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Who will splash the cash when window opens for business?


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If last summer’s frantic spending in the Barclays Premier League is an indicator, then a busy January market awaits. Fuelled by a large increase in revenue from a new television deal, clubs spent more than £460 million on transfer fees between mid-May and the end of August, about 50 per cent more than the highest figure in any of the previous four summer windows.

This is the sixth January window since the concept was introduced in 2003 and the record for total spending on transfer fees by top-flight clubs in this month is about £70 million, which was set two years ago. Scouts and agents have been busy preparing for the opening of business in the new year and a new high mark cannot be discounted.

Despite the dominance of English football by Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, none were among the three biggest net spenders in the summer window. The trio who headed that list were Manchester City, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur, all of whom spent from £30 million to £36 million more than they recouped, but only City can feel the outlay has paid off. Tottenham are in the bottom half of the table and Sunderland are facing a fight against relegation.

Curiously, the big four did not spend a penny on transfer fees last January.

José Mourinho certainly wanted to do so with Chelsea and the failure of Roman Abramovich to fund any purchases sparked a fallout with the owner that ultimately led to the departure of the Portuguese manager from Stamford Bridge early this season.

Chelsea have been strongly linked this time with the signing of Nicolas Anelka, the Bolton Wanderers striker. Such a transfer might prove to be the most expensive of the window; last season’s was established when Ashley Young moved from Watford to Aston Villa for £9.75 million.

Arsenal

What they need Given their outstanding first half of the season, relatively little, but having strength in depth never did any harm and there are holes in certain key areas. Kolo Touré’s departure for the African Cup of Nations will leave Arsenal exposed at centre back, while doubts remain about Manuel Almunia’s reliability in goal.

Who they want Arsène Wenger sees the January transfer window as an opportunity to shop for tomorrow rather than today, so new signings are unlikely. Wenger will act only if an outstanding young talent becomes available, and the manager is keeping his eye on Samir Nasri, the 20-year-old Marseilles and France attacking midfield player.

Spending power With the Emirates Stadium finally doing its job by helping to generate turnover of £200 million last year, money is no longer a problem for the club, but do not expect Wenger to be in a rush to spend it for fear of destabilising a successful squad.

Aston Villa

What they need A right back, with pace and skill on the ball, to offer more of an attacking option. Martin O’Neill, the manager, also needs a viable alternative to John Carew, the Norway striker. Villa suffered when the big target man was sidelined in September.

Who they want José Bosingwa, the FC Porto right back, is a target, although O’Neill denies he recently made a renewed £7 million bid, while Alberto RodrÍguez, of Sporting Braga, and Miguel, of Valencia, are also being touted. The Villa manager likes to buy English and Justin Hoyte, the Arsenal defender, could fit the bill. The link with John Arne Riise will not go away while, as for a striker, a return to Villa Park for Peter Crouch cannot be ruled out if the price is right. O’Neill is said to admire Jermain Defoe.

Spending power With Villa, it is less about a transfer budget and more about prudent investment and whether a player can provide good resale value.

Birmingham City

What they need A centre back, when Radhi Jaidi goes on African Cup of Nations duty and Johan Djourou returns to Arsenal; maybe a more convincing left back and a more creative central midfield player, too. Olivier Kapo is talented but cannot be relied on and Fabrice Muamba, Damien Johnson and Medhi Nafti are battlers.

Who they want Alan Hutton, the Rangers defender, could fit the bill and if Alex McLeish is to try to lure players he knows down south, then Kris Boyd and Barry Ferguson could be targeted. James McFadden and Kenny Miller, his front pairing with Scotland, have yet to impose their class fully on the Barclays Premier League and might flourish under their mentor.

Spending power Growing. David Sullivan and David Gold are impressed with McLeish and, eager to prove a point now that Carson Yeung’s procrastinations have been ended, they will back him strongly.

Blackburn Rovers

What they need Not a great deal, although given some of the defensive problems that have hounded Mark Hughes’s team in December, the manager may not pass up the opportunity to sign a defender.

Who they want Lance Davids, the £500,000rated Djurgardens and South Africa midfield player, while there are certain to be several Blackburn players who attract the interest of other clubs, Robbie Savage and Aaron Mokoena, the midfield players, and Jason Roberts, the striker who has submitted a transfer request, among them. Benni McCarthy’s poor form has only added to the usual speculation that surrounds the South Africa forward’s future during the transfer window.

Spending power Blackburn are not flush with the cash that a takeover they are hoping for in 2008 could ultimately provide, but there is some money for Hughes to spend should he so wish. More likely, however, is the prospect of the club recouping some money through sales.

Bolton Wanderers

What they need Central defenders, as a matter of urgency, especially as Abdoulaye Meïté will be missing for at least a month with the Ivory Coast during the African Cup of Nations in Ghana. Should Nicolas Anelka leave, as appears likely, Gary Megson, the manager, will also be in the market for a new striker. El-Hadji Diouf, who has been linked most recently with Portsmouth, has said he wants to stay.

Who they want Bruno Alves, the FC Porto defender, Alberto RodrÍguez, the Sporting Braga defender, and Evander Sno and Tamir Cohen, the Celtic and Maccabi Netanyaha midfield players respectively. Megson is also known to be an admirer of Santiago Ezquerro, the Barcelona striker.

Spending power Regardless of whether Anelka is sold, Megson has been promised that there is money to spend, although the sale of the France striker could yield an extra £10 million, at least half of which the manager would be allowed to reinvest in players.

Chelsea

What they need Reinforcements in most areas as Avram Grant, the first-team coach, is without nine senior players because of injury and suspension as the window opens. With Didier Drogba out for two months, a powerful central striker is the priority, but with Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel also away for the African Cup of Nations, they need cover in midfield.

Who they want Nicolas Anelka is the primary target and is likely to be signed at the start of the month as long as Bolton Wanderers do not make ludicrous demands, but Benni McCarthy and Yakubu Ayegbeni are back-up options. Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric are the top midfield targets, but they may not arrive until the summer.

Spending power Limitless as ever, but that was also the case 12 months ago and José Mourinho was not allowed to spend a penny. Grant’s closer relationship with Roman Abramovich, the owner, should ensure that he gets what he wants.

Derby County

What they need Central defenders, a natural holding midfield player and a target man with mobility. The chances created by Eddie Lewis since he returned to the left flank show the importance of wide men with the ability to cross well.

Who they want West Ham United could offload Calum Davenport for about £2 million, while Derby are likely to try again for David Nugent, although he will see January, when the African Cup of Nations begins, as his big chance with Portsmouth. Arturo Lupoli, of Fiorentina, is being heavily touted to return but he could not hold down a regular place at Pride Park in the Coca-Cola Championship.

Spending power Moderate, for now: Adam Pearson, the chairman, and Paul Jewell, the manager, are new in their jobs and will not want to burden the club with crippling quick-fix signings when a promotion campaign, with its different requirements, looks likely to need financing.

Everton

What they need Not much, but David Moyes, the manager, is thought to have set his sights on another midfield player and a winger as the club pursue domestic and European silverware.

Who they want David Albelda, the highly rated Spain midfield player, whose future at Valencia is in doubt. Albelda would represent a coup, although given how well Everton are doing, the club are becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for leading players. Stephen Hunt, the Reading winger, has also been linked with a move to Goodison Park.

Spending power Moyes spent more than £20 million in the summer and there was money available for the £8 million-rated Manuel Fernandes before the move collapsed at the eleventh hour, not to mention an audacious £11 million bid for Luis González, the FC Porto and Argentina midfield player, so if the manager can identify potential recruits, the finances should be there to sign them.

Fulham

What they need The evidence of the league table is that Fulham are weak in all positions except goalkeeper. Few of Lawrie Sanchez’s summer imports from his former Northern Ireland team have translated their international form to the Premier League, but a midfield ball-winner is an especially urgent requirement for a team who have never replaced Papa Bouba Diop, cannot hold a lead and are wide open whenever opponents attack.

Who they want It all depends on who becomes manager. John Collins was considered an early favourite after resigning as manager of Hibernian, but a possible flood of imports from Scotland would not be welcomed after the example of Sanchez’s wholesale imports of familiar faces with little Premier League experience.

Spending power Sanchez was given a generous amount in the summer, but Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner, has no option but to offer a tempting transfer kitty to potential new managers.

Liverpool

What they need For Rafael BenÍtez, the manager, and Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, the owners, to resolve their differences. Having failed to sign Gabriel Heinze from Manchester United last summer, a central defender remains a priority.

Who they want Had BenÍtez got his way, he would probably already have signed Ezequiel Garay, the Racing Santander defender, and Javier Mascherano, the Argentina midfield player, in a permanent £17 million move. Tomas Ujfalusi, the £500,000rated Fiorentina and Czech Republic defender, is also on BenÍtez’s radar, while Mohamed Sissoko, the Mali midfield player, could leave for Juventus or Inter Milan.

Spending power Hard to say. Gillett and Hicks have hinted that there may be no money to spend as they wrestle with the cost of funding a new stadium, but they seem to accept that the team will need an injection of funds if they are to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title.

Manchester City

What they need Despite already having signed Nery Castillo, the Mexico forward, on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk, Sven-Göran Eriksson is still in the market for a striker. Another midfield player would probably not go amiss, either, while a goalkeeper could be on the agenda if Andreas Isaksson, the Sweden No 1, leaves in January, as appears likely.

Who they want Nicolas Anelka, of Bolton Wanderers, Afonso Alves, the Heerenveen forward, and Eidur Gudjohnsen, of Barcelona, have been mentioned. Eriksson remains an admirer of Mark Bresciano, the £4 million-rated Palermo and Australia midfield player, whom he tried to sign in the summer.

Spending power Thaksin Shinawatra, City’s billionaire owner, will not spend money for the sake of it, but if Eriksson identifies a player he wants, money should not be a problem, even if it is interesting that the manager appears to be leaning towards loan deals.

Manchester United

What they need Sir Alex Ferguson has already identified the need for another left back, although with doubts surrounding the future of Wes Brown, who is stalling on signing a new contract, and Gary Neville, who has been out injured since March, the manager would probably be better advised to look for a right back. A move for an additional striker remains a possibility.

Who they want Ferguson is giving serious thought to a move for Philipp Lahm, the Bayern Munich and Germany left back. Even though United signed Manucho, the Angola striker, on a three-year contract this month, Dimitar Berbatov, the Tottenham Hotspur forward, and Nicolas Anelka, the Bolton Wanderers striker, continue to be linked with moves to Old Trafford.

Spending power Having spent about £67.9 million in the summer, Ferguson might not be flush with cash, but there will be money available for a new defender and striker should he want them.

Middlesbrough

What they need The club are in dire need of penetration in attack. With Mark Viduka and Yakubu Ayegbeni having left the club last summer and Mido proving prone to injury, a lack of goals has been a recurring problem as Tuncay Sanli and Jérémie Aliadière have struggled to fill the breach.

Who they want Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe were Gareth Southgate’s leading targets last summer, but the former intimated that he would leave Liverpool only for another Champions League club and the latter wants to stay in London. The last thing Southgate needs is lesser players clogging up his squad; Rob Hulse, of Sheffield United, is a short-term target.

Spending power Minimal. Middlesbrough have experience of getting their fingers burnt in the January window – Michael Ricketts, anybody? – and they would prefer to keep their powder dry until the end of the season. The feeling is that the squad is capable of finishing mid-table.

Newcastle United

What they need Reason to believe. With the season hovering on a precipice, Sam Allardyce could do with some positive tidings to lift a disgruntled Toon Army. Newcastle require cover for the four players about to depart to the African Cup of Nations and their defence remains shambolic. Some creativity would help.

Who they want Players such as Wes Brown and Peter Crouch are on Allardyce’s wish list, but Newcastle have little chance of signing either before the summer. Chris Mort, the chairman, has spoken of adding young British players to Newcastle’s ranks – such as Ben Tozer, who will join from Swindon Town next month – but the first-team squad also requires added depth.

Spending power Unlikely to be formidable. Mike Ashley, the owner, has invested a lot of money in reducing Newcastle’s debts and the question is whether there will be a willingness to let Allardyce spend more when results, to date, have been mediocre.

Portsmouth

What they need Portsmouth’s problem positions are central midfield, right wing and centre forward – ie, the positions occupied by Papa Bouba Diop, Sulley Muntari, John Utaka and Kanu, who are bound for the African Cup of Nations. Someone who can locate the Fratton Park nets would also come in handy – Portsmouth have not found them in six of their past seven games there.

Who they want Long-time targets such as Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe have been ruled out as too expensive, so Harry Redknapp, the manager. may look to the Coca-Cola Championship. Of course, now could be the time to find places for Lauren and David Nugent.

Spending power The television money has gone and although Redknapp has been speaking of the threadbare nature of his squad for several weeks in an attempt to prise more funds out of Alexandre Gaydamak, the owner, he does not sound optimistic that there is anything left.

Reading

What they need A centre back to cover for Ibrahima Sonko, who could miss up to six matches while playing for Senegal in the African Cup of Nations in Ghana. And a right winger, with Glen Little and John Oster on the injury list and Stephen Hunt, the left winger, forced to play out of position in the role. Also a central midfield player.

Who they want Gary O’Neil, the midfield player, has been touted but has already played for Portsmouth and Middlesbrough this season. A third club is not allowed. The usual suspects – Matthew Taylor, the Portsmouth defender, Ben Watson, of Crystal Palace, and Hayden Mullins, of West Ham United – are in the frame.

Spending power The club are in rude health, with record annual turnover of £49.9 million announced after a successful debut campaign in the top flight. John Madejski, the chairman, will spend up to £10 million if Steve Coppell can tempt the right players, but the manager did not have much luck last summer.

Sunderland

What they need Roy Keane’s squad lacks genuine Premier League experience and quality, particularly in defence and midfield. A commanding centre half is an absolute requirement, as is a captain-like figure. More goals would help, too.

Who they want Stephen Hunt, Reading’s human dust devil, is a realistic target and Keane has also been linked with Robbie Savage, which would be a step in the right direction for Sunderland. Bobo Baldé, of Celtic, would provide defensive bulk, while Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson, of Manchester United, are still on the radar. Keane has also watched Gary Cahill and Phil Bardsley at Sheffield United.

Spending power Impressive. Niall Quinn’s Drumaville Consortium will make upwards of £20 million available, but as the summer showed – when some £35 million was “invested” – spending it effectively is not easy. Keane has already hinted that he will not buy for the sake of it, which may be a sign that lessons have been learnt.

Tottenham Hotspur

What they need Juande Ramos has plugged some of the leaks, roughly halving the number of goals conceded, but the head coach is keen to sign an experienced central defender and a holding midfield player. Chris Gunter, the right back, will sign from Cardiff City for about £2 million next week.

Who they want Sol Campbell, labelled “Judas” after his defection to Arsenal six years ago, is rumoured to be on the list. They may try again for Wes Brown, the Manchester United defender. Lassana Diarra, the Arsenal midfield player, has been trying to attract interest from other clubs. Alexander Kerzhakov, the Seville forward, and Luka Modric, the Dynamo Zagreb midfield player, are targets.

Spending power Although the club spent upwards of £35 million last summer under Martin Jol, Ramos has been promised substantial cash, but he knows there are few bargains to be had. Money could come from the possible sale of Darren Bent, the forward, to West Ham United.

West Ham United

What they need An explanation for the spate of injuries. Even the firmness of the training ground has been considered as a possible cause. The contrast in the home and away form owes much to the style of a team happy to play on the break but lacking a creative player to unlock defences.

Who they want Rumours persist about Darren Bent, after the forward turned down a transfer in the summer in favour of a move to Tottenham Hotspur. Giles Barnes, the Derby County winger, is expected to arrive, five months after a deal worth up to £7 million fell through because of concerns about his fitness. Nicky Shorey becomes more attractive as the Reading left back enters the last 18 months of his contract.

Spending power Björgólfur Gudmundsson’s pockets are deep, but the owner will not want to make the mistakes of previous transfer windows when excessive wages were dangled in front of players, attracting many mercenaries.

Wigan Athletic

What they need A left back, first and foremost, possibly another central defender and a striker to ease the burden on Emile Heskey and Marcus Bent, given that Antoine Sibierski continues to struggle with injuries and Julius Aghahowa has yet to prove he is cut out for the Barclays Premier League.

Who they want Robbie Savage, the Blackburn Rovers midfield player, is thought to figure prominently in Steve Bruce’s thoughts, even though their Lancashire rivals will probably be reluctant to sell. Jonathan Walters, the £2 million-rated Ipswich Town striker, and Gary Cahill, the Aston Villa defender, are also targets. Bruce wants to sign Luis Antonio Valencia, the Ecuador winger, on a permanent deal from Villarreal.

Spending power Dave Whelan, the chairman, has told Bruce that there is plenty of money to spend. However, the manager’s biggest problem may not be identifying the right players but persuading them to move to the JJB Stadium.

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Re: Who will splash the cash when window opens for business?

more transfer news

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Remember on the playground, when two deadly rivals would square up, and the whole school would gather round, goading them into kicking lumps out of each other?

That's how The Gossip Column feels this morning after reading The Daily Mirror, which reckons that both Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan want the Newcastle job (despite neither saying anything of the sort), but don't want to work together.

The paper quotes the ubiquitous 'friend' of both as saying:

"Alan won't be a No.2 to anyone and he is not keen on even being with Kevin Keegan just to get in the door.

"KK is also interested in being number one with his own backroom staff, people like Terry McDermott, and he would not be too happy about having Shearer with him."

Sounds like a big load of hooey to us, but this isn't The Factually Correct Column, so deal with it.

A BIG JUICY WORM

It's two recurring rumours in one whisper this morning.

Having apparently told Paul Robinson he is quite welcome to do one, Magic Juande may well be about to help the formerly chunky keeper on his way.

According to The Guardian, Spurs may offer Robinson as part of the deal to snag one-trick pony Stewart Downing, who is this window's most wanted man, unlikely as it seems.

MORE COMINGS AND GOINGS AT THE LANE

The Sun claims that Lyon's Brazilian striker Fred wants to tie up a move to Spurs within 48 hours.

However, when you actually read the quotes from the splendidly-named forward, you realise they were over-stating a little:

"I hope my future will be sorted on Wednesday. I have two offers, one from Tottenham and one from Paris St Germain.

"The president of Lyon has said I would prefer to go to PSG but that's not true. I've not agreed terms with any club but I'm waiting for them to come back to me."

No mention of Middlesbrough there. Shame.

MORE! MORE! MORE!

And another.

The Times reports that Spurs, along with Man Citeh and Liverpool, have joined ManYoo in taking a good look at Ajax goal-machine Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

They reckon representatives from Blackburn and Sunderland were at Sunday's game with AZ Alkmaar too, but surely neither would have any chance of bagging the Dutch striker.

Interesting news about Liverpool though. Ostensibly a dead Rafa walking, Benitez clearly is still looking to spend those dollars.

A FEW DOLLARS MORE...

Spurious stuff here, but The Sun reports that Liverpool and Chelski 'are locked in a tug of war' for Villarreal's 19-year-old centre-half Martin Caceres.

The Argentinian cost the Spaniards £2million, but is now apparently rated at closer to £10million.

We're just hoping there really is a tug of war, possibly involving Geoff Capes.

NOT THAT ONE

The Daily Mail reckons that ManYoo are interested in Gilberto.

Nope, not that one, but Hertha Berlin's left-back/left-midfielder, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

The Brazilian said: "I have received offers from England, Portugal and Brazil. I have become accustomed to winning trophies with Brazil and would like to do the same at club level."

That's gospel then.

A QUICKIE

Just a quick line from Portsmouth. Probably nonsense, but it amused us.

According to The Daily Mail, 'Arry Redknapp is lining up a move for former Chelski striker Mateja Kezman.

Hmmmmm.

AND THE REST...

Arsenal are chasing £5million-rated Marseille wonderkid Andre Ayew...West Ham are closing in on Ipswich starlet Danny Haynes...Portsmouth have tabled a £1.5million bid for Crystal Palace left-back Lee Hills...Everton boss David Moyes says he wants £6million for James McFadden after turning down Birmingham's latest offer...Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is trying to sign Wigan's Paul Scharner in a shock £3million deal...Harry Redknapp will continue his celebrations at staying on as Portsmouth boss by winning the race for Lassana Diarra. He also wants to sign Tottenham's Kevin Prince-Boateng on loan for the rest of the season...Charlton are considering a £2million bid for Sheffield United midfielder Michael Tonge...Sunderland will lead the £2million race to sign Blackburn striker Jason Roberts...Bristol City boss Gary Johnson is trying to sign Sparta Prague's £1million-rated striker Libor Dosek...Afonso Alves is facing a legal wrangle if Middlesbrough are to land him...Bolton are ready to rival Birmingham, Sunderland, Wigan and Sheffield United for Aston Villa defender Gary Cahill...Birmingham have had a loan bid for Lazio's Guglielmo Stendardo accepted, but the player doesn't want to move until the summer...Wigan are closing in on Honduras left-back Maynor Figueroa.

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