As forrmer Leicester and Everton scouting chief Steve Walsh once told FFT, talent-spotters are never not looking for a striker. Whether it’s battling to avoid the drop, aiming to qualify for Europe or winning a trophy, top-flight clubs always have aims that can be met far easier with a predatory hitman at the sharp end.
Several clubs in the Premier League are in need of more firepower this month – namely Huddersfield, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Leicester, Newcastle, Southampton and even Tottenham, who face around six weeks without Harry Kane.
So who should teams potentially look to sign in January? Here are some options…
Neal Maupay (Brentford)
It’s easy to dismiss players from the Championship when you’re aiming for a quick transition to the Premier League, but Brentford striker Maupay has shown this season that he has what it takes to make an impact in the top tier.
Sixteen goals in 28 matches – 15 of them as the Championship’s second-highest scorer this term – proved that the Frenchman could adequately replace the China-bound Lasse Vibe, who left Brentford last February. Maupay is reportedly a target for managerless Huddersfield and division rivals Aston Villa this winter, and it seems only a matter of time before he gets his chance at a higher level.
Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt)
He might not have scored five goals in a game this season like strike partner Luka Jovic, but French striker Haller has made his own case for attention loud and clear in 2018/19. The 24-year-old has actually averaged more than a goal every other game across the Bundesliga and Europa League this season, adding 11 assists across the two competitions for good measure. Nobody in the Bundesliga has managed more than his eight.
It’s no wonder that he’s targeting a France nod soon. “If some day I’m called up, perfect. If not, then I’ll continue as usual,” Haller told Goal. I can only do my job, keep working, keep scoring. Everything else is out of my hands, because I’m not the coach. But I feel no pressure.” Les Bleus might not be the only ones monitoring him at this rate.
Mbaye Diagne (Kasimpasa)
Snapped up on a free transfer from Chinese side Tianjin Teda in January 2018, Diagne has enjoyed a remarkable year. With 32 goals in just 35 matches – 20 of which have come in only 17 Super Lig games this term – the 27-year-old has never had it so good.
Call-ups to the Senegal squad for Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Madagascar, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea late last year were just rewards for his terrific club form, and his stock has never been higher. Leeds are believed to be interested in his services, but so too are Newcastle according to the latest reports. A move to Qatar might put paid to an English venture, however.
Bas Dost (Sporting)
Of all the players that scarpered from Sporting last summer after the civil unrest of 2017/18, it was expected that Dost would be one of the first out of the door. After all, it was he who’d suffered the worst injuries when a group of around 50 fans stormed the Primeira Liga side’s training ground and attacked players.
As it happened, he was – Dost was among seven players who terminated their own contracts in mid-July, only to sign an improved deal after the departure of rent-a-gob president Bruno de Carvalho. But Sporting have been very glad he stayed: Dost has continued his fine scoring form with 16 goals in 17 games this season – including six braces. Having also netted consistently at Wolfsburg and Heerenveen, the Dutchman could be very interesting indeed to clubs in need of a physical goal-getter.
Krzysztof Piatek (Genoa)
It’s impossible not to mention the 23-year-old in a list like this. Signed for £4m last summer from Cracovia Krakow, Piatek has shocked Italian football by netting 19 goals in just 21 games for Genoa this term.
The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Milan are all said to be monitoring his situation, and the chances are that the Poland international will be snapped up for big money in the close season regardless. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has netted more goals this season than Piatek, who now has a £45m price tag on his head according to reports.
Mbwana Samatta (Genk)
Genk have a fine knack of unearthing gems – see Leon Bailey, Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfred Ndidi as cases in point – and Tanzanian striker Samatta has hit a rich vein of form in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League this year. Bagging a goal every 102 minutes on average, his season haul of 24 goals in 31 games in all competitions is a remarkable return.
The 26-year-old is yet to play at a major tournament for Tanzania, who didn’t qualify for the 2019 AFCON, but the captain’s return of 17 goals in 45 matches for his country is admirable nonetheless.
Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
Young, pacy and packing a competitive streak that would serve him well in the Premier League, Rangers’ Morelos could be an intriguing signing. The 22-year-old already has 20 goals and 10 assists in 34 matches this season, surpassing his tallies from 2017/18 after joining from Finnish side HJK.
As a player who has gone on record about his “dream of playing in the Premier League” one day, the tenacious Colombia international would be a fascinating addition to any club in the lower half of the table. Rangers would fight hard to keep him, though, and the January window could cause his price to spike if others – such as Besiktas – show significant interest in the 22-year-old.
Fedor Chalov (CSKA Moscow)
The youngest star on our list, but one to keep an eye on if he maintains this season’s form. Chalov has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with his hometown club with 11 goals in 24 starts across all competitions, including a strike in CSKA’s shock 3-0 Champions league victory at Real Madrid.
Players coming from the Russian league haven’t always enjoyed the best of times in the Premier League, but Chalov’s reputation is only set to rise as he continues his development. It might be worth taking a punt on him now, rather than potentially having to do battle with other clubs in the future.
Fran Sol (Willem II)
The Spaniard has been linked with Everton, Watford, Leeds, Rangers and Celtic over the past 12 months – and with the goals he’s chalked up in the Netherlands, it’s not difficult to see why. The 26-year-old’s haul of 17 strikes in 20 games this season, and 47 in 88 overall, has maintained his status as a valid option at the cheaper end of the market.
Fans will rightly point to the various flops that have suffered on British shores from the Eredivisie, but some clubs’ desperation for a frontman might lead to concrete interest. Leeds were heavily linked after Sol’s botched move to Dynamo Kiev, but it also appears as though there’s interest from MLS side Real Salt Lake.