The January transfer window is right around the corner, meaning a month of speculation about how clubs will be looking to strengthen their squads for the second half of the season. With the Premier League so unpredictable this campaign and the opportunity beckoning both for championship challenges and Champions League places, activity looks set to be particularly frantic in England.
Here are five players who could be featuring prominently in the transfer rumor mill once the window opens.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Reportedly interested: Chelsea, Manchester United
Rumored valuation: £30 million
Amid a bevy of compelling narratives, the biggest story of the Premier League so far has been the scoring feats of Vardy. The Leicester City striker has enjoyed a meteoric rise from the depths of non-league to set a new Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive games as part of his league-leading tally of 14. Unsurprisingly, those feats are thought to have attracted the interest of a number of top clubs, with Chelsea and Manchester United believed to be at the front of the queue. However, securing his signature may be a tall task. Leicester reportedly value their star man at £30 million, and, with Vardy turning 29 in January, that is a figure it is difficult to see being matched.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
Reportedly interested: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea
Rumored valuation: £42 million
There is also reported to be plenty of interest in the man leading the scoring charts in Germany’s Bundesliga. When you consider he has Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski for competition, it tells you just how impressive a feat it is for Aubameyang to be out in front, courtesy of his 17 goals in 15 appearances. Always blessed with lightning speed, the 26-year-old has now learned to become a supreme scorer, having begun his Dortmund career out wide. According to rumors, Manchester United would love to snap him up to aid their scoring woes, while Arsenal and Chelsea have also been linked. Yet prizing him away from a Dortmund team currently chasing Bayern Munich promises to be an almost impossible task.
Alexandre Pato (Corinthians)
Reportedly interested: Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham
Rumored valuation: £8 million
If the leading clubs are unable to get their top forward targets, then Pato could well enter their thinking. It is widely known that Brazilian club Corinthians are desperate to get the 26-year-old off their wage bill, given that they are currently paying him a large salary to fire in goals for their local rivals Sao Paulo, where he has been on loan since February 2014, and he has just a year remaining on his contract. Signed by Milan as a 17-year-old and seen as a future global star, Pato’s career was derailed by injuries and a reported lack of focus. But he has rediscovered his scoring touch at Sao Paulo, and, with his valuation falling all the time, a number of Premier League clubs may be tempted to take a gamble that he can deliver on his undoubted talent.
William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)
Reportedly interested: Arsenal, Chelsea
Rumored valuation: £25 million
A name that has frequented the transfer rumors pages for the past couple of years looks set to feature prominently there once again in January. Arsenal, the club he has most frequently been linked with, would appear obvious suitors this time around, given their injury crisis in midfield and the loss of their one convincing defensive midfield option, Francis Coquelin. But Chelsea, too, may be tempted to make an inquiry, given their lack of a driving midfielder in the mold of Carvalho. The 23-year-old, voted the best player in this past summer’s European Under-21 Championship, has recently revealed his affection for Arsenal, although securing his signature in January will be difficult.
John Stones (Everton)
Reportedly interested: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal
Rumored valuation: £45 million
Chelsea’s pursuit of Stones was one of the most enduring transfer sagas in the summer, and it could be revived in January. Chelsea’s need for a center-back is even more apparent now, given their early season struggles. And if Chelsea do follow up their rejected bid of in excess of £30 million in the summer, it could push Manchester United into action, given they are thought to be monitoring the stylish 21-year-old ahead of a summer bid. But Everton have insisted they will not be considering selling Stones in mid-season, and the England international may have doubts about making a big move just five months ahead of the European Championship.