Sancho, Koulibaly, Haaland… Ideal January transfer targets for EPL Big 6

January transfer window is just around the corner and the EPL top 6 will be looking to add to their squads. Many high-profile transfer rumours have surfaced in recent reports. We discuss the dream transfer targets for each of the Premier League’s top-six clubs come January.

Manchester City – Kalidou Koulibaly
The Premier League hasn’t even hit the halfway mark and Manchester City already find themselves 14 points behind their title rivals Liverpool. The dream of a third successive English league title in-a-row is all but gone for Pep Guardiola, who has been found scratching his head, sinking in his seat and resorting to his water bottle too many times this season.

The reason many have given for City’s fall from grace is none other than their centre-back failings. The domestic treble-holders lost their principle centre-back, Aymeric Laporte, to a long-term knee injury as early as August and have since then fell apart defensively. John Stones has also had his share of injury concerns in the past couple of seasons and hasn’t been able to replicate his incredible 2017/18 form.

Perhaps, the Catalan manager’s go-to choice will be Napoli’s powerhouse defender Kalidou Koulibaly who has been linked with the English champions in the past. The Senegalese centre-back has been incredible for the Italian outfit, and at 28, he is in his prime. Koulibaly is a textbook Guardiola centre-half: strong-in-the-air, excellent on-the-ball and a commander of the game.

Chelsea – Jadon Sancho/Hakim Ziyech

Frank Lampard’s high-flying Chelsea have had their wings trimmed recently following their recent league defeats to Manchester City, West Ham United and Everton. Frank Lampard has rejuvenated the club by unleashing their talented wonderkids. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Christian Pulisic, all 22-or-below, have announced themselves in the Premier League this season with superb performances.

However, if Chelsea are to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City domestically and even in Europe, they need to inject world-class pedigree to this blossoming side. Two players who have been constantly linked with the Blues are Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech.

The former Manchester City winger was destined to return to English soil at a certain stage in his career and Chelsea are already planning to initiate the project. Sancho can easily become the poster boy of this young Chelsea side and the fact that he has played with many of them in England’s youth teams will help him settle at Stamford Bridge easily. The only hindrance faced by Roman Abramovich could be the winger’s massive price-tag of £100m.

A much cheaper but equally-talented alternative is Ajax’s 26-year-old Hakim Ziyech. Ziyech is not only a potent provider but also a capable goalscorer, having scored 8 in all competitions this term. Given his extremely low-priced release clause at €25m and the fact that Ajax have been knocked-out of the Champions League, Chelsea and Frank Lampard should be all over the Moroccan come January.

Manchester United – Erling Braut Haaland

Solskjaer has turned around his fortunes, with the Reds now back in contention for a top-four finish this season. However, United have to up their game against lower opposition having failed to win 10 of their 16 league games this term.

Paul Pogba’s injury has been a huge blow for Solskjaer’s side, but players like Scott McTominay and Fred have stepped up in midfield during the Frenchman’s absence. Manchester United have problems in defence too, but new signing Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have begun to form a formidable partnership in front of David de Gea. In attack, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James have all contributed greatly, however, the dearth of an out-and-out striker still is very much visible. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were both offloaded to Inter this summer, and United are in desperate need of a hungry front-man who can feed off their pacy wingers.

RB Salzburg’s teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland has been linked with the 20-time Premier League champions after his unbelievable start to the season. The 19-year-old Norwegian has 16 goals and 4 assists in 14 matches in the Austrian top-division, 4 goals in 2 domestic cup appearances and 8 goals in 6 Champions League games. This incredible goal-tally has helped Haaland gain significant attention across the footballing world, who is now being linked to each of Europe’s top clubs.

It has reported that the towering striker has a release clause of just €20m which can be triggered in January. Manchester United will be closely monitoring his situation because his price could drastically surge next summer. It has recently been reported that the teenager’s father was seen at United’s Carrington training ground. All this has suggested that Ed Woodward might be already making moves for a transfer soon.

Arsenal – Thomas Partey

Before they look at any January business, Arsenal bosses have to first appoint a permanent manager at the club. Freddie Ljungberg, who is currently in charge at the Emirates following the sacking of Unai Emery at the end of last month, led the Gunners to a much-needed win at West Ham United on Monday.

Before the victory at the London Stadium, Arsenal were without a win in nine matches in all competitions and found themselves in the bottom half of the Premier League table in what has been a disastrous campaign.

Arsenal’s failings this season have been largely because of their weak defensive showings whilst their midfield has been easily controlled and dominated by opponents. Their attack, apart from top-scorer Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, has also been largely wasteful.

However, what Arsenal desperately need, and have needed since a very long time, is an effective defensive midfielder. Atletico Madrid man Thomas Partey, who was a part of Arsenal’s summer wish-list, could be the answer to the Premier League club’s recent problems.

Partey has already played over 100 games for Diego Simeone’s side, and at 26 years of age, he has a huge career ahead of him. The Ghanian international ticks all the boxes of what a dynamic defensive midfielder should do. He is a brilliant passer, an effective ball-winner and can also travel with the ball effortlessly.

Partey’s defensive presence could also unlock the likes of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos, who can support Aubameyang and Lacazette in attack. Also, youngsters Matteo Guendouzi, Joe Willock and Lucas Torreira could benefit from Partey’s unmatched ability and experience.

Tottenham Hotspur – Bruno Fernandes

Jose Mourinho has turned around Tottenham Hotspur’s fortunes following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino last month. The Portuguese manager lifted Spurs out of their misery with the club now aiming a top-four finish once again. However, star midfielder Christian Eriksen, who was on the verge of exiting the North London outfit this summer, is one of the few who has failed to reignite his form under Mourinho.

Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who was one of the hottest prospects of the summer transfer window, is a player Spurs should be desperately craving. The Portuguese international had a breakthrough season last term when he racked up 20 goals and 13 assists from midfield in the Primeira Liga. And he has continued his red-hot form into this season having been directly involved in 11 goals in the league and scored 5 in 5 in the Europa League.

Jose Mourinho and Spurs will be closely looking at Fernandes, who, at 25, would surely desire to play in the Premier League given how well his Portuguese compatriots have fared. The Champions League would be another target for the midfielder, who’d look to make a name for himself among the European elite.

Liverpool – Wilfried Zaha

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been unstoppable this season having accumulated 46 of a possible 48 points in the Premier League this season. Incredibly, Liverpool face a potential task of playing 9 games in the space of three weeks starting from their home tie against Watford this Saturday to their FA Cup 3rd round derby versus Everton in January.

With so many games in store, Liverpool cannot rely on their illustrious front-three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to keep grinding. An injury to any of them could have serious implications for Jurgen Klopp in his bid to win the club its first league title in almost 30 years and retain their Champions League trophy.

Wilfried Zaha has once again been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park and the speculation will only grow next month. The 27-year-old Ivorian has had a slow start this season following a transfer window filled with reports stating that his desire to play for a top club.

Liverpool could snap up Zaha as early as January to bolster their squad with much-needed attacking depth. Jurgen Klopp would love to have Wilfried Zaha in this Liverpool team if as he is not only an experienced Premier League player but on his day, is almost unplayable.