1. Kevin Strootman – Manchester United
It’s no secret that Sir Alex has been lacking a presence in his midfield. Convincing Paul Scholes to come out of retirement last season papered over the immediate cracks, but United have missed that dominant personality in midfield since Roy Keane left and Owen Hargreaves career was all but ended by chronic injury. Having been linked with several players over the summer, rumours again point towards a potential move for a midfielder in January. Christian Eriksen, Mesut Özil, Adel Taarabt and Wesley Sneijder have all been mentioned and may become a possibility if the price was right, but it is PSV midfielder Strootman who could best fit the bill, bringing a physicality United have been missing for some time.
2. Radamel Falcao – Chelsea
As Fernando Torres’ woes in front of goal continue, time appears to be running out for the Spaniard. Rafa Benítez may have been brought in with one eye on getting the best out of the misfiring forward, but even he has stated that Torres looks a shadow of his former Liverpool-self, hinting that even he may struggle to get the best out of him. With Chelsea’s defence of their European Champions status all-but-over and their title challenge badly faltering, Roman Abramovic may be tempted to finally write-off the £50 million transfer as a failure and dip into his vast resources once more. Édinson Cavani, Mario Gomez and most recently Metalist Kharkiv striker Taison, have all been linked with the Stamford Bridge side, but top of Chelsea’s shopping list is Atlético Madrid’s Colombian striker Falcao, whose goal scoring record over the past few seasons has been staggering. There is no doubt that if Chelsea want to maintain any hope of a title challenge, Abramovic needs to show his ruthless side (something he has no problem with when it comes to managers) and bring in a replacement. Very few would argue that right now, Falcao is the best option around.
3. Theo Walcott – Liverpool
Liverpool need strikers. Since Andy Carroll’s season-long loan to West Ham and Fabio Borini’s unfortunate injury the burden of scoring goals has fallen almost singularly at the feet of Luis Suarez. Unhappy with the terms offered, Theo Walcott is yet to sign a new Arsenal deal and would be available for free at the end of this season if this doesn’t change. Brendan Rogers could possibly persuade Theo to join his fledgling project if the incentive of a more central role, the apparent stumbling block in Walcott’s Arsenal negotiations, is on offer. A central role for Liverpool would allow Luis Suarez more freedom, playing from the right, but allowed to roam. The finishing ability that Walcott has demonstrated this season would also be a welcome addition to Liverpool’s, with the exception of Suarez, goal-shy attack. Recent talk points to Arsenal being confident of re-signing the England forward, but further delays from the player and an offer around the £15 million mark may yet test their resolve. If Liverpool fail to persuade Arsène Wenger to accept a bid, Demba Ba, Daniel Sturridge or Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo are high on the wishlist of the Liverpool manager.
4. Lewis Holtby – Everton
Everton’s start to the season has been nothing short of erratic. Looking sublime in the opening exchanges of the season, but faltering against ‘lesser’ sides of late. There has been one constant to Everton's season though - Marouane Fellaini struck a rich vein of form from day one which has been maintained despite the ups and downs of his team-mates, consequently drawing interest from the Premiership's so-called big-boys. One player who could potentially lighten the creative-load is the German-born Schalke 04 midfielder Lewis Holtby whose excellent form over the past few seasons has seen him rise through the ranks to gain full national honours. Holtby will be out of contract at the end of the season and has told German press he has already received offers from the Premier League. Though Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Arsenal remain keen on the midfielder, Everton may hold a trump card as Holtby grew up supporting the Toffees by way of his English father. Competition for the young talented German will be fierce, especially if he produces more performances akin to that against Arsenal in this season's Champions League, but Everton will be hoping for a decision of the heart and a desire to help build something at his boyhood club.
5. Leighton Baines - Manchester United
With Patrice Evra's rapid decline in form over the past two seasons, a quality left-back still remains high on Sir Alex's wishlist. Alex Buttner was signed in the summer and looks a good prospect for the future having impressed during his limited opportunities, but the young Dutchman remains relatively raw at the highest level. Having ruled out a move for the soon to be out of contract Ashley Cole, there is no secret to Ferguson's appreciation of Leighton Baines' talents and if the possibility presents itself in January it would be of no surprise to see a significant bid for the England international.
6. Yann M’Villa – Arsenal
It may be the longest running transfer rumour since Cesc Fàbregas moved to Barcelona, but Arsène Wenger’s continued interest in the tough-tackling French midfielder still has merit. Much like rivals Manchester United with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, Arsenal have been looking for a suitable replacement for the Vieira-Petit axis around which their famous ‘Invincibles’ side was built. The opening games of this Premiership campaign looked promising for Wenger’s side, with Abou Diaby particularly prominent in Arsenal’s good form. However, injury to the ever prone midfielder has resulted in a return to Arsenal’s usual problems – a lack of physicality and aggression in midfield. Strong and aggressive, yet comfortable on the ball, M’Villa, despite his recent problems with discipline, looks an idea fit for Arsenal right now and though competition for his signature may come from across north London (Spurs having already tried to sign the player in the summer), recent sponsorship deals at the Emirates mean Wenger should have the required funds at his disposal to make a serious bid.