By Simon Hart
Saturday marked the opening of the winter transfer window and the opportunity for clubs across Europe to strengthen their squads. uefa.com looks at the 16 teams remaining in the UEFA Champions League and considers which, if any, are likely to be busy in the January sales.
With a surfeit of strikers at the club, Real Madrid CF may well sell Fernando Morientes this month, with Liverpool FC his possible destination. However, wherever Morientes goes, he will be unable to play in European competition for another side this season. Madrid may look to strengthen in central midfield while a move for a goalkeeper is not out of the question either, given both Iker Casillas and César Sánchez will be out of contract in the next 18 months. FC Barcelona, meanwhile, could try to bolster their attack following Henrik Larsson's long-term injury.
While Liverpool are keen to move for Morientes - and the Reds have been in need of a striker since Djibril Cissé broke his leg - their Premiership rivals Arsenal FC and Manchester United FC are less sure to strengthen, although a new goalkeeper could yet be a target for both. As for Chelsea FC, after spending over €145m last season, it seems they have options in every position. But that is no guarantee of Roman Abramovich's cheque book remaining closed, especially now that Scott Parker is injured.
Futures in doubt
Of the three Serie A sides, neither Juventus FC and AC Milan have much need for reinforcements. Juve coach Fabio Capello will have striker David Trezeguet back soon after his shoulder injury, and the departures rather than arrivals may be of greater note with the futures of Nicola Legrottaglie and Mark Iuliano open to question. AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti should have Jaap Stam and Filippo Inzaghi back in action soon and, as with Capello, will likely see no need to add to his squad. Whether he tries this month to sign Hernán Crespo on a permanent basis from Chelsea FC, or waits until the summer, remains to be seen.
Milan's neighbours, FC Internazionale Milano, may be busier. After failing to sign César from S.S. Lazio last summer, coach Roberto Mancini may look again for a left midfielder, while either Julio Cruz and Alvaro Recoba could be on the move out of the club. And after conceding 24 goals in 16 Serie A games, Mancini could also be on the lookout for another centre-back.
In Germany, there has already been some movement in and out of those clubs involved in the Champions League. Bayer 04 Leverkusen have brought Landon Donovan back from the United States, while Greek international Angelos Charisteas has left Werder Bremen for AFC Ajax. FC Bayern München are not expected to make any new signings but Thomas Linke has been linked with a move away from the Olympiastadion.
Olympique Lyonnais enter 2005 in rude health and the only pressing question for coach Paul Le Guen concerns the future of striker Giovane Elber, injured since August but expected to be fit by the end of the month. However, with youngster Nilmar since incorporated in the squad, will there be a place for him? As for the tournament's other Ligue 1 side, AS Monaco FC, they lost two key attacking midfielders last summer in Jérôme Rothen and Ludovic Giuly and with Akis Zikos and Lucas Bernardi sidelined by injury, a new midfielder may figure in coach Didier Deschamps' plans.
Reigning European champions FC Porto solved one problem when they confirmed the signing of Brazilian left-back Leandro on a five-year contract from Cruzeiro EC: he will fill the vacancy left by Nuno Valente's injury-enforced absence. They may next reinforce the left flank but with whom remains to be seen. PSV Eindhoven, meanwhile, were rumoured not so long ago to be seeking attacking reinforcements but a €4.9m loss last season and the progress made by Peruvian forward Jefferson Farfán may mean they sit tight, especially with John de Jong and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink due to return from injury.
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