The third instalment of January’s potential transfer targets for each Premier League club focusing on three of the title challengers from the north-west of England. Will any take the plunge into the market?
Jese – 23-year-old left winger, PSG
The Spaniard moved to PSG in the summer, having struggled to break through at Real Madrid, but after just six months he could be on the move again, after making little to no impact at the reigning French champions. Jese has only started two games in all competitions for The Parisians, scoring once. But if anyone is to get the best out of an attacking player it would be Jurgen Klopp, who has reinvigorated the likes of Adam Lallana and Phillipe Coutinho, adding the consistent flow of goals and assists to their respective games. Liverpool will probably be able to pick up Jese for about £20 million, due to an underwhelming start in France.
Emil Forsberg – 25-year-old attacking midfielder, RB Leipzig
Leipzig have offered a hands-off warning to Liverpool over prized asset Emil Forsberg, but the Swede looks like an ideal signing for Klopp – a creative midfielder, who offers both goals and assists. Forsberg has so far delivered five goals and eight assists for the contentious Bundesliga title challengers RB Leipzig which explains the sides reluctance to see him leave the club.
As much as I would consider Forsberg as a very adept attacking footballer, he’s just too similar to the abundance of attacking options already at Liverpool – Adam Lallana, Giorginio Wijnaldum, Phillipe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and occasionally Roberto Firminio (who also operates as a striker). Forsberg is currently valued at around £25 million by the Germans.
Kasper Schmeichel – 30-year-old goalkeeper, Leicester City
In my opinion, Schmeichel is a much-needed addition to Liverpool’s ranks, with neither Simon Mignolet nor Loris Karius quite up to standard this season following a succession of high-profile mistakes. The Dane would also bring experience when it comes to winning trophies, playing a pivotal role in securing Leicester City’s unprecedented first Premier League title last season – he would be an invaluable asset to a Liverpool side that lost both the Europa League and League Cup final last season. The £25 million being quoted by Leicester is however far too much for a goalkeeper, who is entering the twilight of his career.
Virgil Van Dijk – 25-year-old centre-back, Southampton
Despite spending £135 million on defenders since the arrival of illustrious yet injury prone captain Vincent Kompany, Pep Guardiola and co are yet to find a perfect centre-back partnership to accommodate for the Belgian’s constant absence, but arguably the best defender in the Premier League Virgil Van Dijk could be the solution.
Strong in the air and able to play out from the back, the Dutchman seemingly has it all, with Southampton set to make yet another huge profit. The Saints’ remarkable ability to sell their best players and still maintain their Premier League status year upon year has got to catch up with them soon enough, and as a result, Claude Puel has placed a £50 million price tag on Van Dijk in order to put off potential suitors Manchester City and Chelsea.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 23-year-old right winger, Arsenal
Starved of game time throughout his injury-plagued career at Arsenal, Chamberlain now looks set to do well after his initial promise, having already racked up six goals and five assists in just 13 starts (26 appearances overall). The only question is, do Manchester City really need him? With Nolito, Raheem Sterling, Jesus Navas, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and the incoming Gabriel Jesus all already able to play out wide.
Several departures would need to take place before Guardiola would look into buying the 23-year-old. £25 million is the reported fee for the England international.
Ederson – 23-year-old goalkeeper, Benfica
The quick-fire nature of Premier league success means that the struggling Claudio Bravo may already be surplus to requirements at the Etihad, having endured criticism for his poor distribution and ability to play out from the back. These circumstances, as well as the Citizens lowly league position by their standards, has seen Guardiola turn his attentions to Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson of Benfica, who has been applauded for his range of passing and shot stopping abilities during a breakthrough campaign. Ederson reportedly has a buy-out clause of £25 million.
Tiemoué Bakayoko – 22-year-old box to box midfielder, Monaco
The new Patrick Vieira? The new Yaya Toure? The new Michael Ballack? Bakayoko has just about been touted with the name of possibly every great European box to box midfielder over the past 12 months, and as a result European clubs have come crawling to his side, offering big bucks in exchange for an engine that they hope can propel them to glory in the modern age of high press.
The Frenchman has started 20 out of the 23 games he has been involved in, starting five of the six Champions League games Monaco have played this season. Bakayoko’s stats speak for themselves; contributing an average of three tackles per game and 2.7 interceptions per game, scoring twice. Jose Mourinho sees Bakayoko as Michael Carrick’s ideal replacement, with the 35-year-old’s contract up in the summer, but will face competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Manchester United will probably have to pay around £30 million for Bakayoko, although good relations with Monaco could see that price drop.
Dayot Upecamo – 18-year-old centre-back, RB Salzburg
Not much is known about Salzburg defender Upecamo, but despite this, he has still managed to attract the interests of Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus as well as feeder club RB Leipzig. Austrian Bundesliga champions and current league leaders RB Salzburg will command a price of around £7 million for their young French prospect, with Mourinho reportedly very likely to make a bid.
If any comparisons are to be made then it would probably between Upecamo and physical Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma. A wild card choice on this list but if the hype is to be believed then Upecamo would be a fantastic coup for the Red Devils.
Paulo Dybala – 23-year-old striker, Juventus
A possible deal is more likely to take place in the summer, but if Manchester United are to fend off the financial powers of Real Madrid and Barcelona, then Mourinho may have to take a chance this January. Dybala has scored 27 goals in 63 games since his move from Palermo in 2015, and the Old Lady have subsequently offered the prestigious Argentinian a new deal.
United have identified Dybala as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s long-term successor, with his strike rate even more impressive when you consider he’s playing second fiddle to Gonzalo Higuain. Juventus currently value Dybala at around £50-£60 million.
Bojan -26-year-old inside forward/winger, Stoke City
The diminutive winger has personified Stoke’s unspoken mantra, of unfulfilled potential and flashes of brilliance – with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Affelay and Marko Arnautovic also testament to this belief. Middlesbrough are in desperate need of a creative influence in their side, relying heavily upon Gaston Ramirez, and with a natural goal scorer like Alvaro Negredo in their side Bojan could well be the key to propelling Boro up the table.
Middlesbrough have already enquired about the Spaniard’s availability and the deal could very likely be on the table, with a £12 million fee being reported.
Robert Snodgrass -29-year-old attacking midfielder, Hull City
Snodgrass would add a different dimension to Middlesbrough’s game; he can score set pieces (four set piece goals this season), he can assist teammates (two Premier League assists this season), he can score from anywhere in open play (nine goals this season, seven in the Premier League), and he has years of experience at Premier League level – in my opinion he’s the well rounded sort of player needed to stave off relegation.
Fellow strugglers West Ham have already started off the bidding process, but new Hull City manager Marco Silva is very much keen on keeping him at the KCOM Stadium.
Middlesbrough will probably have to pay an inflated figure of around £10-£15 million to prize him away from Hull.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 20-year-old central midfielder, Chelsea
It hasn’t quite worked out for the youngster under Antonio Conte, a lack of playing time has coincided with him failing to adapt to his more advanced role under the Italian. Loftus-Cheek has however proven that he’s more than ready for Premier League action, based off his mature performances under both Mourinho and Guts Hiddink in a turbulent year for the Blues.
His power allows him to dominate play and his great passing ability and eye for goal, make him a potent force going forward. At Middlesbrough he woild be able to gain much needed game time and experience, whilst adding a cutting edge to Boro’s play.
My guess is that Middlesbrough will be looking to take Loftus-Cheek on loan as it is unlikely that Chelsea would want to sell such a fantastic young prospect.