In the final instalment of this series breaking down the January transfer window team-by-team, Ian Smales looks at Tottenham’s transfer activity, all the way through to Wigan.
The David Beckham will he/won’t he saga continues to dominate the back pages. Currently Beckham is training with the Spurs squad, but he is not permitted to appear in a competitive game. Manager, Harry Redknapp, will be aware that the longer the saga continues, the amount of matches the former England captain will potentially have in a lily white shirt, diminishes by the day. However, this may have been Redknapp’s plan all along. Redknapp might be contented with Beckham being on the training pitch, working closely with the likes of wingers Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale.
Spurs’ quest to sign Steven Pienaar has been the worst kept secret in this window. The South African snubbed London rivals Chelsea, which, considering the size and strength in depth of Spurs’ squad compared to Chelsea’s threadbare side, may surprise some. What will not be a surprise is Pienaar might not be the only signing for Tottenham this month. Rumours have linked Spurs with bids for Newcastle’s Andy Carroll, Ipswich’s young prodigy Conor Wickman and Manchester City’s Micah Richards. Lassana Diarra, a former player under Redknapp when the pair were at Fratton Park, has also been linked.
Spurs have already shipped some players out on loan this month. David Bentley will hope a spell at St. Andrews will revive a once promising career. The two Kyle’s, Naughton and Walker, have joined Leicester City and Aston Villa respectively, for the remainder of the season. Redknapp has indicated that Andros Townsend will also be loaned out during this window. The same applies to Jonathon Woodgate, who is interesting Cardiff City, Blackpool and his former club Leeds, among others.
Much speculation continues to surround the future of Niko Kranjcar and Robbie Keane. The latter may have been used as bait to lure the aforementioned Pienaar. As this is no longer a possibility, several other Premier League clubs will fight it out for the Irishman’s signature; Birmingham, Fulham and Keane’s former club, Wolves have all been rumoured. Kranjcar has interested Aston Villa, Celtic, Newcastle and Liverpool. Kranjcar, however, may stay at White Hart Lane for the rest of the season, as first team opportunities may become more of a common occurrence as Spurs take part in three major competitions.
West Bromwich Albion
Roberto Di Matteo has stated he would like to make more than one signing this month. Top of his wish list is Aston Villa’s John Carew. The Norwegian striker is apparently not on good terms with Villa boss Gerard Houllier. Carew would cost the Baggies in the region of £4 million. Two other strikers linked to the Hawthorns are the unattached Mateja Kezman and Celtic’s Georgios Samaras. Securing the services of Kezman could happen, but it is improbable Neil Lennon will let Celtic’s star striker leave Glasgow, unlike their city rivals Rangers, who are open to offers for Kenny Miller.
The Baggies have also been linked with Swindon Town striker Charlie Austin. The 21-year old has a fantastic scoring record in League 1, scoring 32 times in his first 50 appearances for the Robins. However, Di Matteo may not approach Austin for fear of lightning striking twice. In 2009 West Brom bought Lee Cox to the Hawthorns from the County Ground. Cox has struggled to score prolifically in blue and white, and Reading are after him this month on a short term loan deal.
Leaving Albion this month is full-back Joe Mattock. Mattock has joined Mickey Adams’ Sheffield United until the end of the season. Aside from Mattock, Baggies fans can be contented that none of their other players have been rumoured with moves away. Graham Dorrans was linked with a move to West Ham in the summer, but since the Scottish midfielder signed a new contract, the rumour has disappeared.
West Ham United
It goes without saying what the top priority for the West Ham board is this month. Sullivan, Gold and Brady delayed making a statement about Avram Grant’s future after a home defeat to Arsenal last weekend. The game seemed to be Grant’s last in charge, even before a ball was kicked. It is no secret that Martin O’Neill is the favourite to take over the reigns at Upton Park.
Whomever the manager is come the end of the month, the return of Thomas Hitzlsperger will feel like a new signing for the Hammers. The former Aston Villa midfielder signed for West Ham in the summer, but has yet to make an appearance in East London claret and blue, due to injury. The Hammers have already been active this month; Former England left-back Wayne Bridge has signed on loan from Manchester City. Tal Ben Haim has returned to Portsmouth, but expect the Israeli to be back at Upton Park before the window closes.
As in every window, West Ham’s star players have been rumoured with moves away from East London. Matthew Upson has been linked with his former club Arsenal. Carlton Cole is reportedly wanted by Stoke City, and Scott Parker is rumoured to be sought after by Tottenham Hotspur. All three, however, are unlikely to depart now, but if the Hammers fall into the Championship, there is no doubt Upson, Cole and Parker will be seeking new teams. Benni McCarthy is one player who could realistically leave in this window. The South African is wanted by high-flying Championship side Queens Park Rangers.
The Lactics have already allowed Mauro Boselli to depart this month. Wigan’s record signing has joined Genoa for the remainder of the campaign. Roberto Martinez has insisted that the deal was completed to ensure the Argentine regains some confidence. Also linked with a move away from Lancashire is left-back Maynor Figueroa. The Honduran is wanted by Gerrard Houllier in the West Midlands, after Stephen Warnock fell down the Aston Villa pecking order. Wigan may ask for Warnock in return, before sanctioning a deal for Figueroa. Martinez will be hoping he can stave off any interest in playmaker Charles N’Zogbia. The former Newcastle player is Wigan’s prize asset, and a player they will certainly need to avoid the drop. Sunderland, Marseille and Bayern Munich are among the teams interested in the Frenchman’s signature.
Players rumoured with a move to the DW Stadium include Jason Roberts. The former Wigan striker is out of favour at Ewood Park, and would fill the gap left by Boselli. Roberto Martinez apparently wants to return to his former club, Swansea City, in order to secure the services of centre-half Ashley Williams. Coventry goalkeeper, Kieran Westwood has also been rumoured with a move to Wigan. Martinez does not have a long term number one keeper. If Martinez signs Westwood, it will signal the departure of Chris Kirkland, when he is fit, and it will also mean Ali Al-Habsi will return to Bolton Wanderers at the end of the season.
The player mostly linked with Wolves this window has been ex-Molineux favourite Robbie Keane. Keane is wanted by several Premier League clubs, but his previous incarnation in gold and black, may persuade the Irishman to return to the Black Country, especially if he can give Wolves the firepower they desperately need to take them out of the relegation zone and towards Premier League safety.
Mick McCarthy’s team have also been linked with Middlesbrough centre-back David Wheater. Wheater would cost in the region of £2 million. Also costing in the region of £2 million would be Portsmouth midfielder Michael Brown. The former Spurs, Fulham and Wigan midfielder has been a regular fixture in Portsmouth’s team this season, but the South Coast club are still not in a position to refuse money for players after going into administration last season. Wolves have also been linked with Dundee United’s David Goodwillie and Readings Simon Church.
One player staying at Molineux is Michael Mancienne. Mancienne’s parent club, Chelsea, had the opportunity to recall the on-loan defender this month but declined, allowing Mancienne to continue life at Molineux. McCarthy will be keen to keep hold of Matt Jarvis this window, and fortunately for the outspoken manager, rumours concerning the winger have been very low-key.
Transfer activity has been slow in the first-half of the window. However, there will still be a flurry of activity on the 31st January, up until midnight, when the window closes. One thing is apparent, clubs seem reluctant to part with cash this month, instead preferring short-term loan deals. A reaction to the current financial climate maybe, but also a reaction to the new Premier League 25-man squad ruling. Certain teams, EG Spurs, do not want to announce Jonathon Woodgate in their 25-man team, nor do they want to sell the player this month. The main problem for teams in the lower half of the division is obvious – goals. Sourcing the goal poacher who will score 20 times a season is evidently, the Premier Leagues holy grail.