It is that time of year again where football managers delve in to their pockets and pick out who they feel could add a certain reliability or panache to their squad in the January transfer window. With Manchester City's billionaire Arab owners, Abu Dhabi, expecting to provide significant outlay for possible purchases, the blue half of Manchester areÂ anticipated to be the biggest spenders with world stars including AC Milan's Kaka, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Chelsea's John Terry all rumoured to be joining Eastlands.
But realistically who will be moving where? Everton manager David Moyes has already specified his tight budget for the upcoming transfer window, but would a loan move still be on the cards. A hot favourite for a move is Newcastle United striker Michael Owen, who has hyped up his value in recent weeks after scoring consistently for Joe Kinnear's Magpies and has attracted interest from Chelsea amongst others.
Will Blackburn strikers Roque Santa Cruz and Benni McCarthy be on their way to sunnier climes after Rovers' disappointing Premier League campaign under rookie manager, Paul Ince?
Now it is time to look at theÂ four best striker transfer possibilities the window has to offer.
Club: Newcastle United
2008/9Â League Appearances: 12
2008/9 League Goals: 6
Tipped by most pundits and rival managers for a move, Michael Owen is revelling in his current form for club side, Newcastle United. The 28 year old, who celebrates his 29th birthday tomorrow, is in a rich vein of form with three goals in his last four Premier League matches and his awareness and predatory instincts in the penalty areaÂ are highly sought after by those at the top. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all given interest towards the former Liverpool hitman and with Owen likely to leave the club either in January or next summer, Joe Kinnear will demand a decent asking price in the region of Â£8-10m one would expect. England's fourth highest all-time goalscorer appears to be attracting the right attention again after former controversies and dips in form with England in the past and at club level abroad seemingly behind him now.
Roque Santa Cruz
Club: Blackburn Rovers
2008/9 League Appearances: 8
2008/9 League Goals: 2
Despite signing a new contract at Paul Ince's Blackburn in August, things haven't been roseyÂ in the north west this season for Rovers striker, Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguay forward was a revelation last campaign with 19 goals in 31 league appearances, with the former Bayern Munich man adding much needed height and adept attacking control to the Lancashire side. But this time aroundÂ is notÂ proving as fruitful for Roque, as injuries and a lack of service from a much maligned midfield are failing to keep him enthused under the guidance of former Man United midfield stalwart, Ince.
Although the Blackburn boss would be highly reluctant to release one of his star players, the right price might be enough to entice Santa Cruz away from Ewood Park. After all, he would alert a range of suitors, including Liverpool who would find his heading ability, clinical goalscoring and consistent commitment, as an admirable Plan B which has been devoid at Anfield since the departure of Peter Crouch to Portsmouth this summer.
Club: Wigan Athletic
2008/9 League Appearances: 12
2008/9 League Goals: 8
No one would have expected such an impact from a player whose trade has been mostly plyed in Egypt, but the unknown quantity of Amr Zaki has provided hysterical reactions by rival clubs in the Premier League this term. On loan from native side, El Zamalek, Zaki has lit up the JJB Stadium at Wigan with his dazzling footwork, his tireless work rate and most importantly his superb scoring rate. The forward from Mansoura has netted eight times in 12 league matches this year and has subsequently caught the eye of Chelsea, Liverpool and mid-table sides including Newcastle United.
Although Wigan boss Steve Bruce would not want Zaki'sÂ one year loan deal to terminate, the reality of the situation remains that Zaki's eyecatching displays would prompt a raid. Bruce would most likely have to succumb to losing his asset, with Zaki already rumouring to gain a value of Â£10-15m, especially if Chelsea's inflated interest became a reality.
2008/9 League Appearances: 15
2008/9 League Goals: 2
It was onlyÂ as early as July that Robbie Keane appeared to be a Tottenham player, until Liverpool's moneybag owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks rubbed their pounds together and produced a Â£20.3m purchase of the potent striker. Keane's signature was certainly worth every penny Spanish boss, Rafael Benitez paid for the Republic of Ireland attacker. His formidable form at Spurs won over numerous supporters, with 80 league goals in 197 league appearances endearing him to the North London faithful. However his transfer to the north west remains a stark contrast. Keane has managed just twoÂ goals in 15 league games and only four in all competitions and has fell behind in the pecking order to mainstay strikers, Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and even Ryan Babel.
Almost appearing surplus to Benitez's plans with Keane used in a peripheral role at Liverpool, he may well move on either in January or next summer if things don't improve. Despite his clinical instinct and his ability to speed past defenders as part of a big-man, little-man striker pairing, Keane's adoption of the latter should certainly win over a range of suitors, even if it fails to win over Benitez.