The transfer window is a month away, but clubs across Europe have been planning their January business for months after the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the summer break and injuries have been mounting around the top leagues.

ESPN’s writers bring you everything you need to know about the top teams’ hopes and delve into the deals which might be on the cards. Who will come in? Who will depart?

Jump to: Man City | Chelsea | Man United | Tottenham | Arsenal | Barcelona | Real Madrid | Bayern | Dortmund | Juventus | Milan | PSG

Premier League

LIVERPOOL

Budget: Minimal, plus income from player sales.

What does the team need?

Long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, both of whom will be battling to play again this season, have created a shortage of experienced central defenders at Anfield, making that the one area that Liverpool will look to strengthen.

Who are the major targets?

RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano is regarded as the ideal replacement for Van Dijk and Gomez, but the France international will cost in excess of £50 million in January — a figure that is likely to be too much for Liverpool due to the financial impact of the pandemic. A loan signing, or low-cost deal for an experienced defender, could be the compromise in order to get manager Jurgen Klopp the reinforcement he needs.

Who could be leaving?

With injuries hitting Liverpool harder than most, Klopp is keen to keep his squad together in January. But with an abundance of attacking options, the club could listen to offers for forwards Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi, especially if the money received would help fund a move for a defender.

Any new contracts?

Georginio Wijnaldum is out of contract at the end of the season, and Klopp is keen to retain the Dutch midfielder’s services. Negotiations have so far failed to reach a positive outcome. — Mark Ogden

One player they should sign

Perr Schuurs, 21, Ajax. Already heavily linked with a move to Anfield and it makes sense: the dominating and ball-playing centre-back would provide Klopp with an instant defensive upgrade in the absence of Van Dijk and Gomez, and is a perfect understudy when the two are fully recovered. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Julien Laurens debates whether Erling Haaland would be a better signing than Lionel Messi.

MAN CITY

Budget: Unlimited, although the club will be wary of financial fair play restrictions.

What does the team need?

Pep Guardiola has said he would have liked a striker to cover for Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus in the summer, but that City couldn’t afford it. Benjamin Mendy‘s injury record means they could also do with a left-back as cover.

Who are the major targets?

Lionel Messi will remain on City’s radar until he signs a new contract at Barcelona, and while he won’t be moving to the Etihad midway through the season, he can begin talks with clubs outside Spain from January. Lautaro Martínez at Inter Milan is another forward admired by City, but he could cost around £80m.

Who could be leaving?

Eric Garcia is still refusing to sign a new contract before it ends in the summer, and it’s likely Barcelona will return with a fresh bid after missing out on the defender previously. So far City have stuck rigidly to their price tag of £22m.

Any new contracts?

Aguero will be out of contract in the summer, but City are hopeful of agreeing a new short-term deal. There have also been reports that Fernandinho could leave for MLS next summer as the 35-year-old won’t be handed a new contract. — Rob Dawson

One player they should sign

Wissam Ben Yedder, 30, Monaco. Possibly one of the best pound-for-pound finishers in European football. At 30, he offers no resale value, but as a sharp, clinical striker with excellent movement in the box, he would provide much-needed competition up front and instantly provide telling contributions. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Steve Nicol praises Thiago Silva’s impact on Chelsea’s defense, and calls out Timo Werner’s miss vs. Rennes.

CHELSEA

Budget: £20m plus income from player sales.

What does the team need?

Chelsea spent in excess of £220m during the summer window, so manager Frank Lampard will continue to mould his new signings into his existing squad. There are no key areas in need of strengthening.

Who are the major targets?

West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice has been a long-term target for Chelsea, but don’t expect a January move for him. Any deal for Rice is likely to be on hold until next summer and could cost them upwards of £80m. It will be a quiet January in terms of arrivals at Stamford Bridge.

Who could be leaving?

Olivier Giroud is keen to secure regular football elsewhere ahead of France’s Euro 2020 campaign, but Lampard is attempting to persuade the former Arsenal striker to stay. Defenders Marcos Alonso, Emerson and Antonio Rudiger could all leave, however, while Chelsea will let goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga go if they receive a substantial offer for the out-of-favour Spaniard now that they have Edouard Mendy as No. 1.

Any new contracts?

Thiago Silva may be handed a contract extension given that he only signed a one-year deal with the Blues. The 36-year-old Brazilian defender has impressed Lampard following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain this summer. — Mark Ogden

One player they should sign

Declan Rice, 21, West Ham. It presumably won’t be in January given how much the club have spent already, but the player that would instantly improve the club is West Ham’s Rice. Offering Chelsea a boost to defensive midfield and centre-back if needed, his versatility won’t come cheap. — Jon Molyneux-Carter.

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Janusz Michallik believes “the best is yet to come” from Edinson Cavani after he scored two goals vs. Southampton.

MAN UNITED

Budget: £50m

What does the team need?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted a central defender and an established right winger, with both positions still a priority in January and next summer. United are willing to spend in January despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic affecting club finances, but only if the right opportunity arises.

Who are the major targets?

Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho is still top of Solskjaer’s wish list, but there has been no indication from the German club that they are willing to lower their £108m demands in January. RB Leipzig defender Upamecano is also a target, but that may also have to wait until the summer.

Who could be leaving?

United are willing to listen to offers for Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, both of whom were left out of the Champions League squad. Third-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero is keen to move too, but his future will depend on whether Dean Henderson leaves on loan. Odion Ighalo‘s loan from Shanghai Shenhua is set to expire.

Any new contracts?

Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata can both begin talks with clubs outside England from January if one-year options in their contracts have not been triggered. — Rob Dawson

One player they should sign

Dayot Upamecano, 22, RB Leipzig. With Manchester United being one of the few powerhouses that still have the financial strength to aim at the top end of the market even in January, it would be no surprise if they made an effort to sign the highly rated, mobile, no-nonsense French centre-back. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Stewart Robson believes Jose Mourinho must change tactics if Tottenham are to win the league.

TOTTENHAM

Budget: Minimal, plus income from player sales.

What does the team need?

Jose Mourinho has repeatedly boasted about the quality in his squad, which means big changes are unlikely. Spurs would ideally like another centre-back and may look to refresh their midfield options, but next summer looks more likely for both. That said, chairman Daniel Levy’s fondness for an opportune deal means little can be ruled out.

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Who are the major targets?

Spurs were unable to agree a deal with Inter Milan for Milan Skriniar in the summer, and he remains Mourinho’s preferred centre-back option, even at £55m. They are also monitoring RB Leipzig captain Marcel Sabitzer and FC Salzburg’s Dominik Szoboszlai, among several other midfielders.

Who could be leaving?

The big question is: what happens to Dele Alli? Restricted to Europa League performances, Alli must decide whether to stay and fight for his place or try to secure a switch elsewhere — perhaps on a temporary basis — with a spot in England’s Euro 2020 squad in mind. Tottenham could terminate Gedson Fernandes‘ loan and send him back to Benfica given the 21-year-old has started just once this season.

Any new contracts?

Spurs are confident of tying forward Son Heung-Min to a new contract, although time is on their side given that his deal expires in 2023. Danny Rose‘s deal expires in the summer, but he was not included in either Tottenham’s Premier League or Europa League squads. — James Olley.

One player they should sign

Sven Botman, 20, Lille. One of the top Ligue 1 centre-backs this season after signing from Ajax for €8m in the summer. Only 20, Botman is assertive in the air and comfortable on the ball (92% pass accuracy this season) and the left-footed defender could potentially fill the gap left by Jan Verthongen. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Frank Leboeuf questions what’s going on behind the scenes at Arsenal after their 2-1 defeat to Wolves.

ARSENAL

Budget: Minimal, plus income from player sales.

What does the team need?

Ultimately Arsenal need strengthening in a number of areas, but Arteta wanted two midfielders in the summer and only got one (Thomas Partey). He may look to prioritise that position in addition to upgrading at centre-back if enough fringe players can be moved on.

Who are the major targets?

Arsenal had one bid for Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar rejected in the summer, and they retain an interest. They have also been tracking Szoboszlai, along with a host of other clubs around Europe.

Who could be leaving?

In an ideal world, Arsenal would receive a fee for Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos before their contracts expire next summer. Left-back Sead Kolasinac is likely to be made available, while youngsters William Saliba and Emile Smith Rowe could be allowed to leave on loan to gain regular first-team football. Third-choice goalkeeper Matt Macey will also be allowed to go.

Any new contracts?

Talks have stalled with Shkodran Mustafi over a new deal, but the club have not yet given up hope. They also want to extend Folarin Balogun‘s contract given that the promising teenage striker’s deal runs out at the end of the season. — James Olley

One player they should sign

Rodrigo de Paul, 26, Udinese. The Italian club are no novices in the transfer market and it would take a lot of convincing to see them sell their No. 1 asset, but there’s no doubt that the Argentina international midfielder, with his creativity and versatility in the last third, would improve a team which is struggling to create chances. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

Europe

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1:37

Ale Moreno outlines the scenarios where Lionel Messi would either stay or leave Barcelona after the season.

BARCELONA

Budget: Nothing in theory, unless players are sold — although exceptions may be made in the case of players whose contracts are expiring and can be signed for cheap.

What does the team need?

Barca coach Ronald Koeman has made it clear what he wants: a centre-back and a centre-forward. That’s a good starting point, but this side is also lacking players able to play in the two-man midfield as part of Koeman’s 4-2-3-1 formation. That area is more likely to be addressed next summer, though.

Who are the major targets?

Financial limitations prevented Barca from signing Manchester City defender Garcia and Lyon forward Memphis Depay in the summer. They will try again for both. If they cannot agree a deal for Garcia, they will sign him for free next summer when his contract expires. In the meantime, they could look for a short-term fix to cover the injured Gerard Pique, although options are sparse and memories of wasted money on Jeison Murillo two years ago linger. Depay’s future will depend on Barca being able to move on other players first.

Who could be leaving?

Defenders Junior Firpo and Samuel Umtiti are on the market, while before the latest bout of injuries, the club would have listened to loan offers for midfielder Riqui Puig and Carles Alena. Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes is surplus to requirements and, in attack, Martin Braithwaite could leave if there’s interest, although the Danish striker is adamant he wants to stay and prove himself. Winger Ousmane Dembele has played an increasingly important role in recent weeks, but his reluctance to extend his contract beyond 2022 means Barca may still consider offers amid the threat of losing him for free in 18 months.

Any new contracts?

The big one is Messi. The forward is free to negotiate with clubs outside Spain in January with his deal up in June. As far as talks with Barca go, though, the Catalan club must wait until Jan. 24, when a new president will be elected, to sit down with him. Results and performances on the pitch and the incoming board’s project will be key to getting Messi to commit. Elsewhere, four players signed new terms in October (Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet), but Barca would still like to add another year to Dembele’s deal — to protect his value as much as anything — and also hand young Ansu Fati new terms relative to his increased standing in the squad. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens

One player they should sign

Javi Martinez, 32, Bayern. Barcelona are currently without a president, a functioning board or even a long-term sporting strategy … hardly the ideal conditions to embark on an assault on the transfer market. A return home to Spain for the Bayern defender/defensive midfielder would at least add some experience, presence and short-term cover at centre-back and in midfield. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Sid Lowe says it’s in everyone’s best interest for Sergio Ramos to stay at Real Madrid with the January window approaching.

REAL MADRID

Budget: None. They’d prefer to wait until next summer in the hope that the club will be in better financial shape, and that the calibre of player that would genuinely improve the squad will be available.

What does the team need?

An alternative to Karim Benzema at centre-forward, given that there seems to be a complete lack of faith in Luka Jovic and the underused Mariano Diaz. Otherwise, the squad is strong, with options in defence, midfield and out wide. A suitable backup for defensive midfielder Casemiro has been a long-term issue, but the club seem in no hurry to address it.

Who are the major targets?

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is still president Florentino Perez’s dream signing — with Mbappe’s contract expiring in 2022, he might be within reach in the summer of 2021, but not before then. Madrid are desperate not to anger PSG in the process, though. The pursuit of other signings such as Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz have been set back by the club’s reduced post-COVID budget.

Who could be leaving?

Isco had previously been keen to stay and fight for his place but now appears to have finally accepted that he’d be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. A top Premier League club would be his preferred destination if an acceptable offer comes in.

Any new contracts?

Captain Sergio Ramos is the name on everyone’s lips — his contract is up in the summer. The most likely scenario is that after all the noise, a two-year deal is eventually struck. Decisions must also be made on Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez, both of whom are out of contract in June, too. — Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez

One player they should sign

Olivier Giroud, 34, Chelsea. As a short-term back-up option for Benzema, the Chelsea striker, whose contract expires next summer, certainly has the experience and pedigree to make himself useful for the Spanish giants. Though the league goals have dried up , he still keeps scoring for his country. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Jan Aage Fjortoft explains how Bayern could emerge as a contender for RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.

BAYERN MUNICH

Budget: Minimal. Bayern Munich were conservative in the summer, and the budget will be limited in the winter as well.

What does the team need?

Depth. Without a real summer break following their Champions League win at the mini-tournament in Lisbon back in August, Bayern have had the busiest schedule in the Bundesliga. Key players like Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies and Lucas Hernandez have all struggled with injuries, and others have also been sidelined. “We’ve reached the limit,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said in late-November.

Who are the major targets?

In a bid to strengthen their defence (and also brace for the exits of David Alaba and, possibly, Jerome Boateng), Bayern are reportedly in the race for Upamecano, but any transfer would not happen before the summer. Exciting young Portuguese midfielder Tiago Dantas already joined in the summer, and the 19-year-old will be eligible to play for the first-team from January.

Who could be leaving?

Alaba’s contract is up in the summer. The Austria international has been singled out by the club for his exorbitant wage demands, and a new deal at Bayern looks unlikely after a public falling-out. Attacker Joshua Zirkzee, 19, could seek playing time elsewhere as he has dropped down the pecking order with Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting and Robert Lewandowski ahead of him.

Any new contracts?

Boateng and Alaba are only under contract until the end of the season, and while 2014 World Cup winner Boateng could still decide to stay, Alaba appears to be leaving. Leon Goretzka, Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso are all tied down until 2022 and are next on the agenda. Over the past 18 months, Goretzka has become an influential figure in Bayern’s midfield; Sule has yet to find his form (and weight) after his anterior ligament injury in 2019 and could become part of a major shakeup of Bayern’s defence next summer. — Stephan Uersfeld

One player they should sign

Mohamed Simakan, 20, Strasbourg. The French centre-back would also be able to fill in at right-back and possibly put in a shift as a holding midfielder. He is likely to be available for a fee which is affordable even in an austere January market. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Jan Aage Fjortoft says the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever player, Youssoufa Moukoko, is at the right club with Dortmund.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Budget: Minimal. Operating on a tight budget this winter, there is no money for any big transfers.

What does the team need?

Dortmund’s squad has the right depth, but they have struggled with injuries and form at full-back on both sides. There is a significant gap behind Raphael Guerreiro on the left and summer signing Thomas Meunier has been far from impressive at right-back.

Who are the major targets?

As of now, Dortmund have no major targets for the winter.

Who could be leaving?

Midfielder Tobias Raschl, 20, will fancy his chances elsewhere as he’s failed to get significant minutes for Dortmund. With the club still in three competitions and their usual hiccups forcing them into a race for a Champions League spot once again, they are likely to keep their remaining players.

Any new contracts?

Several contracts are set to expire in 2022, and there will be talks with Thomas Delaney, Axel Witsel, Mo Dahoud, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Manuel Akanji. But some of them might leave Dortmund in the summer as the club continue to rebuild. Coach Lucien Favre will also be out of contract in the summer and BVB’s search for the next championship-winning coach to succeed Klopp could prove more crucial for the club’s future than any negotiations with players. — Stephan Uersfeld

One player they should sign

Joakim Maehle, 23, Racing Genk. The industrious Dane could challenge for a place at right wing-back or even deputise on the opposite side. Physically strong, a good crosser of the ball and capable in combination play, he should be available at around €15m. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Gab Marcotti urges patience with Andrea Pirlo as he tries to steer Juventus in a different direction.

JUVENTUS

Budget: Minimal, dependent income from player sales.

What does the team need? The midfield remains the club’s weakest spot, with Arthur having struggling so far after arriving from Barcelona in a swap deal with Miralem Pjanic. The team generally lack quality on the ball in the middle of the park.

Who are the major targets? Manchester United‘s Paul Pogba, a former midfield partner at Juve to manager Andrea Pirlo, remains their top target, but the chances of him arriving in January are very low. Hakan Calhanoglu could arrive from Milan, though the Rossoneri are unlikely to want to strengthen a direct rival for the title.

Who could be leaving? Again, unlikely to be in January, but serious question marks remain over the future of Paulo Dybala, who just doesn’t seem to have a slot in Pirlo’s system. Perhaps one for the summer.

Any new contracts? Talks continue over the future of Dybala, but the two parties remain far apart. Potential extensions for veteran pair Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon are also likely to be discussed. — Andrew Cesare Richardson.

One player they should sign

Jorginho, 28, Chelsea. The Serie A champions are lacking what manager Andrea Pirlo used to bring them as a player: a ball-playing, composed, deep-lying central midfielder who’s able to dictate the rhythm of the game. In the absence of the €60m-€80m required to sign someone like Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga, then Jorginho, who’s being used sparingly at Chelsea, could be a fine short or medium-term option if a deal can be reached. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.

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Stewart Robson outlines an AC Milan squad without Zlatan Ibrahimovic after their draw with Lille.

AC MILAN:

Budget: Minimal.

What does the team need?

Milan are still very much a work in progress, but their recent theme of signing talented youngsters along with the odd veteran to bring about experience appears to be working.

Who are the major targets?

The “new Milan” are not looking at big names, but rather players who will help shape the club moving forward. They will be on the lookout for bargain deals that serve a purpose, and they’ve been successful in finding them over the years.

Who could be leaving?

Calhanoglu has been linked with a move to Juventus and a host of other clubs in Europe, but Milan will hope to hold on to him until at least the summer.

Any new contracts?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the name on everyone’s lips, and Milan will be hoping they can extend the 39-year-old’s deal as he has been brilliant so far this season. Milan are also keen on making Diogo Dalot‘s loan move permanent, but will need to persuade Manchester United to let him go. — Andrew Richardson.

One player they should sign

Dominik Szoboszlai, 20, FC Salzburg. Milan sit five points clear on top of Serie A and there’s little point in tinkering too much with a youthful squad which is starting to gel. However, if there’s a chance to land FC Salzburg’s young midfielder they should take it as they would likely be able to offer him more chances to play than the other clubs interested. — Jon Molyneux-Carter.

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Frank Leboeuf gives a passionate response about Kylian Mbappe and Neymar’s struggles vs. Man United.

PSG

Budget: Minimal. The pandemic has hit the club hard, and the first two instalments for this season’s domestic TV rights have not been paid yet. Expect sporting director Leonardo to be looking for bargains as they can’t spend hundreds of millions.

What does the team need?

Ideally, Thomas Tuchel is still after a centre-back. The manager wanted Chelsea’s Rudiger last summer, but Leonardo opposed it and signed defensive midfielder Danilo Pereira instead. The German coach still believes he is one defender short and has had to play Danilo at centre-back, although all the other positions are covered.

Who are the major targets?

Bayern’s Alaba will certainly be an option as his agent, Pini Zahavi, is close to Leonardo. The Austria international is out of contract in June, and contract talks with Bayern have stopped. There will be more clubs in for Alaba, especially as he’s available on a free transfer, but PSG feel they have a chance. They are also following two midfielders, Lyon’s Houssem Aouar and Ismael Bennacer in Milan, but neither will come in January.

Who could be leaving?

PSG need to move players on in January to make up for the money they didn’t get in the summer. Winger Julian Draxler could be pushed out at a reduced price, while the club will also try to get rid of Jese and will listen to offers for Idrissa Gueye.

Any new contracts?

This is the priority for the French champions, and they have reached a crucial time as Neymar and Mbappe’s contracts both finish in June 2022. The club is working on extensions, and despite Barcelona hovering, Neymar wants to stay, while Mbappe has not made his mind up yet amid interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat are out of contract in June 2021, and Leonardo is quietly optimistic. However, it is totally different for Tuchel. The manager is also out of contract at the end of the season, and the club have not yet asked him to sit down to discuss an extension. He feels that he won’t be offered one, and that these are likely to be his final months in Paris — Julien Laurens.

One player they should sign

Kalidou Koulibaly, 29, Napoli. While more than just cosmetic changes are needed at Paris Saint-Germain, the Senegal centre-back would immediately strengthen their defence. Koulibaly would not only bring quality on the ball, as well as pace and power, but also the experience and presence to lead a somewhat disjointed and disharmonious side. The only issue will be a €70m pricetag. — Tor Kristian-Karlsen.