Generally speaking, teams who throw money around in January are struggling and it can almost be seen as panic signings to try and turn a season around.
Sir Alex Ferguson was always vocal about thinking January wasn’t a great time to do business, but he also managed to sign Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic in the winter window so clearly there are some bargains to be had.
There are also plenty of examples of horrible signings that could leave a player tainted forever – think Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll.
The upcoming window does have the prospect to throw up some big deals. Chelsea are back in the market after their ban, while plenty of big teams are struggling and there’s much more money in the game just now. Hopefully we don’t have to endure another month of Jim White trying to act excited because someone like Chris Samba or Danny Gabbidon might be going on loan somewhere.
Expect plenty of speculation over the next few weeks over who might be available, most of it will be nonsense but some moves might make sense for everyone involved. Here’s a look at ten transfers that could happen in January.
Olivier Giroud – Chelsea to Serie A or Ligue 1
Giroud suffers from being 33 and also trying to force his way into a team that has Tammy Abraham leading the line. Chelsea don’t have a great history of sticking with older players and his playing time has been cut dramatically this season. Although he’s out of favour for his club, he’s incredibly important for France so he should be looking to move and keep himself fit for Euro 2020.
A move back to France could give him the ideal chance to keep himself firmly in the spotlight, with a romantic return to Montpellier being the most interesting possibility. He would be able to forge a formidable partnership with former Wigan flop Andy Delort who has been fantastic for a couple of years in Ligue 1. Other destinations that would make sense would be Marseille or Lyon, but he could have a similar issue where he would be an impact player rather than a starter.
Serie A would be the other logical landing spot. The league is slower and more technical and would suit his style, so he could link up with AC Milan and attempt to turn their struggling season around. There’s not been any sign of a deal being close at this point, but it’s hard to see Chelsea standing in his way if he did want to leave.
Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona to Sevilla or Serie A
The Croatian has been out of favour for a lot of this season, but despite a small run in the first team in recent games it still looks like he’s way down the pecking order. Once Sergio Busquets and Arthur are fit again, he might be lucky to even make the bench.
We usually see big players being reluctant to make a move only months before a major international tournament, but Rakitic is nearly 32 and this Summer could represent his last chance to win something with Croatia, so he needs to be playing regularly and go into the tournament fully match fit.
He could reduce that risk by making a return to familiar surroundings in Seville. He was quoted in AS as saying it would be a dream to pull on the Sevilla shirt again so that could make a lot of sense. A link to the Premier League doesn’t make sense, it’s too fast for him and his legs are starting to go, so he could end up looking like Bastian Schweinsteiger towards the end of his Man United career. If Sevilla don’t make the move for him, then moving to a club like Inter Milan or Napoli could be ideal.
Alfredo Morelos – Rangers to the Premier League
The 23-year-old striker is always absolute box office, but not always for the reasons you might want. He’s been compared to Luis Suarez before, and you can see the good and the bad side of the Uruguayan in his game.
At his best, he’s unplayable. He’s not the tallest, but his physicality is incredible. He’s frightfully strong and can hold off just about any defender, while his movement and clinical finishing is reflected in his 75 goals in 124 games for Rangers. Before anyone wants to pipe up with the always hilarious “pub league” or “my granny would score goals up there” comments, remember he is also top scorer in the Europa League this year with vital strikes against Porto and Feyenoord this campaign.
He does have one almighty mental block against Celtic, he’s yet to score and is no stranger to a red card in the derby, so he does need to calm down on the big occasion. It’s yet to be seen if he would want to leave or would want to see the season out, but he does give you the impression of a guy who would leave if a big offer came in.
He might not have as much pace as Jamie Vardy but he could play a similar role and become the long term replacement at Leicester if they fancied taking a punt, while sides like Bournemouth or Wolves would benefit from his goals. It would never happen, but a move to Arsenal would be fascinating. He looks like someone who doesn’t care what people think of him, while his aggression and style would win the fans over, but he might not be a big enough name just now.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Free agent to AC Milan
This story was interesting for a long time as Zlatan continues to tease where his next destination could be. It’s possible he just hasn’t decided yet, but it’s got to the point where everyone just wants to know where he will end up so we can stop the constant speculation.
The return to AC Milan seems to be the most logical for many reasons. It’s clear that he still wants to play at the top level, but it’s unlikely that the elite teams would want to touch him. Milan are still a big name even if they are struggling on the pitch, and his departure to PSG the first time round eventually turned the fans against the board.
His ego dictates that he wants to go out at a high level and looking like a hero, so if he could come in and turn AC Milan around, then that could be the perfect situation for him.
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace to Chelsea
It looks like Zaha’s big transfer to Manchester United a few years ago came too soon, but he’s now 27 and these should be his prime years. He’s almost at the point where he’s outgrown Crystal Palace, so he needs to show he can do it at a huge club if he wants to be considered as a great player.
There’s a big possibility that he’s just a talented player who’s well suited to being the big fish in a smaller pond, there’s not anything wrong with that, but the competitive spirit in players should see them want to perform at the highest possible level. He would need to prove he could fit into a team and still perform where everything isn’t built around him, but a move to Chelsea could benefit all sides.
He’s shown that he’s wanted to leave before so Crystal Palace would be able to take a big fee and get rid of that distraction, while Chelsea would get an experienced Premier League player who has shown he can win a game on his own at times. Frank Lampard has assembled an exciting young squad but Zaha could provide a guiding presence to grab the game by the scruff of the neck when needed.
It’s possible that he might not have enough to do that for a big team, but Chelsea do have the Eden Hazard money saved up and it could be worth taking the risk and seeing if he can make that step up.
Ross Barkley – Chelsea to literally anywhere else
Jack Rodwell should act as the eternal warning for Everton youngsters as to what can happen if you make the wrong move and also display a questionable attitude. It’s too much to suggest that Barkley is reaching Rodwell levels, but it’s clear that he’s lost the confidence of Frank Lampard and is in danger of fading away.
He’s just turned 26 so has plenty of time to turn things round and establish himself as an important player somewhere, but there’s a possibility he sticks it out for another couple of years and suddenly his best years are gone and his talent would be wasted.
It remains to be seen what Chelsea do in January but it’s likely they will make signings that push him further down the pecking order. Barkley has immense talent and would be a great fit for most teams and styles, so it would be great to see him go to Germany or Spain to test himself there. A return to Everton could be interesting if they would accept him back, while Man United are crying out for an attacking midfielder with some creativity and drive.
That move would be unlikely, but if Solskjaer could figure out how to use him then he could do a lot worse. The main thing for Barkley is to get out and establish himself somewhere, anywhere.
Anthony Martial – Mega swap with Antoine Griezmann at Barcelona
On the face of it this seems like a nonsense but it does start to make sense the more you think about it. Despite the Spanish media trying to convince everyone that Griezmann is back to his old self, he looked poor in the Clasico and still doesn’t seem like a good fit for Barca. He thrived on being the main man at Atletico and he could experience again at Old Trafford.
The main problem for Griezmann at the Nou Camp is he’s expected to play on the left wing when he prefers to go through the middle. Martial looks to be at his best when he drifts in from the left-hand side and looks more natural there, while Griezmann and Rashford could interchange and provide a deadly partnership.
It’s hard to tell what Martial’s true value would be on the open market, or if Barca would be willing to write off such a big signing but it’s clearly not working for them. Martial has gone missing when it starts to get tough for United so Griezmann’s experience of big matches could be huge for them. It does look unlikely, but it would also make sense for everybody involved.
Erling Haaland – RB Salzburg to Manchester United or Borussia Dortmund
Probably the most obvious one on the list and it does feel like he’s been linked with every single team in Europe this season, but that doesn’t hide the fact that he’s earned the chance to take a big move.
It seems logical that he might stay in the Red Bull family and simply go to Leipzig, but there’s no real fun in that. He’s scored 28 goals in 22 games this season so it looks clear that he’s outgrown the Austrian club, it just remains to be seen how much of a leap he wants to take.
Moving to a team like Juventus, Real Madrid or Barcelona doesn’t make sense just now because they don’t have an immediate need for a striker, so he could end up sitting on the bench and not playing much. He should develop best by moving to a bigger league but also ensuring he becomes a first team regular.
A move to Borussia Dortmund could be ideal for him, they’ve developed Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in recent years, so he could be the next in the line of world class strikers to pass through the club. It would also allow him to go to a big team with title ambitions and in the Champions League.
In some ways a move to Man United could be too obvious, he’s worked with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before and they need a superstar striker to lead the line and help them get more goals. Marcus Rashford is carrying the team just now, but a physical and obvious threat through the middle should only open up more space for him, so the move to Old Trafford could be ideal. He would just need to persuade his dad to get over that Roy Keane challenge first.
Edinson Cavani – PSG to Atletico Madrid or MLS
Edinson Cavani is a genuine world class striker who always seems to be overshadowed at PSG. Whether it be Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Neymar, he’s often been forced to play second fiddle and he’s done it without a fuss, even being forced out of position hasn’t affected him as he’s delivered 196 goals in 289 games. He’s the ultimate team player and still going strong at 32.
Unfortunately for him, Mauro Icardi has taken the starting role and it could be time to move on, but he could have the choice between a comfortable semi retirement in MLS or one final shot at glory.
In MLS he could be the perfect addition for David Beckham’s Inter Miami. They’re a new franchise who need a big name to help attract supporters, while he would also be a big addition on the pitch and give them the chance to be competitive. LA Galaxy also need a superstar striker after a certain Swede left, so there could be plenty of options if he wanted to move out there.
From a European point of view, a final attempt at glory with Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid would be fascinating. They are still as mean at the back as ever, but only have 18 goals in 17 games and need something upfront. Diego Costa is injured and out of form while Alvaro Morata is a bit hit and miss. Cavani would give Simeone the warrior he loves up front and he would also provide a huge upgrade in a footballing sense. Atleti still have a chance at winning the league if they get their act together, so Cavani could be the catalyst they need.
Merih Demiral – Juventus to AC Milan or Arsenal
It’s hard to think of a player who’s stock has risen without playing any meaningful action, but Juve’s Summer signing has been touted round many European clubs after impressive performances for Turkey showed everyone what he can do. He’s barely played this season and it looks like he could be available, so plenty of clubs should be lining up.
Arsenal are in desperate need of a decent centre back but don’t have huge money to throw around to sign a ready made world class option, so the Turk could be ideal. Let’s face it, David Luiz was never the answer to the defensive issues so they need someone new to try and turn things round. It would be a big task for the young man, but he’s shown he has quality and can actually defend, something that isn’t always the case for Arsenal defenders.
The other obvious landing spot is AC Milan, they’ve struggled at the back and also have an injury crisis in defence which he could solve. Leo Duarte didn’t look brilliant and then picked up a long term injury so someone else is required. Demiral has experience of Serie A and this would give him the chance to be a hero if he could turn Milan around.