The turn of the year heralds in a fresh start, and also signals the beginning of the winter transfer window. Next month, a host of players will be hoping to breathe new life into their careers by moving, with January the perfect time to do just that.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may need to leave Arsenal to guarantee regular game time until the end of the season, having been dropped by Mikel Arteta after his latest disciplinary breach, and several other big names may join him on the carousel.
While the mid-campaign window rarely sees eye-watering fees splashed out, unlike over the summer, it is typically a time for clubs to take stock and look to improve areas of their team. Loan deals are a popular option, or pre-contract agreements.
So, with speculation rife and rumours heating up every day, Sportsmail has taken a look at 10 stars who will be keen to start again.
A number of players, including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, may look to move on next month
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (ARSENAL)
Mikel Arteta has refused to confirm whether or not Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a long-term future at Arsenal, and the striker remains an outcast. For now, as he heads to the Africa Cup of Nations, his future at the club is unclear.
There may well be no way back for him. Arteta has been known to stress the importance of discipline, and was not afraid to strip his first-choice frontman of the captaincy. Three strikes, and he was out – and this will not change.
So, it may therefore be best for both parties to part ways. Despite Aubameyang breaking club rules on a number of occasions, there will be a number of potential suitors because of his formidable goal-scoring record up front.
In a surprise twist, Newcastle are reportedly in the queue, while Barcelona are also interested. His hefty wages may prove a major stumbling block, meaning Arsenal are almost certainly set to be forced to compromise in order to offload their unruly ace.
Aubameyang has been frozen out at Arsenal after Mikel Arteta clamped down on ill-discipline
PHILIPPE COUTINHO (BARCELONA)
Another fallen superstar, Philippe Coutinho is desperately in need of a new chapter in his ailing career. He has been linked with a host of clubs in England after tumbling down the pecking order at Barcelona, with a Premier League return on the cards.
Indeed, he is said to have been told by Xavi to expect limited numbers under him this season, handing the playmaker with little options other than to move on.
Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle have all kept a close eye on Coutinho’s decline, and are keeping tabs on his situation. Ahead of the next window, they may be tempted to move for him, and could even swoop for a bargain price.
Coutinho is aware he would need to lower his wages from his current staggering £200,000-per-week wage to exit the Nou Camp, but also wants his new destination to meet his lofty goals on the field.
Philippe Coutinho is struggling for game time at Barcelona and may look to quit the club soon
LUCAS DIGNE (EVERTON)
The absence of Lucas Digne from Everton’s victory against Arsenal earlier this month raised eyebrows, especially considering he was the club’s only recognised left back. Soon after, it emerged that the defender had argued with boss Rafa Benitez.
According to The Athletic, the reason behind the tension came from a disagreement over tactics, leading to trust between them eroding. Benitez disciplined the player, who has failed to make an appearance for them since.
It would make sense for Digne to look to leave Goodison Park, then. He is a talented full back, one capable of contributing superbly at both ends of the pitch, and there is likely to be a lengthy line of clubs waiting to sign him in just a matter of days.
Chelsea are weighing up a swoop for him, Sportsmail understands, after Ben Chilwell was ruled out for the rest of the season. Chilwell will have surgery on his knee ligament injury, and Digne is among the names they are discussing to replace him.
Lucas Digne fell out with Everton boss Rafa Benitez, and Chelsea could look to snap him up
GARETH BALE (REAL MADRID)
The final nail in the coffin of Gareth Bale’s career at Real Madrid came when reports claimed he has been put up for sale ahead of the upcoming transfer window. He has failed to play for them since August, and is not expected to extend his contract.
His £600,000-a-week contract expires at the end of the season, and his club will be keen to bank a transfer fee for him instead of allowing him to walk away for free.
Bale has not been a regular performer at Madrid since the 2018-19 campaign, and has made just three appearances this term. Last season, he returned to Tottenham on loan but, aside from a handful of good showings, flattered to deceive.
He has, however, won countless trophies since arriving at the Bernabeu in 2013, including four Champions Leagues and two LaLiga titles. His spell has been far from a failure, then, but now is the perfect time for him to revitalise his career.
Gareth Bale has reportedly been put up for sale by Real Madrid, but would need a salary cut
DONNY VAN DE BEEK (MANCHESTER UNITED)
It was a damning indictment of Donny van de Beek at Manchester United when he wasn’t brought on during the 1-1 draw at Newcastle. Despite his side lacking in cutting edge and creativity, Ralf Rangnick left the midfielder on the bench.
He threw his chewing gum to the floor after being abandoned by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier this season, and the interim boss has failed to place his trust in the silky playmaker. As such, he looks set to leave the club next month.
Van de Beek, according to many United supporters, deserves better. When he has played, he has often been a rare highlight in a campaign of gloom, although a handful of his performances have been disappointing.
This lack of consistency may spell the end of his time at United. At Ajax, he thrived off of playing one-touch passes and piecing together moves straight from their academy blueprint. He will yearn for a return to this for his next transfer.
Donny van de Beek has remained on the fringes at Manchester United under Ralf Rangnick
DELE ALLI (TOTTENHAM)
Having played just 17 games this season for Tottenham, Dele Alli has struggled to click into any form of consistency. It would come as no shock in north London, then, if the midfielder leaves the club and looks to kickstart his career.
He played just over an hour in the 1-1 draw against Southampton, which Spurs were extremely unfortunate not to win after finding the net four times, with just one goal standing. Alli, however, failed to sparkle in the centre of the field.
The warning signs were there under Nuno Espirito Santo, and Antonio Conte was reluctant to lean on Alli until recently. Now potentially back in the cold, it may not be too late for the former MK Dons youngster to salvage his Spurs stint.
Up against Southampton, he failed to muster up a single shot on goal, completed just 17 of 24 attempted passes and lost the ball on 12 separate occasions. It is these poor numbers that continue to dog him, and Conte may run out of patience.
Dele Alli has recently been brought in from the cold at Tottenham, but may still exit next month
ANTHONY MARTIAL (MANCHESTER UNITED)
Manchester United may have turned down an offer from Sevilla to take Anthony Martial on loan for the rest of the season, but their best course of action would be to let the striker leave. Next month would be the ideal time to do this.
Martial has told interim boss Ralf Rangnick that he wants to quit Old Trafford over his lack of game time, and this situation is unlikely to change this campaign.
Rangnick has insisted he feels sympathy for the striker, but after the public display from the player and his camp, could crack down and ensure he doesn’t play another minute under him. A known disciplinarian, he has no time for those not committed.
It would be a limp way for Martial’s stint to end, but there doesn’t appear to be a way back in from the cold for him. Sevilla would need to stump up more of the frontman’s wages to edge closer to an agreement, with the deal very much in their hands.
Anthony Martial wants to leave Manchester United, but the rejected Sevilla’s recent loan offer
JOAO FELIX (ATLETICO MADRID)
Diego Simeone has refused to rule out the prospect of Joao Felix leaving Atletico Madrid next month, admitting that he is ‘open to everything’. The diminutive playmaker has failed to find a spot consistently in the team, and may exit soon.
Signed for £114million from Benfica, Felix has sparkled in some games but frustrated in others. His cause has not been aided this season after he underwent ankle surgery, returned in September, and picked up a calf problem last month.
Antoine Griezmann and Matheus Cunha have also ramped up the competition for places at the club, and it is Felix who has fallen slightly down the pecking order.
This term, he has made just 15 appearances, scoring twice and picking up two assists. It has been difficult for him to make an impact during his brief cameos, and a move to another club may reinforce his status as one of the sport’s best prodigies.
Joao Felix may need to move on from Atletico Madrid next month due to his lack of game time
SAMUEL UMTITI (BARCELONA)
He may be a World Cup winner, but Samuel Umtiti has become an outcast at Barcelona. As such, a host of big clubs are said to be keen to free him from his nightmare in Catalonia, including newly-rich Newcastle.
Umtiti has struggled for minutes under successive managers at the Nou Camp and, at the age of 28, is approaching the time where he will need to make the decision over his future. More and more, it is becoming likely that he will leave.
But on a £220,000-a-week wage package, there are a limited number of sides able to splash out on him. However, Newcastle’s Saudi-backed takeover has handed them a mountain of money to spend, starting in next month’s window.
Having refused to accept a salary cut despite Barcelona’s financial woes, Umtiti has been targeted by abuse from supporters. Arsenal and Chelsea were previously keen on him, while AC Milan and Benfica are also believed to be keeping tabs on him.
Samuel Umtiti is being targeted by a host of elite clubs after falling out of favour at Barcelona
AARON RAMSEY (JUVENTUS)
Links between Aaron Ramsey and a Premier League return have persisted despite his horror spell at Juventus. In just five appearances for the club this season, the midfielder has played just 112 minutes, and is not trusted by Massimiliano Allegri.
As a result, they are keen to offload the former Arsenal man and also want to shift his £400,000-per-week wages. Just like many of the players on this list, he will almost certainly need to accept a reduced contract in order to earn game time elsewhere.
Reports say that the Old Lady are willing to sell him for a ‘minimal fee’. That may open the door for top-flight sides in England, who will likely be keen to snap him up next month and make him a marquee signing. Newcastle are among his suitors.
Still undoubtedly talented, Ramsey has time to transform his career. He may not be in the plans at Juventus this campaign, but he can make himself an invaluable performer at another club – although he will need to compromise beforehand.
Aaron Ramsey could look to reignite his career away from Juventus, and is in need of minutes