For those of an age similar to mine, I promise the title is not a Jimmy Nail and Tyneside related pun and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, Jimmy Nail played a Tyneside detective called Spender in a 90’s cop series of the same name. Anyway, enough of the digression and on to the subject at hand: the January transfer window (sound the trumpets).
January is the extrovert sibling of the summer transfer window, the odd one of the family, the type that turns up to family parties wearing golf trousers. It is capable of moments of brilliance, most notably Luis Suarez, Nemanja Vidic, Daniel Sturridge, Nemanja Matic, Philippe Coutinho, Javier Mascherano and Branislav Ivanovic (all January signings). However, it’s usually associated with clubs making panic buys and over-paying, for which Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll, at £50m and £35m respectively, immediately spring to mind. The list of successes is not only an impressive one, but most were also bought relatively cheaply, which proves there can be value in the window if you know where to look.
What the January transfer window really represents is a brief opportunity for clubs to make necessary changes ahead of the run-in to the end of the season. For some, that can be blind panic in a desperate bid to avoid relegation; for others, it’s attempting to rectify poor summer signings, trying to cover injuries, a fresh face to push on for a trophy or maybe just taking advantage of an opportunity to sign a particular player.
The ever increasing revenue flooding into the Premier League makes it all the more vital to avoid relegation and that has seen the clubs near the drop zone be the most active so far. Front and centre of those is Newcastle, with the £12m capture of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea. That was a transfer that really surprised me, not the fee, but the fact that Swansea would sell their best and most creative centre-midfielder to a relegation rival. Especially given the talk recently of Newcastle making an approach for another Swansea player, when the Swans turned them down because they didn’t want to sell to a rival…. Having done just that the previous week!
Southampton getting Charlie Austin for £4m was a great piece of business and although the Saints are not down there struggling, they have been having an up and down season, so signing a striker with a good goal scoring record, along with the return of Fraser Forster, gives them a chance to maybe push on for a Europa League spot. It begs the question: why didn’t other Premier League sides move for Austin? Whilst he’s not a top six striker, he does bring the valuable commodity that is goals.
Norwich have been the busiest, recruiting Steven Naismith for £8.5m from Everton, defender Timm Klose from Vfl Wolfsburg, winger Matt Jarvis from West Ham, full-back Ivo Pinto from Dinamo Zagreb and youngster Ben Godfrey from York City. On the face of it, those are solid squad signings for a club in a good position to survive. The fee for Naismith may be a bit inflated, but he’s a good player who will score them important goals and if that keeps them up, then he’ll be worth every penny.
Therein lies the potential value of January to those who choose to take the plunge and Sunderland is another club in need of a fruitful gamble. Black Cats’ manager Sam Allardyce has begun to adjust his squad, with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon departing for Watford and striker Danny Graham sent on loan to Blackburn, replacing them with free agent Steve Harper and the loan signing of former Hull striker Dame N’Doye. Defender Jan Kirchhoff has also been brought in from Bayern Munich and looked extremely rusty on his debut. It’s hardly blockbuster and if Sunderland are to improve their chances of survival, they may need to pull something spectacular out of the bag.
At the other end of the table, Leicester have added impressive young winger Demarai Gray to their squad as they look to maintain an unbelievable campaign and Arsenal have signed defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny from FC Basel, but may yet splash the cash again as the opportunity to win the Premier League is a very real prospect and a quality addition could give them the edge on the run-in.
In the pack behind them, Liverpool brought in Steven Caulker on loan to add legs with centre-backs dropping like flies. Where The Reds really need reinforcements is in attack, with Daniel Sturridge still struggling with injuries and Christian Benteke displaying the movement and mobility of a tree in a gentle breeze. Having a striker of the right style who can convert the high number of chances currently being spurned could make a big difference to what remains of Liverpool’s season. The problems certainly don’t end there for Jürgen Klopp, but it will likely be the summer when he chooses to address them.
Manchester United are struggling to keep any full-backs fit, so may be forced to enter the market and manager Louis Van Gaal could do with a fresh face to lift spirits and alleviate some of the pressure he’s under; so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise if they do decide to get the chequebook out.
Whatever happens between now and 11pm on February 1st, you can be certain that Sky Sports News will make a huge deal of it, displaying hype that Vince McMahon would be proud of and all with those ridiculous bright yellow ties and dresses. Oh joy, I can hardly wait.
Who will move where in the next transfer window? Why not have a punt using the latest William Hill code!