It feels like the transfer merry-go-round of summer has barely ended. But already, focus has switched onto January and who will be moving to bolster Europe's top teams for the business end of 2013/14.
The rumour mill is running steadily just over two months before the new window opens, but which transfers are most likely to happen? Some of the game's top players have been linked with a change of scenery: let's take a look at who is ready to splash the cash come the new year.
The Liverpool striker was heavily linked with a switch to Real Madrid in August, before ultimately opting to stay at Anfield. But could the Merengue restart their pursuit in January?
According to international team-mate Edinson Cavani (Mail), the striker is still keen on a move, but Madrid would have to dig deep to convince the Reds to make a mid-season sale.
The Poland international was one of the stars of 2012/13, and was hotly tipped to follow Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich before deciding to stay put in Dortmund. January, however, could see the striker finally opt for a transfer.
The Independent revealed that Lewandowski will almost certainly leave BVB in the summer, when his contract expires. The newspaper asserts that Bayern are still amongst the front-runners, although a move to England is not impossible either.
Angel Di Maria
The Argentine winger was slated to leave Madrid following Carlo Ancellotti's takeover, with Arsenal a possible destination. The Italian coach, however, recently revealed (via Daily Express) that he chose to release Mesut Ozil over Di Maria to the Londoners.
With the speedy wideman a key part of the Madrid team so far this season, it is unlikely he will seek a move to North London.
There is little predictable about Milan's flamboyant striker, apart from the fact that he tends not to stick around too long at any club. Super Mario has been linked with a switch to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea (Sky Sports), although CEO of the Italian club Adriano Galliani has poured cold water on the move by stating he is not for sale.
Not even being reunited with former mentor at Everton David Moyes has cooled rumours linking Wayne Rooney to an Old Trafford exit. The Daily Express speculates that a £35m bid from Jose Mourinho's men could be on the cards.
If not Rooney, maybe Atletico Madrid's man of the moment. Diego Costa has been in sensational form so far this season, driving the Colchoneros to second in La Liga and to a perfect Champions League start. According to the Daily Mirror, the Brazilian is another forward target for the Special One at Chelsea.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
The Borussia Monchengladbach keeper is a hot favourite to fight for Victor Valdes' No. 1 jersey from January onwards. According to Marca, the Germans and Barcelona are deep into negotiations, with minimal differences in the transfer fee standing in the way of a deal being closed.
Ter Stegen might not be Barca's only transfer window into Germany. AS asserts that alongside the keeper, attacking midfielder Gundogan is top of Gerardo Martino's priorities for January.
Tottenham Hotspur were one of the most active teams in the last transfer window, making some excellent acquisitions. All signs indicate, however, that the North London club will go back into the market for a new year's present.
Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, according to the Guardian, is a favourite and could well be moving south in 2014. £28m is the price tag floating around for the Belgium international's services.
One thing we can almost count on during the transfer window is that French moneybags clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco will again flex their financial muscle. Chelsea's Spain international Mata, according to The Independent, is a hot target for PSG.
With Javier Pastore not convincing in Parc des Princes, the reliable and combative Mata is seen as an excellent alternative for the Ligue 1 challengers.
In the midfield, meanwhile, Juventus starlet Paul Pogba is another option for PSG. According to Football Italia, reports that the ex-Manchester United man is considering a long-term deal with the Old Lady will not put off his suitors, who are lining up a bid in January.
There could also be movement in the other direction. Aware of the fact that brilliant veteran Andrea Pirlo will some day have to hang up his magic boots, Juve could look to repatriate Brazilian-Italian midfield star Thiago Motta from PSG (Football Italia, via Le10Sport).
Speaking of the bearded set-piece wizard, his exit could come sooner rather than later. According to the Daily Mail, Juve have stalled on a new contract and could look to sell the Italy international before his deal expires in June. Premier League giants like Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea would be interested in a blockbuster move.
Cote d'Azur millionaires Monaco, meanwhile, could set their sights on bolstering the defence. The Express asserts that the club will try and tempt Manchester City into selling captain Vincent Kompany, although it will not be an easy negotiation.
The Basel and Egypt winger is being closely followed after some excellent performances in Switzerland. According to the Daily Mail a move to England is more than possible in the next window: the paper asserts that both Liverpool and Tottenham are following the £15m-rated youngster, 21.
With Manchester United failing to fire on all cylinders since David Moyes took the helm, could a change of personnel rejuvenate the Red Devils? Roma star Miralem Pjanic has emerged at the top of the club's wish list (Gazzetta dello Sport, via Football Italia), although it would take a bid of up to €30 million to attract the current Serie A leaders.
It might sound almost ridiculously far-fetched, but there has been no shortage of noise in the UK press linking the Madrid man to a move back to England. Bale has endured a tough start to life in Spain, and according to the Metro, Manchester United are watching closely with a view to an approach.
The Tottenham striker has been linked with an unusual transfer destination: Canada and Major League Soccer. Quizzed about the England international this week, Toronto FC boss Ryan Nelsen responded enthusiastically to the prospect of having Defoe in his ranks (Sky Sports), fuelling speculation he could be moving across the Atlantic.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Could the young striking sensation be bound for North London? El Shaarawy's efforts to repeat a brilliant Serie A campaign last year have been frustrated by injury, but he would have no shortage of interest if he sought a move. Tottenham are one club (Mirror) who would welcome his talents with open arms.
The full-back with a rocket for a foot when it comes to free-kicks could be in line for a reunion with David Moyes. According to Goal, the Everton man will submit a transfer request for the upcoming window, and Manchester United would be prime candidates to swoop.
The solid midfielder is often unappreciated in the media, but years of sterling service for both Liverpool and Brazil over the years proves his class. Other teams have also been paying attention. Calcio Mercato (via Caught Offside) asserts that Serie A high-fliers Napoli will look to add the Brazilian to their ranks in January.
In response, Brendan Rodgers could turn to youth in order to strengthen his squad in the middle of the park. 18-year-old Derby County wonderkid Will Hughes has won many admirers in the Championship, and is already a regular in the England U21 set-up. The Daily Mail affirms interest from the Reds, while admitting that the teenager would not come cheap.
Liverpool are also likely to dip into the transfer market, although they could have a fight on their hands if they want to secure the signing of PSG star Jeremy Menez in January. According to Turkish newspaper fotoMac (via Caught Offside), the English club are considering a bid but could be beaten to the punch by Istanbul giants Galatasaray.
Aged just 23, the Japanese midfielder is turning many European heads thanks to an excellent season with J League club Cerezo Ozaka. Arsenal have a history of signing young talent from the country and, according to TalkSport, are among the front-runners for Kakitani's signature; but they may have to fight off interest from Inter and Galatasaray.
The Argentine-Italian was one of the stars of the Serie A season in 2012/13 with Roma and had great expectations after moving to the Premier League. Life at Southampton has not been smooth sailing, however, leaving open the prospect of a move back to Calcio. QS (via Football Italia) maintain that the striker is among three top targets in January.
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