English Premier League powers ready to spend, spend, spend in bid to keep in touch with runaway leaders Manchester City
Liverpool’s record Van Dijk deal just the start as chasing pack look certain to buy while hoping to keep hold of in-demand stars
With the January transfer window opening on New Year’s Day, the Premier League’s superpowers are ready to flex their financial muscles in a frenzy of spending.
Liverpool set the tone before the market had even officially begun when they splashed out a world record fee for a defender, paying £75 million (US$100 million) for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk.
Manchester City might be running away with the Premier League title race, but the leaders can afford to add a piece or two from a position of strength, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham prepare to spend, spend, spend in a bid to catch their rivals.
On a record 18-match winning streak in the league, City have no obvious flaws, but that won’t stop boss Pep Guardiola considering making additions.
West Bromwich Albion centre-back Jonny Evans, who City made two bids for in the summer window, is still on Guardiola’s wish list as defensive cover for injury-prone Vincent Kompany.
Guardiola could also go back in for long-term target Alexis Sanchez if he thinks he can land the Chile forward on the cheap in the final six months of his Arsenal contract.
Frustrated by United’s failure to keep pace with City at the top, Jose Mourinho has already made it clear his side must big spend to have any chance of bridging the gap.
Top of Mourinho’s shopping list are a left-back and a winger.
Juventus’s Alex Sandro and Tottenham’s Danny Rose would fit the bill for the defensive berth, while fast-rising Fulham youngster Ryan Sessegnon could be signed with one eye on next season.
Long linked with a move to United, Rose is the most likely signing as he may have worn out his welcome at Tottenham after expressing unhappiness with his reduced role on several occasions.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl and Bordeaux’s Malcom are possible candidates to bolster United’s midfield.
United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Daley Blind could be sold after falling out of favour.
Blues boss Antonio Conte has spent much of the season grumbling about his squad’s lack of depth after Chelsea failed to land his top targets in the summer.
Lagging well behind City in the title race, Chelsea can ill-afford to waste this chance to upgrade Conte’s options.
Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Napoli’s Dries Mertens have been linked as Conte searches for a forward who can offer better backup to Alvaro Morata than the underwhelming Michy Batshuayi
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal, who worked with Conte at Juventus, is another player who interests the champions.
Having broken the bank to bring Netherlands centre-back Van Dijk to Anfield, Reds boss Juergen Klopp might find himself most preoccupied with trying to hold onto Philippe Coutinho.
Brazil forward Coutinho has been in superb form of late and Barcelona are likely to return with another offer after having bids of over £100 million rejected in August.
Daniel Sturridge is a much stronger bet to leave, with Southampton interested in the out-of-favour England striker.
After a frustrating first half of the season in the league, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will look to spark his side with a major move in midfield.
Everton’s Ross Barkley is admired by Pochettino and although he rejected a last-minute move to Chelsea in August, the England international might be persuaded to accept an offer from Tottenham, who could land him for a bargain price as he has just six months left on his contract.
Amid mounting speculation that Arsenal players and coaches are sick of a reported lack of commitment from Sanchez, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger must decide what to do with the unsettled former Barcelona forward.
Sanchez has refused to extend a contract due to expire at the end of the season, leaving Wenger to either cash in now or lose him for nothing in June.
City came close to signing Sanchez in August and remain interested, while Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid are also potential suitors.
Wenger, who could move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, will also receive offers for Ozil, with United and Barcelona interested in the German midfielder, who is approaching the final months of his contract.