With goals hard to come by at the highest level, it is perhaps little surprise that a number of the contenders are looking to bolster their forward lines. FC Internazionale Milano will lose the services of Nigerian international Obafemi Martins in January for the African Cup of Nations, and may face competition from Real Madrid CF for AS Roma's Antonio Cassano, whose contract expires at the end of the season. The Italian international would be eligible for the UEFA Champions League; all sides can register one player who has appeared in UEFA competition for another team provided it is not the same tournament.
Inter are also reported to be interested in AS Monaco FC's Brazilian right-back Maicon, while it is expected to be a quiet month for Juventus and AC Milan, although the Turin club are expected to sign FC Bayern München right-back Willy Sagnol on a free transfer next summer. Little activity is expected among the three Spanish teams, even if Madrid, who signed five players last January, move for São Paulo FC right-back Cicinho. Speculation continues to surround the futures of Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, too.
FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has expressed an interest in Thierry Henry but any move will not happen before the summer, while Maxi López may leave on loan. Villarreal CF, meanwhile, are expected to allow Antonio Guayre to leave on loan, as did Olympique Lyonnais recently in the case of Pierre-Alain Frau. Bayern have already recruited Paraguayan international playmaker Julio dos Santos and, having recently extended the contracts of a number of key players, most attention in Munich is focused on Michael Ballack, whose contract expires next summer and is expected to make a decision on his future imminently.
In England, Chelsea FC, as ever, have been linked with a number of players, with repeated speculation surrounding an €11.8m move for 16-year-old Southampton FC forward Theo Walcott. Defender Robert Huth could return to his native Germany as he eyes regular football ahead of next summer's FIFA World Cup. Chelsea could face competition from London rivals Arsenal FC for Walcott, while midfielders Didier Zokora and Tomáš Rosický and forwards Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuijt are reported targets at Highbury. A loan deal for Valencia CF defender Marco Caneira has also been suggested.
Holders Liverpool FC have been linked with Simão Sabrosa, captain of Round of 16 opponents SL Benfica, and are also thought to be looking to reinforce their defence, with Juve's Jonathan Zebina, Daniel Agger of Rosenborg BK, FC Spartak Moskva's Serbo-Montenegrin international Nemanja Vidić and Luciano Galletti of Club Atlético de Madrid all mooted as potential candidates. The Portuguese side are reluctant to lose Simão but are keen to bring in a goalkeeper during the transfer window, with Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek reportedly interested in a move to Lisbon.
AFC Ajax will lose the services of Hatem Trabelsi, Steven Pienaar, Maxwell and Nigel de Jong in summer 2006 and are already looking to rebuild, having been strongly linked with SC Heerenveen's Klaas Jan Huntelaar, the top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie. The Amsterdam side are also interested in AZ Alkmaar defender Ron Vlaar, while Julien Escudé and Angelos Charisteas would be allowed to leave to raise funds. PSV Eindhoven have Culina and Arouna Koné eligible to play in the knockout stages while 18-year-old left-back Pepe Plá is joining from Valencia CF.
Werder Bremen, meanwhile, should strengthen their defence, with Per Mertesacker one candidate. Bremen's summer signing Tim Wiese is set to take over in goal after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.
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