For football fans, the New Year means one thing: winter transfers.
The big money gets thrown around in the summer, but that doesn’t mean the rumours and deals are not hotting up this January. The winter transfers are a great time, when you can review performances mid-season… that is… if you have any money to spend. Big transfer deals tend to be a rarity in January, but that doesn’t mean that clubs won’t splash out if the right player comes along.
It’s only been a week since the transfer window opened, but that has been enough to get the rumour mill going. There are a few weeks until deadline day, so here’s a look at how things might shape up…
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Injuries have struck the Gunners in recent weeks, none more so than the long-term absence of Rob Holding, who further weakens Unai Emery’s defence. Getting a new defender in is a priority for the Spanish manager, with Kostas Manolas a longstanding target for the north London outfit. Torino’s Cameroonian international Nicolas N’Koulou is another they’re looking at. Most of the chatter around Arsenal is the uncertain future of Mesut Özil, who is keen to stay despite reports that Unai Emery would like to see the back of him. With so many conflicting statements, it’s hard to say where Özil will find himself next season. Özil’s future is in complete contrast to Aaron Ramsey, who’s out of contract in the summer and is likely to sign an agreement with a new club (likely Juventus) this January.
More injuries are making things difficult for Bournemouth’s defence with Simon Francis and Eddie Smith both suffering from knee problems. Even at a time when he needs to look for some new players to strengthen the team, most of Eddie Howe’s energies will be spent keeping his current squad. Rangers have picked up Jermain Defoe on loan, while Callum Wilson’s future is in doubt with Chelsea on the hunt for a new striker. Dominic Solanke’s arrival from Liverpool is costly at £19 million and he could be a replacement for Wilson, while Nathaniel Clyne has also moved south from Merseyside on loan.
Brighton and Hove Albion
It promises to be a quiet January for Chris Hughton’s side. They failed to bring in Dominic Solanke, but have shown interest in Youssef Msakni, a Tunisian international currently playing for Al-Duhail in Qatar. Outgoings are also likely to be kept at a minimum, with the club currently enjoying a strong second season in the Premier League.
Like many Premier league clubs that don’t have bursting coffers full of cash, Burnley will be looking at young emerging talent in the Championship this January. It’s a tactic that has seen Sean Dyche right a few times now. The trick will be convincing their targets that they will be staying in the Premier League at the end of the season. A feat that could prove difficult if they target players who could be promoted from the Championship, while Burnley slip the opposite way. When it comes to players leaving, Dyche has gone on record saying he has no intention of selling any of his three goalkeepers, wanting to keep their talent close to home and not make profitable loans.
The race to be the most desperate side is currently being won by Cardiff City with manager, Neil Warnock, saying he had ‘nine or ten concrete inquiries for players’. The Bluebirds missed out on Nathaniel Clyne, with Warnock claiming that Liverpool “lacked class” in how the saga played out. A striker with a proven goal record is a must, as playing a converted right-back upfront for a season will not achieve safety. He has many fingers in pies in Europe, with interest in Emilano Sala, Adrien Tameze, and Ivan Santini.
This would be a good time for Chelsea to snap up great new players, seeing that they could face a 12-month transfer ban pending a FIFA investigation into their practices recruiting underage players. Early in the transfer window, they secured Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £58 million but are letting him finish up the season there on loan. Over the weekend, it was revealed that they will make a £50 million bid to try and secure PSG striker, Edinson Cavani. Gonzalo Higuain is an alternative if they miss out on Cavani, with Alvaro Morata heading in the opposite direction.
Outgoings are likely to dominate proceedings at Stamford Bridge though. Gary Cahill, Victor Moses, Danny Drinkwater and Tammy Abraham are all likely to be made available this January, with Cahill linked with a move to Arsenal. Permanent departures would likely be preferred by the hierarchy, but if this fails, then they can always join the army of loanees playing around the world. Andreas Christensen has voiced discontent at a lack of first-team appearances this season and could also be looking for a move. Eden Hazard’s departure seems inevitable, but that’s one likely for the summer. Of more pressing concern for Blues fans is the future of Callum Hudson-Odoi. Bayern Munich have launched a third bid of £30 million, although the Blues are holding out for £40 million. It’s a huge amount of money for a player sat on the bench, but Chelsea will be determined to not repeat Manchester City’s mistakes, who sold Jadon Sancho for a mere £8 million and then watched him dominate Europe.
There’s not much to go on when it comes to trying to find out what Crystal Palace have planned this winter. Most of their transfer news is based on whispers and rumours and their only major deal, Dominic Solanke, fell through early on. It’s only natural for a team with little to no budget to keep their cards close to their chest, but a striker is an essential for Roy Hodgson, with Christian Benteke showing no signs of improving. Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham are targets.
Marcel Brands has said that transfers are not a priority for Everton this winter, or even the near future. ‘It’s not a goal to sell, it’s not a goal to bring in new players,’ he said. If the Blues need any new blood, a solid striker would be a welcome addition with some interest shown in Hull’s Jarrod Bowen. Getting Andre Gomes to sign permanently would be a boost, while looking for a long-term replacement for Seamus Coleman could also be considered.
Cauley Woodrow has been on loan to Barnsley since the summer and he signed a permanent deal with The Tykes on the 3rd January. Fulham are putting most of their winter energy into getting a loan for Gabriel Barbosa, a player recently voted Serie A’s worst ever player, who astonishingly, has plenty of sides sniffing around after him. A summer of big spending has left the money a bit low for Fulham though, and there are rumours that they might cancel Fosu-Mensah’s loan to free up funds to bring on another temporary signing.
This is a side that is desperate to improve their attack after scoring just 12 goals in 20 league matches. David Wagner’s main difficulty will be attracting players to a team currently sat bottom of the table. He’s promised to make the most of this transfer window to strengthen his strikers, particularly centre forwards. Could it be a record-breaking winter of spending for Huddersfield?
Leicester City have only one goal in mind when it comes to this winter’s transfer window. Sell, sell, sell! Seven midfielders are up for bidding including Andy King and Adrien Silva. Another one that could be up for the chop is Shinji Okazaki who has fallen out of favour of late. Finding replacements for some of their ageing players, including Jamie Vardy and Wes Morgan, might also be considered.
No one spent more than Liverpool in the summer and they have reaped the rewards this season so far. They are likely to have a quiet winter transfer window now that their main target, Christian Pulisic, was pulled from under them by Chelsea. Expect outgoings only.
City are another team that are in hot water in the Premier League for dodgy recruitment practices of underage players. This has Pep Guardiola advising the side to buy during this transfer window amid fears of a 12-month ban and rumours flying around that he has put in a transfer request to the Etihad board. Aside from the scandals, bookies are also favouring potential signings for Fenkie De Jong, Ousmane Demele, and Isco, but City will have to act fast as all three have lots of clubs after them. Despite all this, Man City insist that there will be no new signings this January.
As December showed, finding a deputy for Fernandinho is crucial for Guardiola. The Brazilian is now 33 and can’t go on forever! Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele is tipped as a potential replacement but will be ineligible for Champions League action between now and the end of the season. Left back is also an area of concern with Benjamin Mendy suffering another injury. Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko have both filled in, but neither are good enough defensively, while Aymeric Laporte played out of position against Liverpool. Ben Chilwell is an option.
United are never short of cash to throw around when they have the opportunity to bring in new blood to the side. Their priority at the minute is to find a centre back and are looking at Porto’s Éder Militão, Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld, Leicester City’s Harry Maguire and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. It’s a time for their new interim manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to give his advice on top of United’s long-term plans.
Part of those plans will also include players leaving Old Trafford. Marouane Fellaini has survived five Manchester United managers, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll survive a sixth. Matteo Darmian has never settled in the Premier League and has been tipped for a return to Italy, while verdicts on Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will likely be delivered in the second half of the season. The contracts of Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are likely to be extended.
It’s Groundhog Day for Newcastle fans. As is often the case, a story of a takeover bid surfaced in December and speculation has followed since. What happens in the transfer market will be a result of this. The Magpies might be up for a quiet, straightforward transfer window with none of their first team up for sale. They are on the hunt for a strong playmaker in Miguel Almiron but the jury is still out on whether it will be a January signing for Newcastle.
It’s been an expensive season on and off the pitch this season for Southampton with new managers and severance packages to deal with. Saints are looking to replenish those empty coffers by trimming their team and making a few crucial choices in a new right back. What many Southampton fans will be asking is where the £76 million from the sale of Virgil Van Dijk has gone, with very little re-invested in the squad. A huge factor, when considering they’re hanging precariously above the relegation zone, with a group of players who aren’t good enough for the Premier League. Steven Davis has joined Rangers on loan, while they’re open to the sale of Fraser Forster.
Spurs are continuing a worrying trend of losing aspiring young players with the latest being Jaden Brown. The 19-year-old left on a free-transfer on New Years Day. New talent will have to come on the cheap as the new stadium is running over-budget and a disrupted wage structure has sent salaries skyrocketing. Daniel Levy hopes to combat the financial worries by recruiting cheap up-and-coming-players funded by outgoing squad members. Mousa Dembele may be up for sale while Spurs are still in the red. Christian Eriksen’s future is also in doubt, with the Dane’s contract expiring in 18 months and his refusal to sign a new deal proving worrisome. Another situation worth monitoring is that of Toby Alderweireld, whose contract was automatically renewed in December, but with a £25 million release clause inserted into his new one.
Stefano Okaka was loaned out on 4th January following Younes Kaboul’s release from his contract on 21st December. There seem to be no further first stringers leaving for the time being but a few minor players may be open to offers. When it comes to buying players, Watford are on the hunt for some solid defence, including a goalkeeper, but may have to hold off due to salary constraints. Keeping Abdoulaye Doucoure is a must for Javi Gracia, with the Frenchman’s performances likely to attract attention from some of the top six, with Arsenal rumoured to be interested.
West Ham United
On New Years Day, West Ham wasted no time snapping up Samir Nasir on a free which was a financially savvy move after big spending in the summer followed by a spate of injuries. Manuel Pellegrini may have to dip into West Ham’s pockets once more to make up for the lack of healthy players. He’s currently looking at Gary Medel of Bestiktas. Re-signing Declan Rice to a long-term deal will likely be the Hammers’ best business of this window.
Nuno Espirito Santo is being cagey about his transfer plans for Wolves but we do know that they are looking for a striker to give support to Jiminez up front. Tammy Abraham has been strongly linked. There is talk that Wolves will swoop in on an underperforming defender, Lazio’s Wallace. Maybe they see something in him the Italians have missed.