The transfer window is back and from 2 January Premier League clubs will be able to strengthen in the market to gain an edge in what has been the most unpredictable season in years.
Here, we take a look at some of the likely transfers in the Premier League which could decide the title, Champions League qualification and the relegation battle.
The champions Liverpool are top of the league still heading into 2021 in pursuit of back-to-back titles.
Long-term injuries to defensive duo Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez could provide an opening for a new champion this season though, unless the Reds immediately address the position in the transfer market, like they did two years ago when they signed Van Dijk from Southampton three years ago in 2018.
Joel Matip is also injury-prone and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has had to drop Fabinho back from midfield, while handing opportunities to inexperienced pair Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams.
Klopp has a history of waiting for the right player. But further injuries could force his hand with Ajax’s Perr Schuurs, a former Anfield trialist, RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Brighton’s highly rated Ben White among those linked with the Merseyside club.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could also do with defensive reinforcements given familiar fragility and fitness concerns at the back.
Victor Lindelof has a persistent back injury, Eric Bailly struggles to put a consistent run of games together and Aaron Wan-Bissaka has little competition at right-back.
All of which will probably go unnoticed as January transfer talk at Old Trafford will mostly focus on whether France midfielder Paul Pogba stays or goes.
The World Cup winner’s likely exit is to be in the summer, as will renewed United interest in Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho.
Arteta needs a winter warmer
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta felt the icy chill of winter as the Gunners spiralled down the Premier League table before Christmas.
But could the Spaniard welcome sunnier days thanks to the light provided by the transfer window?
After all, just one January signing can inspire new hope and turn around a club’s fortunes. Just look at the impact of Bruno Fernandes on Manchester United since his arrival 12 months ago.
Arsenal are short on leaders and former Chelsea striker Diego Costa, whose Atletico Madrid contract has been terminated by mutual consent, would certainly bring that as well as aggression.
There is genuine Gunners interest in Real Madrid playmaker Isco, while resolving the future of Mesut Ozil would do everyone a favour at the Emirates.
Everton, Leicester and Aston Villa – yes, Aston Villa – will all be dreaming of a top-four spot and Champions League riches when Auld Lang Syne gets an airing around the country.
Carlo Ancelotti has overseen a remarkable turnaround in 12 months at Everton and growing ambition has seen them linked to Isco and out-of-favour Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli.
With extra firepower and greater reliability from England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on Ancelotti’s New Year wish list, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers might prioritise midfield – long-time target William Carvalho has been mentioned – while remaining determined to keep his talented squad together.
Finishing in the top four might be fanciful talk for Villa, but just being linked with Inter Milan’s Uruguay midfielder Matias Vecino shows how far the club has come under Dean Smith.
Expect Sam Allardyce to attack the transfer window at West Brom from day one.
‘Big Sam’ knows he needs goals to save the Baggies from the drop and two of his former players, Cenk Tosun at Everton and Newcastle’s Andy Carroll, have both been linked.
West Brom’s local rivals Wolves will also be in the market for a striker with no time frame on Raul Jimenez’s return from a fractured skull.
Ending Luka Jovic’s unhappy spell at Real Madrid could be one option, as rookie forward Fabio Silva gets to up to speed with the demands of the Premier League.
City in for big-name striker?
How much more can Sergio Aguero give to Manchester City?
That will be the question racing through Pep Guardiola’s mind as he attempts to close the gap on Liverpool.
City’s record goalscorer has been plagued by injuries and turns 33 in June, so it is no surprise Borussia Dortmund goal machine Erling Haaland is on Guardiola’s radar.
With Lionel Messi also admitting he does not know whether he will stay at Barcelona, the idea of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner playing in the Premier League remains a tantalising prospect.