The January window is usually quite bland compared to the big summer window, but it has a tendency to be erratic, too. January provides a valuable opportunity for clubs to change managers if things are going south, and also provides an opportunity for managers to add to their squads if a glaring issue in their team needs to be addressed.
In the 2017 window, we’ve also seen the arrival of an unbelievable investment surge from the rising Chinese Super League. Judging by the inflated prices that have been paid for decent, but not stellar, players the Chinese Super League clubs are willing to throw money at any vaguely recognisable player in a bid to raise the profile of their domestic league. We’ve got roughly a week left in the window, so we’ll go over the big moves that have already happened, as well as the rumours finding their way down the grapevine.
Julian Draxler – Vfl Wolfsburg -> Paris Saint Germain (£34m)
Morgan Schneiderlin – Manchester United -> Everton (£20m) Oscar – Chelsea -> SIPG (£50m) Gabriel Jesus – Palmeiras -> Manchester City (£27m)
Axel Witsel – Zenit St. Petersburg -> TJ Quanjian
Saido Berahino – West Bromwich Albion -> Stoke City (£12m)
Memphis Depay – Manchester United -> Lyon (£15m)
Jeffrey Schlupp – Leicester City -> Crystal Palace (£12m)
Carlos Tevez – Boca Juniors -> Shanghai Shenhua (£9m)
Gerard Deulofeu – Everton -> AC Milan (Loan) Jose Fonte – Southampton -> West Ham (£8m)
The biggest story of the confirmed transfers is Brazilian national Oscar’s transfer from Chelsea to Chinese club SIPG for a shade over £50m. Oscar was struggling to get games in Antonio Conte’s adjusted 3-5- 2 system at Chelsea, and the Chinese team saw an opportunity to get themselves a talented player with several years left at the top of his game. This transfer marked the beginning of a slew of rumours of high profile players being lured to the Chinese league with their astronomical wage packages. Former Premier League great Carlos Tevez has followed suit, as well as the Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel.
Diego Costa – Chelsea -> Unspecified Chinese Club
Dimitri Payet – West Ham -> Marseille (£25m) [CONFIRMED]
Goncalo Guedes – Benfica -> Manchester United/Paris Saint Germain (£20m)
Andrea Ranocchia – Inter Milan -> Tottenham Hotspur (£5-£10m)
Steven N’Zonzi – Sevilla -> Manchester City
Ashley Young – Manchester United -> Unspecified Chinese Club
Taking a closer look at some of the rumoured deals reveals a tad more drama than there has been so far with the confirmed transfers. The biggest saga for this window will likely be the destination and fate of West Ham’s (former?) talisman Dimitri Payet. The mercurial Frenchman had an amazing season for West Ham in 2015/2016, exhibiting performances so impressive he earned himself a starting place in Didier Deschamp’s French side for the 2016 Euros, where he continued to impress. Payet, however, has apparently grown tired of playing for West Ham after becoming a sought after asset, and has seemingly refused to play for the team again. West Ham attempted to stick to their guns of making him see out at least this season with them, but repeated advances from Payet’s previous team Marseille may test West Ham’s resolve.
The Hammers apparently don’t want to let Payet go for anything less than £25m, £15m more than they paid, and Marseille have refused to meet that valuation thus far. West Ham are unlikely to want to lose out on cashing in on a player that no longer wants to play for the club, but they’re likely to push Marseille to the final days of the window to get their desired fee.
Diego Costa went through a similar episode, but it reached an amicable conclusion rather soon after news of tempting offers from a Chinese team were made public. Costa was apparently also offered somewhere in the region of £580,000 a week to join an aspirant Chinese club, but after a bit of a temper tantrum in training allegedly refusing to play he had a some air-clearing conversations with Antonio Conte it seems the in-form striker has decided he’d remain in England. There’s still a week left in the window, though, so some late drama could yet surface.
The Premier League title race is rather close, with only six points separating 2nd place Arsenal from 6 th place Manchester United. All the teams vying for the coveted top 4 positions have some issues in their squads; Liverpool have a shaky set of defenders, Manchester United, despite Ibrahimovic’s great form, lack consistent goal-scorers, Arsenal are struggling with sub-par midfielders and Spurs have recently lost Jan Vertonghen to a medium term injury. While January is not the optimal time to try and sign high impact players, the highly competitive nature of the league this season may prompt the teams to try what they can to tilt the odds in their favor. Jose Mourinho already trimmed United’s squad considerably in the summer, and with two big departures in Schneiderlin and Memphis his squad is even thinner – this may encourage him to sign a player or two to provide cover in case of an injury to his important starters.
The January window usually only gets really interesting in the final days as clubs scramble to set up crucial deals, do you think any big name signings will happen between now and the 1st of February? Let us know by commenting below and tweeting us @MenStuffZA.