The window is open but what will the managers of the 12 Ladbrokes Premiership clubs be buying in the January sales?
Aberdeen will likely make a centre-midfielder their No 1 priority regardless of whether James Maddison goes or not. Norwich manager Alex Neil will allow the youngster to stay at Pittodrie until the end of the season if he can secure his own transfer targets.
However, even if Maddison does remain, Aberdeen could still use an engine-room battler further back. Greg Tansey of Inverness was pursued last January and is out of contract in the summer, so he could be an option. If a midfielder is not recruited, look for Derek McInnes to add another centre-back, with Callum Morris having just been released.
What do you get the man who has everything? In terms of the domestic scene, there’s nothing Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers really needs, so unless the right player comes along for the right price – which is rare in January – don’t be too surprised if the champions do very little this month.
The long-term aim is to improve the squad for next season’s Champions League campaign. In that regard, they could look to strengthen by adding another centre-back, centre midfielder or right winger. It would be harsh on the players already in these positions, but these are the kind of difficult choices Brendan Rodgers will have to make.
Paul Hartley’s defensive options will be boosted by the return of captain James McPake early in the new year after more than 12 months out injured and, while he can do with depth at both full-back positions, he will likely concentrate on improving the side further forward.
Marcus Haber has been a revelation, but no other striker has managed to put together a consistent run of form, with Rory Loy, far right, set to go out on loan. The midfield lacks options on the wing, with Michael Duffy and Danny Williams not working out to this point.
Martin Canning is desperate to add some extra firepower to his side, as only Kilmarnock have netted fewer times than Accies this season. Alex D’Acol and Rakish Bingham have combined for only six league goals thus far and another option in attack is imperative.
The same can be said for holding on to Ali Crawford, below, who is their top goalscorer. In defence, Accies are startlingly thin at full-back, with midfielders Grant Gillespie and Darren Lyon filling in at right-back for periods this campaign, while left-back Lennard Sowah is out of contract in January.
Hearts could use additional options on the wing and up front, so it’s no surprise they are eagerly chasing Niall McGinn as the Aberdeen man can play in both areas.
Even if they are successful in their pursuit of the Northern Irishman on a pre-contract, they should still be looking to add greater firepower in January. Bjorn Johnsen is the only striker to have excelled at Tynecastle this season, with Tony Watt jettisoned prior to the window opening. There is also a lack of options in central midfield, with Ian Cathro preferring a 4-2-3-1 system. In addition, an attacking full-back to replace the injured Callum Paterson wouldn’t go amiss.
The Highlanders have the worst defensive record in the league, but in guys like Josh Meekings and Gary Warren, with others such like Carl Tremarco, Brad McKay, Greg Tansey and Owain Fon Williams around the centre-back pairing, they really should be doing a lot better than they are. It’s more likely that the porous defence is down to a flaw in manager Richie Foran’s system, as Inverness attempt to be one of the more expansive teams in the league.
Therefore, boosting their attacking corps may enable them to give greater protection to the defence, though fans were hoping for better than Rory Loy, right, who has been linked with them recently.
Despite signing 17 players in the summer, there are a number of areas Lee Clark should be looking to strengthen in January. Two of them are in midfield, where a new winger and No 10 are needed to plug the gap left by the season-ending injury suffered by Greg Kiltie. It appears Clark is poised to fill those needs already with Cal Roberts, Sean Longstaff, along with goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, on the verge of signing on loan from Newcastle. A striker who can hold the ball up and score goals would also be a useful addition.
Stephen Pearson has been linked with a swift return after leaving Lanarkshire for Indian side Atlético Kolkata in the summer. The Fir Park club haven’t quite managed to replace his input in the centre of the park, so his return would be most welcome, especially as he can also cover on the left of midfield, a position that’s been up for grabs since Marvin Johnson was sold in August. Further back, Steven Hammell is coming to the end of his career, and with Joe Chalmers not the most popular of reserves with the fans, a new left-back could be added.
Summer recruit Ade Azeez has impressed with his all-round play, but his inability to find composure in front of goal (scoring only twice in 26 games) could send manager Alan Archibald looking for another striker, especially as fans’ favourite Kris Doolan has netted only six himself.
The Thistle boss may also look to strengthen his midfield ranks having been left short on cover by long-term injuries to Stuart Bannigan and Gary Fraser, though the returning Mustapha Dumbuya, after six months out injured, will provide the defence with a massive boost.
To get where they want to be, i.e. closer to Celtic, Rangers could do with strengthening all over the park. As it’s difficult to find value in January, it’s likely that Mark Warburton will largely wait until the summer, and even if they don’t add they’ll still fancy themselves to finish second. If they do sign in January, look for them to recruit a centre midfielder who can score goals.
Jota, a former player under Warburton at Brentford, has already been linked with a move north. While the defence has performed better than many would have expected, they could still look to add a long-term solution at centre-back.
It’s unlikely that the Highlanders will do much in this window, unless Liam Boyce is sold before the end of January. The top scorer has netted 13 times this season and could attract some suitors from down south.
However, if the viral infection that has kept Chris Burke out since November shows no sign of clearing, County may be in the market for another winger. In defence, they could still do with some pace at centre-back, though this has been an issue since last January, and one that manager Jim McIntyre seems uninterested in addressing.
The McDiarmid Park club are currently doing their utmost to keep a hold of several key first-team players who are out of contract in the summer, including top goalscorer Danny Swanson, Brian Easton, Liam Craig, Joe Shaughnessy and Steven MacLean. If they do manage to strengthen, another striker to complement and ultimately succeed the ageing MacLean would be welcomed.