They say the January window is never an ideal time for Premier League clubs to make signings – but that depends on whether you’re looking in the right places.
Take these FIVE bosman-bound stars for example, all highly talented, none in need of a zimmer-frame and due to their contract situations, likely available for an absolute pittance when the transfer market reopens.
For a club like Everton, constantly battling against the greater budgets and resources of their divisional rivals, bargains of such shrewdness are a necessity, and thus, we’ve conjured up this list of FIVE the Toffees should strongly consider ahead of the January window.
Everton are hardly short of firepower this season – £28million summer signing Romelu Lukaku is followed closely behind by Samuel Eto’o and Arouna Kone.
But Sunderland contract rebel Connor Wickham, who rejected new terms at the Stadium of Light back in the summer, represents a fantastic opportunity for the Toffees to bolster their striking depth and simutenously maintain the health of their English contingent.
The 2014/15 campaign has been an arduous one for the 21 year-old thus far, netting just once in seven Premier League appearances despite earning Gus Poyet’s faith over Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore to operate at the spearhead of Sunderland’s attack – this header against Stoke City two weekends ago:
But the England U21 was talismanic for the Black Cats at the end of last season, bagging five vital goals to keep the Wearside outfit in the top flight, following an impressive eight-in-eleven loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
Indeed, Wickham claimed braces against Manchester City and Cardiff, netted the winner against Chelsea to end Jose Mourinho’s 77-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge, and provided the assist in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Here’s the front-man’s highlights from last season:
Tall, powerful and allegedly valued at just £8million by Sunderland, the 6 foot 3 striker would be an impressive understudy to Lukaku.
But West Ham had a £4million bid rejected in the summer, and Crystal Palace were also linked, whilst the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea are always looking to improve their home-grown quotas at limited cost, so there could be a surprising amount of competition for Wickham’s signature in January.
With Sylvain Distin set to turn 37 in December and Phil Jagielka not far behind at 32, it’s no secret that the heart of Everton’s defence requires a youthful injection, whilst John Stones’ injury that could see him out in the new year further increases the demand for added bodies in the Toffees’ backline.
One bosman-bound solution comes in the form of Fabian Schar, the FC Basel prodigy regularly linked to Arsenal and Tottenham throughout the last year:
Arsenal and Spurs set to do battle in Fabian Schar chase? Transfer news and gossip from Sunday’s papers: PLUS:… http://t.co/nmXxnHqwrW
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) September 21, 2014
Statistically, the 22 year-old was the best defender in the Champions League last season, as viewable below:
A front-footed, goal-scoring defender who regularly takes spot kick duties for Basel and once netted this incredible strike during his FC Wil days:
…the Swiss international would thrive under Roberto Martinez’ expansive philosophy.
Previously linked to Barcelona and with his contract now entering its final six months, the majority of top sides in Europe will be running the rule over Schar before the January window.
From one Fabian to another, Aston Villa star Fabian Delph could also be on the move in January, with the midfielder yet to agree a contract extension past the current season. The tabloids have already labelled Everton as one of his potential suitors:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) September 28, 2014
The 24 year-old’s stock has soared over the last twelve months, bagging the Supporters’ Player of the Year award at Villa Park last season and impressing on his England debut in August, featuring in a 2-0 win over Switzerland.
Delph’s a real box-to-boxer, with an endless engine and the ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch, perhaps epitomised best by this stunning goal against Chelsea last season:
The Toffees are already blessed with quality and mettle in the middle of the park, through the likes of Ross Barkley, Leon Osman, Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and Mo Besic, but keeping them all fit has been a real problem this season and another body could do Everton’s squad depth a world of good.
But Everton’s apparent pursuit could well be over before it’s even started, with reports this week claiming the Villians made Delph a lucrative offer:
Aston Villa offer Fabian Delph a new four-year contract as they fight to keep England star: The club’s player of… http://t.co/tYXldSYOJW
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) October 13, 2014
A man for all occasions, is Manchester City’s James Milner. Arguably the best squad player in the Premier League, the midfielder offers an impressive mixture of consistency, versatility, experience and quality.
Indeed, he can operate anywhere across the middle of the park and has even been tested at right-back by England, whilst his top flight credentials are undoubted, amassing 387 Premier League appearances throughout spells with Leeds, Newcastle, Aston Villa and the Citizens.
The 28 year-old is currently enjoying a decent vein of form, as shown below:
In fact, his 3.2 key passes per game is one of the strongest averages in the division, matching Manchester United’s £59million signing Angel Di Maria:
Industrious yet occasionally elegant – take this superb strike against Bayern Munich last season for example:
…Milner encapsulates much about Everton’s style of play under Roberto Martinez.
The 51-cap England international will be more than aware that first team opportunities look only set to decrease at the Etihad, with Manuel Pellegrini more commonly preferring Jesus Navas in the right wing role, making a January departure seem likely.
But unquestionably one of the most adaptable, professional footballers in the English game, there’s already a host of clubs queuing up for his signature, including Serie A sides Roma and Napoli:
Napoli boss Rafael Benítez wants to sign England duo Glen Johnson and James Milner. (Source: Daily Mirror)
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) October 15, 2014
Serie A side AS Roma will make a £10m bid for James Milner when the transfer window reopens. (Source: Star)
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) October 11, 2014
With his contract entering its final months and a new deal looking increasingly unlikely, Marseille star Andre Ayew looks set to be one of the most sought-after bargains of the January window.
Indeed, the Ghanaian forward, who boasts 51 goals and 18 assists in 171 appearances for L’OM, has been linked to Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs in the tabloids, whilst he was also subject to a bid from Hull City on summer deadline day:
[Daily Express] Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd and Spurs handed January BOOST with Andre Ayew set for exit: ANDRE… http://t.co/mCMk7oFFof
— Kicau ManUtd (@KicauManUtd) October 14, 2014
The 24 year-old isn’t the most conventional wide man but he’s strong defensively, notoriously versatile and as shown in the vide below, is outrageously good at heading for a 5 foot 9 winger:
He demonstrated good form the Black Stars at the World Cup too, as detailed below:
Ayew looks set to be available for a pittance in January – a fee between £5million and £10million would be a realistic estimate – but as previously stated, he’s hardly short of well-paying suitors.