Who Should the Top Six Premier League Title Contenders Sign in January?

Koulibaly

Liverpool

So far this season Liverpool have started as expected in the Premier League, being top at Christmas having won nine and drawn four of their first 14 matches, losing just once in that famous shock 7-2 loss away at Aston Villa in October.

However, their away form has been questionable at times this season, as they drew against the likes of Brighton and Fulham and could even deem themselves fortunate to not be beaten against the Cottager’s, as Scott Parker’s side had several chances to extend their lead in the match, as well as controversially having a penalty decision rejected by VAR.

These games, however, both came after first-choice centre back duo Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez had been ruled out for the remainder of the season, following cruciate knee ligament injuries, which could mean that the Anfield club will look to sign either a centre back in the long term to partner Van Dijk, or could look to find cover for the injured pair.

Kalidou Koulibaly is a name that is often linked to the Premier League and would be the ideal player to partner Dutch international Van Dijk, the Senegalese centre back Napoli to win the Coppa Italia following his side’s win against Juventus on penalties at the Stadio Olimpico, having put in an incredible defensive display, with the match itself finishing as a 0-0 draw. In the six seasons the 29-year-old has played in Italy, Koulibaly has featured in Serie A team of the season four times, if Liverpool are to maintain their title-winning form, they may need someone of the Napoli man’s ilk, as when you’re at the top you need to persistently strengthen the squad, as they did by signing the likes of Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara in the summer.

Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City side are impressing again this season, as they currently sit in second place, having earned 27 points from 14 matches. This is impressive considering how close the Foxes were to qualifying for the Champions League last season, having struggled to get over the line in the latter stages of the Premier League, do to injuries to several key players.

If the Foxes are to maintain their impressive form then they may need a backup striker to help out an ageing Jamie Vardy, as former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho has failed to impress so far since joining the club in the summer of 2017, scoring 25 times in 105 appearances, of which just nine of these goals have came in the Premier League, with Rodgers often opting to play the likes of Ayoze Perez or Harvey Barnes up front when Vardy is absent from the squad.

A surprise option for the Foxes could be the likes of Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford, who has had a blistering start to life in the Premier League under the management of Marcelo Bielsa. So far this season, the former Chelsea striker is currently the fifth top scorer in the league having scored nine goals in 14 league games, with a better goals per 90 minutes rate than Harry Kane, with 0.68 which is 0.03 better than the Spurs and England captain.

Manchester United

Having had an indifferent start to the season, Manchester United have really picked up in form, winning six of their last seven league matches seeing the Red Devils rise up the league table, just five points off Liverpool with a game in hand coming into Christmas.

However, one major flaw though for United this season has been their leaky defence, as in the Premier League they have the 12th best defensive record in the division, conceding 21 goals in 13 games, keeping just three clean sheets in the process.

It has been noted that United are particularly slow down the spine of their team and could do with a quick and aggressive centre back to partner club captain Harry Maguire. RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano has been linked to the club for around £54m as the 22-year-old has a release clause of that price, which can be activated between 2021 to 2023. Leipzig currently have the best defence in the Bundesliga, having conceded just nine goals in 13 matches, with the Frenchman only missing one of these matches. Upamecano recently said prior to signing a new contract with Leipzig that contains the release clause that: “as a youngster, you dream of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, but to get there, you have to work", further fuelling speculation of him moving to Old Trafford.

Tottenham Hotspur

A position that Tottenham Hotspur have particularly struggled in since the departure of Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2018 is right-back. At present Serge Aurier is Spurs’ first-choice right-back, with summer signing Matt Doherty struggling to settle in, following his move from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the last transfer window, having appeared just six times in the league so far this season.

Following another recent error by Aurier against Leicester where the Ivory Coast international gave away a needless penalty, which gave the Foxes a 1-0 lead in their 2-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Max Aarons may be an option which Spurs might explore again, as the England under-21 international was not allowed to leave Norwich City to join Barcelona in a loan move last summer.

Aarons can count himself unlucky not to have been snapped up following a very impressive Premier League campaign last season despite Norwich’s relegation back to the Championship. The 20-year-old was solid for the Canaries, with a tackle success rate of 63%, as well as recovering the ball 178 times in 36 Premier League appearances last campaign.

Manchester City

Following injury problems for Benjamin Mendy since signing from AS Monaco in 2017 at the price of £52m, Manchester City have had a whole host of players play at left-back in the Frenchman’s absence, with the likes of Fabian Delph, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Angelino and Joao Cancelo often covering there, however, with Mendy regularly struggling for form and fitness, it could be time for the Blues to go out and splash the cash on Ajax’s Argentinian full-back Nicolas Tagliafico.

Since joining City, the former Marseille man has played just 42 times in the league, and has often struggled when City are made to defend, such as against Manchester United and Wolves last season. Mendy has made 2 errors leading to goals, as well as having won just 39% of defensive duals, as well as 38% of his areal duals, meaning opposing sides often target the French defender as City’s left-back area is looked upon as the weakest are of their squad.

Tagliafico is one of the most highly touted left-backs in Europe at the moment, having stayed loyal to Ajax, despite putting in a string of impressive displays in both the Eredivisie and UEFA Champions League. The Argentinian international is experienced at 28-years-old, but, is rarely injured, playing 116 games since his arrival in Amsterdam, back in January 2018. He has contributed to 28 goals, which is around one goal contribution every four matches, this is an impressive rate for a full back and could help to complement City’s attacking style of football.

Chelsea

So far this campaign, Chelsea have shown a lot of signs of improvement from last season in terms of creativity, with the additions of the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner significantly improving the Blues attack. One issue has often been the lack of a physical centre forward to base their play around, as Ziyech and Werner often play as inside forwards, with full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell providing the width for the team. Olivier Giroud has performed well in this role when given the opportunity, with two goals in his three league starts, as well as having scored five goals in four Champions League matches, perhaps, the ideal player to play week in week out instead of the Frenchman could come in the shape of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Calvert-Lewin could significantly enhance the Blues chances of winning the Premier League title, as the England international has a clinical edge to him, having scored 11 goals in 14 league games. Chelsea haven’t had a twenty goal per season striker since the days of Diego Costa, having chanced their arm on an expensive flop in Alvaro Morata, who only managed 16 goals in 47 matches, with 11 of them coming in the 2017/18 campaign. Last season, Chelsea academy graduate Tammy Abraham was given the nod due to the Stamford Bridge club’s transfer ban and did reasonably well, scoring 15 goals in 34 appearances, but did miss 22 big chances, something the former Aston Villa loanee must improve upon if he is to stay at Frank Lampard’s side.

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