It’s nearly here! The Africa Cup of Nations 2017 kicks off this weekend and it’s a tournament we love and have covered in detail in the past on Just Football. Ahead of this year’s edition in Gabon here are a selection of promising young African talents that have risen to prominence and could play an essential […]
It’s January and you know what that means: transfer window time! The January transfer window 2017 is now open and Jim White, for one, is absolutely delighted about it.
January is always a difficult month to do business in, but needs must for many clubs. The same applies to players either lacking in game time or looking for that fresh career move. So who will be the movers and shakers in this year’s January window?
Here is your complete guide to the players who could be on the move in the January transfer window 2017…
January Transfer Window 2017 Complete Guide
Virgil van Dijk
The best central defender in the Premier League this season? Okay, the likes of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Eric Bailly may have something to say about that, but the mere fact that Virgil van Dijk even enters the conversation shows how much the former Celtic man has developed in recent years.
The 25-year-old only joined Southampton just over a year ago, and signed a new, six-year contract back in May. But such is his form, none of that has quelled rumours of an impending £40 million bid from the league’s big spenders, with Manchester City and Chelsea reportedly most keen.
Statistically the best defender in the league in the air, with an average of 4.7 aerial duels won per game, van Dijk’s all round game has developed remarkably well of late. Expect the rumours to continue throughout January.
Could join: Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool
You would be hard pressed to think of a more contrasting duo in football than the south London-raised, grime loving, misunderstood Wilfried Zaha and his new manager Sam Allardyce. Though Crystal Palace‘s new king in the south is undoubtedly a canny man-manager it remains to be seen how well he can gel with the prodigious Zaha, who has a tendency to delight and frustrate in equal measures.
Now 24, Zaha has added greater consistency to his game this season and has been a key player for Palace. His departure for Gabon and the Africa Cup of Nations is a huge blow for his club, but his presence for a maiden competition with Ivory Coast should light up the tournament. Spurs bid a ‘paltry’ £12 million in the summer, and Liverpool are also reported to be interested. AFCON 2017 may stall any chances of a January move, though, to Palace’s benefit.
Could join: Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool
After an eye-catching Euro 2016, at which Payet emerged as one of the tournament’s star players, links with the game’s very biggest clubs including Real Madrid inevitably surfaced. Slaven Bilic managed to keep hold of his trump card, but recent comments attributed to Payet cooing over the possibility of playing for Arsenal and, perhaps more alarmingly for West Ham fans, stating that he ‘misses the Champions League’ will do nothing to quieten the rumour-mongers.
Could join: Manchester United, PSG, Arsenal
A star of our #JF70 handpicked young talents to watch for in 2016/17, Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko is having a stellar season. Central to coach Leonardo Jardim’s tactical setup, the defensive midfielder has emerged as one of Ligue 1’s most outstanding midfielders this season with his dynamism, energy and skill.
Highlights include two wins from two against Spurs – one of which was watched by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte alongside his technical director Michael Emenalo. The pair are monitoring Bakayoko’s progress closely, and they aren’t the only ones.
Could join: Chelsea, Manchester United
Will he stay or will he go? A roughly £40 million question if reports are to be believed. If you paid heed to reports about a week ago Victor Lindelof‘s move to Manchester United was all but a done deal. Lindelof had said goodbye to Benfica, the fans and everyone at the club and was ready for a new life in Manchester alongside compatriot Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A few days later, however, the deal was off. Jose Mourinho had decided he no longer needed a new centre-back and that was that.
A negotiation tactic? A smokescreen in the midst of negotiations between Benfica and United? A Jorge Mendes ploy? Whether any of the above, an honest change of heart or just some overzealous reporting, this one will be talked about throughout the January window. Other suitors may well emerge for the talented young defender.
Could join: Manchester United, Liverpool
Another Ligue 1 player linked with a move to the Premier League. Djibril Sidibe‘s development from Troyes to Lille to Monaco has been gradual, but he has always had the physical and technical characteristics and potential to become a top-class right-back one day. Now the time has come for the 24-year-old and, as ever, English clubs have been watching.
Sidibe made his international debut for France in 2016, cementing his status as one of the nation’s best full-backs. Sidibe has said he ‘was very close’ to a move to Arsenal last summer, and Chelsea have sent scouts to keep tabs on him.
Could join: Chelsea, Arsenal
It hasn’t worked out at Old Trafford for Morgan Schneiderlin. The premise was sound; the former Southampton midfielder was one of the best players outside the top four a few seasons ago (much like Virgil van Dijk now). But Schneiderlin has been an unfortunate victim of regime change; yesterday’s man for Mourinho having been signed by Louis van Gaal.
Now surplus to requirements, (which seems slightly strange given United will need to replace 35-year-old Michael Carrick at some point), Schneiderlin has already seen a bid from West Bromwich Albion rejected. £20 million is the asking price.
Could join: West Bromwich Albion, Everton
Where did it all go wrong for Memphis? Just a few short years ago the footballing cognoscenti were exalting his praises. Many were tipping him to become one of Europe’s best players within a few seasons, a natural heir to Cristiano Ronaldo and the number 7 shirt. Now though, Memphis is Old Trafford’s forgotten son, reduced to tweeting quite frankly bizarre videos of himself doing things like this.
New Years resolution😉🏊🏾⚽🎩🗣👍🏾 Happy New Year guys! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/RHUQ8O6rst
— Memphis (@Memphis) January 1, 2017
There is real talent in there somewhere, but Manchester United – at this moment in time of their evolution – screams the wrong fit. The club is in transition and the man who brought him in is no longer around. Depay needs a manager who trusts him and a club where he is allowed more playing time to adapt and develop as a reliable Premier League player.
It’s a shame as the talent is there, but Depay looks like another Wilfried Zaha as far as Manchester United are concerned: wrong man, wrong time.
Could join: West Ham United, Everton
This one hasn’t gone away for some time, and eventually you get to a point where it feels like the old adage ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ surely applies.
Jose Fonte has been something of a stalwart at Southampton since joining in 2010, playing over 250 games for the Saints and helping guide them from League One to the Premier League and European football. But the Portuguese centre-back doesn’t seem to enjoy the full support of new manager Claude Puel, and publicly announced on Instagram that the club would not be offering him a new deal.
Curiously, Fonte is yet to play a single Europa League game for the Saints – much to the player’s own frustration. Could this be to prevent him from being cup-tied at another Europa League club? Time will tell, but the Fonte to Manchester United rumours continue.
Could join: Manchester United
If you had a choice of earning €18 million per year in China or playing for Everton or Juventus, what would you do? If you’re Axel Witsel it looks like the answer is the former.
The Merseyside outfit had been linked to Witsel for months, while Juventus saw a deadline day deal to sign the Belgian international fall through at the last minute. Zenit St Petersburg are looking to offload the combative midfielder as his contract expires in June. Football Italia report that, where Juve were going to sign him for €6m, Tianjin, managed by Fabio Cannavaro, will pay €20m plus €18m per season to the player for a four-year deal.
What’s the Chinese for ‘kerching’?
Could join: Tianjin Quanjian, Shanghai SIPG, Everton, Juventus
Snapped up from Sunday league football at Waterloo FC, Ademola Lookman‘s move to Charlton must go down as one of the most phenomenal bits of scouting in English football for years.
Want proof? Just two years later Lookman has gone from an amateur footballer to an England Under-20 international with a £10 million move to the Premier League imminent. The wide player was left out of the squad for Charlton Athletic‘s New Year’s Eve game against Southend, with rumours the move to Everton is all but done and manager Karl Robinson emphasising the need to protect the youngster.
Could join: Everton
“I’m happy here, but I want to play more. I want to stay at Madrid forever, but you have to think about everything and look at your options. I have offers and I’ve got seven days to think about it.”
James Rodriguez doesn’t speak like someone who envisages hanging around Madrid much longer. The 2014 World Cup golden boy has struggled for game time this season, appearing just 43.3% of the time for Zinedine Zidane’s Champions League winners – ranking Rodriguez 20th out of 24 squad members in terms of minutes played. Not great.
The question is where would he go? And would such a potentially big move really take place in January? Rodriguez’s agent Jorge Mendes denies it, as does the player’s father, but the Colombian international is not without suitors.
Could join: Inter Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Juventus, Shanghai Shenhua
As tends to happen in modern football, play well for roughly 10 games in a less-moneyed European league and inevitably Premier League clubs will come calling. This was the case for Kasper Dolberg, a member of our #JF70 top 70 young talents in Europe to watch this season who is the subject of batted eyelids from English clubs.
Ajax‘s young starlet has hit eight goals in 16 appearances in his breakout Eredivisie campaign this season, averaging a goal every 135 minutes. Manchester City sent scouts to check him out and Ronald Koeman is also reportedly keeping tabs on the 19-year-old Danish striker. His agent however has played down talk of a move.
Could join: Everton, Manchester City, Liverpool
Okay, so the writing isn’t exactly on the wall for Michy Batshuayi at Chelsea having only just joined for over £30 million last summer. But when the lineup was announced for the Blues’ win against Bournemouth in December and Eden Hazard was chosen to replace the suspended Diego Costa, rather than Batshuayi, ostensibly a like-for-like replacement, it revealed Antonio Conte’s reluctance to rely on the young Belgian striker for now.
Batshuayi has played just 26 minutes of Premier League football since September, and 76 minutes all season in league competition. At 23, and for a £33.6 million price tag, you’d expect more chances to come his way. Conte has spoken openly about the issue:
“It’s not easy to play in this league. And it’s important to adapt to this league in physical and tactical situations. We are working a lot with him and also the other players to improve this situation. For me, it’s important to see great attitude and behaviour in each training session. That’s the most important thing. The rest, I repeat, he will have his chance to play in the future.”
Nonetheless, West Ham are just one club interested in taking Batshuayi on loan.
Could join: West Ham United, Marseille, Stoke City, AC Milan
One of the most outstanding players anywhere in Europe this season, Franck Kessie is a player you need to know about. Atalanta‘s midfield sensation is having a quality season in Serie A thus far, scoring six goals and winning the division over with his swashbuckling performances.
So much so that the rumour mill on the young Ivorian has gone into overdrive. According to France Football Mourinho has previously called Kessie to voice his admiration, while Chelsea made a €25 million offer for the 20-year-old box-to-box midfield man. Kessie will be in Gabon for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, which could complicate any potential transfer. But if not this month, expect him to be the subject of serious interest this summer.
Could join: Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Juventus
Since October 2015, Sadio Berahino has scored the grand total of just one Premier League goal. A pitiful amount for such a highly-rated talent, you might think, yet this still didn’t stop two clubs from bidding £20 million for him last summer.
Now January is here, one of the longest-running and most tedious will-he-won’t-he transfer sagas could soon be over. Berahino is out of contract this summer and despite offers to more than double his salary – even with West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Pulis describing the 23-year-old as ‘nowhere near ready to start a game of football’ – the striker is holding his position.
“We’ll wait and see,” Pulis commented somewhat wearily when asked if Berahino will be off in January. “Every window has brought speculation and we have another four or five weeks to get through that.” You sense this will be WBA’s last chance to cash in, though if he does leave this summer a tribunal will set the final fee.
Could join: Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace, Hull City
An exciting young English player with plenty of potential, 20-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek has enjoyed just nine minutes of Premier League action this season. Conte’s Chelsea lineup is pretty much set in stone now, and if £30m+ players like Michy Batshuayi can’t work their way in, an inexperienced academy graduate has even less chance. A loan move has been mooted.
Could join: Newcastle United, Vitesse Arnhem