The January Transfer Window and its possibilities
While the summer window is stretching over a longer period as well as being the time where most of the big signings go through, both for Manchester United and other clubs, the January window can be just as exciting. You don’t have to think too far back to come up with names that proved good signings in January. Vidic and Evra being two, and in more recent time, Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool. I am also sure that Lewis Holtby will prove that he is well worth the £ 1.5 mill that Spurs paid up for him, and that Coutinho for £ 8.5 mill will continue to show promise, even if he chose a silly club.
The January window is a weird case, really. It is often described as the “panic window”, where clubs that didn’t do well enough in the summer window, or simply have underperformed during the season, go big and splash some cash. An example of this is crazy Queens Park Rangers, who signed 5 players last January, without really improving. Despite of that, football fans all over the world get their hopes up, including myself. We could land a great player, right?
While I am of the opinion that most good signings happen during the summer, I would still attribute the January window some credit. There are bargains to be made, and young players to get your hands on. As I have no deep knowledge about the current status of league 2 teams, like where we picked up Nick Powell, and have not really paid extra attention to the Championship either this fall, I will refrain from going into those. But I am sure we’ll see a signing or two in that regard. Mostly because we have a lot of youngsters performing on loan, and that we traditionally strengthen our reserve teams when this happens.
Another aspect to keep in mind, is how we usually let a whole bunch of players go during this window. Both on loan but also by letting them on a free transfer or sell them for a fee. While not exciting in the same way as purchasing players, it is still an important part of the clubs’ policies and evaluation of current talent. With players like Darron Gibson, Joshua King, Mame Diouf and Ravel Morrison all leaving United in January for other clubs just counting the past three seasons. All players figuring, or being relatively close to the first team. I am not going to get into the individual reasons for their departures, but I think it is fair to say that all these signings have a certain signal effect. Diouf out? Welbeck is going to get plenty of playtime. Gibson out? Cleverley is surely prefered. Morrison out? We don’t tolerate shitty behavior over time. In short, one player out usually means that another one from within the club gets an advance – getting closer to the first team or a starting position.
Looking at the deals that we have done in January in the past few years, you find quite a few good players. The obvious mention is of course for Wilfried Zaha, who is yet to really figure for us. I know that both Arsenal and Spurs were on their way to sign him as well, so the fact that we signed him up was kind of a victory in itself. Long term, I hope he’ll prove his worth. He certainly has the talent.
In 2010, we signed Chris Smalling. Even if we let him stay with Fulham until the end of the season, similarly to how we did the Zaha transfer, it has to count as a January transfer. One of the players that has been (rightfully) getting the most praise on the internets as of late, and is still young and improving.
Zoran Tosic was actually a player that we tried to sign the summer before, but was unable to finalize the details until November the same year. He joined the club in January 2009. A player that is currently shining the Russian league for CSKA Moscow, and that many felt didn’t really get a good chance at United. The timing for him was quite unfortunate to be hoenst. With Giggs, Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez playing really well for United, the road to a starting spot was a bit too challenging.
Another deal worth mentioning, must be the Henrik Larsson loan from Helsinborg to Manchester United. From January to March. What an impact! He really put fire into the team. He was granted one of the two extra Premier League medals for his efforts, as the club felt his impact was great.
Now, we have a new manager and he’s been dealing with transfers for a very long time at Everton. Taking a quick look at what he’s done can be interesting as well. Now Moyes has usually been doing his transfers in the summer, spending the money they made by placing in a decent position as well as some of the profit from transfers. There are a few signings that stand out. And it makes no sense to compare it in a direct Man United relation, but the thought behind them are, in my opinion, interesting.
First off, Moyes always dealt with transfers in a very pragmatic fashion. “What do we need right now? – I’ll pick up the best deal”. Some of his best transfers were done during the summer, and can be found in the other blog posts written about Moyes. The ones made in January have usually been Moyes taking advantage of good opportunities.
The players that stood out to me at first glance through the Everton transfer page, as January signings, were; Josh Stones, a very talented defender. Was wanted by other clubs as well, so Moyes was quick to sign him up. Nika Jelavic after the Rangers tragedy. Was on fire for them for a long while. Not sure what has happened to him since. Darron Gibson wanted regular playing time, and Moyes always looked for good transfers from United. Louis Saha, Phil Neville, Tim Howard. Many players that raised the quality of Everton Fc.
He also made quite a few clutch loan deals. Now, this isn’t something that Man United are looking at, but it tells a story about his ability to pick out players that can strengthen the team with immediate impact. Some of those were Mikel Arteta, who later was signed and was a star for the club for a long time. Steven Pienaar, just 6 months after they sold him to Spurs. Came right back in and made Evertons’ left hand side scary again. And Landon Donovan, who was a treat to watch as he tore up several teams with his sexy play.
When it comes to players that are likely to move in January, they usually tick off for one or more out of these criterias;
– Does not play for rival club
– Is not currently playing for a club that is through in the Champions or Europa League
– Is not playing for a club that has a lot of economic power
– Is unhappy with his current situation at his club
– Is young and ambitious, and wants to move to a bigger club
– Plays in a club that is underperforming heavily at the moment
– Doesn’t have too long left on the contract
So what does that leave us with so far? A quick summary is in its place;
Man United release, sell and loan out a lot of players in January. Some of them needs immediate replacement on the academy or reserve team, which makes us buy young players with talent to do this. We can look for bargains such as Evra and Vidic, or talented players like Tosic and Smalling, but we don’t do too much of this. When contested players are being hunted, we tend to jump in and try to sign them though. As shown with Wilfried Zaha. This might happen again. Perhaps Will Hughes this time?
Moyes has a pragmatic approach to the January window, and the signings will rely on him feeling that the player will fit immediately, or it will have to be a youth player if not. It is a different situation as he actually has money to spend now, but I very much doubt that he will act in a wasteful manner with the cash.
There is a limited pool of players to sign from in January, and due to the criterias mentioned above, the less a player fits those, the higher his price is likely to be. For example; if the player plays for a rich, rival club, with a long contract and is happy with his current situation, we most likely will not sign him. Actually, we can say that we wont, for sure.
Now, this post is somewhat of a trial post. The blog has been inactive for a while. Both because the response to the posts got worse, and due to this school semester being a bit more demanding than last years’. If this post gets a decent reception, I have plans to make this into a series where I discuss some of the players that I think we have a chance to, and should be looking into signing in January.