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Transfer window: Man United, Arsenal, Real Madrid need defenders; Man City, PSG to wait?

The transfer window is nearly upon us, but clubs across Europe are already planning for their January business. Who will come in? Who will depart?

ESPN FC's club correspondents delve into the deals which may be on the cards.

Premier League

MAN CITY: In need of a holding midfielder

What does the team need in January?

Manchester City have two quality players for every position, with the exception of defensive midfield and left-back. The holding role in the centre of midfield is a crucial position within Pep Guardiola's setup -- acting as a pivot going forward and crucial defensively -- and while Fernandinho plays the role perfectly, at the age of 33 he can't be overplayed and any injury would be a serious setback.

Benjamin Mendy is the only left-back at the club and is ruled out until February, although Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko have done a good job as replacements.

Who are the major targets?

Guardiola has ruled out any major new signings in the January transfer window. The City boss is aware that his squad is short in the centre of midfield and wanted Italy international Jorginho in the summer -- before he opted to follow Maurizio Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea. Netherlands international Frenkie de Jong is now a leading target for the position, but with Ajax reaching the Champions League knockout stages and battling PSV for the Eredivisie title, the 21-year-old wants to wait until the summer before considering a move. City are prepared to be patient.

Who will be leaving?

Highly-rated young forward Brahim Diaz has turned down a new contract, and with his deal running out in the summer, he looks set to leave in the January transfer window. Sources have told ESPN that Real Madrid are leading the chase for the Spain under-21 international and are prepared to spend around £10m to show their commitment, rather than waiting until the end of the season and picking him up for free.

Centre-back Eliaquim Mangala has not played this season and could leave, while fringe players Philippe Sandler and Yangel Herrera could also go out on loan.

Any new contracts?

City have already been busy tying up some of their most exciting young talent to new deals over the past 12 months. Guardiola has revealed that the club have opened talks with Leroy Sane over an improved contract, although the Germany winger's current deal doesn't run out until the summer of 2021. John Stones is also seen as part of the long-term future but is signed up until 2022.

City have three players out of contract at the end of the season: Diaz turned down a new offer, and Mangala will be allowed to leave for free, which leaves captain Vincent Kompany. The 32-year-old has had injury problems in recent years, but has played his part this season. After a decade in Manchester, he wants to stay. -- Jonathan Smith

LIVERPOOL: Will injuries force them to spend?

What does the team need in January?

Liverpool's position up until to the past few weeks has been that there would be no January incomings. Injuries, however, may force Klopp, who has been reluctant to make additions midway through a season, to reassess his thinking. Liverpool currently have just two centre-backs fit and available.

Will that mean Liverpool make a move for a centre-back next month? It remains unlikely given that Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are expected to return shortly after the New Year, but Liverpool will be open to activity in January.

Who are the major targets?

The links to Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic, whom Liverpool have tried to sign in the past, will not go away. Sources have told ESPN FC that the U.S. star is keen on a new opportunity, with his Dortmund contract expiring in 2020 and no sign of a new deal forthcoming. However Dortmund's stance, both publicly and privately, remains that no "essential" player will be sold in the winter as they sit atop of the Bundesliga.

World Cup-winning right-back Benjamin Pavard has been linked with a move recently, although there are suggestions that the €35m release clause in his Stuttgart contract only comes into force in the summer.

Who will be leaving?

There should not be any high-profile departures this January. This time 12 months ago, Philippe Coutinho was gearing up towards his £142m move to Barcelona. But Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have all signed long-term contracts at Anfield in recent months.

An agent for Simon Mignolet told ESPN FC that his client is seeking a move next month but appreciates that it will be difficult for Liverpool to grant that wish. Elsewhere, a number of teams desperate for a striker may take a punt on Divock Origi, and Dominic Solanke could leave on loan, having not made a single appearance this season.

Any new contracts?

Liverpool have been proactive in locking down top players to new contracts, but it's a different story for Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno. Both of their contracts expire in the summer, and Moreno is expected to leave on a free transfer, with sources telling ESPN FC that his former club Sevilla are monitoring the left-back.

Meanwhile, teams will be keeping close tabs on Sturridge's betting case with the English Football Association. Sturridge has been given until February to respond his charges from the FA of allegedly breaching rules on betting. That could rumble on. -- Glenn Price

MAN UNITED: Quiet January ahead at Old Trafford?

What does the team need in January?

In terms of personnel, Manchester United need a centre-back and a right winger but more importantly, they need to find some inspiration from a new manager after the sacking of Jose Mourinho. There's a chance that bolstering the squad may offer some of that, but the problems at Old Trafford extend beyond the players and former manager. A new signing might lift the mood ahead of the second half of the season, but it's difficult to know what position is most important because United are struggling at both ends of the pitch.

Who are the major targets?

Sources have told ESPN FC that despite Mourinho's exit, the club are still happy to spend in January if long-term targets become available. There is, though, an acknowledgement that it is not an easy window in which to do business, and they will not panic-buy just for the sake of it. If defenders like Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar or Nikola Milenkovic were made available for a reasonable price, United would be interested.

Who will be leaving?

There is discontent among the players who are not featuring regularly, although Mourinho went on record to say no one has asked to leave. Andreas Pereira, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian will consider their options if offers are made in January, but the bulk of the squad should stay together unless individuals push to leave.

Sources have told ESPN FC that United will reject offers for Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, but they are braced for their resolve to be tested with cut-price offers -- particularly from Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Any new contracts?

Sources have told ESPN FC that United are in talks with Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Ashley Young, who could all be free agents in the summer. David De Gea and Anthony Martial are also priorities but they have deals until 2020 and United have time on their side. -- Rob Dawson

ARSENAL: Defensive help is a priority

What does the team need in January?

A defender, preferably two. A proper winger would be nice as well, but shoring up the injury-ravaged back four must be the priority for Arsenal. They currently only have three fit centre-backs in the squad, with Laurent Koscielny only just coming back from a seven-month layoff, while all four of their full-backs have had injury problems this season.

Arsenal's unbalanced attack also needs a natural wide player, but those are expensive and the club might be reluctant to ruin the prospects of starlet Reiss Nelson when he comes back from his loan at Hoffenheim next season.

Who are the major targets?

Sources have told ESPN FC that both Chelsea's Gary Cahill and Manchester United's Eric Bailly are on Arsenal's radar, but that would require either club being willing to sell to a direct rival. Real Valladolid's Fernando Calero has also been linked and could be a more realistic target. Then there's always the possibility that recruitment head Sven Mislintat will take everyone by surprise by unearthing some relatively unknown talent. In terms of attackers, Lille's Nicolas Pepe, Roma's Cengiz Under and Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon have all been frequently linked, but it's unclear whether Arsenal can afford a deal for them at this point in time.

Who will be leaving?

It's unlikely we'll see any major departures unless other clubs come in with good offers for players that are surplus to requirements. Arsenal would probably entertain bids for Mohamed Elneny, for instance, but the Egyptian has shown an unwillingness to move in the past. Aaron Ramsey's contract is up in 2019, but he is expected to stay in order to collect a major signing bonus when he leaves as a free agent in the summer, although Arsenal would want to cash in on the player while they can.

Any new contracts?

The possibilities of Ramsey's contract talks being resurrected seem slim to none, while Danny Welbeck isn't expected to get a new deal either. Goalkeeper Petr Cech's contract also expires in the summer and Arsenal might consider giving the 36-year-old a one-year extension -- if he's willing to remain a backup to Bernd Leno. A few mistakes have crept into Leno's game lately, so the club might be wise to keep Cech around a bit longer. -- Mattias Karen

CHELSEA: Can they get a top striker?

What does your team need in January?

Chelsea clearly need an elite goal scorer, as Maurizio Sarri's faith in Alvaro Morata fades with every passing game and Eden Hazard required to be as much of a creator as he is a goal threat. Strikers of such proven calibre are rare, though, and none appear to be available in January.

Sarri's reluctance to look to the transfer market for solutions, coupled with his insistence that his current first-team squad is too big, will likely dull Marina Granovskaia's sense of urgency. Only the threat of an imminent FIFA transfer ban could significantly alter the landscape.

Who are the major targets?

Borussia Dortmund starlet Pulisic fits the profile of a Chelsea signing perfectly, particularly since both Willian and Pedro Rodriguez are getting older and Hazard could leave next summer. But there is little sense in Granovskaia making a concerted push in January unless FIFA action or the threat of a Premier League rival -- Liverpool have also been heavily linked with Pulisic -- forces the club to bring forward their plans, particularly since Dortmund sound determined to charge a hefty premium for any midseason squad disruption.

If Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain can be persuaded to cut his Milan loan short for a swap deal with Morata, that could solve a lot of issues for all clubs concerned.

Who will be leaving?

Chelsea will drive Danny Drinkwater to Fulham if Claudio Ranieri decides he wants a Leicester City reunion at Craven Cottage, while Sarri has made it clear that club captain Gary Cahill and Victor Moses are not in his plans.

Cesc Fabregas seems to be linked with a move to Serie A in every window these days, but Sarri would require a replacement if the man he regards as his only cover for Jorginho is confirmed as a departure. Denis Suarez, unsettled on the fringes at Barcelona, could be a reasonably priced successor.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen will stay unless they agitate to leave. There could also be loan moves for Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi -- the latter only if he signs a new contract first.

Any new contracts?

Hazard remains adamant that he will keep his options open until the summer, but Chelsea have other decisions to make. David Luiz and Fabregas are both set to be free agents next summer, although there is an option to extend Olivier Giroud's stay by one more year.

Hudson-Odoi's contract situation is also causing some concern at Stamford Bridge -- his current deal expires in 2020, the same year as Hazard. Chelsea regard him as one of the brightest talents their academy has produced, and they are well aware that the example of Jason Sancho's defection from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund is an enticing one for many youngsters. -- Liam Twomey

TOTTENHAM: Midfield depth is thin

What does the team need in January?

Spurs need to increase the proportion of homegrown players in their squad, having been forced to leave three out of their Champions League squad because of rules limiting the number of non "locally trained" players. Their inability to sell unwanted foreign players in the summer was just as big a problem as their failure to sign anyone, so there is every chance that Tottenham's squad will get smaller in January. But the north Londoners could do with a central midfielder as Mousa Dembele seems to be coming to the end of his time with the club, while the injury-plagued Victor Wanyama cannot be relied upon.

Who are the major targets?

Tottenham tried to sign Jack Grealish in the summer, and he would tick a couple of boxes, but the 23-year-old signed a new five-year contract with Aston Villa in September. Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake has also been linked with Spurs amid ongoing uncertainty about Toby Alderweireld's future.

Who will be leaving?

Striker Vincent Janssen has not made a single appearance this season, while Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is also wasting time at the club having had only one substitute outing this campaign. Dembele and Fernando Llorente are out of contract in the summer and seem unlikely to sign new ones; if Spurs want to get any money for them, they will need to cash in next month. Michel Vorm will also be a free agent in the summer and having lost the No. 2 goalkeeper spot to Paulo Gazzaniga, he'd be allowed to leave if an offer came in.

Any new contracts?

Tottenham have activated the option to extend Jan Vertonghen's contract until 2020. Meanwhile, they are set to do the same in an extension for Alderweireld, but that will activate a release clause making the Belgian centre-back available for £25m in the summer. Outside of those two, the priority is to get Christian Eriksen to commit his long-term future to the club as he's entering the last 18 months of his deal, and his status is a growing concern. -- Ben Pearce

Europe

BARCELONA: Will they spend big on a centre-back?

What does the team need in January?

Barcelona don't feel they can improve their starting XI in January but have already turned to the transfer market to ensure their relatively thin squad doesn't become a problem in the latter stages of the Champions League. Valencia centre-back Jeison Murillo has come in on a six-month loan deal due to concerns over Samuel Umtiti's knee problem. Other plans, though, such as signing a midfielder and a long-term Luis Suarez replacement, are likely to wait until the summer.

Who are the major targets?

Murillo has joined on loan (although there is a €25m option to buy) because Barca's main centre-back target Matthijs de Ligt is not available until the summer. De Ligt's Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong, a central midfielder, is also a summer option. The club have confirmed their interest in Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot, too, who is available for free in six months. A cut-price deal may be possible in January, but relations between Barca and PSG may mean the Spanish champions have to wait.

Who will be leaving?

Barca's squad size -- they have just one senior left-back, for example -- means there's not much room for departures. Midfield is one area where they could potentially subtract, but only if the players themselves are desperate for more minutes elsewhere. Rafinha might have fallen into that category, but an injury has ruled him out until next season. That means Denis Suarez is the only player with an uncertain future this month. There's plenty of interest from Spain, Italy and England.

Another to keep an eye on: B team midfielder and England youth international Marcus McGuane.

Any new contracts?

The Catalan club have the biggest wage bill in the world largely thanks to Lionel Messi's renewal last year. Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez and Marc-Andre ter Stegen have all been tied to new terms recently, too. The only player, then, waiting on a pay rise is Jordi Alba. His deal is up in 2020, and talks have begun between the club and his agents, although an agreement is not yet close.

Munir, Sergi Samper and Thomas Vermaelen are out of contract in the summer but both, as things stand, look set to leave for free. -- Sam Marsden

REAL MADRID: A January "Galactico" is unlikely

What does the team need in January?

The first six months of the season have shown huge issues in a Madrid squad that suddenly appears to have grown old together. They could really do with a new big name attacker to fill some of the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo's exit, as goal scoring has been a big problem for both Julen Lopetegui and his replacement Santi Solari. Some experience in defence would also be very welcome: ideally someone who could cover both centre-back and left-back.

Who are the major targets?

The most discussed options in the Madrid media continue to be PSG pair Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, two long-term targets of club president Florentino Perez. Chelsea's Eden Hazard is also regularly mentioned, although there is a widespread acceptance that a "Galactico" name is unlikely in January. Instead Madrid look set to continue their policy of snapping up the best available young Spanish talent, with sources confirming to ESPN FC that a move for Man City starlet Brahim Diaz is close.

Who will be leaving?

Sources have told ESPN FC that homegrown midfielder Marcos Llorente will push through an exit in January should he lose his place in the XI when Casemiro returns to fitness. Another youngster, Jesus Vallejo, could leave having barely featured this season. Bigger names like Isco and Keylor Navas are unhappy at a lack of playing time under Solari, but have not yet done enough to force the situation far enough for a January exit.

Marcelo has been linked with Juventus -- by former teammate Ronaldo himself -- but the Brazil left-back has denied the possibility of leaving midseason.

Any new contracts?

A policy of keeping all their players tied down to long-term deals means there are no players out of contract next summer. It had been expected that Luka Modric's stellar year would lead to a pay rise, but there has been no change yet to the deal that is set to end in 2020. The contracts of Navas and club captain Sergio Ramos are also entering their last 18 months, with both those situations more likely to come to the boil after this season ends. -- Dermot Corrigan

JUVENTUS: Marcelo would be great if they could get him

What does the team need in January?

Cristiano Ronaldo summed up Juve's plans this winter by saying they do not need to add anybody to their already competitive squad, although he would welcome former Real Madrid teammate Marcelo. The Bianconeri already have excellent cover in all departments, with the return to fitness of Emre Can ensuring that the midfield also has great depth. Any new arrival could depend on whether any player asks to leave.

Who are the major targets?

The only players Juve would theoretically target would be ones who could improve the current quality of the squad and add depth. Marcelo would certainly fit in that category, giving coach Massimiliano Allegri another option at full-back or wing-back.

Otherwise, Paul Pogba continues to be linked with a return, and while Juve already have many options in midfield, they would not turn down a player of his calibre -- who already knows the club inside out and would not need time to settle in -- if the price and conditions were right.

Who will be leaving?

Central defenders Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani have both expressed agitation at their lack of opportunities, and if Juve were to offload any players this winter, one of their back four would be a prime candidate.

Left-back Alex Sandro, who has suitors in the Premier League, has also been tipped to move if a significant offer is received even though he recently extended his contract. Young Moise Kean could also be loaned out (as he was a year ago) since his first-team opportunities have been limited so far this season, although Juve are not keen on letting him leave on a permanent deal.

Any new contracts?

Mario Mandzukic is becoming a fan favourite in Turin and Allegri knows he can rely on the Croatian forward, whose contract is up in 2020. An extension is likely to be signed before next summer, with the 32-year-old seemingly keen to dedicate the final years of his career to the club. Central defenders Andrea Barzagli, whose contract expires in the summer, and captain Giorgio Chiellini, could also extend their stays, with both expected to end their careers at Juve. -- Ben Gladwell

BAYERN MUNICH: Need a statement signing and depth

What does the team need in January?

Nine points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund and with a lack of squad depth, Bayern need a statement signing to show they've not given up hope of winning a seventh consecutive title. However, lacking full-backs and pace in central defence, they must also add depth if they want a deep run in the Champions League.

Who are the major targets?

Bayern have signed 18-year-old winger Alphonso Davies and have reportedly agreed a summer transfer for France and Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard. Ahead of a summer of upheaval at the Allianz Arena in which the Bundesliga record champions will invest big, Munich are yet undecided whether to spend in the winter.

The club have been linked with Ajax midfielder de Jong, along with a host of other clubs (including Man City), and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, but with Joshua Kimmich getting more playing time in central midfield and right-back Rafinha entering the last six months of his deal, Bayern could look into reinforcing the full-back positions.

Who will be leaving?

James Rodriguez has reportedly contemplated cutting his loan at Bayern from Real Madrid short. But despite the Colombian star's discontent, the club will not allow him to leave without a suitable backup. Striker Sandro Wagner could depart amid a lack of playing time, yet the 31-year-old remains the sole backup for star attacker Robert Lewandowski. There is also an outside chance that one of Jerome Boateng or Mats Hummels could leave if Bayern bring in Pavard in January.

Any new contracts?

Arjen Robben has already announced he will leave next summer, and 35-year-old Franck Ribery has no future at the club so won't be offered new terms. Serge Gnabry has been in fine form this season and is set to enter the final 18 months of his contract, so the 23-year-old should land a new deal as Bayern look to the future. -- Stefan Uersfeld

DORTMUND: Sales will be the priority in winter window

What does the team need in January?

Borussia Dortmund's squad depth and the right mix of experience, hunger and youth in all positions make January signings unlikely. The Bundesliga leaders, however, are hoping to offload several players to reduce the size of the squad.

Who are the major targets?

BVB already unveiled Paco Alcacer in November and plan to sign on-loan Real Madrid defender Achraf Hakimi on a permanent basis in the summer; there are no targets for January.

Who will be leaving?

Only a huge bid in the region of €80m could change Dortmund's mind over a Pulisic transfer amid the club's first title challenge in seven years. Germany midfielder Julian Weigl, whose stock has dropped under Lucien Favre, might be allowed to leave if the price is right. While the media focus will be on Pulisic, Dortmund will hope to offload several fringe players.

Japan international Shinji Kagawa has flirted with La Liga for a while and midfielder Sebastian Rode has left for Frankfurt. Once hailed as the new Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Swedish attacker Alexander Isak, 19, could also leave the Westfalenstadion after two years in which his impact has been limited.

Any new contracts?

Midfielder Mario Gotze and versatile Portugal international Raphael Guerreiro are entering the final 18 months of their deals. Dortmund look in no rush to prolong Gotze's contract as he's still finding his feet in his second stint at the club. Although he struggled with injuries last term, Guerreiro has shown his worth with four goals in the Champions League and a return to form in the Bundesliga. -- Stefan Uersfeld

PSG: Summer spending is more likely

What does the team need in January?

Thomas Tuchel has been vocal in his desire to have a defensive midfielder added to his ranks by sporting director Antero Henrique. However, financial fair play (FFP) uncertainty could mean that Tuchel has to wait until next summer.

Who are the major targets?

Sources have told ESPN that the club met with the representatives of Ajax's Frenkie de Jong, although the player himself doesn't want to leave in January and would cost €75m. Elsewhere, Lyon's Tanguy Ndombele and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz have been mentioned, while Celta Vigo's Stanislav Lobotka and Borussia Dortmund's Julian Weigl have also been regularly linked since Tuchel arrived.

If PSG do move for a player in January, only Lobotka and Weigl look reasonably within reach. With Marquinhos growing more and more comfortable in midfield, do not be surprised if PSG opt against winter reinforcements and instead focus on contract renewals with the intention of significant transfer activity next summer.

Who will be leaving?

Henrique is desperately trying to move wantaway midfielder Adrien Rabiot on after he declared his intention to leave on a free tarnsfer, while forgotten man Jese Rodriguez is also on the transfer list, so there could be movement on those two fronts. Otherwise, Lassana Diarra will be allowed to leave if a suitable offer materialises, and U.S. international Timothy Weah is almost certain to leave on loan until the end of the season -- possibly to Celtic.

Any new contracts?

Adrien Rabiot has entered the final six months of his contract, and PSG do not want to let him reach this point, so now the aim is to keep him away from Barcelona. Layvin Kurzawa has also been offered a two-year contract extension, and discussions with Marco Verratti over a new deal have been ongoing. With Alphonse Areola's new contract secured, moving Rabiot on is the priority. -- Jonathan Johnson

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