The January transfer window presents teams with a chance to start afresh. With half of the season passed, they can assess what they need for the second half of the campaign, and buy accordingly for the final push towards the finish line.
Of course, the big clubs will be anxious to buy players who are eligible to play in the Champions League. Stars from teams of the same stature will already have been involved in Europe, meaning that a lesser-known player from a smaller club might be the way to go.
And Goal.com is here to pick out some of the best talent from around the globe who could be waiting for a big club.
Saint-Etienne forward Aubameyang has been one of the outstanding forward players in Ligue 1 so far this season. In previous campaigns he has been noted for profligacy when in front of the target, but improved maturity has brought with it an improved goal ratio for the former AC Milan striker. He has shown that he is capable of playing in a wide role or through the centre, with his searing pace his most noted attributed – aside, perhaps, from his famous diamond-studded boots. Given his performances of late, the Rossoneri must be kicking themselves that they allowed him to leave quite so easily 12 months ago.
The Bundesliga is always good value for a surprise or two, and nobody involved with Eintracht Frankfurt would have expected them to be in the top four going into the winter break. A huge part of that success has been Sebastian Rode, whose performances in the centre of midfield have not gone unnoticed, with both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich said to be monitoring his situation. He may well elect to stay put, though, and help Frankfurt try to seal Champions League qualification against all odds.
A former Argentina Under-20 international, Facundo 'Chucky' Ferreyra made the move to Velez Sarsfield from Banfield in 2012, and soon established himself as a key part of Ricarda Gareca's team, top-scoring as they raced to the Inicial title earlier in December. His efforts have not gone unnoticed abroad, and as revealed by Goal.com, Inter view Ferreyra as a potential heir to none other than Diego Milito. Should they secure his signature, they will have the striker for the best years of his career.
Quite how Nainggolan is still playing for provincial Sardinian side Cagliari is a mystery because he has been one of Serie A's best centre midfielders for well over a year now. In the January 2012 transfer window, he was heavily linked with a host of top European sides, including Manchester City, Juventus and AC Milan. The 24-year-old Belgian's strength, energy, aggression and combative tackling make him one of Europe's hottest midfield properties.
Having suffered heartbreak when relegated with boyhood club Hertha Berlin at the end of last season, Patrick Ebert left Germany behind and made the switch to La Liga and Valladolid. Since then, he hasn't looked back. His performances down the flank have thrilled local fans, and terrified opposition defences, scoring three goals and assisting four others in his 13 appearances in the Primera Division. At 25 years of age, his best days are ahead of him, and he could prove an astute purchase for a club looking for reinforcements.
A beneficiary of former manager Paul Lambert’s keenness to harness and develop talent from the Football League, Anthony Pilkington is adding consistency to his threatening but previously mercurial wing play. Capable on either flank but best on the left, the former Huddersfield Town man is fearless with a fine eye for a cross. This season, stepping up as one of Norwich City’s best, he has also contributed with key goals, none less vital than the winner against Manchester United.
When a club as canny in the market as Lorient break their transfer record, it generally has to be for someone worth buying, and in Alain Traore the Breton club appear to have pulled a gem from Auxerre. The offensive midfielder, whose brother Bertrand is in the Chelsea youth system, is noted for his goal-scoring power from the centre of the park, and most notably his penchant for spectacular long-range strikes. It may be a little soon for the 23-year-old Burkinabe to depart Stade du Moustoir, yet if he maintains his level, les Merlus can expect a strong return on the reported €5 million they paid.