Christmas comes late for football agents, who have the whole of the coming month to enrich themselves and their clients. This year, post Lord Stevens, it is to be hoped that their activities may be more rigorously monitored. A Google search on "January transfer window rumours" offers 860,000 entries, but whether last season's record of £70m in deals will be broken remains to be seen.
With extra television revenue at stake, the need to survive is greater than ever, and those clubs at the bottom of the Premiership will be bringing their chairmen's attention to the names of Portsmouth and Harry Redknapp. This time last year, the supreme wheeler-dealer signed nine new players for £12m and after an understandably difficult period of bedding them in, he was rewarded with salvation from an apparently hopeless position: eight points from safety at the start of March.
Manchester Utd As United seek another defensive midfielder, Bayern Munich understandably show no sign of relenting over Owen Hargreaves; and why should they with a Bundesliga title to defend and a Champions' League tie against Real Madrid coming up? Sir Alex Ferguson is well covered elsewhere and may choose to keep most of his £25m budget until the summer.
Chelsea Centre-half is the big priority now that John Terry's absence has led to the defence haemorrhaging goals. Micah Richards' youth and ability to play at right-back make him a better bet than Birmingham's Matthew Upson, though Manchester City will drive as hard a bargain as with Shaun Wright-Phillips - and almost certainly demand the little winger back.
Arsenal Worries over what would happen if Thierry Henry was missing for any length of time have been alleviated by Emmanuel Adebayor's form and Robin van Persie's maturity. In buying Adebayor and Theo Walcott, Arsène Wenger spent better than anyone last January and does not need to do so again.
West Ham Utd There is plenty in the new owners' kitty to strengthen all areas, which is just as well. The attack, for all its apparent options, has a dreadful scoring record this season and although Alan Curbishley's old club Charlton will resist over-tures for Darren Bent, he must buy some goals. Wright-Phillips, who would prefer to stay in London, and Fulham's Claus Jensen are obvious midfield targets, and the defence is thin too.
Charlton Alan Pardew will be spending Charlton's more limited £5m budget instead of West Ham's and needs some of Iain Dowie's worst buys (Souleymane Diawara, Amdy Faye, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink) off the wage bill as well. Although midfielder Simon Walton returns from his loan spell at Ipswich, and China's captain Zheng Zhi is on board, a defender is needed to tighten the Premiership's least secure defence.
Watford If only Watford had pushed the boat a little further out to secure one more goalscorer in the summer, all those draws and single-goal defeats could have been converted into something more profitable. Likely to look in the Championship again for four or five players in the Freddy Eastwood mould, but need a touch of quality.Reuse content