In this window a year ago, the then-recently appointed Owen Coyle, secured the services of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere on loan. This window Bolton have been heavily linked with Wilshere’s colleague Carlos Vela. The Mexican is a regular starter for his national team, but has struggled to get playing time at the Emirates. Usually a striker, Vela can also play on the wing. He may be deployed here initially, until Lee Chung-Yong returns from the Asian Cup in Qatar.
Bolton’s main concern this window will be hoping their first team players stay put. Both Chelsea and Liverpool have been rumoured with a move for Gary Cahill. Coyle has said he wants £20 million for the English defender. Coyle will have to resign himself to losing Cahill eventually, but he may be able to keep the England international at the Reebok stadium until the summer at least.
One tabloid newspaper suggested the Trotters will cash in on Johan Elmander this window, as the Swede is out of contract at the end of the season. However, this is improbable, as the striker is in his best form since moving to the Premier League in 2008. One player who has already departed is Andy O’Brien. The former Republic of Ireland international was on loan to Leeds United for the first half of the season, and has now moved to Elland Road permanently.
Carlo Ancelotti has made no secret of his desire to sign a centre-half this window. His top target is Benefica’s David Luiz, however the Portuguese giants have reportedly rejected a £17 million offer from the Blues already. Chelsea might table a higher bid, but do not expect them to match Benefica’s £43 million valuation of the Brazilian defender. If Luiz is unattainable, the Stamford Bridge outfit may look closer to home. Phil Jagielka, Roger Johnson and Gary Cahill have all been linked, but all three would fall down the pecking order when Alex returns from injury, and this may dissuade them from joining.
Ancelotti has been linked with two of his former players at AC Milan; Alexandre Pato and Kaka. However, both players have been rumoured with a move to London since Ancelotti began his tenure at Stamford Bridge in 2009. If either Pato or Kaka come to the Premier League this window, it is more likely they will be wearing Manchester blue, rather than Chelsea blue. Manchester City have already secured the services of Edin Dzeko, another player who was once linked with Chelsea. Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi United Group are giving Chelsea’s Russian oligarch a taste of his own, once unbeatable, medicine in the transfer market. The problem for Chelsea? Does Abramovich care?
Steven Pienaar looks set for the Goodison Park exit door, with Tottenham Hotspur his most likely destination. The South African is out of contract in the summer, so Everton would understandably prefer money this month rather than letting the midfielder go for free in six months time. Reports have suggested Harry Redknapp is prepared to offer £10 million less than the Toffee’s £12 million valuation of Pienaar.
Everton’s main problem this season has been in front of goal. Top scorer Tim Cahill is away on international duty with Australia until the end of January, depending on how far the Socceroos go in the competition. Striker Jermaine Beckford has struggled since his move to the England’s top flight in the summer. Beckford has been linked with a loan move back to his former club Leeds United, while Yakubu has also been rumoured with a loan move to a Championship side – possibly to Leicester City. A move for either Beckford or Yakubu will rely on David Moyes securing a replacement. Robbie Keane has been linked, but Moyes is up against several other Premier League teams vying for the Irishman’s signature. Everton will struggle to match their rivals in the terms of money, so a swap deal involving Pienaar could be on the cards.
The Cottagers have been one of the first Premier Leagues sides to move in the market. Fulham beat Wolves and West Ham to the signing of Steve Sidwell from Aston Villa, completing the move late in the week. Why Fulham need a central midfielder though, is not entirely apparent. Manager Mark Hughes lost his previous job at Eastlands because Manchester City were drawing too many games. Hughes’ hoodoo has followed him to Craven Cottage. Fulham need to score more goals. Summer signing Moussa Dembele has returned to first team action, and Hughes will be hoping Bobby Zamora is not too far behind. Hughes, though, is interested in a move for Spurs’ Robbie Keane and/or Manchester City’s Roque Santa Cruz. Hughes may return to his former club for the services of another player he signed for the Manchester side; Shay Given. Given would provide cover for Mark Schwarzer, who is at the Asian Cup.
One player leaving Craven Cottage this month is, reportedly, Damien Duff. The Irish winger is rumoured to be returning to his former club Blackburn Rovers after they were taken over by an Indian consortium. Brede Hangeland will, yet again, be linked with various clubs, but the Norwegian is unlikely to move in this window.
The biggest news at the start of the season at Anfield was the departure of owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Midway through the season the big news stories have concerned the expected departure of manager Roy Hodgson. Therefore, transfer rumours regarding the red half of Merseyside need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Ajax’s Luis Suarez, Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Bolton’s Gary Cahill have been linked, as has a return to Anfield for Michael Owen. Expect little action in Liverpool arrivals lounge this window. The main aim for Liverpool this season will be securing a reasonable position in the table and sorting out their managerial situation.
More players will leave than arrive this January, including summer signing Milan Jovanovic who has expressed a desire to depart. The Serbian was signed by Rafael Benitez but has played fleetingly under Hodgson. Juventus and Birmingham have been linked with Ryan Babel, and several teams, including Sevilla, have been rumoured to want Brazilian Lucas Leiva. Glen Johnson is another player who is reportedly unhappy with life at Anfield, having been publicly blasted by his manager earlier this season. Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid have been rumoured if the English international would like a move abroad, if not, he could link up with former boss Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane. Johnson, though, is likely to stay at Liverpool for the foreseeable future.
Watch out for part three in the series, later this week.