The transfer window opens on Jan. 1 in the Premier League, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 (with Spain’s LaLiga and Italy’s Serie A opening a day later) and clubs have been busy planning their business after a long season. January is usually a month when teams look for short-term solutions to paper over the cracks in midseason, but don’t rule out some big spending in the current climate either.
ESPN reporters have everything you need to know about the top teams’ hopes and delve into deals that might be in the cards. Who will come in? Who will depart?
Budget: Not as much as they had in the summer, but there is room for action, especially with any player exits.
What does the team need? Arsenal’s hopes of a first Premier League title since 2004 would be boosted by a clinical goal scorer for the days when Gabriel Jesus is misfiring. Another option in central midfield wouldn’t go amiss and they may need further cover at full-back depending on outgoings.
Who are the major targets? Arsenal have scouted a number of strikers with Brentford‘s Ivan Toney prominent in their thinking. A deal in January may be difficult to pull off, however, given Toney’s transfer fee is likely to be in the region of £80 million. Napoli‘s Victor Osimhen is of interest but would cost a similar amount, if not more. Aston Villa‘s Douglas Luiz is manager Mikel Arteta’s preferred option to strengthen Arsenal’s midfield but he will also be difficult and expensive to sign in mid-season, while Fulham‘s João Palhinha has also been considered. The Gunners remain admirers of Wolves winger Pedro Neto but there appear to be more immediate priorities.
Who could be leaving? There will be plenty of speculation around Aaron Ramsdale‘s future since he has lost the role of No. 1 goalkeeper following David Raya‘s arrival, but Arteta has publicly played down the prospect of the England international joining another club. Newcastle, Chelsea and Wolves are among several clubs monitoring the situation. ESPN reported last week that Villarreal and clubs in Turkey are interested in defender Cédric Soares, who is in the final year of his contract. Speculation persists that Thomas Partey could be allowed to depart if a suitable offer arises, given his injury history and forthcoming absence from Jan. 13 for potentially a month at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana.
Any new contracts? Ben White is in advanced talks over a new deal, with Arsenal confident an agreement will soon be reached with the defender. Youngster Reuell Walters is also in negotiations over an extension. — James Olley
Why Ogden still gives Liverpool the edge in the title race
Mark Ogden explains why Liverpool remain his narrow favourites for Premier League glory despite a bore draw with Man United.
Budget: Around £40m but if Mohamed Salah is allowed to depart (which is unlikely) they will have a lot more.
What does the team need? Joël Matip is out for the rest of the season after a suffering an ACL injury in early December, so a reinforcement at centre-back is the obvious priority although manager Jurgen Klopp has played down the prospect of signing a new defender after saying that rival clubs are unlikely to want to allow their players to move to Liverpool. Injuries have hit the club elsewhere, with left-back Andy Robertson also sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery in October. Despite signing four new midfielders during the summer window, Liverpool still lack creativity in the central area of the pitch. But with money tight due to a failure to qualify for this season’s Champions League, Klopp may have to look at the loan market if he wants another midfielder.
Who are the major targets? Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with PSV Eindhoven forward Johan Bakayoko, but the 20-year-old is more likely a summer target due to priorities lying elsewhere in January. However, Salah’s absence for up to six weeks on Africa Cup of Nations duty could prompt Liverpool to move early, as they have done in the last two winter windows for Luis Díaz and Cody Gakpo, respectively. Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips is another player on Liverpool’s radar. The England player has been told he can leave the Etihad, 18 months after a £42m transfer from Leeds, but whether City would be prepared to offload to a title rival such as Liverpool is the big question.
Who could be leaving? Liverpool could seal a permanent deal with RB Leipzig for Fabio Carvalho, who has been on loan at the Bundesliga club this season, but it should be an otherwise quiet window for exits from Anfield. The big unknown is whether Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad will return with another huge offer for Salah after having a £150m bid rejected in August. With Liverpool firmly in the title race, don’t expect any change in the club’s stance of refusing to consider parting with their talisman.
Any new contracts? Thiago Alcantara, Matip and goalkeeper Adrián are all out of contract at the end of the season, but none are likely to be retained by the club. In 2025, Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all out of contract, so the focus will be on negotiating with those three key players. — Mark Ogden
Nicol not ready to call Aston Villa title contenders just yet
Steve Nicol reacts to Aston Villa’s comeback win at Brentford in the Premier League to continue their superb form.
Budget: Likely limited. The surprise title challengers spent big on Moussa Diaby (£52m) and then got very creative with the Nicolò Zaniolo loan deal over the summer, which would suggest they’re up against it in Financial Fair Play (FFP) terms.
What does the team need? The team look nicely set, but a right-back would definitely help tackle what promises to be a busy second half of the season. Matty Cash and Ezri Konsa are sharing the duties, but only the former is a natural in that position. From a domestic point of view this has been fine, but when you add in European midweeks, it’s felt a bit stretched.
Who are the major targets? So far, Villa have been linked with no concrete targets, while the names that have popped up don’t correlate with their biggest positional need. Some Spanish media outlets have linked them with Álex Baena — a player Unai Emery worked with at Villarreal — while there’s been the odd mention of Oscar Gloukh from RB Leipzig too. They both play in an area (attacking midfield) Villa feel relatively strong in and would both cost £30m to £40m or more, so the links haven’t been taken too seriously by the fanbase.
Who could be leaving? A Sky Sports report suggests that Arsenal and Liverpool hold an interest in midfielder Douglas Luiz, but that feels like a long shot given it’s midseason, the price would be hefty, and Luiz has insisted he’s happy at the club. Villa would likely be open to moving on Bertrand Traoré, Calum Chambers and Leander Dendoncker if interest arose. It would be no surprise if Tim Iroegbunam departed.
Any new contracts? Villa have managed to secure every key player to a new deal over the last 18 months, starting with Emiliano Martínez in January 2022 and finishing with Ollie Watkins this October. Perhaps there’ll be a temptation to offer Luiz fresh terms if Arsenal’s interest persists. — Sam Tighe
Laurens: Man City should have a back up for Rodri
Julien Laurens says Manchester City are unprofessional for not having a suitable replacement when Rodri is unavailable.
Budget: City don’t have financial concerns, but they won’t go crazy either.
What does the team need? City did a decent job of replacing Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez last summer so they’re OK for numbers. Pep Guardiola clearly doesn’t think Kalvin Phillips is capable of being Rodri‘s understudy so he could ask director of football Txiki Begiristain to sign another defensive midfielder.
Who are the major targets? It’s likely that City will wait until the summer to make any major signings and the biggest boost to Guardiola in January will be Kevin De Bruyne‘s return. Considered one of the best midfielders in the world, the 32-year-old hasn’t played since the first weekend of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery but has just returned to training. It’s sometimes been overlooked that, because of De Bruyne’s injury, City have had to navigate the first half of the season without two of their three main treble-winning midfielders.
Who could be leaving? Phillips is likely to be the one main departure. He’s barely played during his 18 months at the Etihad Stadium, and he couldn’t even get into the team when Rodri was suspended. Newcastle United and Juventus are two of the clubs interested and while City will allow him to leave, the terms of the deal will have to be right. USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen is also available for transfer after losing his No. 2 spot to Stefan Ortega.
Any new contracts? City usually wait until the end of the season for new contracts, and they’ve also done a good job of securing their key players. De Bruyne is the closest to being out of contract and even he has a deal until 2025. He’ll be 33 next summer and City have a big decision to make about his future when the time comes. — Rob Dawson.
Has Richarlison finally turned the corner at Spurs?
Julien Laurens recaps Tottenham’s 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest and the performance of Brazilian striker Richarlison.
Budget: Limited as a result of spending the majority of the £88m fee from the exit of Harry Kane in the summer and a lack of European football this season impacting revenue.
What does the team need? Manager Ange Postecoglou has confirmed the club will look to sign a centre-back in January. In time, they will likely need more than one given Joe Rodon and Davinson Sánchez have been loaned out already and Postecoglou does not trust Eric Dier, as he has barely featured despite all of the defensive injuries. Spurs may look at a central midfielder as well if an opportunity arises with Pape Matar Sarr and Yves Bissouma both engaged at the Africa Cup of Nations. A lower priority is adding another forward.
Who are the major targets? Bournemouth centre-back Lloyd Kelly remains of interest after Spurs had a £20m offer to sign him rejected in the summer. Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo and Crystal Palace‘s Marc Guehi are two of several possible alternatives. Jota, a Portuguese forward who played under Postecoglou at Celtic, is being monitored at Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad.
Who could be leaving? Dier will surely be allowed to depart if a suitable bid is made. Goalkeeper and former captain Hugo Lloris will also hope to end his exile after turning down offers from some Saudi Pro League sides, as well as Lazio and Nice in the summer. He has not played a minute for Spurs since the end of last season. Barcelona have been linked with a move for midfielder Giovani Lo Celso. It is unclear whether Tottenham will allow left-back Ryan Sessegnon to leave on loan as he looks to get his career back on track following surgery on his hamstring.
Any new contracts? Spurs are rumoured to be considering offering Sarr a new deal. Decisions also need to be made on Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Sessegnon, Lo Celso and Ben Davies given their current contracts expire in 2025. Son Heung-Min could be rewarded for his elevation to captain with improved terms — and to help resist interest in the South Korea international from the Saudi Pro League. — Olley
Why Kieran Trippier’s form is a cause of concern for Newcastle
After making yet another error, this time vs. Chelsea, Craig Burley tries to make sense of Kieran Trippier’s downturn in form.
Budget: Around £50m but it will depend on the outgoings.
What does the team need? The recent rash of injuries that ultimately contributed to Newcastle’s group-stage exit from the Champions League (and European competition altogether) highlighted the lack of depth in Eddie Howe’s squad, so all areas are ripe for strengthening in January. But while the club are backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Newcastle’s spending continues to be restricted by the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules. It will take time for the new owners to boost Newcastle’s commercial revenue to the point of being able to compete freely with rival clubs in the transfer market.
A new goalkeeper will be the priority signing in January due to No. 1 Nick Pope facing months on the sideline with a shoulder injury. Martin Dúbravka and Loris Karius are already in the squad, but manager Howe will want to land a proven keeper to replace Pope.
Who are the major targets? Former Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is being considered, but as a free agent following his summer exit from Old Trafford, the 33-year-old could move to St. James’ Park before January and the absence of any deal to date hints at Howe being unconvinced by the merits of signing the former Spain international. Man City midfielder Phillips is a long-term target and could be signed either on loan or in a permanent deal as he is likely to have limited options due to his £150,000-a-week salary.
Who could be leaving? The injury problems at Newcastle — nine players were initially sidelined for their home game with Fulham on Saturday — are likely to restrict outgoings in January, although the lack of European football in the second half of the season will ease the fixture demands and open the possibility of some fringe players being allowed to leave.
Any new contracts? Lewis Miley signed his first professional contract at Newcastle in May 2023, but the 17-year-old’s outstanding progress this season in the Premier League and Champions League is likely to lead to the midfielder being rewarded with another new deal in the months ahead. Newcastle have eight senior players out of contract at the end of the season, including Fabian Schär and Jamaal Lascelles who have both been important first-team players this season. — Ogden.
Who could leave Man United in January after Champions League exit?
Rob Dawson explains why Man United could look to offload some players in the January transfer window.
Budget: United have FFP concerns and their budget is very tight, but there could be a little room if they move some players.
What does the team need? It’s been such a poor start to the season that you could argue manager Erik ten Hag needs reinforcements everywhere, but the biggest boost to his squad would be to get his injured players back fit again. Lisandro Martínez, who hasn’t played since September and won’t return until early 2024, would make a big difference at the back and the return of midfielders Casemiro, Mason Mount and Christian Eriksen would give Ten Hag much-needed options.
Who are the major targets? United have been linked with Borussia Dortmund winger Donyell Malen if the out-of-favour Jadon Sancho returns to his former club, and also Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy. Goals have been a problem and Guirassy has scored 16 in the Bundesliga this season, but the problem is United’s budget might not allow it even though he has a €17.5m release clause. They wanted to spend more in the summer but couldn’t because they are already so close to the FFP margins.
Who could be leaving? United have agreed to loan Donny van de Beek to Eintracht Frankfurt until the end of the season and Sancho is available following his public row with Ten Hag. Ten Hag has suggested there’s a way back for Sancho if he apologises but the winger is expected to leave and both Dortmund and Juventus are interested.
Any new contracts? Defenders Victor Lindelöf and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are out of contract in the summer but are likely to have one-year extensions triggered. Winger Anthony Martial is in the same position but his future is less straightforward and he could end up leaving on the free transfer at the end of the season. — Dawson
Why Chelsea have no structure under Mauricio Pochettino
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss Chelsea’s poor run of results despite their expensive squad.
Budget: After spending more than £1 billion across the last three transfer windows, spending will surely have to slow down to ensure ongoing compliance with FFP rules.
What does the team need? Manager Mauricio Pochettino has regularly lamented Chelsea’s inability to take their chances in front of goal so a striker is top of the wish list. They also require a backup goalkeeper behind Robert Sanchez and a centre-back to eventually replace 39-year-old Thiago Silva. Upgrading their backup options at full-back to support Reece James and Ben Chilwell, who have both suffered with injuries of late, may be a long-term aim.
Who are the major targets? Napoli’s Osimhen and Brentford’s Toney — in that order — are Chelsea’s leading targets in attack. Feyenoord’s Santiago Giménez is also under consideration. Chelsea are tracking Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Who could be leaving? Any number of fringe players. Defenders Trevoh Chalobah and Ian Maatsen are likely to depart, while winger Noni Madueke could be allowed to leave on loan. Chelsea would be willing to allow left-back Marc Cucurella to go unless Chilwell’s injury problems continue. Renewed interest in midfielder Conor Gallagher would create a conundrum for Chelsea — do they cash in on a player who has 18 months left on his existing deal and played the vast majority of matches under Pochettino? Sources suggest Chelsea would at least be willing to listen to offers.
Any new contracts? A decision is yet to be taken on whether this will be Silva’s final season at Stamford Bridge. The Brazilian turns 40 in September and substantive talks over an extension have not yet taken place. — Olley
Why Girona feel invincible after Barcelona win
Julien Laurens thinks that Girona should feel invincible after their 4-2 win over Barcelona on Sunday
Budget: €10m to €20m. It’s difficult to say for sure, but part-owners City Football Group might be prepared to sanction January deals given the club’s position at the top of LaLiga, albeit while adhering to the league’s strict financial rules.
What does the team need? Girona’s emergence as surprise title challengers in Spain could change their plans in January. However, they must strike a balance between not upsetting what has taken them so far this season and strengthening the squad to push for the Champions League. There are no obvious weaknesses in the team, but they might look to add depth. An injury to Yangel Herrera has left them short in midfield for the next two months, which forced them to slightly change their setup in the recent win against Barcelona.
Who are the major targets? Former Barça midfielder Nicolas González, who is not playing regularly at FC Porto, remains on Girona’s short list to improve their midfield. They wanted him last summery, but the deal was too expensive. That might have changed in their current position. Beyond that, the club’s hierarchy have confirmed they will try to ensure Coach Míchel has every position well covered in case of injuries and suspensions.
Who could be leaving? Everyone is pulling in the same direction at the moment at Girona, whether they are getting minutes or not, and no one will want to miss out on what Daley Blind recently told ESPN is already a “special season.”
Any new contracts? Nothing pressing apart from perhaps renewing veteran defender David López, whose deal is up in 2024. At some point, Girona will also have to look into the possibility of keeping impressive loanees Sávio, Yan Couto and Eric García for another season if they reach Europe. — Sam Marsden
Real Madrid-bound Endrick wants a 2024 full of trophies
Teenage star Endrick speaks to ESPN ahead of his move from Palmeiras to Real Madrid in the summer of 2024.
Budget: The club’s last published accounts, for 2022-23, showed a net worth of €558m. Madrid have plenty of money to spend, but president Florentino Perez is usually reluctant to invest in January.
What does the team need? Madrid have been hit hard by injuries, nowhere more so than in defence. Éder Militão, out since August, and David Alaba, injured on Dec. 17, are both out of action long term because of ACL tears. That leaves Antonio Rüdiger and Nacho Fernandez as the squad’s only available senior centre-backs. The team’s other weakness is in attack, where Joselu is the only natural centre-forward, but so far Jude Bellingham and Rodrygo have done a good job of providing enough goals from midfield.
Who are the major targets? “We’ll see in the next few days if we can do something in January,” was the message from coach Carlo Ancelotti after Alaba’s injury was confirmed. Madrid tend to resist the urge to panic, preferring to plan long term rather than overreacting. The club might decide that Rudiger and Nacho will do for now. One option would be to discuss the return from loan at Alavés of young centre-back Rafa Marín. Otherwise, there’s the long-running Kylian Mbappé saga, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward free to negotiate with potential suitors from Jan. 1 ahead of a possible summer move on a free transfer.
Who could be leaving? There are no obvious departures, with the squad so stretched by injuries that even fringe players have been made to feel important. Players who’d barely featured early on, like Brahim Díaz and Dani Ceballos, are getting minutes. But Ancelotti has said any unhappy players who want to leave would be listened to.
Any new contracts? As always, decisions must be made about the futures of veterans Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Nacho, but those will likely be made toward the end of the season. Madrid must also decide whether they want to make goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga‘s loan move from Chelsea permanent. That’s looking unlikely right now, given that the Spain international has lost his place in the side in recent weeks to Andriy Lunin. — Alex Kirkland and Rodri Faez.
Why Laurens is worried for Xavi and Barcelona
Julien Laurens explains why Barcelona’s form is so concerning after their 4-2 loss to Girona left them fourth in LaLiga.
Budget: There’s nothing to spend in January as things stand because of the club’s financial issues.
What does the team need? A new holding midfielder, with Oriol Romeu dropping out of the team after being signed as a low-cost replacement for Sergio Busquets. The loss of Gavi to a long-term injury has accelerated that need, and the club are exploring loan options until the summer. Barça also want to strengthen the full-back positions eventually, but that is not on the table in January. Finally, coach Xavi Hernández wants another forward after blaming a failure to take chances for recent poor results.
Who are the major targets? A €40m deal was agreed last summer to sign Brazil striker Vitor Roque from Athletico-PR. The 18-year-old will officially join in January to add firepower. Beyond Roque, Barça will loan a midfielder if they can make the finances work, but there are no obvious names on the short list yet.
Who could be leaving? Barça have a small squad, with youth-team players making up the numbers most weeks, so no one is likely to leave. That would only change if a huge offer came in for one of their stars.
Any new contracts? All of the talented youngsters have signed new deals over the past 18 months, so there is not much to do in that sense. Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso are the only senior players out of contract next summer. Roberto is playing for a new deal, but Alonso is expected to leave. Barça also must decide — and then negotiate with Atlético Madrid and Manchester City — if they want to extend the stay of loanees João Félix and João Cancelo, respectively. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.
Bayer Leverkusen put three past Eintracht Frankfurt
Watch the Game Highlights from Bayer Leverkusen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, 12/17/2023
Budget: Leverkusen always try to operate as carefully as possible with their budget. That said, money would be made available to make a signing or two if it means strengthening their surprise title bid.
What does the team need? This depends entirely on how the Africa Cup of Nations affects Leverkusen, as they head into the winter break at the top of the Bundesliga table. The worst-case scenario would be that five first-team players — including star striker Victor Boniface, and defenders Odilon Kossounou and Edmond Tapsoba — are missing for a month. And if Nigeria go deep in the competition, Leverkusen could be without the services of Boniface, who has scored nine goals and assisted another seven in 15 league games so far, until mid-February. Manager Xabi Alonso has said that he wants to decide whether he needs additional signings in early January, once he knows how many players will be missing for a longer period.
Who are the major targets? Leverkusen could consider targeting another centre-forward to compensate for the absence of Boniface. Patrik Schick has recently returned from a calf injury, and if the club are confident he could be a starter again, without suffering yet another injury setback, then they might refrain from signing another forward. Otherwise, they will scour the market, possibly with an emphasis on finding one on loan.
Who could be leaving? Two players are unsatisfied with their diminished role on the team to the point that they might consider leaving in January. The first is Piero Hincapié who, after a promising start at Leverkusen, hasn’t been able to secure a spot in Alonso’s back three. The second could be Nadiem Amiri, as he has played only 11 minutes in the Bundesliga so far this season, without suffering any significant injury. However, whether Hincapié and Amiri would be allowed to leave remains uncertain. Hincapie could certainly prove valuable when Kossounou and Tapsoba are away at AFCON.
Any new contracts? There is no immediate pressure to extend any contracts. Meanwhile, Alonso’s deal with Leverkusen ends in 2026, and the club are positive that he could decide to stay for another year. — Constantin Eckner.
Harry Kane going somewhere ‘hot’ for the Christmas break
Harry Kane has settled into the Bundesliga, scoring 20 league goals so far this season, but doesn’t plan to spend Christmas in Munich or London.
Budget: Bayern usually have a considerable amount of cash floating around. Indeed, on the final day of the summer transfer window they were ready to pay €65m to land midfielder João Palhinha from Fulham. After that deal fell through, the money must still be there.
What does the team need? Manager Thomas Tuchel has been critical of the size of his squad and has had to be quite creative to build a functional starting XI. In addition, the absence of players travelling to the Africa Cup of Nations and the Asian Cup makes things more complicated. Defender Kim Min-Jae will represent South Korea, while striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will be with Cameroon, and Morocco right-back Noussair Mazraoui is a potential third absentee, though he could stay home because of injury.
Who are the major targets? Bayern will continue to search for a centre-back and a defensively sound central midfielder. Hopes that Palhinha might arrive to fill the latter void have been fading recently, but there is a short list that reportedly includes PSV Eindhoven‘s Ibrahim Sangaré, Nice‘s Khephren Thuram and Borussia Mönchengladbach‘s Manu Koné. Any concrete decisions are now made in tandem between Tuchel and Christoph Freund, who took up his job as sporting director the day after the summer transfer window closed.
Who could be leaving? Likely no one. The squad is small as it is, and Bayern are not overly frustrated with any particular player.
Any new contracts? Thomas Müller just signed up, and Bayern are also aiming to extend the deals of Alphonso Davies and Leroy Sané. Sources have said that the Canada left-back had already agreed an extension earlier this year before then-sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was let go, and negotiations have not significantly progressed since. The 23-year-old is also aware of Real Madrid‘s interest. — Eckner.
Why Gio Reyna ‘has to get out’ of Borussia Dortmund
Shaka Hislop and Herc Gomez explain why USMNT’s Gio Reyna needs to leave Borussia Dortmund.
What does the team need? Dortmund need another difference-maker. Sébastien Haller and Karim Adeyemi are rarely a factor in games now, while Marco Reus is showing his age. The club will look for any opportunity to sign a special player but have to address some shortcomings in the squad. Ramy Bensebaini has proved a disappointment at left-back since his arrival during the summer, and another central defender is required, too.
Who are the major targets? Dortmund are considering bringing in left-back Sergio Reguilón. The Tottenham defender is on loan at Manchester United but could see his deal ended early. The club, as ever, are seriously considering a number of young players, including three 17-year-olds: Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Senny Mayulu, Leeds midfielder Archie Gray and Ajax defender Jorrel Hato.
Who could be leaving? Donyell Malen‘s agent recently met with sporting director Sebastian Kehl to discuss the future, as the forward’s role has slowly diminished since the summer and he could move for €30m. USMNT star Giovanni Reyna is also unhappy and could pursue a loan spell to get his form back. Right-back Thomas Meunier is another rumoured to be on his way out, though considering his injury troubles, his options might not be attractive.
Any new contracts? Mats Hummels and Reus could mark an end of an era at Signal Iduna Park by leaving next summer, or they could sign one-year extensions. As Dortmund keep their salary budget well under control, they tend to offer contracts with smaller base salaries and more performance-related bonuses. But money won’t decide whether Hummels and Reus stay or go. The former is about to start a new indoor football league in Germany, which might motivate him to stay exactly where he is. — Eckner
PSG boss Luis Enrique promises ‘total freedom’ for Mbappe
Luis Enrique discusses Kylian Mbappe’s playing position in PSG’s system ahead of their game vs. Nantes.
Budget: Money will be there if they need it.
What does the team need? PSG are loaded up front with plenty of wingers, centre-forwards and second strikers; players of different profiles, pace and skill. Defensively, they have numbers but could be tempted by signing a new centre-back. However, it is really in midfield where an improvement is needed. PSG want more creativity and experience alongside Manuel Ugarte, Vitinha and Warren Zaïre-Emery.
Who are the major targets? At 18, Lille centre-back Leny Yoro is one of the best defenders in Ligue 1. But his contract is up in 18 months, so PSG will wait until the summer to try to sign him for around €60m. PSG sporting director Luis Campos has Nice’s Thuram on his midfield shortlist, while he is a big fan of Bruno Guimarães, but Newcastle want around €100m to let him go.
However, PSG are moving quickly on two young Brazilian players: Luca Beraldo, 20, a talented left-footed centre-back from São Paulo, and the even more promising Gabriel Moscardo, an 18-year-old midfielder from Corinthians. Each transfer would cost around €25m including bonuses, but sources told ESPN the deals could happen soon.
Who could be leaving? The likes of Keylor Navas and Layvin Kurzawa (both out of contract in June 2024) are top of the list. Striker Hugo Ekitike (June 2027) is not part of the squad anymore after he refused to move to Frankfurt last summer and has interest from Lyon and some English clubs (Fulham, Brentford and West Ham).
Any new contracts? The elephant in the room is obviously Mbappé’s contract renewal. The superstar’s deal expires in June 2024, and he can agree a summer move to a foreign club from Jan. 1. PSG are still optimistic they will be able to keep him for at least another year — either by him signing a new deal or changing his mind to trigger the clause for a one-year extension (which he announced in June that he would not do). For Mbappé, time is on his side. He will take his time to decide what to do, stay or leave on a free.
On the other hand Zaïre-Emery’s situation is about to be sorted. The 17-year-old prodigy has 18 months left on his contract, and negotiations between Campos and agent Jorge Mendes are nearing an agreement. The new five-year deal would be announced when he turns 18 on March 8. — Julien Laurens.
Will anyone challenge Inter & Juventus in the Serie A title race?
Julien Laurens looks ahead to the Serie A title race after Inter Milan’s 1-1 draw with Juventus.
Budget: Inter’s phenomenal run in the Champions League, plus some smart work in the summer market, means they’re in a better financial position. However, they will still operate with caution.
What does the team need? CEO Beppe Marotta has said the club will target a replacement for full-back Juan Cuadrado following his injury but has insisted the squad is strong and incomings outside of that are unlikely. Speaking recently to DAZN, Marotta was cautious on the window, saying: “The team’s depth is up to the task, but we don’t want to leave anything to chance, so we can evaluate what to do when we need it.”
Who are the major targets? Tajon Buchanan is the most eye-catching name that has been linked, with the young Canada international being tipped for a major move sooner rather than later after impressing at Belgian side Club Brugge. Not only can he replace Cuadrado in the short term, the 24-year-old would be a smart long-term signing. Other names linked have been Tiago Djalo of Lille and Trevoh Chalobah of Chelsea. There is also concern over the forward line depth and Man United forward Martial, set to see his contract expire, is a strong target for the summer.
Who could be leaving? Rumours of exits have been quiet, but Davy Klaassen could leave despite his recent injury.
Any new contracts? Three deals are in the works, with Inter confident of announcements in early 2024. Federico Dimarco‘s emergence at left-back is set to be rewarded with a deal until 2028, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan will get a year with a further option. However, the most important signature will be that of striker Lautaro Martínez. The Argentina international is a leader at the club and is set to become their highest-paid player. — David Cartlidge.
Budget: Juventus are one of several Serie A teams who are looking to cut costs. To put it bluntly, there is no money available, and it’s going to be a case of sourcing loan deals should they want to upgrade the squad in January.
What does the team need? Midfield is the priority. There has been a heavy reliance upon Adrien Rabiot this season, and they need to find someone who can fit into central midfield. A striker wouldn’t go amiss either, especially with Moise Kean‘s recent injury and debate raging about Dusan Vlahovic‘s value to the team. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have performed above expectations and keeping the squad refreshed.
Who are the major targets? Manchester City‘s out-of-favour Phillips looks to be the No. 1 priority and if a move for him fails, Tottenham’s Højbjerg is another option. Phillips is certainly of more interest, though. Young Shakhtar Donetsk star Georgiy Sudakov is another name to keep an eye on, though he’d be more of a long-term target.
Who could be leaving? Juve are looking to generate funds and deem the Premier League as the best source for that. Numerous clubs are reportedly looking at Samuel Iling-Junior, with Juve of the belief they can get around €20m for his transfer. Talk of a €70m exit for Vlahovic won’t go away either, and a major offer could be tempting given the club’s fragile finances.
Any new contracts? This is perhaps where Juventus need to do the most work. Speculation continues to build over the future of Federico Chiesa, who has a contract expiring in 2025. The Italy forward has become a focal point for the club and keeping him will be a priority, though there are reports that he has been hesitant to sign a new deal until he knows Juve’s ambitions for the future. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny is also in talks with the club, who are ideally looking to lower his salary. — Cartlidge.
Christian Pulisic is in the form of his life with AC Milan
Herculez Gomez believes you’re seeing the best version of Christian Pulisic, after the American helped AC Milan to the Europa League knockout stages.
Budget: Suffering an exit from the Champions League group stage has dealt a huge blow to Milan’s transfer plans in January, and it might be a case of now waiting until the summer before any major squad restructuring. Still, there are positions of great need that were either not addressed in the summer or have become priority due to injuries.
What does the team need? Centre-back and striker are the areas in need of reinforcements, but signing a striker could wait until the summer given the lack of funds available. And Milan might already have help arriving at centre-back, with Matteo Gabbia set to return from a loan at Villarreal. A move for a midfielder has been downplayed, but any more injuries on top of those suffered by Noah Okafor and Tommaso Pobega could result in Milan’s hand being forced.
Who are the major targets? Several centre-backs have been mentioned in recent weeks. Jakub Kiwior of Arsenal is one of those, as is Barcelona’s Clément Lenglet. Any deal for either of those players would likely have to be a loan. Stuttgart striker Guirassy continues to be linked, too, with some suggestions he can leave the high-flying German side for €17.5m. Lille forward Jonathan David is another name that seems to constantly crop up as well.
Who could be leaving? Rade Krunić seems to be on his way out, with Milan seeking around €5m. There was a reluctance to let the Bosnia and Herzegovina international leave in the summer, but that stance has seemingly changed as Milan aim to bring in funds and reinvest in the team.
Any new contracts? Theo Hernández is one the club would love to commit. The France left-back has been sensational since joining the club from Real Madrid and with his contract expiring in 2026, a longer deal is likely required. Mike Maignan is another that has been consistent since joining from Lille, and the France goalkeeper is due for a reward. He’s still only 27 and has yet to hit his peak. — Cartlidge.