Everton January tranfer window: the key areas Rafa Benitez may look to strengthen his squad

The Toffees boss will seek reinforcements to bolster his squad at Goodison Park.

The January transfer window opens in less than two days' time.

It offers clubs the opportunity to strengthen their squads at the midway stage of the season - and Everton will be eyeing reinforcements.

After an impressive start to the season, the Toffees have jettisoned to 15th in the Premier League table.

During that time, director of football Marcel Brands has left Goodison Park, while Rafa Benitez has come under pressure from sections of supporters.

Having been forced to be frugal during the summer after taking charge as manager amid financial problems, Benitez has admitted he's got some funds to spend in January.

He'll also again have to be shrewd in who he brings in.

We take a look at the areas of the Everton squad might be bolstered.

Left-back

Vitaliy Mykolenko is a January target for Everton. Picture: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

It's the obvious starting point - and one that's virtually already finalised.

Everton's interest in Vitaliy Mykolenko has been well-documented. Since the Dynamo Kiev defender was first linked midway through December, interest has accelerated.

The Toffees have required an additional left-back since the summer after Niels Nkounkou departed on loan to Standard Liege.

However, Mykolenko's arrival is pointing towards a departure for Lucas Digne.

The France international has had an off-field dispute with Benitez and now seeks an exit.

A host of clubs including Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Napoli have all been linked with Digne.

Right-back

It's an area of the squad Everton tried to strengthen in the summer.

And after missing out on the likes of Denzel Dumfries and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, you'd think Benitez will attempt to recruit an additional right-back once again.

Supporters have been left disappointed how a successor hasn't been found for Seamus Coleman for several years. Many believe his waning performances in his twilight years are a fault of not having an adept competitor for his position, with Jonjoe Kenny out of favour.

Essentially, they claim the Goodison Park skipper has been let down.

Another player who Everton tried to recruit in the summer was Nathan Patterson but had two bids knocked back.

The 20-year-old remains out of favour at Rangers, with skipper James Tavernier first choice.

Patterson's a full Scotland international who has a bright future ahead but could cost around £10 million.

Nathan Patterson in action for Rangers. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Centre-back

On paper, Everton are well stocked when it comes to central defence.

But there have been reports earlier in the season that Benitez wants an additional recruit.

Yerry Mina’s been Everton’s best centre-half when fit. However, the Colombia international has struggled with injuries, making only seven appearances in total.

There’s now an argument whether the Toffees are getting true value for money.

Meanwhile, Mason Holgate’s also only played seven times in the Premier League. He’s been linked with Newcastle.

Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane and youngster Jarrad Branthwaite are the other options, although a loan departure for the latter could be highly beneficial.

An attacking midfielder

Swathes of fans agreed selling James Rodriguez was that prudent thing to do.

Given his high wages, injury record and doubts around whether he'd be willing to meet Benitez's intensity demands, his sale to Al Rayyan helped raise funds that can be reinvested.

However, Everton are lacking an out-and-out attacking midfielder in their squad after Rogriguez's departure. Abdoulaye Doucoure's been immense, recording two goals and four assists, but a recognised number 10 is still something the Blues are short of.

It'd give Benitez the scope to change systems to a 4-2-3-1 formation, which he supposedly favours, and not deploy wingers such as Demarai Gray and Alex Iwobi in makeshift central roles.

There have been several creative midfielders linked in recent months. They include Manchester United pair Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard, along with Barcelona's Phillippe Coutinho.

A potential reunion with Ross Barkley has also been mooted.

Phillippe Coutinho. Picture: PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

A winger

Evertonians no doubt lament a deal for Luis Diaz not being reached in the summer.

The Porto winger has plundered 14 goals and five assists this season. The next club he joins will likely be one of Europe's superpowers.

But the fact that Benitez coveted a wide player suggests one still might be on his shopping list.

Gray's proved the bargain of the summer, having netted five goals since his £1.7 million arrival from Bayer Leverkusen.

Andros Townsend, meanwhile, has surpassed many fans' expectations.

Anthony Gordon's made rapid headway this season but many would accept he's still not the complete package aged 20.

And Iwobi's troubles at Goodison Park continue. He's again struggled for form.

Wingers are at the fulcrum of Benitez's Everton system. Crosses into the box are imperative.

That's why he might want another through the door ahead of the second half of the season.