Five Premier League clubs which must strengthen before the deadline

West Brom - The Hawthorns

As deadline day looms, and with top flight managers scurrying through their contacts and scouting systems to get signings over the line, who needs who most?

With deadline day fast approaching and no major forays into the transfer market as yet, the final stages of the January window will certainly involve frantic scout searches, fax machines oh, and Jim White.

With that in mind, Here Is The City assesses which clubs needs to strengthen most and which players they should target for respective positions...

Manchester United

A seemingly insurmountable 14 points off the Premier League summit, six points off the top four and no end to the everlasting misery that has accompanied David Moyes' start to life at Old Trafford, United's need for reinforcements is glaring.

The squad looks a pale imitation of recent seasons under Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes has started to address the problems by sanctioning a £35m bid for Juan Mata at Chelsea, with the move progressing.

While United will have to wait until the summer to overhaul the playing staff, surgery is equally required in January to ensure they clinch Champions League qualification and the riches that it comes with so they can go on a close season spree.

With that in mind, their most pressing requirements on top of Mata this window are a central midfielder, a central defender and a left-back.

United have been linked with a host of midfielders but Yohan Cabaye could be available - albeit for £20m - and would be keen on a move to Old Trafford.

The likes of Eliquiem Mangala and Ezequiel Garay have both been linked with moves to Old Trafford but if United could steal Dante away from Bayern Munich, he would represent both value for money and proven quality at elite level.

As for a left-back, this troublesome area could prove difficult. A move for Leighton Baines has fizzled out, Moyes will not move for Fabio Coentrao and Luke Shaw's £30m price tag seems prohibitive but Sevilla's Alberto Moreno is being monitored, as is Atletico Madrid's Felipe Luis.

Everton

The signing of Lacina Traore appears imminent, with the Ivorian securing a work permit for a loan move from AS Monaco but further strengthening is required if the Toffees' top-four push is to continue into the final stages of the season.

Roberto Martinez can boast one of the strongest XI's in the country, but the supporting cast is not quite up to scratch, as throwing Steven Naismith on for a goal in the 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Monday night suggested.

With Nikica Jelavic offloaded to Hull City and Arouna Kone out for the rest of the season, Martinez may need more than just Traore up front, while Darron Gibson's prolonged injury absence has left the Spaniard short of midfield numbers. A loan move from Liverpool for AC Milan's Nigel de Jong has been mooted and Everton could certainly do worse than the Dutchman until the end of the season.

A defensive acquisition would also not go amiss, with Jonny Heitinga out of favour and John Stones the only able deputy in Martinez's mind. Joleon Lescott's future is up in the air at City so a move for the Toffees' former defender could fit the bill.

Fulham

The Cottagers have conceded the most goals this season (48), and lack any sort of midfield security or, indeed, dynamism.

Steven Defour of Porto, once a Manchester United favourite, has been linked, as has Jack Cork of Southampton, who has impressed when filling in for the injured Victor Wanyama.

With Fulham languishing in 17th - just a single point above the drop zone - Rene Meulensteen will be perfectly aware of the need to reinforce a defence which has been hit for four goals or more on five occasions in the league already this season. Swansea's Neil Taylor is a target for the left-back spot while the talented Leicester City defender Liam Moore is also a target.

The west London outfit have already been reported to the Premier League over tapping up Ravel Morrison by his club West Ham, although a deal could still be struck.

Crystal Palace

Tony Pulis has masterminded an unlikely recovery from Premier League oblivion at Selhurst Park since he took charge but is in dire need of added Premier League quality to prevent his slide from slipping back into relegation contention with just six points separating Aston Villa in 10th and Cardiff at the bottom of the pile.

Palace's primary problem has been finding the net, with Pulis' men scoring just 14 this term - the lowest in the league.

They were rebuffed in their efforts to sign Jelavic, who instead opted to move to Hull and must now shift their attentions elsewhere. With Kenwyne Jones effectively on strike at Stoke City in pursuit of a move to Everton, Pulis could do worse than raid his former club for the rangy frontman.

Jones' prospective move to Goodison Park does not look like coming to fruition and a move for Peter Crouch may also be of interest to Pulis, particularly given the fact Potters boss Mark Hughes has added John Guidetti to his ranks on loan from Manchester City.

Scott Dann is a target for the backline but the problems lie further upfield and, with Wilfried Zaha unlikely to return to the club on loan, Pulis' search could go on until the final hours.

West Brom

The Baggies' problems are similar to that of Palace's, with new manager Pepe Mel having to contend with the sale of Shane Long to Hull and the five-match ban handed to Nicolas Anelka for his controversial 'quenelle' gesture.

With Mel facing very little time to acclimatise to Premier League life, and also needing signings to push his new employers away from the relegation battle, there must surely be a temptation to return to his former club.

Alvaro Vadillo - a target of north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham in recent times - may prove to be out of the Baggies' price range but the prolific Ruben Castro may be a more realistic option for Mel, as he desperately seeks some firepower.

The Baggies could also do with some extra bodies in midfield to provide more solidity and Craig Gardner of Sunderland may be available at a knock-down price.

Who does your club need to sign before the closure of the January transfer window?

images: © Wshjackson, © Tony Hisgett

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