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Everton - January Transfer Window Preview

New year, new Blues?

Paul Thomas/Getty Images

As midnight tolls across Europe and the United Kingdom tonight, it will herald the opening of this annual mid-season frenzy when football teams historically overpay for substandard talent as they attempt to bolster their squads for a late season run at glory.

Everton have not been big spenders in the January window, but usually are active in the transfer market. As with any other team, they get linked with ten times as many players as they end up bringing in either permanently or on loan. Here's how they have fared in the last five seasons in January -

'13-'14 - Aiden McGeady and Lacina Traore in; Nikica Jelavic and John Heitinga out

'12-'13 - John Stones in

'11-'12 - Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar in; Shkodran Mustafi, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Louis Saha out

'10-'11 - Apostolos Vellios and Eric Dier in; Steven Pienaar and Yakuku Aiyegbeni out

'09-'10 - Landon Donovan and Philippe Senderos in

So as you can see there are some good deals to be had, but it can be pretty hit or miss at this time of the year.

Unlike twelve months ago though, Everton are in shambles right now. They are stuck in a woeful run of form, seem bereft of ideas and between untimely injuries and puzzling management the Blues are going down faster than the bubbly some of you will be guzzling tonight.

The big question will be how much Chairman Bill Kenwright will be willing to spend after the big money was already spent in the summer. Let's quickly look at each area of the team, and what they need, Roberto Martinez's opinions notwithstanding.

Goalkeepers -

Tim Howard is injured for 4-6 weeks, when the schedule starts to get really hectic.

Joel Robles has not inspired any confidence whatsoever in the few minutes that he has played.

Verdict: Need a goalkeeper who can start right away. With Robles in goal Everton might exit the FA Cup next week, and find themselves out of the top ten and the Europa League by the time Howard returns.

Options: Peter Cech (very high wages); Sergio Romero (could be expensive); Victor Valdes (last played a competitive match in March 2014); Ali Al-Habsi (most likely, only a stop-gap); Jack Butland (long-time target); Michel Vorm (worth a shot); Shay Given & Mark Schwarzer (too old?); Brad Friedel (did you read Howard's book?!).

Defence -

John Stones just returned from injury but is hurt again. Phil Jagielka will be out for some time too.

Sylvain Distin has never looked older and slower, while Antolin Alcaraz has been shambolic at times.

Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines have been ineffective, mostly due to poor wing play ahead of them.

Luke Garbutt and to a lesser extent Tyias Browning have been good, but are not ready to be full-time starters.

Verdict: A defender who can play the ball out of the backline is needed.

Options: Matija Nastasic - CB (good possibility); Martin Montoya - RB (Martinez a big fan); Douglas - RB (Another Barca player); Ron Vlaar - CB (let someone else overpay for him); Winston Reid - CB (solid option); Younes Kaboul - CB (also a good option); Virgil Van Dijk - CB (already linked by media).

Midfield -

Gareth Barry and James McCarthy were great last year, but since their respective injuries have lost their edge.

Darron Gibson still holds a season ticket to the physio's office, along with Steven Pienaar. Leon Osman will also be out for a long time.

Ross Barkley needs to play in the middle, period. Kevin Mirallas also needs to stay fit.

For that, Everton need effective wingers, and McGeady is not consistent enough while Christian Atsu runs fast and then loses the ball quicker than you could spell Deu-lo-feu.

Verdict: A good winger on either side to line up opposite Mirallas will rejuvenate both Baines and Coleman.

Options: Scott Sinclair - W (can get job done); Adama Traore - W (young, unproven); Gerard Deulofeu & Andre Ayew - W (supposed summer targets); Youssuf Mulumbu - CM (powerful through the middle, no similar players in current squad)

Forwards -

Romelu Lukaku has looked jaded lately. Luckily Arouna Kone looked good against Newcastle and could fill in.

Samuel Eto'o has played much more than would have been expected, and his play has dropped off recently, could use a break.

Steven Naismith has not been at the same level we saw last year, and part of that has come from ineffective wing play too.

Verdict: In Martinez' system of having the sole striker rotating in and out of the spearhead position, it makes no sense having a poacher who just sits in the box. Better quality service from the wing will immediately upgrade this area too.

Options: Danny Ings - S (out of contract in summer, good one for the future); Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (high wages, also out of contract in June)

Feel free to add in the comments other players you've seen or heard Everton linked with so far.