Football Features

What if every Premier League club could make one exciting (but plausible) signing before the deadline?

By Muhammad Butt

Last-minute Premier League transfers

Published: 12:00, 29 January 2022

Each club in the Premier League has different needs in the transfer market. Some are constrained by finances. All are constrained by time. But what if they weren’t?

We’ve gone through every single Premier League side and come up with one signing they would love to make before deadline day.

First, the rules: while we are talking dream scenarios for each club we’re keeping one foot firmly grounded in reality, so nothing like Norwich signing Kylian Mbappé or Southampton bagging Erling Haaland, as much fun as those would be. Further, a player cannot appear more than once, just to keep things interesting.

Arsenal: Alexander Isak

  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Real Sociedad

Arsenal are a side in desperate need of a striker. The Gunners had their hearts set on Dusan Vlahovic, only to be rejected. They have now turned their eyes to a few other candidates but the one we’d love to see the most is Alexander Isak.

The tall Swede is an elegant forward who has the kind of deft touch and skill one expects of an Arsenal player, while still possessing physical gifts and a tactical understanding of how and when to press defenders that is almost a requirement to play in the Premier League.

Isak is not the most consistent in front of goal but, given his age, is primed to improve and being at the head of a young Arsenal side full of pace and movement could be a great place for him to do just that. Moreover, he has previously said: “one day it would be nice to play in England.”

Aston Villa: Rodrigo Bentancur

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Club: Juventus

Rodrigo Bentancur is a really talented midfield playmaker. A tall, skilful player who wins the ball, recycles possession and uses it smartly. No wonder Steven Gerrard is said to be plotting to sign him for Villa.

It’s a move we would love to see happen, both because he could be genuinely great as part of that dynamic Aston Villa midfield, but also watching him link with Argentine Emi Buendia and Brazilian Coutinho would be great South American-style fun.

Brentford: Christian Eriksen

  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Club: N/A

Brentford have a lot of links to Danish football, namely through their coach Thomas Frank. As such, when Christian Eriksen began looking for a new club after recovering from the cardiovascular event he suffered in 2021, they understandably came up as an option.

But this would be a fantastic stylistic fit, as well. Eriksen is a fluid footballer, possessing sublime technique and passing range. He would be a deadly weapon in the pulsating Brentford side, and honestly who doesn’t want to see Eriksen back playing? As long as he’s medically cleared to do so, what else could be better?

Brighton: Wissam Ben Yedder

  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Monaco

Sometimes a player isn’t linked with a club but is so perfect for what they need that you cannot help but wonder, ‘why not?’ For Brighton & Hove Albion, Wissam Ben Yedder is one such player.

The 31-year-old Frenchman is a prodigious goalscorer, the exact kind the Seagulls need to make the most of their ridiculous levels of dominance. Since leaving Toulouse in 2016, he’s scored 129 goals in 242 games. And with Monaco currently seventh in Ligue 1, he could conceivably be convinced by the Premier League’s money and possibility of firing Brighton into Europe.

Burnley: Wout Weghorst

  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Wolfsburg

The Andy-Carroll-Sean-Dyche connection would have been truly special but Burnley might just have to settle for 6ft6 Netherlands international Wout Weghorst (who scored 20 goals for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga last season), Aaron Ramsey and a ball-playing midfield alternative to Mislav Orsic, an erstwhile target who reportedly just extended his Dinamo Zagreb contract.

Ramsey may be a longshot (he’s said to favour a Crystal Palace move) and they’ll have to work quickly to scramble for an Orsic alternative, but according to the Burnley Express, Weghorst has been to visit the Clarets’ training complex.

If Burnley somehow pull off a strong end to the January transfer window, Newcastle’s decision to give them £25m for Chris Wood may look less like weakening a rival and more like a golden opportunity for Dyche to level-up his team.

Chelsea: Sergino Dest

  • Position: Wing-back
  • Club: Barcelona

For reasons which don’t make a whole lot of sense, Barcelona don’t seem too keen on Sergino Dest, even though the American wing-back has often been a producer of quality chances for the club. The thing is, he can look a little out of sorts playing full-back in a back four, because he is a wing-back at heart.

So what better (and cheaper) way for Chelsea to solve their current wing-back crisis than to get themselves a talented young player who can play both sides on loan? Dest is a natural dribbler with pace and skill to burn.

Premier League top four odds from William Hill

  • Chelsea (1/25)
  • Man Utd (13/8)
  • Tottenham (13/8)
  • Arsenal (9/4)
  • West Ham (9/1)

All odds accurate at the time of writing. You must be 18 or over to gamble. For more information, visit

Crystal Palace: Donny van de Beek

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Club: Manchester United

Nothing saddens us more than watching Donny van de Beek sit forlornly on the Manchester United bench. It’s such a criminal waste of talent and doesn’t even make sense because it’s not like Van de Beek has world-class opposition starting ahead of him in midfield.

Anyway, Crystal Palace are supposed to be after his signature and that would be great for all parties. Donny would get to be coached by a former world-class midfielder in Patrick Vieira, United would stop having to field questions about Donny not playing, and, frankly, as Palace probably play more open and expansive football than United, we may see the best of Donny van de Beek in England.

Everton: Filip Kostic

  • Position: Wing-back
  • Club: Eintracht Frankfurt

Because Everton let Rafa Benitez scare off Lucas Digne (only to then sack Rafa Benitez), they now need a left-back. Now, Filip Kostic isn’t really a left-back but a left-wing-back, but that’s fine because Everton should switch to a three at the back system anyway. Not just because potential managerial candidate Vitor Pereira favours it, but because it could help cover up a number of defensive flaws.

And having Kostic as a wing-back would be phenomenal for the Toffees. The Serbian has created 52 chances in the Bundesliga so far this season, which is good enough for eighth overall across Europe’s top five leagues. His crossing from set-pieces and open play would be a fantastic source of chances for the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

Leeds: Seko Fofana

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Club: Lens

Seko Fofana is on his way home from the Africa Cup of Nations and so now would be a great time for Leeds to move for the midfielder. The 26-year-old is a very talented midfielder and would fit Marcelo Bielsa’s high intensity style like a glove.

Rumours put the price at £25m, which for this day and age seems incredibly reasonable. Fofana’s talent combined with Bielsa’s coaching could make for a potent combination and it’d be fun to see.

Leicester: Nathan Ake

  • Position: Centre-back
  • Club: Manchester City

Leicester need defenders. The Foxes can’t seem to put out a consistent back-line and have resorted to many funny selections in order to get a team out. Now if they were to pick up Nathan Ake, things would be very different indeed.

Ake is a fabulous footballer with a silky left foot and passing ability. You can see how he would thrive playing regularly under Brendan Rodgers, bringing the ball out from the back and spreading it around.

Liverpool: Luis Diaz

  • Position: Winger
  • Club: Porto

Liverpool are an amazing team with a very talented squad. In many ways it’s hard to see, beyond signing Gini Wijnaldum back, how they could substantially improve their starting XI. And that would be a boring transfer, so how about this: they sign a Sadio Mané replacement.

Oh, not straight away for sure. But just as Diogo Jota has within a season and a half taken Roberto Firmino’s spot in the Reds’ front line, Liverpool look set to pick up Porto’s Luis Diaz, who could eventually usurp Mané’s role in the front three.

Diaz has 20 goals in 38 games across all competitions this season and only two players have completed more dribbles in the Champions League than Diaz’s total of 19 (Alphonso Davies and Young Boys’ Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu, if you’re curious).

“It’s not easy to find players like him. There are things similar to [Jadon] Sancho. Both have fun on the field, they don’t feel pressure and they play the same way in any side,” said former Colombia coach Arturo Reyes told O Jogo.

Another Sancho in the Premier League? That’s automatic entry for this list (even if we’re still waiting for the current one to explode).

Manchester City: David Raum

  • Position: Left-back
  • Club: Hoffenheim

Manchester City are the best team in the Premier League, perhaps the world. All they’re missing is a striker and a left-back, and as they are rumoured to be signing Julian Alvarez then all we can hope to see there is a left-back.

Joao Cancelo is doing a great job but it’s clear Guardiola would like the option of using Cancelo as a right-back and having a more orthodox left-footer on the left, someone who could race forward and provide width on the left, allowing Jack Grealish to show more of his best side as an inverted wing-forward like he was at Villa.

To this end, Hoffenheim’s David Raum could be a savvy pick-up. Here is a player who wouldn’t kick up a fuss about being on the bench yet is a very creative presence (and largely from open play) and could give Guardiola the genuine wide option he’s longed for.

Manchester United: Ibrahim Sangare

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Club: PSV

Manchester United are desperate for a defensive midfielder. They are crying out for one. Someone who can take hold of the ball and play it forward quickly and accurately. They’ve been linked with all manner of players, but none have such potential as Ibrahim Sangare.

Sure, he doesn’t have the reputation of a Declan Rice, but Sangare is a midfielder capable of doing it all. A massive and monumental upgrade on Scott McTominay and Fred at the base of midfield and, in fact, a player of such talent he could even allow those two to become their best selves and propel Manchester United forward to greatness.

Newcastle: Ousmane Dembélé

  • Position: Winger
  • Club: Barcelona

Newcastle have been linked with just about everyone since their takeover by Saudi Arabia’s PIF, but no move sparks the imagination as much as them signing Barcelona misfit Ousmane Dembélé. Beyond Dembélé’s intrinsic brilliance as a footballer and the statement of signing players from both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in one window to bolster your side, there’s his potential for combining with his teammates.

For a team like Newcastle that already has supreme wing wizard Allan Saint-Maximin, the potential of combining him with Dembélé either side of Chris Wood (or Callum Wilson) is genuinely thrilling. What those two could do in the same side, where it’s impossible to double up on both of them without totally neutering your attacking threat, would surely lift Newcastle up the table.

Norwich: Lewis O’Brien

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Club: Huddersfield

Norwich are desperately in need of some steel in the middle of the park. They’re in need of a lot of things, to be fair, but steel in the middle of the park is chief among them. Part of what made Dean Smith so effective at Aston Villa was having Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba and John McGinn battling to control midfield.

O’Brien is a fierce young midfielder who has more tackles (73) than anyone else in the Premier League or Championship. His presence would provide Norwich with some of the bite and fight they need. They were linked with him a year ago. Now it’s time to go back and get their man.

Southampton: Amine Gouiri

  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Nice

Southampton excel at just about every phase of football under Ralph Hasenhuttl. Their only shortcoming is goalscoring, and that’s the only thing holding them back from being a genuine force in the Premier League.

Well, signing hotshot Amine Gouiri from Nice would go a long way to giving the Saints the kind of firepower they need. The Frenchman is the complete modern forward, capable of holding it up and linking play as well as driving in behind himself. He has 10 goals and seven assists in 22 appearances this season in Ligue 1 and could be just the forward Southampton need.

Spurs: Georginio Wijnaldum

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Club: PSG

Having previously admitted he’s not completely happy at Paris Saint-Germain, it seems Gini Wijnaldum could be a high-class, gettable signing for a Spurs team that is light on experienced midfield quality.

Wijnaldum’s ball-shielding skills have in the past seen him compared to Moussa Dembele, one of the best Tottenham midfielders of the Premier League era. “He’s a real footballer and has a special kind of football smartness,” Jurgen Klopp once said. And while we could have gone for a back-up striker, a new midfielder who could influence the overall running of Conte’s team system is likely to have a more transformative effect on Spurs’ top-four ambitions.

Watford: Nat Phillips

  • Position: Centre-back
  • Club: Liverpool

Nat Phillips may not be Liverpool-quality, but he proved last year that he can hack it in the Premier League at the very least. Now Roy Hodgson is in charge of Watford, what could be better for the beleaguered Hornets than bringing in the monster Englishman?

Phillips is tall, broad-shouldered and excellent in the air. He is rugged and no-nonsense. Can you think of a player that better suits Roy Hodgson than Nat Phillips? At least one that’s on the market right now? Make it happen, Roy!

West Ham: Ben Brereton Diaz

  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Blackburn

Suffice to say, West Ham are having a great season. Part of that excellent form was powered by Michail Antonio’s goalscoring form. But the Jamaican international can only carry the team for so long. Eventually, someone else has to share the load up-front.

Hence West Ham’s links to new Chile international Ben Brereton Diaz. The Blackburn striker has scored 20 times in 27 appearances so far this season and would be a fantastic addition to the West Ham squad. The move has hit some snags lately, but we urge West Ham to push through those difficulties because we all need to see Ben Brereton Diaz in the Premier League.

Wolves: Gonçalo Guedes

  • Position: Winger
  • Club: Valencia

With Adama Traoré supposed to be leaving Wolves, the midlands club will need a replacement winger. And given Jorge Mendes’ influence at Molineux, it makes sense that any replacement brought in short-term would be someone represented by Mendes’ agency Gestifute.

One of the best such players is Valencia’s Gonçalo Guedes, the superb Portuguese winger who is far too talented to still be embroiled in the chaos that is Valencia Club de Futbol. Mendes should rescue him, bringing him to the Premier League where he can thrive and shine under the bright lights of English football. It would be sublime.