Five players Premier League clubs need to keep hold of in January

Theo Walcott Warming Up

Star performers at Everton, Arsenal, West Brom, Liverpool and Newcastle are being eyed up enviously by rivals in England and abroad.

Who are the most important players that clubs need to keep?

Marouane Fellaini: The Belgian has been in titanic form for Everton this season, propelling his side into contention for the Champions League places with six goals and three assists already. Fellaini has been linked with a move to Chelsea in particular in recent weeks but it would be madness for Everton to let him go. Whatever the price offered, they won't be able to replace him in January, and losing Fellaini could derail their season. The player as well should look at his recent success as something that can be attributed to Moyes and the system he's playing in at Everton, and stay at least until the summer.

Hatem Ben Arfa: Several of Newcastle's stars are still regularly linked with moves away from St James, despite the club's good record of keeping their best players (unless offered £35 million). Ben Arfa is perhaps the most vital man in their squad that they need to keep hold of. Ba, Cisse and Cabaye are all excellent players they should avoid selling too, but Ben Arfa is a talent from the top drawer, and undoubtedly irreplaceable in the winter transfer window. Pardew will certainly need the Frenchman if Newcastle are going to perform as well in the second half of the season as they did last year.

Theo Walcott: Whilst his contract may expire in the summer, Arsenal need to take a risk on Walcott and refuse to sell him even if it may mean he leaves for free later. Walcott has come back into the Arsenal starting eleven in recent weeks, and has been excellent, picking up three assists and a goal against Fulham and Spurs. His crossing now looks like a real threat with Giroud in the middle, and his ability to also play through the centre against tiring defences in the later stages of matches means that Walcott can be a real threat for Arsenal for the rest of the season.

Luis Suarez: This is about as obvious as it gets. Suarez is not only Liverpool's best player and main attacking threat; he is one of the very best players in the league. If the club let Suarez go in January, there would no worse signal to send to their fans and players, no matter how high the bid is.

Shane Long: As demonstrated by his excellent display against Chelsea, Long has been a major part of West Brom's wonderful start to the season. The striker has four goals and four assists to his name so far, and is adaptable enough to be a major threat either leading the line by himself or in tandem with another striker. If his performances continue to impress, there will be sides sniffing around West Brom come January, with several teams aiming for Europe still short of a quality striker. Even if West Brom can't maintain their excellent start, if they can keep hold of Long they should be able to challenge for European places.

image: © wonker

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