Top transfer targets: 20 players who will define the January window

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With the January transfer window set to open later this week – and plenty of clubs in need of immediate upgrades – here’s a look at 20 high-profile players who could be on the move.

Note: Estimated transfer values are from Transfermarkt.

Premier League

Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Age: 32 | Position: Attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €5M

He needs to leave Arsenal eventually, right? Despite not making a competitive appearance since March, Ozil remains one of the most hotly debated names in the transfer space. Both the midfielder and the Gunners need to sever ties.

Most likely destination: Fenerbahce

Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)

Age: 34 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €5M

Giroud, understandably, wants more minutes ahead of this summer’s Euros. An exit has been looming for a while, but Frank Lampard has managed to keep him content. Recent performances suggest Chelsea still need Giroud to find the net.

Most likely destination: Remains at Chelsea

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Simon Stacpoole/Offside / Offside / Getty

Age: 28 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €120M

An unlikely addition to this list a month ago, a surprisingly candid interview has thrust Salah’s name into the rumor mill. As Jurgen Klopp said in his response, the only reason for the Egyptian to leave Anfield right now is the weather.

Most likely destination: Remains at Liverpool

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

Age: 27 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €65M

The undisputed king of transfer season, Pogba is inevitably appearing again on our twice-annual list. His time at Manchester United is nearing its end, but Pogba’s hefty valuation makes a January deal almost impossible.

Most likely destination: Remains at Manchester United until summer

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

Age: 24 | Position: Midfielder | Estimated value: €38M

Mauricio Pochettino’s impending appointment at Paris Saint-Germain has given Alli a lifeline. Jose Mourinho clearly doesn’t appreciate the versatile midfielder, so reuniting with Pochettino is critical for Alli to reignite his career.

Most likely destination: Paris Saint-Germain

La Liga

Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)

Denis Doyle / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Age: 32 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €10M

Luis Suarez’s arrival has pushed Costa out the door. That’s too much shithousery potential in one locker room, even for Atletico Madrid. The veteran has terminated his deal and will look to capitalize on a final chance to collect a huge paycheck.

Most likely destination: China

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Age: 33 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €100M

Messi won’t decide on his future until June, even though he’ll technically be free to negotiate with other clubs. That won’t stop everyone else from speculating about his next move, though. Get ready for daily rumors.

Most likely destination: Remains at Barcelona until summer

Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

Age: 23 | Position: Winger | Estimated value: €50M

Barcelona are broke. Signings of note will only occur in January if corresponding sales take place, and the oft-injured Dembele is both expendable and potentially capable of commanding a sizable fee.

Most likely destination: Remains at Barcelona until summer

Isco (Real Madrid)

TF-Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Age: 28 | Position: Attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €20M

Once regarded as being among the game’s silkiest midfielders, Isco’s stock has cratered. The Spaniard has played a mere 358 minutes this season while getting just three league starts. A change of scenery has never been more necessary.

Most likely destination: Arsenal (on loan)

Serie A

Papu Gomez (Atalanta)

Age: 32 | Position: Attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €15M

A bust-up with Gian Piero Gasperini has pushed Atalanta’s longtime talisman toward the exit, and the relationship seems fractured beyond repair. Multiple clubs are interested, and Gomez could be the final piece to get a team over the hump.

Most likely destination: AC Milan

Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan)

Age: 28 | Position: Midfielder | Estimated value: €50M

Inter Milan, in no uncertain terms, want to get rid of Eriksen. The Danish midfielder’s tenure at the San Siro has been an unmitigated disaster, but his talent should still lead to attention from marquee suitors.

Most likely destination: Paris Saint-Germain

Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

Jonathan Moscrop / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Age: 27 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €80M

Dybala’s inability to secure a place in Andrea Pirlo’s XI – combined with his increasingly murky contract status – is throwing his future into doubt. Juventus came close to selling him once before. Perhaps they close the deal this time?

Most likely destination: Remains at Juventus until summer

Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

Age: 29 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €65M

Manchester City desperately wanted to sign Koulibaly this past summer, but once again, Napoli held onto their star center-back. It’s unlikely that he leaves midseason with a top-four place very much up for grabs in Serie A.

Most likely destination: Remains at Napoli until summer


David Alaba (Bayern Munich)

Age: 28 | Position: Defender/midfielder | Estimated value: €65M

Several clubs want to secure the versatile Alaba, who’s among the most coveted of the non-Messi impending free agents. That includes Real Madrid, with the uncertainty over Sergio Ramos’ future adding intrigue.

Most likely destination: Remains at Bayern Munich until summer

Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)

ANP Sport / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Age: 22 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €60M

Similar to the Koulibaly situation, teams in contention for silverware or European spots aren’t selling cornerstone defenders in January. An agreement may well be reached over a fee, but Upamecano won’t change shirts just yet.

Most likely destination: Remains at RB Leipzig until summer

Ozan Kabak (Schalke)

Age: 20 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €25M

Schalke, the dysfunctional last-place Bundesliga club, should probably begin preparing for life in the second tier, starting with collecting a handsome fee for Kabak.

Most likely destination: Liverpool

Ligue 1

Renato Sanches (Lille)

Age: 23 | Position: Midfielder | Estimated value: €20M

After a few seasons when it seemed like his promising career was in danger of derailing, Sanches is back on track in France. His resurgence has piqued the interest of Liverpool, setting the stage for a potential move in the future.

Most likely destination: Remains at Lille until summer

Memphis Depay (Lyon)


Age: 26 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €45M

Depay looked to be heading to the Camp Nou last summer, but Barcelona’s financial issues scuppered that operation. Lyon should pump the brakes on selling the Dutchman for now while they’re in the title hunt.

Most likely destination: Remains at Lyon until summer

Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain)

Age: 27 | Position: Attacking midfielder/forward | Estimated value: €24M

PSG sporting director Leonardo has been trying to move Draxler for about a year, and deals with Hertha Berlin collapsed during the last two transfer windows. Perhaps a swap with Eriksen would satisfy all parties involved in January?

Most likely destination: Inter Milan

Elsewhere in Europe

Perr Schuurs (Ajax)

Age: 21 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €9M

Comparisons to former Ajax stud Matthijs de Ligt aren’t an accident, and Schuurs looks destined to make a mammoth move very soon. Liverpool are known admirers, and there’s an awful lot of smoke that could turn into a fire eventually.

Most likely destination: Remains at Ajax until summer

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