The January transfer window is almost here and with it endless transfer speculation. Many clubs believe buying in January is an admission they got it wrong back in the summer. Consequently there’s usually a lot more smoke than fire in the January window. But there will always be unsettled players and teams in need of change, so here are the stories that will dominate the transfer window.
Isco (Real Madrid)
It seems new Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari doesn’t fancy Isco. The Spain playmaker has found himself even dropping out of the 18 man match day squad at The Bernabeu. But would Madrid President Florentino Perez really sell such a prize asset? He might if young River Plate starlet Exequiel Palacios could be brought in. Selling Isco also frees up room in the squad and swells the bank account to make a move for long-term targets Eden Hazard or Neymar in the summer. Unsurprisingly several of Europe’s leading clubs are interested in Isco with Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Juventus all interested, could Isco be linking up again with Ronaldo in Turin?
Likeliest Outcome: Transfer to Juventus
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
America’s great hope seemed central to Dortmund at the start of the season but now looks set to leave. His contract is up in the summer and cashing in now makes financial sense for Dortmund. Moreover Pulisic has found his first team chances limited by the emergence of Jadon Sancho and Jacob Bruun Larsen and the return to full fitness of Marco Reus. Rumours in Germany suggest Pulisic wants out but the 20-year-old needs to be careful, much as Alexi Lallas says its time for Pulisic to “Change to an even higher profile team” if he’s not an automatic pick at Dortmund what chance does he have at PSG or Manchester City? Dortmund are also unlikely to rock the boat in January given they hold a seven point lead in the Bundesliga but haven’t won the title since 2012, a summer departure probably to the Premier League looks most likely
Likeliest Outcome: Stays until the end of the season, then joins Chelsea
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Are we finally approaching an end game in the Mourinho/ Pogba face off that has dominated the season at Old Trafford? Mourinho allegedly referred to Pogba as ‘a virus’ in his team and has dropped the World Cup winner in favour of the more reliable Ander Herrera. Pogba remains a world-class talent but has lacked consistently in Manchester, Mourinho would almost certainly sanction his sale if a centre-back preferably Kalidou Koulibaly could be signed with the transfer funds. But would Ed Woodward agree? Pogba is the most marketable player at the club and if Mourinho goes in the summer Woodward may hope a new manager can get more out of the club record signing. But United supporters have grown increasingly frustrated with Pogba and Barcelona are thought to be interested.
Likeliest Outcome: Transfer to Barcelona
Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
The £60million man has cut an increasingly unhappy figure at Stamford Bridge. It also seems manager Mauricio Sarri is running out of patience with the striker. It was notable Sarri decided to bench Morata and play a false nine in their critical win over Manchester City. When Chelsea do play a centre forward, veteran Olivier Giroud looks a better fit in the Diego Costa role. But Sarri is unlikely to sell without signing a direct replacement and that can be tricky in January. Sarri is an admirer of Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi but despite Champions League elimination Inter would seem unlikely to sell and straight swaps of this value rarely come off. It seems Morata’s departure will be delayed until the summer.
Likeliest Outcome: Stays until the end of the season, then moves to Serie A
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
The future of the England international continues to draw speculation partly because his situation cuts to the heart of Chelsea’s conundrum. Chelsea have the most successful academy in England yet the last graduate to win a regular place in the first team was the now retired John Terry. Loftus-Cheek has enormous potential but to fulfil it he needs a consistent run of games in the first team, but at a club that demands instant success time is a scarce commodity and managers inevitably look for instant fixes in the transfer market. After returning from the World Cup Loftus-Cheek was frozen out but has gradually won Sarri over with some fine displays including his first career hat trick in the Europa League. With Chelsea competing on multiple fronts Sarri has insisted Loftus-Cheek is staying and the player himself clearly wants to stay. But there will be interest in January and with his England place under pressure from the likes of a James Maddison, Chelsea teammate Ross Barkley and Jadon Sancho time is running out for Loftus-Cheek to make his mark.
Likeliest Outcome: Stays at Chelsea…for now
Edinson Cavani (Paris St Germain)
The Uruguay international is growing frustrated at PSG and a parting of the ways looks inevitable. Cavani has scored 10 times in as many Lique 1 games but is increasingly playing second fiddle to Neymar and Kylain M’Bappe in Paris. A move back to Italy where he spent seven succesful seasons with Palermo and later Napoli hs been heavily rumoured. However the likliest destination is Atletico Madrid if they can move Diego Costa on to the Chinese Super League. Cavani would be a perfect replacement and at 31 has one more great stint left in club football, one he is likely to start in January
Likeliest Outcome: Transfer to Atletico Madrid
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Whilst recent speculation at Arsenal has surrounded Mesut Ozil, it seems highly unlikely Unai Emery will let a player of that level leave in January. However Emery has little influence on the future of another Arsenal midfielder: Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh international is out of contract in the summer and negotiations on a new deal are dead in the water. A summer move to Liverpool or Chelsea have been mentioned and either would welcome the player, but Ramsey can begin negotiations with a club on the continent in January. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and AC Milan are all reportedly in for Ramsey and it seems Ramsey’s future will be away from the Premier League. AC Milan who recently poached CEO Ivan Gazidis from Arsenal seem best placed, with the club rebuilding on and off the pitch Ramsey could be a key figure with the Rossoneri.
Likeliest Outcome: Signs pre-contract agreement with AC Milan
Nabil Fekir (Lyon)
Having seen a big money move to Liverpool collapse in the summer, Fekir’s future with Lyon has been a source of constant speculation. The midfielder is amongst the most inventive in Europe and Lyon are traditionally a proving ground for players before moving on to the European elite. A host of top clubs are interested but Lyon’s qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League, made possible by Fekir’s goal against Shakhtar Donetsk makes a sale less likely in January. Bayern Munich who will lose Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery this summer look the best fit.
Likeliest Outcome: Stays with Lyon until next summer, then joins Bayern Munich
Jean-Kevin Augustin (RB Leipzig)
The France Under 21 International is winning admirers but Leipzig will be reluctant to sell in January. Everton are known to be interested and are desperate to add a top class striker to their ranks. They can’t attract the biggest names so The Toffees strategy is to sign players on the cusp of stardom, players like Richarlison and Jordan Pickford: Augustin fits that mould. More importantly Everton have some leverage, following a succesful loan spell in Germany Leipizg made three bids for young Everton winger Ademola Lookman during the summer. Everton refused to sell but if they sign Augustin that means Richarlison moving back to the left-wing and in turn reduces Lookman’s first team chances. So to get their man Everton could offer Lookman as part of the package, that could be just enough to swing a deal their way
Likeliest Outcome: Transfer to Everton with Ademola Lookman moving to Leipzig
Dominic Solanke (Liverpool)
The star man at last years Under 20 World Cup hasn’t made a single appearance for Liveprool this season. The young striker’s chances have been reduced by the arrival of Xherdan Shaqiri and reemergence of both Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi. Solanke has however continued his fine goal scoring record with England’s youth sides, notching 8 goals in 15 Under 21 caps. Solanke needs first team football to unlock his potential and that surely means a loan move. Solanke’s availability will alert every goal shy team in the Premier League and who gets him may have a big impact on who stays up. Crystal Palace and Newcastle look good fits, but Huddersfield managed by Jurgen Klopp’s friend and stylistic match David Wagner could just be at the front of the queue.
Likeliest Outcome: Loan to Huddersfield Town
Picture Credits: IPTC, Soccer Laduma, Diario AS, Daily Star