben Brereton Diaz was 1000/1 to score 20 Championship goals this season.
It’s only December, and he’s already smashed it 😲 pic.twitter.com/BqjAAbH3fo
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) December 30, 2021
With 20-goals in 24-appearances this season for Rovers in the Championship, only Fulham’s Alexander Mitrović has found the back of the net more times (22).
Well on his way to proving himself a competent goal-scorer this season, the Chilean international – still just 22-years-old – could be in the market for a chance to settle in at Premier League level now before firing on all cylinders next term. It could be another low-key signing by Leeds that has huge knock-on effects moving forward as the club hopefully stave off relegation.
Watford| Kortney Hause (Aston Villa)
Though not perfect, Watford’s attack has been pretty solid so far this campaign. Emmanuel Dennis has proven to be an inspired bit of business on the part of the Hornets.
In 16 league outings to date, Dennis has scored eight and assisted five for Watford. Elsewhere, Ismaila Sarr has once again been a big threat for Watford in the Premier League.
At the back, though, things are less rosy for the southerners. Watford have conceded 35 in 17 PL games at the time of writing – only Leeds, Burnley, Norwich and Newcastle have shipped more.
A number of their main centre-backs, such as Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele, are also now in their 30s and will likely need some younger replacements soon.
The perfect option to fill this role is Aston Villa’s Kortney Hause. Hause is 26 years old, so still has room to improve further.
Hause is also currently not one of Villa’s main two centre-back options this term, with that role instead falling to Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings. So, there is likely a decent chance Watford would be able to persuade Villa to part with Hause in January, as he has only featured four times in the PL this term.
Burnley|Philip Billing (AFC Bournemouth)
Burnley needs a fair degree of help and reinforcement; that much is abundantly clear at Turf Moor under Sean Dyche. Always well-drilled and stout in defence, the Clarets persist in their inability to find the back of the net with any amount of consistency and have managed just 14-goals in fifteen Premier League matches at the time of writing before their clash with Manchester United.
But with a distinct lack of creativity across the entire first-team set-up and a painful lack of goalscoring consistency by anyone that isn’t named Maxwel Cornet (5) or Chris Wood (3), Bournemouth’s Philip Billing could be an astute piece of business by the Clarets.
Though the Danish international recently stated he is hopeful of climbing back into the Premier League with the current Championship leaders, Burnley could do far worse than testing his resolve with a January bid in what would offer a versatile midfield profile that would certainly walk right into Dyche’s best XI.
His 7-goals for Bournemouth is second behind Dominic Solanke in the club’s goalscoring chart this season, with his 4-assists being bested by only Ryan Christie. Astute in the tackle (2/match) while also averaging 1.1 interceptions and 1.3 clearances via the same data point, not only could Billing offer another goal threat for Burnley but a mobile player profile in the centre of the park at Turf Moor that could elevate the football on offer in a similar manner to Cornet.
Already the subject of interest by Newcastle United, the time to strike is now.
Newcastle United| Nat Phillips (Liverpool)
There is plenty to be done on Tyneside come January, as their new owners look to keep them in the division. The Magpies have improved somewhat under Eddie Howe, but remain in the relegation zone, having won just once all season.
If they have one major problem, however, it is the number of goals they concede. The 41 put past the Magpies is a league-high, 5 more than the next leakiest defence. To this end, a move for a centre-back has to be top of the wishlist, with Ciaran Clark and Fabian Schaar simply not up to the task.
So, who should they look to?
Liverpool’s Nat Phillips.
The Centre-back is set to leave Liverpool this January, and has half a season of Premier League experience under his belt already. A no-nonsense centre-back who is brilliant aerially and capable on the ball too, he would certainly be an upgrade on current options.
As for the price tag, it is thought that Liverpool would demand around 15 million pounds for their fifth-choice defender, which could prove a drop in the ocean should the new owners opt to flex their financial muscles in the upcoming transfer window.
If Newcastle can begin keeping their opponents out, they can rely more on the brilliance of Alan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson at the other end of the pitch to win them points, and get them away from the prospect of spending a season in the Championship.
Norwich City | Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
The only team below Newcastle as of now, Norwich City need a miracle to survive.
Like the Magpies, however, it is clear to see where the improvement needs to come, and it is in the final third.
The Canaries have scored just 8 times this season, and frontman Teemu Pukki is the only man to have scored more than one goal this campaign, currently sitting on five.
And the East Anglian outfit are yet to properly replace Emiliano Buendia, who departed for Aston Villa in the summer, leaving Norwich without their star creator.
So, how can they rectify that?
Well, creativity wouldn’t go amiss, and if Todd Cantwell is up for sale, it would be required even more.
Derby County’s versatile captain Tom Lawrence fits the bill. Currently returning 5 goals and 3 assists for Wayne Rooney’s side, while his all round performances from the left flank have been very impressive.
Normally, poaching a club captain mid-season could be considered impossible at most clubs.
But Derby aren’t most clubs. In dire financial trouble, and struggling to stay in the Championship after a 21 point deduction, the 27 year old could be sold as they look to right the ship, with Norwich able to take advantage of the Rams’ predicament.
Goal of the day from Derby’s Tom Lawrence? #FACup pic.twitter.com/mqF73shnk0
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) January 5, 2019
Worse still, Lawrence has just six months left to run on his current deal at the club, meaning that it’s either sell now, or lose for free in the summer.
Derby could well look to offload.
Come back tomorrow as we look at one player each club in the top half of the Premier League table should be looking to add to their squads in January.