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Marketplace busy for top English clubs

The transfer window in Scotland's top flight will, mostly, concern teams trying to retain their best young talent.

Koke, the young Atletico Madrid midfielder, is wanted by several big clubs in England. Picture: Jon Nazca/Reuters
Koke, the young Atletico Madrid midfielder, is wanted by several big clubs in England. Picture: Jon Nazca/Reuters

Dundee United supporters might have winced when they saw that Roberto Martinez, the Everton manager, was at Tannadice for their 2-2 draw with Hibernian last weekend, and several clubs are monitoring the progress of the likes of Ryan Gauld, John Souttar and Andrew Robertson.

Celtic will hope to strengthen, but events in this country will, as always, be overshadowed by the business taking place in England.

The Barclay's Premier League is witnessing an intriguing title race and, all the way down to Manchester United in seventh, the battle for European places and the championship itself will be influenced by events during this month. So what does each club need to do during the window?

ARSENAL

The squad was already weak up front - Olivier Giroud is the only archetypal centre-forward - but an injury to the Frenchman has exacerbated the situation. His stand-in, Nicklas Bendtner, is now injured, as is Theo Walcott, who could also play centrally.

The latter's injury, which will keep him out for six months, brings additional concerns since he was the one regular attacker with pace and the instinct to run directly in behind defences.

Arsene Wenger has been linked with strikers Jackson Martinez and Dimitar Berbatov, while rumours persist about interest in the Brazilian attacker Diego Costa, Marco Reus and Julian Draxler.

MANCHESTER CITY

Manuel Pellegrini already has the strongest squad in the league, and there is unlikely to be a rash of signings. The manager is watching two or three players, but with Txiki Begiristain managing the club's transfer and coaching strategy as director of football, City are intent on following a structured, composed approach.

It is more likely that Joleon Lescott leaves the Etihad Stadium this month. Several clubs are interested in signing the England defender, although the injury problems suffered by Vincent Kompany this season might leave Pellegrini more wary about letting the centre-back go.

CHELSEA

Another club that seems dismissive of doing any significant business in this transfer window. Yet that in itself might be a ploy, because Chelsea continue to be linked with several leading players.

A bid for Wayne Rooney could not be discounted, and there was interest in the Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, but Jose Mourinho said recently that there would be no incoming strikers.

Yet Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba have, even between them, not looked consistent or prolific enough to ensure that Chelsea will be a strong presence as the title race comes to a conclusion.

In an ideal world, they would add some firepower to the squad, and they also appear to have been priced out of a move for Internazionale midfielder Fredy Guarin, at least for this month.

LIVERPOOL

It will be almost impossible for Liverpool to sign the additions they need, because a defender and a midfielder of the same calibre as Luis Suarez will not come cheap or be available at this time. Suarez, a world-class striker, has been outstanding this season, and responsible for much of the progress Liverpool have made under Brendan Rodgers.

The squad is well balanced, though, and has coped with injuries to other important players. The title may seem beyond them, but a Champions League place would be a success and Rodgers has the resources to achieve that. It is more likely that the squad will continue to evolve with shrewd signings that will rise in value over time. Liverpool have been linked with Koke, the Atletico Madrid midfielder, the Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah and the 17-year-old MK Dons midfielder Dele Alli.

EVERTON

Another side who would benefit from signing a top-class striker. With Arouna Kone injured and Nikica Jelavic looking to move this month in search of regular first-team football, Martinez can only count on Romelu Lukaku. They have been most closely linked with Celtic target Alfred Finnbagoson, whose fee is within Everton's reach and would fit the profile of the kind of player Martinez likes to sign.Aiden McGeady is also a target, with Spartak Moscow keen to sell him this month rather than see the player leave at the end of his contract in the summer. Financial restraints will effectively prevent Everton from making any other significant signings, but Martinez will continue to scour the markets for young players of potential, hence his trip to Tannadice.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Following the shopping spree of last summer, it is order that Spurs need to apply to their squad. Changing manager has also left some players uncertain about their future, although it is unlikely Tim Sherwood will be granted much of a budget to sign players. Jermain Defoe is joining Toronto FC, but it is holding on to the likes of Erik Lamela, the club's record signing, and Lewis Holtby that will be more important for Tottenham.

There has been too much upheaval at the club, but if there is a pressing need it is for a left-back, to allow Jan Vertonghen to return to central defence.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Of all the clubs, it is United who need to do the most business this month. Yet David Moyes has played down the likelihood of a raft of signings. He is a notoriously careful buyer, but United need a striker, a creative midfielder, a strong, powerful midfielder, a centre-back and a left-back.

The first two positions are the priorities, but it may be that a renewed bid for Leighton Baines succeeds, even if Everton insist they will not sell. Wesley Sneijder and Marco Reus are targets, as well as Koke, but a centre-forward is most crucial, as Robin van Persie has injury problems and Wayne Rooney is currently filling several voids in the team.

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