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Now that Lionel Messi has fulfilled his destiny and restored balance to a grateful universe by collecting all six infinity stones – judging by the global jubilation, he might have as well tacked that onto his feat of guiding Argentina to its third World Cup – global football's gaze is now affixed to revamping rosters as managers seek to elevate their squads into title contenders. Thus, starting January 1 though January 31, it’ll be open season to add new blood in the Premier League, considering clubs spent a whopping $355 million last January, the main question is will there be enough big game romping around to make for an exciting hunt? In one word, absolutely. If you’re curious about the comings and goings but don’t know where to start, don’t sweat it. We've got you covered.
First, an explainer on the transfer window for the uninitiated. Club leagues across the world have two periods of time, or windows, to add and register new players. For European leagues, the largest window falls in the summer, between domestic campaigns, and that's where the bulk of player movement takes place. Teams identify targets and open negotiations with other clubs and the players themselves, hoping to entice both parties – a hefty transfer fee for the player's current club and promises of a more lucrative contract, or higher-profile football for the player. The sums can be enormous, with Premier League clubs collectively shelling out more than $2 billion in the summer of 2022. The next window comes in January, about midway through the Premier League season – a time for teams to address roster deficiencies, replace injured players, or even get a jump start on retooling for the following campaign. With many clubs acting out of desperation, the January window can certainly pack some drama.
So what might fans see this January? Here are a few storylines worth following:
Cristiano Ronaldo Is Seeking A New Home
After burning his bridges at Manchester United with his explosive interview with Piers Morgan last month, during which he poured gasoline on his smoldering feud with manager Erik ten Hag, Cristiano Ronaldo is in search of a new place to ply his trade. Manchester United and Ronaldo agreed to part ways shortly thereafter, meaning he's free to sign with any club who'll have him. The question is, given his age (37) and the generally pouty disposition he displayed at the World Cup with Portugal, his suitors may be limited. The Premier League rumor mill briefly linked him to Chelsea over the summer, but more recently, he's been rumored to be nearing a deal with Saudi club Al Nassr.
On the flip side, the Red Devils may be in the market for another forward. They'd been linked to PSV Eindhoven's Cody Gakpo, an in-demand player after his impressive World Cup performance for the Netherlands, but rivals Liverpool have apparently beaten them to the punch.
Manager Mikel Arteta appears to have the full support of the Kroenke family who are prepared deploy significant funds to bolster the first-place Gunners' title hopes, according to ESPN. They'll need the reinforcements, with Gabriel Jesus, recently added over the summer from Manchester City, expected to miss up to three months after surgery for a knee injury sustained while playing for Brazil in the World Cup. ESPN reports Arsenal's targets include Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, though the 21-year-old commands a steep fee of €100 million, as well as Palmeiras midfielder Danilo, also 21. Meanwhile, the Kroenkes will have to put their money where their mouth is as several marquee players are currently seeking new contracts. This includes stars Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba.
Christian Pulisic Leaving Stamford Bridge?
There’s turmoil over at Stamford Bridge, folks. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is reportedly unhappy with his dearth of playing time that began under ex-manager Thomas Tuchel and has continued with current boss Graham Potter. Instead of being a go-to starter, the 24-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania has been frequently relegated to a bench role. That said, Pulisic’s performance at the World Cup in Qatar for the USMNT has garnered attention from multiple clubs in need of Captain America’s type of speed and playmaking, including, potentially, Manchester United.
Manchester City Eyes Jude Bellingham
Like Pulisic, England’s 19-year-old phenom Jude Bellingham shined brightly in Qatar, opening several doors in the Premier League for the Borussia Dortmund midfielder. According to Sky Sports, both Liverpool and Manchester City are keen to acquire Bellingham. Man City’s boss Pep Guardiola has the power of the purse on his side, but that’s not the problem. The issue is Dortmund knows Bellingham is the complete package. His ability to maintain possession under pressure, score goals and assist on others makes him a dynamic midfielder, and considering he’s still a teenager, they'll be loathe to let him go.
Kylian Mbappé, the Beau of the Ball
Lionel Messi may have taken home the ultimate prize for Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but there’s no denying the 24-year-old Kylian Mbappé is the future of the sport after his sensational eight-goal performance – not to mention a hat trick in the final – garnered him the coveted prize of the World Cup Golden Boot. Now, as rumors continue to percolate surrounding the future of France’s elite forward, it appears Mbappé could be on the move during the January transfer window. This summer, Mbappé reportedly had a verbal agreement to sign with Real Madrid, but when push came to shove, he decided to stay with his hometown club of Paris Saint-Germain on a three-year deal with the hope of leading PSG to a Champions League title. But he's reportedly been dissatisfied with the role he's been asked to play for PSG, as a central striker instead of on the wing, or as a no. 10 playing off the striker, both of which he prefers. If Mbappé is truly is as unhappy with PSG as he’s rumored to be, the big, deep-pocketed Premier League clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea will surely be salivating at the prospect of adding him to their squads.
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