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What can we expect from the January transfer window?

With the January transfer window set to open soon, we’ve looked at every winter signing made in the last decade by clubs in the ‘big five’ European leagues to predict which moves are the most likely.

Clubs in Serie A have been the most eager January recruiters in the previous 10 years. An average of just under 17 players per year have moved to a top-flight Italian team and gone straight into the squad, featuring for at least 10 matches’ worth of league minutes in the second half of the season.

The Milan clubs have been among the keenest to roll the dice, having accounted for 23 winter first-team signings between them.

Rumours abound that Erling Haaland is being lined up by the Rossoneri as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s successor while Inter boss Antonio Conte has form for raiding the Premier League since he returned to Italy and has been linked with a move for Liverpool lynchpin Georginio Wijnaldum.

While the English top flight doesn’t bring in as many players as its Italian rival during the winter window, nobody can match it for money spent.

Both in absolute terms and as a percentage of total transfer outlay, the £2bn splurged by Premier League clubs over the last 10 January transfer windows is unmatched.

Chelsea and Liverpool are among the five English sides with the highest proportion of total transfer outlay in mid-season, so it would be unsurprising if they returned to the market.

Jurgen Klopp is in need of defensive cover following Virgil van Dijk’s injury while Frank Lampard has made no secret of his admiration for Declan Rice as a long-term replacement for N’Golo Kante.

If Rice does emulate the Blues boss by heading across London to Stamford Bridge, the likely size of the fee could disrupt an established Premier League norm.

Fewer than one pound in every three spent during the January transfer window by clubs in the English top tier go to a divisional rival, with over half flowing out of the UK altogether.

Barcelona in need of reinforcements

La Liga clubs are even less keen to share their wealth domestically, with almost half of the money they’ve collectively spent over the last 10 January windows going to another one of the ‘big five’ European leagues.

That trend looks set to continue as Barcelona find themselves languishing outside the top four, with a raft of defensive injuries a particular cause for concern.

Hector Bellerin and Antonio Rudiger are among the names linked with a move, although the Catalan giants may even embark on a grander winter spending spree if any of the rumoured high-profile departures materialise.

There could yet be another twist in the Lionel Messi transfer saga, or they may be able to offload underperforming record signing Philippe Coutinho to free up the funds required for a rebuilding project.

The Brazilian certainly fits the profile of a big January signing, with midfielders accounting for a larger share of the average winter outlay than any other playing position in the last decade.

On average, the ‘big five’ European leagues spend £147m in the middle of the park, another £143m up front and £83m on wingers. This compares to just £109m on the goalkeeping and defensive positions combined, of which centre-backs account for £71m.

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