The festive period has all but finished and clubs in the Premier League now look for personnel who could bolster the chances of success or relegation survival in the next five months by providing depth and talent to potential clubs in the country’s top division.
The months leading up to this point has been full of excitement, competitive football where already we have seen the departure of four top-flight managers after a string of poor performances, and the struggle of league challengers Manchester City and boss Pep Guardiola who has since said that the Premier league is “the hardest in the world” after finding themselves sitting just inside the top four in desperate need of a revamp in form as we find ourselves coming ever closer to the business end of the season.
Wanted By – Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United
22-year-old Bakayoko boasts a similar playing style to countryman and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, and has been a vital cog in AS Monaco’s rise to stardom this season as Leonardo Jardim’s men currently sit two points off top spot and stay above title defenders Paris Saint-Germain, who are looking to win their 5th league title in as many years since the club was re-established back in 2011.
As well as progressing into the knockout stages of the Champions League, the France under-21 international’s ability to sit in front of the back four and win back the ball for his team is proving to be a huge factor to why Monaco have the best goal difference in Ligue 1. Originally being from an Ivorian descent, Bakayoko has picked up an astonishing 38 tackles in the league which is three more than Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and is one of the main reasons why he’s wanted by some of the world’s best, as well as making it into our Ligue 1 team of the season so far.
With Chelsea in need of someone who can carry out Nemanja Matic’s role when rotated, Manchester City needing further cover for their shaky defence. who have had it’s worst record in years, and Manchester United needing to find a replacement for the ageing Michael Carrick, Bakayoko certainly looks to be the man teams will look to go for as his determination, passing and strength are some of a whole locker of credentials which could help him in the Premier League and help equip any team of a chance to succeed in the future. However, with the price tag of the sought-out midfielder growing after each performance, it seems increasingly likely that a summer move seems to be more realistic.
Wanted by – Arsenal, Everton and West Ham
With the popularity of the back three growing in this season’s game, Italian youngster Rugani would be a perfect acquisition to any league side daring to emulate the structure and philosophy of Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 football. The 22-year-old has been on the scene since a 19-year-old at Juventus and has gained experienced alongside the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini throughout his three-year tenure at the club. Rugani, who has featured only seven times this season under Massimiliano Allegri, has managed to be a constant threat in the opposition half and has scored two goals as well as completing more passes per game than Chelsea’s David Luiz (via Squawka).
Rugani, who was bought by Juventus for €3.5 million stands at 6 foot 2 and would be well suited for an Everton or a West Ham side, who have both tried three at the back this season. He also has a great ability to provide long balls to the target man up top as well as bringing determination and solidity at the back.
Having signed a five-year contract earlier last month, the initial fee paid to Empoli by Juventus would have been substantially higher now and will mean that the chances of getting hold of the player’s signature in this window could be a long shot. However, having rejected two similar sized bids by Arsenal and Everton in the region of £25 million in July don’t rule out a return bid in the coming weeks for the Italian International.
Wanted by – Southampton
Once being known for his electric speed and tidy finishing Luis Muriel has grown up very quickly since being recognised as a 20-year-old wonderkid at Udinese. Now aged 25 and at the make-or-break point in his career, the Columbian striker has proved to us this season so far that he is a key player in Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria side this season. Muriel, who is wanted by a string of Premier League sides has been involved in all 19 games so far this season and has scored six goals in the process.
Only having scored 19 goals this season so far collectively and with the long term injury to Charlie Austin, it is somewhat clear that Claude Puel’s Southampton need fresh faces at St Mary’s, especially up front. Someone, who can make the difference in the defying months of the 16-17 season. Puel’s interest in Muriel stretched back to his days in charge of Nice where he used agile attackers such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Valere Germain to dribble past defenders, exploit gaps and to put the ball in the back of the net.
With a release clause of £24 million, which is far less than the demanding price for other attacking players, Puel will jump at the opportunity to pick up an essential player who can turn the season around for Southampton and help them qualify for Europe for the second year running.
This article is written by Reuben Rosso, you can follow him on Twitter at @ReubenRosso1. What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment via our comments box below. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and like us on Facebook.