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What Every Premier League Club Needs to Do During the 2021 January Transfer Window

| December 21, 2020 9:43 am PDT
EPL Logo and Various Coaches

With the 2020/21 EPL season starting later than normal this year, the summer transfer window only closed in October. But in a matter of days, Premier League clubs will be able to do business again.

The winter transfer window opens on Saturday, January 2, and will close on February 1.

Due to the congested nature of the season, we have seen an increased number of injuries lately, leaving managers with little choice but to rotate their teams heavily. This means that there is likely to be plenty of transfer activity next month.

But what does every EPL club need to do during the 2021 January transfer window? I take a look at all 20 Premier League clubs and discuss their biggest needs.

Arsenal

The Gunners have made their worst start to a top-flight campaign for 46 years, with a seven-game winless run across November and December leaving the club just above the relegation zone.

Mikel Arteta’s men haven’t been performing too badly in defense, but the team has clearly lacked a cutting edge in attack. In fact, only three sides have scored fewer EPL goals than Arsenal this term – Burnley, Sheff United, and West Brom.

Striker Eddie Nketiah has thrived in the Europa League, netting three goals in six appearances. However, he has only managed to score one goal in 12 domestic outings.

But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal drought is undoubtedly Arsenal’s biggest concern. The table below shows how many goals Aubameyang has scored after 14 games in each of his full seasons with the club.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG AFTER 14 EPL GAMES
Season Goals
2018/19 10
2019/20 10
2020/21 3

Looking at those statistics, Arteta will surely be looking to reinforce his forward line in January. But I believe the Gunners also need to bring in a top-quality center-back.

Gabriel has shown glimpses of talent following his £23m summer move from Lille. But David Luiz, Rob Holding, and Shkodran Mustafi haven’t exactly looked confident during the first few months of the season.

Aston Villa

Having narrowly avoided relegation last season, Dean Smith will be extremely pleased with the start that his team has made this time around.

New signings Emi Martinez, Ollie Watkins, and Matty Cash have all improved the team in their respective positions, while Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley also look like decent acquisitions

Given how things are going, I don’t think Smith will want to change too much in January. But with Villa relying so heavily on Jack Grealish, I believe the squad would benefit from the addition of another creative midfielder to take some pressure off the England star.

In my eyes, Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia is the ideal option. Below are the top five chance-creators in the EPL in 2019/20.

  • Kevin De Bruyne (136)
  • Jack Grealish (91)
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold (87)
  • Emiliano Buendia (83)
  • James Maddison (79)

Buendia may have been relegated from the Premier League with Norwich last season, but I’m sure he is on the radar of many top-flight clubs.

The 23-year-old Argentine has picked up where he left off last term, contributing six goals and seven assists in 16 Championship appearances in 2020/21. There is no denying that he would strengthen Villa’s midfield.

Brighton & Hove Albion

After battling relegation in the previous campaign, Brighton made a number of eye-catching acquisitions in the summer.

Defender Joel Veltman, midfielder Adam Lallana, and forward Danny Welbeck were all brought in to strengthen the spine of the team, while Ben White returned following a hugely successful loan spell with Leeds United.

But having won just two of their opening 14 matches this season, it is clear that Graham Potter’s side still needs a lot of work.

Goalkeeper Matt Ryan has reportedly been told that he can find a new club. Robert Sanchez has been promoted from the Seagull’s U23 team, but I still think that Potter will be looking to sign an experienced shot-stopper in the upcoming window.

At the other end of the pitch, Welbeck has added a couple of goals. But with fellow forwards Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly struggling for consistency, Brighton would definitely benefit a regular goalscorer.

A loan signing will probably be Potter’s best – and most realistic option – midway through the season. Liverpool’s out-of-favor forward Divock Origi would be a solid addition.

Burnley

It is fair to say that Burnley is never the most active EPL club when the transfer window opens.

Sean Dyche has always worked on a shoestring budget at Turf Moor, meaning the Clarets invariably struggle to make any signings that significantly enhance their squad.

As the lowest scorers in the league, you would think that Burnley would be looking for a striker in January. But with the system that Dyche uses, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes, and Jay Rodriguez are exactly the type of players that the manager wants.

Burnley is also defensively sound, with goalkeeper Nick Pope and center-backs James Tarkowski and Ben Mee at the heart of the backline.

In my eyes, the Clarets’ midfield needs bolstering.

Dyche is short on top-quality options in the middle of the park. Ashley Westwood is always one of the first names on the team sheet, but player has been able to nail down a regular spot alongside him in the starting XI.

Everton’s Fabian Delph isn’t getting much game time at the moment, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Burnley tries to lure the former England midfielder to Lancashire.

Chelsea

It could be argued that Chelsea currently boasts the deepest squad in the Premier League. Of course, Liverpool and Man City come close. But the Blues’ strength in depth is pretty much unrivaled.

While the majority of EPL clubs were spending cautiously in the offseason due to the pandemic, Roman Abramovich ploughed over £200m into Chelsea, turning his club back into one of the most feared forces in English soccer.

Here is a list of Chelsea’s notable summer arrivals.

  • Kai Havertz (£72m)
  • Timo Werner (£47m)
  • Ben Chilwell (£45m)
  • Hakim Ziyech (£36m)
  • Edouard Mendy (£21m)
  • Thiago Silva (free)

So, does Frank Lampard really need to do anything in January?

I can’t see the Blues making – or needing – any high-profile transfers at this stage. Lampard has world-class back-up options for almost every position, so it is difficult to see where the manager could strengthen.

If anything, Lampard will probably be looking to offload a couple of players who aren’t playing much. Youngsters Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gilmour could go out on loan in order to gain experience.

Crystal Palace

Ever since Roy Hodgson took over at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace’s main issue has been scoring goals. But this season, the problem seems to have reversed.

Big victories over Man Utd (3-1), Leeds (4-1), and West Brom (5-1) prove that Palace can score plenty of goals. Christian Benteke appears to have found some form, but Wilfried Zaha’s improvements have been clear for all to see.

WILFRIED ZAHA – EPL GOALS AND ASSISTS
Season Appearances Goals Assists
2019/20 38 4 5
2020/21 12 7 2

Zaha played every EPL game last season, managing just four goals. This time around, the Ivorian has already bagged seven goals in 12 matches.

Following their 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool on Matchday 14, the Eagles have one of the poorest defensive records in the division. Indeed, Palace’s again backline is a real cause for concern.

With defenders Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt, James Tomkins, Joe Ward, Scott Dann, Martin Kelly, and Gary Chill all in their thirties, Palace obviously lacks pace at the back.

In my opinion, signing a young center-back should be Hodgson’s primary aim when the transfer window opens. Chelsea’s Tomori could be the perfect fit.

Everton

Everton has made a flying start to the 2020/21 campaign, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has played a huge part in that. The striker has netted 11 goals in 14 appearances this term – just two goals shy of his tally for the whole of last season (36 appearances).

However, if Calvert-Lewin was to pick up a lengthy injury, the Toffees would almost certainly go downhill.

We all know that Everton has a host of exciting attacking players. Alex Iwobi, Bernard, and Richarlison are all a threat. Yet when it comes to proper center-forwards, Calvert-Lewin is currently the club’s only real option.

With everything going to plan so far, Carlo Ancelotti will probably be reluctant to make any significant changes in January. But I believe signing a Calvert-Lewin understudy would be a sensible move.

It is difficult to ignore the job that Adam Armstrong is doing for Blackburn Rovers at the moment. The 23-year-old has racked up 15 goals in 19 Championship outings this term, so he would undoubtedly bring something extra to Goodison Park.

Fulham

After enduring a tough start to the season, it finally feels like Scott Parker’s men are beginning to find their feet in the Premier League.

Fulham heads into Christmas having lost just one of their last five games, with one win and three draws coming during that period.

But there is clearly still plenty of room for improvement.

It is safe to say that Parker’s squad is in need of an injection of experience. The team’s backline has been strengthened by the arrival of former PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, yet many of the players in front of him have struggled to adapt to the demands of the EPL.

Sheff Utd’s John Lundstram would bring top-flight experience to Fulham’s ranks. The versatile Blade is refusing to sign a new deal at Bramall Lane, so he should be available for a cut price in January.

Harry Winks is also likely to be looking for regular first-team soccer when the transfer window opens. The England international has fallen down the pecking order at Tottenham, and a move across London wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Leeds United

I think we can all agree that Leeds has been an exciting addition to the Premier League this season. Marcelo Bielsa’s fearless approach has his men score plenty of goals, but keeping the ball out of their own net has been a real problem.

In fact, the Whites have the worst defensive record in the EPL this term.

MOST EPL GOALS CONCEDED IN 2020/21
Team Goals Conceded
Leeds United 30
West Bromwich Albion 29
Sheffield United 25
Crystal Palace 25
Fulham 23

Leeds has played 14 league matches this season, meaning the team has conceded at a rate of over two goals per game so far. It goes without saying that defensive reinforcements are needed.

German center-back Robin Koch was signed from Freiburg for £12m in the summer, but he looks set to spend a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.

Argentine Marcos Rojo – who has not featured for Man Utd in the EPL this term – could find himself linking up with compatriot Bielsa, while Bodo/Glimt’s Fredrick Andre Bjorkan is another option.

There has also been a lot of talk about Daniel James joining the club. The speedy winger is not among Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s favored forwards, so he could be looking for a move away from Old Trafford, with Leeds a likely destination.

Leicester City

Leicester heads into the busy festive period sitting second in the Premier League table – four points behind Liverpool. Despite injuries to a host of key players, the Foxes have coped admirably so far.

I can’t see Brendan Rodgers being overly active in January, especially as a number of his star performers – Wilfred Ndidi, Timothy Castagne, James Maddison – have returned to action in recent weeks.

Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rodgers has his eye on a couple of players at one of his former clubs – Celtic.

The Scottish champions are enduring a tricky period, with many of their leading lights rumored to be looking for a way out. Odsonne Edouard would offer tough competition for Jamie Vardy, while Ryan Christie would enhance Leicester’s midfield.

With Roma loanee Cengiz Under continuing to impress, Rodgers will be relatively happy with how things are going right now. His squad is deep, yet he will no doubt be looking to keen to boost his options.

Liverpool

It is no secret that Liverpool has been hit hard by injuries this term.

First-choice center-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez look set to miss the remainder of the season, while new signing Diogo Jota has recently joined the club’s growing list of absentees.

Let’s take a look at the full extent of the Reds’ injury problems.

  • Virgil van Dijk (6+ months)
  • Joe Gomez (6+ months)
  • Diogo Jota (6-8 weeks)
  • Kostas Tsimikas (6-8 weeks)
  • Thiago Alcantara (3-4 weeks)
  • James Milner (2-6 weeks)
  • Xherdan Shaqiri (2-6 weeks)

The question on everyone’s lips is – will Jurgen Klopp sign a center-back in January?

Fabinho has slotted into the backline seamlessly, with youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips offering ample support. But there is a sense that Liverpool needs a world-class central defender to remain competitive in the title race.

David Alaba (Bayern Munich) and Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig) are two obvious options, although I believe there are five possible January center-back signings for Liverpool.

Manchester City

Manchester City needs a striker.

With the aging Sergio Aguero struggling with injuries and Gabriel Jesus not viewed as the Argentine’s successor, I’m sure that Pep Guardiola will be desperate to bring in a proven goalscorer when the transfer window opens.

Of course, Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres, and Riyad Mahrez are all capable of chipping in on a regular basis. But they aren’t going to score 20+ goals a season, are they?

It will be difficult to make a marquee signing in January; it always is. Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland have been spoken about as potential summer signings, but Man City needs someone now!

I can see Guardiola going after Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez. Over the past couple of years, the 23-year-old has established himself as one of the hottest young forwards in European soccer, and he would almost certainly make an instant impact at the Etihad Stadium.

City’s midfield is freakishly strong, while the team’s defense has also improved this term. But it is clear that the 2018/19 champions need a striker in order to reclaim the EPL title.

Manchester United

Going forward, Man Utd is one of the most dangerous teams in the Premier League, if not the world.

A 5-0 demolition of RB Leipzig in the Champions League back in October showed what Solskjaer’s men are capable of, while the recent 6-2 drubbing of Leeds served as a reminder of the team’s attacking power.

But at the other end of the pitch, the Red Devils have some obvious frailties.

LEAST EPL CLEAN SHEETS IN 2020/21
Team Clean Sheets Clean Sheet %
Sheffield United 0 0%
Crystal Palace 1 7%
West Bromwich Albion 2 14%
Newcastle United 2 15%
Fulham 2 14%
Manchester United 3 23%

It is not difficult to see where the problem lies, either. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof – Solskjaer’s preferred center-back duo – are both slow, and their weaknesses continue to be exposed by pacey forwards.

If Man Utd wants to fix their defensive issues, a quick center-back could be the key.

Pau Torres (Villarreal) has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford. I believe the young Spaniard would be an excellent addition, but Benoit Badiashile (Monaco), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), and Jules Kounde (Sevilla) could also do the job.

Newcastle United

Kylian Mbappe. Lionel Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo.

These were the kind of players that Newcastle was being linked within the summer. A £300m Saudi-backed takeover was on the cards, and Magpies supporters were getting excited.

Instead, they got Callum Wilson, Jamal Lewis, and Jeff Hendrick.

It is tough to gauge exactly what will happen at Newcastle during the January transfer window, although I can’t see owner Mike Ashley being too generous.

Wilson has brought goals to the team, and fellow forward Joelinton has finally discovered where the back of the net is. But when it comes to the midfield and defense, Steve Bruce will surely be eager to make a couple of additions.

With limited funds available, Bruce will probably be restricted to loan deals. Unfavored Man Utd pair Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are decent defensive options, while the midfield could be bolstered by Jack Cork (Burnley) or Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal).

Sheffield United

Having made the worst-ever start to a Premier League season, Sheff Utd boss Chris Wilder will probably be wishing that he could be signing a brand-new team in January.

Unfortunately, he will have to adopt a more realistic approach when the transfer window opens.

The reality is – the Blades need sharpening in every department.

Sheff Utd conceded just 39 goals in 38 league games last season. With just 14 EPL games played this term, Wilder’s men have already let in 25. If they carry on at their current rate, they will concede almost 70 goals in 2020/21.

Needless to say, Sheff Utd is in desperate need of some defensive reinforcements.

The Blades have also been blunt in attack. They have managed to score just eight league goals this season, with new signing Rhian Brewster yet to get off the mark following his big-money move from Liverpool in the summer.

In fact, only five players have got on the scoresheet for Wilder’s side in the Premier League this term. Sheff Utd needs help in every department.

Southampton

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right?

Southampton has enjoyed a phenomenal start to the 2020/21 season, losing just four of their 14 league matches. Manager Ralf Hasenhuttl has fielded one of the most settled starting line-ups in the division, so I don’t think he will be looking to change too much in January.

Saints have strong cover everywhere you look. The team didn’t struggle when star striker Danny Ings got injured earlier in the campaign, while summer arrivals Theo Walcott and Kyle Walker-Peters have enhanced the squad.

The club did lose Pierre-Emerick Hojbjerg to Spurs at the start of the season, so an extra central midfielder might be on Hasenhuttl’s radar. That said, James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu have been among the top performers in the EPL this term.

Personally, I don’t think Southampton needs to do a lot of business right now. January should be a relatively quiet month for the south coast side, with the possibility of one or two low-profile transfers.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham is another club that probably won’t be overly active during the upcoming window.

Spurs had a busy summer, adding a host of first-team players to their ranks. In total, Jose Mourinho made eight signings during the offseason, and many of them have already made a big impact.

Below is a list of Tottenham’s summer arrivals.

  • Giovani Lo Celso (£28m)
  • Sergio Reguilon (£27m)
  • Matt Doherty (£15m)
  • Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£15m)
  • Joe Rodon (£10m)
  • Carlos Vinicius (loan)
  • Joe Hart (loan)
  • Gareth Bale (loan)

Goals have not been a problem for Tottenham of late, with Harry Kane (15 goals, 13 assists) and Son Heung-min (14 goals, 7 assists) consistently producing at the top end of the pitch.

But at the back, Mourinho’s men have also been able to keep things tight. Indeed, only two teams – Man City and Aston Villa – have conceded fewer EPL goals than Spurs in 2020/21.

With Mourinho at the helm, Tottenham is always going to be linked with big-name stars. But as things stand, there really isn’t much need to alter anything.

West Bromwich Albion

Well, where do I start with West Brom?

The Baggies became the first Premier League side to sack their manager this season. Slaven Bilic was fired after failing to get the club out of the bottom three, with Sam Allardyce replacing the Croatian in the Hawthorns hot seat.

“Big Sam” will be no doubt be eager to put his stamp on the squad in January.

In reality, West Brom needs a makeover. Not only are the Baggies the third-lowest scorers in the division, but they also have the second-worst defensive record.

I’m expecting Allardyce to raid his former clubs for players searching for game time. Having most recently managed Everton in 2018, we could see players like Mason Holgate and Fabian Delph join West Brom, most likely on loan.

Allardyce was Palace manager between 2016 and 2017, so out-of-favor Eagles like James Tomkins and James McCarthy could all come in and strengthen the Baggies’ squad.

West Ham United

West Ham has made a solid start to the 2020/21 campaign. But in my opinion, the team needs more attacking options.

With Michail Antonio in and out of the side due to injury, Sebastien Haller has not been able to provide consistent goals for David Moyes. Winger Jarrod Bowen has chipped in occasionally, but he can’t be relied on.

Maxi Gomez (Valencia), Moussa Marega (Porto), and Duvan Zapata (Atalanta) are a few goalscorers that the Hammers could target from across Europe, while Liverpool’s Divock Origi is an interesting option closer to home.

One thing is key – West Ham must get their recruitment right in January. The table below shows how much money the club has spent on failed forwards in recent years.

WEST HAM’S EXPENSIVE FORWARD FLOPS – LAST 4 YEARS
Player Transfer Fee Appearances Goals
Sebastien Haller £45m 49 14
Felipe Anderson £34m 72 12
Pablo Fornals £25m 52 5
Andre Ayew £22m 50 12
Andriy Yarmolenko £18m 42 9

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Like West Ham, Wolves should also be searching for a new striker in January. Raul Jimenez is out for the foreseeable future with a fractured skull, leaving 18-year-old Fabio Silva as the club’s only genuine center-forward.

The Wanderers lost Diogo Jota to Liverpool in the summer, although they managed to strengthen their squad in other areas. Nelson Semedo, Ki-Jana However, and Marcal were all brought in before the 2020/21 campaign.

Wolves have been able to compete in the transfer market in recent times. The club has signed a number of players for £20+ since returning to the EPL, so I think Nuno Espirito Santo can set the bar high for the upcoming window.

I’m sure the manager will also be looking to bolster his backline options. Injuries have seen Wolves become exposed at the back this term, so the addition of one or two defenders would be a huge bonus for the club.

Unlike West Ham, Wolves’ recruitment has been excellent in recent years. I’m expecting the Wanderers to make a couple of sensible acquisitions when the transfer window opens.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, the winter transfer window opens on Saturday, January 2.

In the coming weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if every EPL club makes changes to their squad. With the title race tighter than ever before and the relegation battle starting to take shape, the January transfer window provides teams with the perfect opportunity to change their fortunes.

The Premier League is famous for its busy festive schedule. If you are enjoying betting on English soccer, why not check out our EPL picks section?

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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