With the January transfer window in full swing, rumours are starting to rumble as the Premier League’s elite clubs look to bolster their sides for the second half of the season.
But with it being a World Cup year, some key players need to switch clubs in a bid to get more game time and make the plane to Russia.
Here, we take a look at five players who should look to get more minutes elsewhere in January.
The Frenchman may boast a formidable record of 29 goals in 69 appearances for his country, but for now, his seat on the plane to Russia looks to be in significant doubt.
Didier Deschamps has regularly chosen not select the likes of Kingsley Coman and Alexandre Lacazette – the latter of who has played three times as many Premier League minutes than Giroud this term.
The 31-year-old has only started one game in 15 league appearances – in comparison to Lacazette who has started 19 out of 22 matches.
With France’s list of attacking options flawless, Giroud needs to find a new club this month if he wants to be on that plane from Paris to Moscow at the start of June.
At his best, Daniel Sturridge was one of the first names on the Liverpool and England team sheets – but since 2015 injuries have curtailed his development as a player.
Even when fit, it looks difficult to see Jurgen Klopp select him in his starting team with Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane on fire this term.
However, despite little game time in recent months, the 28-year-old is still a class act and would be a welcome addition to any squad.
With Celtic and Newcastle interested in acquiring his services, any of these moves would help rediscover his form and goal scoring drought.
It may be hard to usurp Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Tammy Abraham or Jamie Vardy for the four striker positions, but the Birmingham native needs to chase first team football if he is to be named in Gareth Southgate’s side for Russia.
A totemic presence in any defensive line, Luiz needs to force a move this month in order to galvanize a place on the Brazil team.
His relationship with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has broken down since the 3-0 Champions League defeat to Roma in October – with the centre-back only featuring twice since then.
A knee injury may have kept him out of action in December, but the 30-year-old has struggled to battle back into the Blues side with Andres Christensen in stunning form.
With Real Madrid and Juventus looking to bolster their defensive options, a move to the Serie A would be a suitable career move for the Brazilian in a bid to boost his match sharpness for Russia.
It’s been a frustrating year for the Argentine, falling out of favour under Unai Emery and starting just three Ligue 1 matches this season.
Previously one of PSG’s top performers, it looks like he will bring his six year association with the club to an end this month in an effort to get more minutes.
His late arrival back to the French capital after the winter break may not have helped his case either with the player set to be sanctioned for missing two full days of training.
If he does leave, the 29-year-old will have no shortage of options with Chelsea and Juventus linked with the elusive midfielder.
The Egyptian always performs solidly but the question remains whether he is good enough to help Arsenal progress.
Although he is going to the World Cup, he’s only played 263 Premier League minutes this season which could have a negative bearing on his form in Russia.
Against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, he offered no protection in defence and contributed nothing in attack.
For the second goal, he got nowhere near Eric Lichaj who slotted home with ease.
The 25-year-old is a quality player, but with the Pharaohs featuring in a first World Cup in 28 years, they need their talisman at his stellar best.
With Arsenal eliminated from the FA Cup, sitting on a cold touchline at the Emirates Stadium will not parachute him into a consistent run of form for Hector Cuper’s side in June.
It took the third largest amount ever paid for a footballer to prise Coutinho away from Liverpool and the rumour mill has already linked the club with Leicester‘s Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez as a possible replacement for the Brazilian playmaker.
Neither club has officially confirmed or denied the deal, despite reports from France saying Mahrez would have a medical soon at Liverpool.
The club’s number one target, according to many reports, is the French international forward Thomas Lemar, part of the impressive Monaco team that reached the Champions League semi-finals last year but which has since been dismantled.
Arsenal had a £92 million bid ($125 million, 104 million euros) for 22-year-old Lemar rejected in the summer transfer window and the player is reportedly keen to work with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Monaco have already crashed out of the Champions League this season, so Lemar could be open to a move, although coach Leonardo Jardim is reluctant to see one of his remaining star names leave.
“Monaco don’t usually make big sales in the winter,” Jardim said last week.
Other reports have linked Liverpool with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, an increasingly divisive figure at the Emirates. His contract expires in the summer, meaning Arsenal either cash in on the Chilean now or risk seeing him walk away for nothing.
Before the January transfer window even opened, Liverpool moved to address their defensive frailties by bringing in Dutch centre-back Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton for £75 million, one of the most expensive transfers in history.
Arsenal, who were dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday, face a similar dilemma with Mesut Ozil, who is also out of contract in the summer.
Meanwhile, Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has admitted he has been in talks about bringing Theo Walcott back to the club from Arsenal.
The enormous TV receipts enjoyed by Premier League clubs forces many into the transfer market to compete with the biggest earners in their own division.
So Everton, still far from safe from relegation after a dreadful start to the season, have signed a much-needed centre-forward in Cenk Tosun on a four-and-a-half-year deal worth a reported £27 million.
The forward has scored 41 goals in 96 Turkish Super Lig games for Besiktas.
Leicester City will fight to keep Mahrez, who was one of the driving forces when the unfashionable club won the Premier League title in 2016.
But if Mahrez is tempted away – and he reportedly has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave if a substantial bid comes along in this window – then Leicester’s French boss Claude Puel could turn to Hatem Ben Arfa, who has failed to break into Paris Saint-Germain‘s star-studded first team.
Ben Arfa has previous Premier League experience with Newcastle and he worked with Puel at Nice in the 2015-2016 season.
PSG could be prepared to let Ben Arfa leave cheaply as the Qatari-backed club need to reduce their wage bill to comply with financial fair play rules after their spending reached stratospheric levels last summer with the world-record arrival of Neymar for 222 million euros, followed by the acquisition of the lavishly talented French teenager Kylian Mbappe.
Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura also looks set to be offloaded by PSG, with fellow Ligue 1 side Nantes entering the race for his signature.
Javier Pastore could be allowed to leave the French capital, with Inter Milan leading the race for his services. The Argentinian may not have helped his case for by arriving back in Paris late from his New Year holiday.
Several Premier League clubs are also said to be tracking two young talents in the Bundesliga.
Bayer Leverkusen’s 20-year-old Jamaican winger Leon Bailey is said to be a target for Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, and German international midfielder Leon Goretzka could reportedly join Liverpool from Schalke 04 on a free transfer next summer.
Two veteran German strikers, Sandro Wagner and Mario Gomez, will have new teammates when Bundesliga action resumes next weekend. Wagner is the new backup for Robert Lewandowski at league leaders Bayern Munich while Gomez has joined Stuttgart.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Antoine Griezmann will demand £400,000 a week to join Manchester United in favour of Barcelona, the Sun reports. The paper says the Atletico Madrid striker has been lined up in an £89m deal to join the Red Devils next summer, but that the club have been told their initial offer of £290,000 a week is short of what the 26-year-old wants.
Liverpool are ready to make a move for Monaco star Thomas Lemar as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, according to the Mirror. The paper says Monaco are making it clear they do not want to sell Lemar, but that Liverpool are ready to test their resolve given any encouragement. However, Sky Sports reports that Liverpool’s decision to allow Coutinho to join Barcelona will not bring forward any possible move for Lemar.
The Mirror also reports that Liverpool are prepared to use some of the record £142m windfall from Coutinho’s move to Barcelona to bring Naby Keita to Anfield early. The side agreed a £55m deal for the midfielder with RB Leipzig in the summer, and the Guinea international was due to spend this season on loan at the Bundesliga side. But the paper says Liverpool are considering paying a premium on top of the fee to bring him in during the January transfer window instead.
Real Madrid are reportedly looking at Cheslea duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois as transfer targets this summer. According to Sky Sports, the pair have regularly been linked with Real but are now top of the Spanish champions’ shopping lists.
Chelsea’s Jake Clarke-Salter is poised to complete a loan move to Sunderland, the Daily Mail reports. The paper says the defender, who has been highly-rated at Stamford Bridge, has caught the eye of several Championship clubs, but has been convinced to make the move to Sunderland for a relegation scrap.
SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP
@TheSunfootball: Man City ready to make incredible £50m bid for unlikely Premier League star
@TheSunfootball: Man Utd to tempt Arsenal with bid for Mesut Ozil – reports
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ben Wilmot: Liverpool and Arsenal are said to be eyeing up the 18-year-old defender. The Daily Mail reports that scouts for the two sides were watching him as he impressed for Stevenage in their draw against Reading on Saturday.
Karl Toko Ekambi: Brighton are battling West Brom and arch-rivals Crystal Palace for the £12m rated Cameroon striker, the Mirror claims. Seagulls boss Chris Hughton is said to be keen to tie up a deal for the 25-year-old, who plays for French side Angers.