Window of opportunity: Key figures in the transfer market

With January almost upon us clubs will be digging out the chequebook once again and trying to bring in new faces. Mark Fleming highlights those who are in for a busy month
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The Independent Football

1. Roberto Mancini; Manchester City manager

Mancini was appointed Manchester City manager less than a fortnight before the January window was due to open, which suggests he will be given licence to spend as much as he likes. Defence would appear to be the main priority, where Kolo Touré, Micah Richards and Wayne Bridge all look vulnerable. Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini and Internazionale's Brazilian right-back Maicon could be targets.

Mancini also has to devise some way to bring out the best in the club's £32.5m star man Robinho. The Brazilian has been angling for a move to Barcelona in recent weeks, so Mancini must act quickly and decide whether Robinho has a future at the club. If not, then he must ship him out as soon as possible.

2. Ron Gourlay; Chelsea chief executive

Despite repeated denials from manager Carlo Ancelotti, logic dictates Chelsea will spend some money in January. If they don't want to buy, then why on earth did they go to the bother of getting their transfer ban frozen? This makes it an important moment for Gourlay, their new chief executive.

His predecessor Peter Kenyon made a habit of missing out on the big deals, so it will be a feather in Gourlay's cap if he manages to land the Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid, or Franck Ribéry from Bayern Munich – or both.

Chelsea are also considering moves for striker Luiz Suarez of Ajax, Everton's midfielder Jack Rodwell and the kid dubbed "the new Drogba" – 16-year-old Anderlecht striker Romelu Lukaku. Gourlay has to make this window count as it is highly likely the club will be banned from signing any players next summer, and possibly in January 2011 too.

3. Matthew Upson; West Ham and England defender

Upson is one of several players who could leave West Ham in the window, including his fellow England hopefuls Carlton Cole and Scott Parker. The defender's situation is particularly unstable as he has only 18 months left on his contract so now might be the best time to cash in, while his stock is still high.

Upson has made it known he believes he can further his international ambitions with a club that is involved in European football so there is a certain inevitability about a January transfer. If Upson goes, at least the West Ham manager, Gianfranco Zola, might be given some wriggle room to strengthen his struggling squad. Upson's likely destination will be Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool or Aston Villa.

4. Harry Redknapp; Tottenham manager

Redknapp is generally one of the busiest managers in any transfer window and January will be no exception, although he has been told by the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, that first he must offload some of the dead wood in his squad. Russian misfit Roman Pavlyuchenko is top of the log pile, but while Spurs insist on recouping all of the £13.8m they paid in 2008 they will struggle to find a buyer.

Redknapp would also be delighted to be rid of David Bentley, Gareth Bale, Alan Hutton and Giovanni dos Santos while his captain, Robbie Keane, could also be on his way out of White Hart Lane.

Possible targets for Redknapp include Upson from West Ham, the Watford goalkeeper Scott Loach, Ryan Babel from Liverpool, Inter's Sulley Muntari, Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa and Ruud van Nistelrooy from Real Madrid.

5. Sol Campbell; Former England defender

Sir Alex Ferguson's signing of Michael Owen in the summer has given hope to all washed-up former England footballers, but it seems a move for 35-year-old Campbell is a step too far even for Fergie. United will be out of Sol's reach but, as a free agent, after walking out on Notts County in September, he could make an attractive, short-term signing.

Campbell has been training hard at Arsenal in recent weeks and the club's manager, Arsène Wenger, even said he might be tempted to sign him if he didn't have four centre-backs already. A move to Hull or perhaps West Ham, if they sell Upson, is much more likely for Campbell, although his wage demands might cause a double take.

6. Sergio Aguero Atletico; Madrid and Argentina striker

Chelsea have been umming and aahing about Aguero for a year, and could yet be blown out of the water should Manchester City decide he is the right man for them. Ancelotti admitted he would love to see Aguero partner Didier Drogba after seeing the 21-year-old score twice against his Chelsea side in the Champions League this season, and he could yet get his wish but only if Atletico drop their full £54m asking price.

Aguero certainly fits the bill: young, talented and potentially the next great player on the world stage. He made his debut for Independiente in Argentina's first division when he was just 15, and has so far been capped 20 times by his country.

7. Sammy Yu; Birmingham City vice-chairman

Former hairdresser Carson Yeung breezed into Birmingham in October promising to spend £40m on new players in the January window, and the same again next summer. Yu is the man he has entrusted to deal with the club's manager, Alex McLeish, to ensure it is money well spent.

Yu said recently he expects five players to be joining. These are likely to include the Spanish midfielder Michel, who almost joined in the summer, for £2.5m and the Serbian striker Milan Jovanovic from Standard Liège for £4m. Celtic's winger Aiden McGeady is also a possibility.

Others under consideration include the German striker Kevin Kuranyi of Schalke, who could cost £5m but he would want in excess of £100,00-a-week in wages, and the striker Luca Toni, whom Bayern Munich want rid of, but is in talks with Roma.

8. Jorge Mendes; Football agent

Mendes made himself an estimated £12.5m on Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid last summer. And while the January window is unlikely to be anything like as lucrative, Mendes is sure to be busy again.

One of his clients is Benfica's talented winger Angel di Maria, who has made it abundantly clear in the past week he wants a move. The 21-year-old Argentine is rated one of the brightest young players in Europe, attracting interest from Chelsea and both Manchester clubs. Yet Benfica's valuation of £35m is highly optimistic.

Nani is another of Mendes' players and he could be on his way out of Manchester United following his outspoken criticism of Ferguson earlier this season. Mendes also represents Valencia's midfielder Manuel Fernandes, who is keen to return to Everton on loan for the rest of the season to boost his World Cup hopes.

9. Rafael Benitez; Liverpool manager

It is set to be another frustrating month for Benitez, who needs to be creative if he is to recruit any new players as cash is in short supply at Anfield. He has to sell before he can buy, and Babel, Andrea Dossena, Philipp Degen and Andriy Voronin will all be farmed out, if interested clubs can be found. Benitez is open to using players as makeweights in any incoming deals.

The Liverpool manager has made a striker and a right winger his priorities but he will have to make do with whatever he can scrape together. One possibility is Toni, although he is close to moving to Italy. Victor Moses of Crystal Palace is another potential target.

10. Mesut Ozil; Werder Bremen and Germany midfielder

Ozil is going to be the next world superstar, according to those in the know in Germany. He is 21 years old, born to Turkish parents in Germany, and has been the sensation of the Bundesliga this season, playing for Werder Bremen as an attacking midfielder who can double up as a winger.

Wenger is a known admirer, as are most of the coaches at top clubs across Europe. Skilful and quick, Ozil has seven caps for Germany and is expected to be one of the sensations of next summer's World Cup. Any interested clubs could potentially save themselves millions if they move now rather than wait for the price to rocket.

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