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Jan 19, 2011

Chasing pack eye up deals

With the two Manchester clubs leading the way in the Premier League, the chasing pack have some work to do in the January transfer window. United's unbeaten run suggests they are capable of seeing out the rest of the season with their current squad, while City's bottomless pit of funds has already seen £27 million of Edin Dzeko join the Eastlands revolution, in a deal that should remain their only arrival.

But others with pretentions to challenge at the top have had their faults exposed thus far, and need to bring in some new blood to reignite their efforts. Here, ESPNsoccernet looks at the likely arrivals this month for Manchester's title rivals.

ARSENAL

Budget: The revenue continues to pour into Emirates Stadium, but manager Arsene Wenger is not willing to splash the cash. £10-15 million is the absolute limit.

What they need: With the news that Thomas Vermaelen will be out for another six weeks due to injury, a central defender is top of the priority list. With Manuel Almunia possibly on the way out this month, a goalkeeper is also a necessity, but the form of Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny has ensured that any new arrival would only play as a back-up.

Who has been linked: Young English defender Gary Cahill has attracted attention, but the £20 million price tag has put Arsenal off. Therefore, Roma's Philippe Mexes and Bordeaux's Michael Ciani are cheaper options, while Montpellier's Emir Spahic has also been linked in the past. West Ham's Matthew Upson could also be picked up on the cheap as his contract expires at the end of the season.

Who they could get: Wenger has promised a 'surprise', but Upson would tick all the boxes. The manager has also admitted that the club are following impressive Lille midfielder Eden Hazard, but that a deal is likely to be delayed until the summer. Southampton's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may also be one for the future, who may sign and then be loaned back to his former club.

TOTTENHAM

Budget: Chairman Daniel Levy has backed manager Harry Redknapp in the past and, with a few sales, is expected to give him at least £15 million to strengthen.

What they need: A winger to replace the departing Niko Kranjcar and David Bentley would boost the squad's strength, while a central defender is also needed as Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate's injury troubles continue. Cover at left-back would mean Gareth Bale wouldn't have to step in if Benoit Assou-Ekotto is injured and a defensive-minded midfielder would also be a good asset.

Who has been linked: Spurs have been linked with a move for Marseille pair Taye Taiwo and Gabriel Heinze. A bizarre bid for Everton's Phil Neville was rebuffed, but Manchester United's Wes Brown is subject of interest and Bayern's Mark van Bommel could also move to White Hart Lane on the cheap as he stalls over a new contract in Germany. Talk of a £30 million move for Newcastle's Andy Carroll, though, was rejected out of hand and Luis Fabiano remains a long-coveted striker.

Who they could get: David Beckham's on-off loan move may still go ahead, while £3 million worth of Steven Pienaar arrived on Tuesday. Taiwo seems a likely deal too, but Redknapp has kept his cards close to his chest over his chosen targets.

CHELSEA

Budget: With Roman Abramovich in charge, the funds are there to bring in whoever the Blues want, but the Russian has imposed limits on the club's spending in recent times. They could be persuaded to dip into the coffers to the tune of £20 million if desperate.

What they need: A confidence boost above anything else, but a central defender would allow them to play Branislav Ivanovic at right-back again and they will move for one if Alex does not recover from his knee injury in a timely fashion. Another attacking midfielder would improve the club's squad depth, and Carlo Ancelotti has admitted they do need ''a few players.''

Who has been linked: Moving away from the tabloid tales of Carlos Tevez or Wayne Rooney, the Benfica defender David Luiz has attracted the most column inches, with Bolton's Gary Cahill close behind. Simon Kjaer is also being tracked. Santos star Neymar was the subject of interest in the last transfer window, but that may have to wait until the summer, with Udinese also setting a £25 million price tag for winger Alexis Sanchez. A £3 million bid for Everton's Steven Pienaar was accepted, but the player chose Spurs and the Blues will have to look elsewhere to boost their attacking options.

Who they could get: One feels that Chelsea will strengthen with either Luiz or Kjaer, but may find it costs too much money and could therefore trust youth ahead of a full rebuilding process in the summer. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, 17, wants to emulate Didier Drogba, but may not want to leave Anderlecht until the end of the season.


Surely out of the title race now, Liverpool are likely to be the busiest club in January, so they also deserve a special mention as they look to turn around their horror season and claim a place in Europe.

LIVERPOOL

Budget: With new owners NESV keen to improve the squad, Kenny Dalglish can be hopeful that he will have some cash to try to rebuild. With a combination of new investment and players on the way out, £25 million of net spend would go a long way to improving their ailing side.

What they need: Where to start? Defensive cover is primary, a left-back and another central defender. Midfield creativity would be a welcome addition, but not before a winger and a striker are added to provide the impetus that has been lacking in the final third. With Ryan Babel on his way out, reinforcements must be brought in.

Who has been linked: Hamburg winger Eljero Elia or Aston Villa's Stewart Downing could fill a gap left by Babel if the club can part with £15 million. Villa's Stephen Warnock is reportedly on the radar of his former club to fill the left-back slot and Bayern's Mark van Bommel could steady the ship in central midfield, if they don't go for Rennes' French international Yann M'Vila. Up front, West Ham striker Carlton Cole continues to attract attention, but they have also been tracking FC Twente striker Bryan Ruiz and PSV Eindhoven's Ola Toivonen.

Who they could get: A deal to bring Ajax's Luis Suarez to Anfield appears in the offing and the Uruguayan would make an excellent addition to the Reds' strking options. Warnock would be a sound investment, but with Daniel Agger staying, Dalglish may avoid a move for another defender for the time being.

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