Is progress being made at the DW Stadium?
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Are Wigan Athletic progressing under Roberto Martinez?
The question is perhaps unfair, for the Latics’ Spanish manager is undoubtedly working within a small budget and Premier League survival remains the club’s biggest goal.
However, two losses at the cost of ten goals in the opening pair of Premier League matches certainly called his position into question early on, and the team has still won just four games so far.
Nevertheless, chairman Dave Whelan certainly has been content to leave his team’s coach to go about his business, aside from when offering vociferous support, which is a far cry from the more meddlesome West Ham United owners.
Martinez has also assembled a young team with great potential, and implemented a passing game, and his side have now lost 2 of their last 8 games – to Newcastle and Arsenal respectively.
Should they secure a place in the top flight for next season, perhaps Wigan could build on their success, but as they are far from guaranteed to retain their place at present, perhaps the Latics need investment just to stand still – though there is no guarantee they will enter the market.
Here are ten potential transfer targets as reported in the media for January and beyond.
1. Humberto Suazo
Chile striker Humberto Suazo has scored goals wherever he has played, and was the top goalscorer in the South American qualifying group for World Cup 2010 ahead of Brazil forward Luis Fabiano.
Though much of his career has been in South America and Mexico, he spent part of last season on loan at Real Zaragoza, proving he could adapt to the European game.
With Wigan’s history of importing quality Latin American players, and Roberto Martinez being able to communicate to Suazo in Spanish, perhaps the Chilean could provide the goals to propel the club up the Premier League table.
2. Jason Roberts
Or perhaps that man is Jason Roberts. The Grenada striker’s contract expires at the end of the season, and is now free to talk to other clubs.
Last time Roque Santa Cruz signed for Blackburn Rovers, Roberts lost his place in the team, and with Steve Kean preferring the Paraguayan and Nikola Kalinic up front, Roberts is now considering his options.
Blackburn want to keep him, and have offered Roberts a contract extension, but if Wigan submit an offer themselves they could secure proven Premier League quality to aid Hugo Rodallega up front.
3. Dedryck Boyata
Manchester City centre back Dedryck Boyata is reportedly the target of both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan on loan.
With the young Belgian already achieving occasional selection for the City first team, the Latics could have a fine prospect on their hands for the rest of the season if they win the race for his signing.
Boyata is just 20 years of age, and his wages would likely be low – even as a Man City player.
4. James Henry
Millwall midfielder James Henry has greatly impressed for the club this season, and the 21 year-old is capable of playing in both central midfield and on the right wing.
Though the Lions could yet reach the Championship playoffs, the Daily Mail believe that Henry will seek immediate top flight football with Wigan Athletic.
5. Pascal Feindouno
Guinean winger Pascal Feindouno is currently on trial with Wigan, and hopes to earn a permanent contract should he impress in training.
The 29 year-old former Bordeaux and St Etienne player is now a free agent, and after undergoing a successful trial at Celtic earlier this season rejected the chance to join the Glasgow club.
Could he make his name in the Premier League with Wigan Athletic?
“I’m desperate to play here and that’s why I’m here,” said Feindouno.
He certainly sounds eager to impress.
6. Darren Pratley
Darren Pratley was made Swansea captain by Roberto Martinez when he managed the club, and the midfielder has been linked with a reunion with his old boss.
Pratley’s contract expires in the summer, and he could well seek Premier League football with Wigan.
The 25 year-old would hope to flourish under Martinez again.
7. Valter Birsa
Auxerre midfielder Valter Birsa had an excellent World Cup for Slovenia, and his goal against the USA was about to send the Slovenians through until Landon Donovan struck for the USA in injury time.
He has UEFA Champions League experience with his club, and is a cultured option in the middle of the park, with good dribbling skills and creativity.
The Daily Mail place a price tag of £4m on his head, which wouldn’t be far beyond Dave Whelan.
8. Javi Marquez
The Mail have also linked Wigan with a move for Espanyol’s attacking midfielder Javi Marquez.
Marquez graduated from the club’s youth scheme to become a regular starter in coach Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI, but Espanyol’s financial woes are well known throughout Europe.
A fee of £5m ought to be enough to be allowed to speak to Marquez, but he may be less than willing to depart his home club.
9. Ali Al-Habsi
A number of sources have suggested that Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi will make his loan deal to Wigan a permanent transfer – either in January or at the end of the season.
The Omani player has greatly impressed at the DW Stadium, and though Wigan lost 3-0 to Arsenal in their most recent match, Al-Habsi was still considered man of the match.
He has displaced Chris Kirkland from the team – and not just because of the Englishman’s persistent injury troubles.
Al-Habsi is in the team on merit.
10. Tomasz Kuszczak
If a fee cannot be agreed with Bolton for the transfer of Ali Al-Habsi, the Daily Mirror report that Wigan will instead look to Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
The Polish stopper is likely to be allowed to leave Old Trafford, as they have signed the Danish player Anders Lindegaard – but are rumoured to still be in the market for a first choice goalkeeper.
Kuszczak proved his Premier League mettle with his spell at West Bromwich Albion, but has found chances hard to come by at Manchester United.
Wigan could give him the opportunity to prove his worth again.
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