What’s going on this transfer window period in the English Premier League?
It’s not just that the Big 6 clubs haven’t made any major signings, it’s the almost complete lack of chatter over any meaningful potential signings.
Given the two-horse race for the title between Liverpool and Manchester City, and with Harry Kane’s injury, an up-for-grabs top four, you’d expect more activity or buzz.
Here’s a look at each of the Big 6 and the latest chatter.
Liverpool (-175 to win Premier League)
Liverpool sit atop the table. While they have some depth in certain areas, they’re one pulled hammy for Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, or Mohamed Salah away from hitting the panic button.
The Reds have survived a recent rash of injuries to their backline, with Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Dejan Lovren all missing time recently. Having do-it-all plug-and-play options like Fabinho and James Milner help in that regard.
What Do They Need? First, VVD has proven himself irreplaceable. So saying “a quality center-back!” is too easy. If van Dijk goes down, there’s no reasonable replacement on the market for him anyway.
With that in mind, extra quality at left-back would serve as an insurance policy for Andrew Robertson. Albert Moreno has proven incapable of filling in there.
Additionally, more attacking depth is a must. Mo Salah has gotten little rest this campaign. Some days off, especially if Liverpool make another Champions League run, will serve him well. In-house, Xherdan Shaqiri seems more of a bench spark-plug than starter. Divock Origi has produced in limited time, but there’s not enough track-record to rely on when closing out a title.
Yes, there’s interest in signing the Turkish Messi. Maybe that’s the solution. Regardless, given Sadio Mane’s sloppy form of late, a quality attacker should be Jurgen Klopp’s top priority.
Manchester City (+165 to win Premier League)
While Liverpool’s best IX likely out-class City’s, the Sky Blues have the Reds beat on overall quality of depth.
What, if anything, do they need?
A healthy Kevin de Bruyne effectively acts as a “big name” signing at this point. KdB has missed a large swath of the 2018-19 campaign, and when he’s healthy, he’s been among the three best players in the Premier League.
Maybe this is why Pep Guardiola has been consistent in saying his club won’t be active in January signings. There’s plenty of depth across the board (and when healthy, an absurd amount of depth), and there are youngsters like Phil Foden who can step up if needed.
Expect the status quo with City, with a potential big splash mid-field signing over the summer.
Tottenham Hotspur (+2500 to win Premier League)
Erm, Tottenham needs a striker. Maybe two.
Harry Kane is out until the end of March. Son Heung-min will be out while South Korea is in the Asia Cup. Tottenham is notorious not-spenders, so their attacking reserves are basically non-existent. Unfortunately for them, there’s not a lot of options available on the transfer market.
Talks of Gareth Bale coming back to Wembley don’t make sense, unless they get the 2012-13 vintage (both in form and health). While Real Madrid might be smart to firesale high-priced talent to restock their coffers this summer, Bale’s body seems to be made of papier-mâché of late, and the rigors of the Premier League might not suit where he’s at with his career now.
Ultimately, Spurs may just need to white-knuckle it until Kane & Son are back and cling on to a top-4 finish.
Chelsea (+8000 to win Premier League)
Chelsea already lit $73.1M on fire on Christian Pulisic. Do they have an appetite to spend more? And given the Spurs likelihood to drop points the next two months, do they even need to?
It seems like they want to, yes. The most likely big name transfer / “where there’s smoke there’s a fire” persistent rumor has AC Milan forward Gonzalo Higuain going to Stamford Bridge. That would solve one of Chelsea’s biggest needs: a proper striker.
Whether Kane’s injury and Son’s departure change Chelsea’s thinking about spending this January, though, remains to be seen.
Arsenal (+50000 to win Premier League)
Arsenal boss Unai Emery needs a bit of everything. However, he’s been on record saying Arsenal can only do loan deals this transfer window.
Arsenal and Emery are in a similar boat to the early Jurgen Klopp era: lots of firepower, a style of play where not all of the pieces fit, and in desperate need of defensive talent.
Arsenal could use a VVD-level center-back (who doesn’t?). After Liverpool spanked them 5-1, they might need a whole new backline. However, it doesn’t sound like they plan to spend any money this January.
Manchester United (+35000 to win Premier League)
All United fans right now are like, guess who’s back, back again. Despite their resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ManU still has needs all over the pitch (though definitely NOT between the sticks). An attacking center-mid to join Paul Pogba in making passes like this would help, along with a quality center-back.
Talks of Philippe Coutinho coming to Old Trafford are gaining momentum, but would Coutinho welcome a return to England?
United are well-positioned to spend right now. They’re surging. They’re well-capitalized. And they have a chance, albeit slim, to climb their way back into the top 4 if Tottenham or Chelsea stumble at all. Of the Big 6, expect United to be the most likely to make a splash before the window closes.