Transfer Window: Second chance for the top premier league teams

Takumi Minamino joined Liverpool from Red Bull Salzburg before the transfer window opened.  Picture: John Powell /                    Getty Images
Takumi Minamino joined Liverpool from Red Bull Salzburg before the transfer window opened. Picture: John Powell / Getty Images

They are ready to splash the cash to strengthen their squads for a berth in the lucrative Champions League.

Liverpool got the ball rolling, so to speak, when the runaway Premier League leaders announced in the middle of last month that they had signed Red Bull Salzburg’s Japanese international Takumi Minamino, who watched from the sidelines as the Reds beat Sheffield United 2-0 on Thursday.

The Reds triggered the release clause – believed to be £7.25 million (R131 million) – for the highly rated 24-year-old, despite having an abundance of attacking players, as 49 goals in their 20 league games show.

If Liverpool, with a 13-point lead and a game in hand are keen to strengthen their squad, it is hardly surprising that the chasing pack are eager to follow suit. And that is what this month’s transfer window, which runs from January 1 to 31, is all about: It offers clubs a second chance to improve on what they failed to achieve during the summer transfer window – a strengthening of their squads.

Chelsea are the exception. After appealing their transfer ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Blues had the ban halved and coach Frank Lampard suddenly finds himself in the enviable position of having at least £150 million to spend. Spend on whom, though?

Having been unable to buy players during the summer transfer window, Lampard was forced to promote several youngsters and many of them – including Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic – have done much better than expected, taking Chelsea to fourth in the Premiership and into the Last 16 of the Champions League.

New players would thus potentially take their places, which in turn could lead to some discontent in the team. An even bigger problem, though, is that this transfer window is not generally considered to be a buyer’s market.

Germany striker Timo Werner has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but his club RB Leipzig currently tops the Bundesliga and are unlikely to want to part ways with a player who has scored 18 goals in 17 league matches.

Lampard could have better luck with Borussia Dortmund’s starlet Jadon Sancho, who was already linked with a move to the Premier League.

Dortmund have signed the sought-after Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, who shunned overtures from Manchester United, among a host of others, by joining the Bundesliga club. This has fuelled speculation that Dortmund are willing to cash in on a player who is unhappy at the club.

Other players linked with Chelsea are Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé, Villarreal Nigerian winger Samuel Chukwueze and CSKA Moscow forward Fyodor Chalov. Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké could return to the club that sold him in 2017.

Having lost out to Dortmund for Haaland and also failing to sign Sancho, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær has also been given a hefty sum by the Red Devils’ owners – believed to be close to £150 million – but he has been told to go after the players he failed to sign up last year.

Sancho, Leicester’s James Maddison, Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen and West Ham United’s Declan Rice were on that list.

Another club looking to invest are Arsenal, though they have much less money available.

The Gunners are a disappointing 12th in the league and look destined to miss out on Champions League football again unless they can sort out their defensive problems.

New coach Mikel Arteta would like to bring Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Atlético Madrid’s Thomas Lemar to the club, but could be forced to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to leave to secure the funds.

One coach who is not keen on signing any players during the winter transfer window is Pep Guardiola. His Manchester City side have all but conceded the title race to Liverpool.

“I never say never. Hopefully, we will not have 25 injuries in the next two games, so maybe we have to buy. But maybe two or three players might want to leave in the transfer window,” he said.

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