Swap, swap, need

Roll up, roll up; it’s that time of year again: the transfer rumour bandwagon is charging into town, bringing all the usual whispers and gossip along with it.

Is it too late to ask for a minor Christmas miracle to come your club’s way? Or will you just have to resign yourself to another month of disappointment as transfer target after transfer target comes and goes?

Unfortunately, for most of us the best we can hope for is the odd loan deal here and there to help steady the ship and finish the season in mid-table mediocrity (again).

However, it can still be pretty interesting to see how the big fish get on in their hunt to hoover up the game’s elite stars; if you’re into your online betting, you’ll also know that keeping tabs on the latest moves can prove pretty profitable.

Spotting a gem of a signing can be one of the best ways of increasing your betting wallet, especially if you back them to make a difference early enough. We’ve taken a look at some of the players tipped to make a Premier League move this winter and judge the potential impact their transfers could make.

One of the strongest links made so far this winter is that between Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar and Arsenal. Vlaar has been considered a solid defender for a number of years now but demand for the centre-back has been increasing ever since this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

His composed yet battling style of play helped the Netherlands to a third-place finish; he now has both Manchester United and Arsenal knocking on the door. With both sides struggling with injuries and consistency in the clean sheet department, the 29-year-old could well turn out to be a shrewd investment for either side.

Also reportedly on the Gunners and Red Devils’ hit lists is the highly-rated French centre-back Aymeric Laporte. After breaking into the Athletic Bilbao senior squad in 2012, the French youth international has gone on to hold down a regular place in the Los Leones side at just 20 years of age.

Able to play both in the middle and on the left of defence, Laporte would be a versatile addition to United’s team but with a €27.5 million buy-out clause – plus interest from Chelsea and Arsenal – to negotiate it could take the entire window for a deal to be struck.

And, just in case Man Utd can’t land Vlaar or Laporte, a certain Mats Hummels is also on the radar. Reportedly a target for the Old Trafford club since the final season of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, the World Cup winner has dismissed all transfer interest but with his current club, Borussia Dortmund, sunk near the bottom of the Bundesliga, he’s allegedly looking for a move away. He won’t come cheap, with Dortmund sticking a whopping £47 million tag on his shoulders following his success at the Brazil World Cup, but this fee could be tested due to their lowly league position.

If United do opt to focus their intentions on the German, they’ll be battling it out with familiar company as Arsenal are supposedly also keen in Hummels’ signature.

Across the M62 now and Liverpool are also set to be busy during January with positions to be filled throughout the squad. If you did fancy trying to take some money off the bookies of the likes of b.b online, Liverpool look certain to be busy. But who will they sign?

Finding himself number two at Chelsea due to consistently impressive performances from Thibaut Courtois, Petr Cech made it known in the summer that he would be willing to consider plying his trade away from SW6. Liverpool desperately need to find a replacement for out-of-sorts Simon Mignolet and the big Czech shot-stopper looks like an ideal choice for Brendan Rodgers, especially as the two know each other from Rodgers’ days at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately for the stuttering Reds though, it seems Cech wouldn’t be available until the 2015-16 campaign.

One team not short of a starlet or two right now are Derby County and the Championship team’s talented midfielder, Will Hughes, has been catching the eye of Anfield scouts recently. A consistent performer, Hughes has been putting in impressive displays since bursting onto the scene in 2011 aged just 16-years-old. The Rams will be in a position to demand an inflated fee for the youngster following the signing of a new contract this summer but that doesn’t seem to be putting Liverpool off making a bid for the skilful midfielder and the incisive, attacking displays he possesses.

Some transfer windows throw up a surprise signing or two and a potential shock signing could come in the form of Ezequiel Lavezzi to Liverpool from Paris Saint-Germain. Although he’s produced a string of dazzling displays for the Parisian outfit, Financial Fair Play constraints mean they could be willing to offload the Argentine – and his hefty wage packet – for a cut-price fee somewhere in the region of £8 million. Liverpool would have to battle for the signature with the likes of Inter Milan and Napoli but with all the flair that Lavezzi brings to the table it might just be a war Rodgers needs to win.

Last but not least on Liverpool’s January wish list is recent England graduate Saido Berahino. After an explosive start to this Premier League campaign, the striker has found goals difficult to come by as of late. But, with West Brom lacking the pin point delivery of loftier sides, his current haul of eight in the league so far has earned him the admiration of Rodgers, who hopes the injured Daniel Sturridge will return in January.

Nearing the foot of the table, Queens Park Rangers are also looking to strengthen their side, thanks to a bit of market magic from Harry Redknapp. If there’s any one in football who knows how to secure a solid transfer it’s Harry, and it looks like two former Redknapp favourites might well be re-joining him at Loftus Road.

First up is Robbie Keane. After enjoying a healthy relationship playing under Redknapp at Tottenham, the Irishman eventually made his way to Major League Soccer and LA Galaxy. While there he’s helped raise the profile of the game in America, winning three MLS Cups and being voted the league’s player of the season for 2014 to boot. At 34 he’s no spring chicken but with 53 goals in 84 games over in the States there are still goals in the former Inter striker.

And if one reunion wasn’t enough, rumours are also circulating that Jermain Defoe could be signing for Redknapp once again. If the deal comes to fruition it would, incredibly, lead to a fourth partnership between the two; following spells at West Ham, Portsmouth and Spurs. Charlie Austin is doing a fine job of netting the goals by himself at the moment but you’d have to think that with that sort of proven firepower up front, QPR could conceivably consider themselves among the favourites to avoid relegation this season.

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