The January transfer window can be a chaotic mess at times; usually the breeding ground of panic buying, overpriced average players and a minimal amount of successful and viable signings. The top players are tied to their clubs, the smaller clubs fighting off relegation are determined to keep their stars and the players being floated about by agents and clubs are either unwanted, injured or put simply rubbish.
According to business advisory firm Deloitte, Premier League clubs spent just £30 million in the 2010 January transfer window. In the midst of an age of austerity most clubs prefer to focus on a loan to buy strategy, 70% of deals in the 2010 January window were of this ilk and the 2011 window looks set to follow the same pattern. Long gone are the days of £170 million (2009) and £150 million (2008) being spent. Even free spending Manchester City are going to have cut back on the spending and wage budget if they are going to have any hope of meeting UEFA’s impeding financial regulations (not that the impeding signing of Edin Dzeko will aid them in that respect).
Nevertheless you can still expect a flurry of ridiculous and unneeded signings, mainly in the bottom half of the table. For the top half most squads are set in stone with the only activity likely to be outgoings. There are five teams that will certainly be active in bringing players in, whether it’s to save their ailing title bid, pull themselves out of a relegation battle or to maintain a steady and unexpected ascent of the Premier League table.
Chelsea look to possess the squad with the most immediate need for investment, in the space of three months they have regressed from world beaters to a team that may struggle to finish in the top four. They have the smallest squad in the Premier League, with only sixteen players registered out of a possible twenty-five at the beginning of the season (obviously excluding players under the age of twenty-one). It is a statistic that has been catapulted to prominence in the absence of key players and a large proportion of their defensive unit spending spells on the treatment table. A defender is a must and the club have apparently had a £17 million bid rejected by Benfica for their Brazilian centre-half David Luiz. Potentially one of the best defenders in the game, Luiz would inject both youth and pace into the centre of Chelsea’s defence and the ability to fill in at left back further enhances his suitability for the champions. Benfica are said to want an outlandish £37 million and with City also interested it would make sense for Chelsea to try and rush through a deal. Before either City swoop in or they lose even more ground on Manchester United.
There will certainly be a degree of transfer activity for Liverpool this window. Former Spurs and Arsenal affiliate and the ‘Director of Football Strategy’ at Liverpool, Damien Comolli, is now overseeing Liverpool’s transfer activity. Comolli has been utilising his knowledge of European football over the last couple of months to fit in to NESV’s philosophy of creating superstars rather than buying them.
Multiple names have been linked with a wide man the most obvious target. Rennes’ Sylvain Marveaux was recently spotted at Anfield. The Frenchman posseses a striking similarity to one time Liverpool target Florent Malouda’s style of play and could give Liverpool a natural width that neither Kuyt or Maxi Rodriguez can supply. Whispers have intensified regarding a possible loan move for Manchester City’s Emanuel Adebayor to provide cover, assistance and more importantly competition for a misfiring and seemingly uninterested Fernando Torres.
A transfer window doesn’t go buy without a flurry of signings for West Ham and this window will follow the same routine as Avram Grant tries to get West Ham out of trouble. Numerous names have been linked as usual and a move for Steve Sidwell has had to be canned due to Roma’s inability to raise the necessary funds for Valon Behrami. The rest of West Ham’s supposed transfer interest is what you would expect from a club that thought a waist busting Benni McCarthy was the answer last season. Liam Lawrence of Stoke is allegedly the subject of a £4 million bid, just days after he secured a free transfer to Portsmouth and the owners also see perennial crock Wayne Bridge as worth of £90,000 a week.
The transfer window gives Aston Villa’s Gerard Houllier the chance to bring in some of his own players to the club. Spurs’ young right back Kyle Walker has already been brought in on loan to provide cover for the injured Luke Young. The club have continued the theme of claret and blue madness by rivalling West Ham for the ridiculously overpaid Wayne Bridge, despite having a superior left back already on their books in Stephen Warnock. Houiller will try to offload the likes of Carew and Ireland to fund any moves and the main target has to be a goal scorer. With Agbonlahor playing wide, Carew frozen out and Heskey being Emile Hesky goals could soon be in short supply. A reuniting of Michael Owen and Houiller could be on the cards and would suit both parties. Omar Cummings, a Jamaican from MLS side Colorado Rapids has been on trial and could be given a loan deal if he impresses.
Steve Bruce’s Sunderland side have deserved all the superlatives they have received thus far and it seems Bruce isn’t willing to rest on his laurels as he pushes for a European spot. It has been revealed that the club have approached both Sulley Muntari and Stephane Sessegnon from Internazionale and Paris Saint Germain respectively. Both moves show how far the club has come under Bruce’s tenure and should cement the clubs top half finish. Cover in the defence is also an issue for the Black Cats and the answer could well be a move for Richard Dunne who is amongst a clutch of Villa players seemingly frozen out by Houiller.
It’s always an excited time for fans as newspapers and online sites rage with speculation, usually inane and inaccurate rubbish, but every now and then that piece of ridiculous speculation becomes fact. Hopefully by January 31st we will have an array of new stars demonstrating their talents in our league. Not to forget the return of a more than familiar face under the tutelage of Harry Redknapp.
Written By Lee Wilson at ‘This is Futbol’