Fast transfer action unlikely as window opens

SAMUEL PETREQUIN
Last updated 06:27 01/01/2014

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When European football's January transfer window opens for business on Wednesday, the market is expected to have a slow start.

In Europe, top teams seem to be largely happy with their squads after spending nearly US$1 billion in the offseason. And although English league clubs are unlikely to splash cash in January, Arsenal and Chelsea could be tempted to strengthen their squads with new strikers.

Chasing their first league title in 10 years, the Gunners are reportedly looking for a forward to add to France international Olivier Giroud, who ended a seven-match scoring drought with the winner at Newcastle on Sunday, ensuring that his club starts 2014 at the top.

Although Giroud said Arsenal has sufficient attacking options for the remainder of the season with himself, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hinted he could be tempted to sign a couple of new players.

After failing to lure Luis Suarez, Wenger won't bid again for the Uruguay striker, who signed a new deal with Liverpool this month.

"We are, as many clubs, certainly on alert. If something special turns up, we will not turn it down," Wenger said. "But we are not as well desperate because we have a big depth in our squad."

Lagging two points behind Arsenal in the standings, Chelsea could also be looking for extra firepower after Samuel Eto'o, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres scored only six goals between them in the league so far this season.

With Ba, Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne possibly leaving, British media reported that Chelsea and Liverpool have held discussions about the possible arrival of Suarez at Stamford Bridge that could make up for Jose Mourinho's failure to sign Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney in the offseason.

While a Suarez move to Chelsea looks highly unlikely, Monaco forward Radamel Falcao is a more realistic target for Mourinho, with the Colombian reportedly unhappy in the French league. Xabi Alonso has also been linked with a move to the Blues.

After a shaky start to the season, defending champion Manchester United has managed to limit the damages with four consecutive wins and trails Arsenal by eight points going into the new year.

David Moyes has not been able to replace Paul Scholes and is in need of a creative midfielder. The Red Devils manager could make a 50 million pound ($82 million) offer for Everton marvel Ross Barkley.

Avoiding the drop to the second-tier League Championship is crucial, with topflight teams boosted by increased revenues. And last-place Sunderland will beef up its defense with Marcos Alonso, who will join from Fiorentina until the end of the season.

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"Marcos is a player that I have known well for a very long time," Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said. "He was desperate to come and play for Sunderland and he is a player I am excited to work with."

Staying among the elite is also vital for West Ham. The London club is languishing in 19th place after scoring only 18 goals in 19 matches and signed 18-year-old striker Jaanai Gordon from Peterborough.

Everything looks relatively quiet in Spain, too. Barcelona seems more concerned with getting Lionel Messi healthy again for the second half of the season, and will probably be more than content to have its star forward playing at full speed again.

The only possible big move would be Barcelona signing a replacement for goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who has said he will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Atletico Madrid is reportedly reinforcing its title challenge by bringing in midfielder Jose Sosa from Metalist.

In Germany, Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski is expected to confirm in the coming days that he will be leaving for Bayern Munich at the end of the season, while AC Milan has already announced the arrivals of Adil Rami and Keisuke Honda.

In France, winger Jeremy Menez is lacking playing time at Paris Saint-Germain and has been linked with a move to Juventus to boost his chances of making the trip to the World Cup in Brazil, and Bastia signed former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse on an 18-month deal.

- AP

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