With January just around the corner, plenty of Pro League sides will be hoping to add to their squads before the end of the winter window. Given that there will be three teams relegated, this January may see sides push their budgets in an attempt to avoid the drop, while others may do the same at the other end to push for European football. We look at each team and pick one or two areas they need to strengthen in this transfer window.
Leaders Genk have already picked up a player, with Slavia Prague’s Yira Sor being announced a few days ago. The side needed more depth out wide, and that is what they have got in Sor. Another position they may be interested in is another central defender. Jhon Lucumi departed for Italy in the summer, but Mark McKenzie has slotted in seamlessly. With Mujaid Saddick back from injury there is more cover there, but adding another experienced defender as a back up to McKenzie and Carlos Cuesta would be a wise move. Keeping Paul Onuachu and Mike Tresor is certainly their number one goal before any new players are required.
Union St Gilloise
Union lost Denis Undav and Casper Nielsen in the summer, and many expected them to struggle after overperforming last year. Yet, the side are currently second and are arguably playing better than they did last season. The squad is strong in all areas, so it is hard to pinpoint an exact area to strengthen. They could look to bring in another right-midfielder, as Bart Nieuwkoop is the player of quality in that position. If he were to get injured, the club would be relying on an ageing Guillaume François, whereas they could look to add an exciting young player who could be a back-up and future replacement for Nieuwkoop.
Antwerp are crying out for a creative midfielder. They need someone who can play between the lines and feed the attacking talent they have. Calvin Stengs has started to produce more, so their need for a winger has been reduced. Without Koji Miyoshi, they don’t really have a creative spark in central areas. Pieter Gerkens and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp are good all round midfielders, but they don’t create enough. The side have been willing to chuck money around recently, so expect something to happen in January.
Club will be under new management by 2023, and much will likely depend on the formation the new coach wants to play. The side could do with another central defender, as behind Brandon Mechele and Abakar Sylla there is a clear drop off. Dedryk Boyata looks past his best, while the other options are youngsters. Money is available to be spent, and Club should be looking to bring in another strong defender. The rest of the squad is good enough to be challenging for the title, but defensive lapses at key moments have let them down this season.
Gent would probably love to sign Marty McFly and get him to take them back to the start of the season. The Buffaloes lost Tarik Tissoudali early and struggled for form as a result. Now, the side have started to get consistency, but finances are looking poor and the club are looking for fresh investment. This could signal the end for some important experienced players who are on larger wages. These include Michael Ngadeu and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, both out of contract in the summer. Therefore, a replacement central defender or central midfielder for their departure could be a wise investment. But then, given the situation, maybe sticking with what they already have would be a better bet.
Standard, like Gent, are constrained financially. They want to send Nicolas Raskin and Selim Amallah, both of whom have refused to sign new contracts, to new clubs in January. If both leave, they will need replacing, especially Raskin. However, the side really want to sign a striker. Denis Dragus is inconsistent, Abdoul Tapsoba and Renaud Emond have struggled with injuries. Croatian striker Stipe Perica has two goals in 10 games after being signed in the summer. Ronny Deila would love more than one new player, but a striker is top priority.
Newly promoted Westerlo have been one of the surprise packages so far this season. Their squad has the necessary depth to cover for injuries, so their January needs are more in terms of keeping players. Halil Akbunar has been linked with a return to Turkey, which if it did materialise would mean Westerlo should look for a replacement. Getting Jan Bernat and Edon Daci back before the end of the season would be great for Westerlo.
Leuven could certainly do with a back-up striker. Mario Gonzalez has been in scintillating form with 11 goals in 13 games, but behind him is Alekasandr Buksa who has barely featured and Nachon Nsingi, who is more of a cross between a winger and a striker. An injury to Gonzalez could turn a positive season by OHL into a mediocre to poor season. With Joao Gamboa returning on loan to Estoril, the side could also be in the market for another central midfielder.
Cercle have turned to corner since bringing in Miron Muslic to take over from Dominik Thalhammer, who is now at KV Oostende. Under Muslic, a strong but young squad on paper has started to perform to or even above expectations. Signing Dino Hotic to a new long-term deal would be as good as any signing for the Green and Black, yet if that is not likely to happen, finding a replacement would be wise. Carlos Avina and his staff are always looking at ways to improve the squad, but are also keen to ensure the squad is not oversaturated with talent that can’t get playing time.
With Bernd Hollerbach leaving at the end of the season, alongside what could likely be a number of key players who are out of contract. All this points to a quiet January for the Canaries, as with a coach leaving and players on their way out, it is clear that the summer of 2023 will be a realignment period for the club. If Gianni Bruno leaves, as he is rumoured to be, then the club will have to find a new striker in January if they want to maintain a play-off push.
The Mauves are not the only side in financial difficulty, and thus any deals they make in January will have to be cut price. They want to send Sebastiano Esposito back to Inter, which if made possible will free up space for another striker. All the noise coming out of the club has been that they are looking to bolster their attacking options. Fabio Silva has carried the bulk of the scoring load so far this season, with Benito Raman having to deal with injuries meaning there haven’t been many options outside of Silva. Swapping Esposito for a striker that can get on the pitch is certainly something Anderlecht will pursue.
Like Anderlecht, Charleroi need a striker. Unlike Anderlecht, this was an area that the club needed to address in the summer. They didn’t and this has caused much frustration amongst fans. Annas Zaroury’s departure was a major blow near the end of the window, and he hasn’t been replaced. None of the other strikers brought in have been consistent enough. The squad outside of its attackers is far better than the table belies, so if the striker they need is found in January, the side shoot up the table.
Experience at the back would be a great boost for the Pandas. Jan Gorenc and Jan Kral are the oldest central defenders at 23 years of age, yet neither can get in the team. The side have conceded 38 goals in 18 games, well over two a game. Bringing in a experienced head to help the youngsters at the back could help the side in their relegation battle. Given their predicament, bringing in any experienced player could help the east Belgian side in their fight against the drop.
Like most other clubs on this list, Malinwa could do with a striker. Julien Ngoy has struggled for fitness, with three goals to his name in 14 appearances. Yonas Malede was brought in from Gent to fill the gap left by Hugo Cuypers who went the other way. Malede has struggled to find the net as well in his 14 appearances. With Kerim Mrabti back, the side are back at full strength in terms of creativity in midfield areas. Finding a striker capable of converting chances can move Mechelen away from a relegation battle that they should not be in.
Much of what Oostende do in January will depend on injuries to key players. Fraser Hornby’s injury is hopefully not too serious, as his goals have been key this season. Another goal scorer is certainly required, as Thierry Ambrose has only got three in 17 games so far this season. If Cameron McGheehan’s injury is also long-term, another central midfielder could also be required. McGeehan has had injury problems throughout his time with Oostende, while key midfielder Maxim D’Arpino has returned but is still some way off regaining fitness. Defenders are also required, especially those with experience as the side has conceded 40 goals so far this season. Like Eupen and others, the relegation battle is real for Oostende and reinforcements are certainly required.
January looks like a period of clear out for Kortrijk, as the club look to reinvigorate the squad with players willing to fight to remain in the Belgian Pro League. All positions require attention for Kortrijk, so any reinforcement would be welcome. Striker’s are probably the order of the day, as Felipe Avenatti is the only one scoring goals at this moment in time. Even then he only has three goals this season in 14 games. Didier Lamkel Ze was meant to be the goalscoring creator brought in during the summer, but as many predicted the signing was a failure and Ze will be moving on. Their recent win against Genk gave them hope, but they will need more than that to avoid the drop.
Despite bringing in plenty over the summer, Zulte Waregem are having another poor season. Defensively they have to improve in January as they have conceded 42 goals in 18 games, the worst in the league. The problem has been that many of the players Zulte Waregem have brought in haven’t improved the squad. There has been a long running rumour that Ruud Vormer is joining the side, but Mbaye Leye recently ruled that out. However, a player like Vormer is exactly what the side needs, a leader in midfield who can instil a winning mentality in a side low on confidence. If the club and player can agree wages that both sides are happy with, Vormer is the player Zulte Waregem should bring in.
Given their predicament, its easy to say that Seraing could do with players in every position but goalkeeper. Only Marius Mouandilmadji and Antoine Bernier have scored more than once this season. Bernier has three and Mouandilmadji has seven. Attracting players will be difficult, so expect to see more French Ligue 1 youth prospects make the move across the border. Keeping the afore mentioned Mouandilmadji and Bernier is crucial if the side are to have any chances of staying in the league. Chances of survival are incredibly slim, given that Seraing have not managed to win a point since the 8th of October. January will show whether the clubs management still thinks survival is a possibility, or if it is time to plan for next season in the Challenger Pro League.