20 Potential Bargain Signings Heading into the January Transfer Window

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentNovember 26, 2012

20 Potential Bargain Signings Heading into the January Transfer Window

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    Here are 20 potential bargain signings heading into the January transfer window.

    There are a multitude of reasons why these transfer prospects could come cheaply: an expiring contract, deemed surplus to requirements, being at a club with little financial bargaining muscle or a player forcing a transfer.

    For example, Manchester United signed Patrice Evra from Monaco for £5.5 million, after he told ASM he wanted to leave. The Frenchman went on to become a world-class full-back for United.  

20. Yann M'Vila, Rennes, Defensive Midfielder, Age: 22

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    Player Summary 

    Yann M'Vila's career at Rennes almost ended before it started.

    Former manager Guy Lacombe refused to play M'Vila due to attitude problems. It was a brave stance from Lacombe, one that would later prove to be prophetic.

    When he left for Monaco, his successor—Frédéric Antonetti—gave M'Vila an extended run in the first team. The youngster impressed Ligue 1 aficionados with poise, guile and efficiency as a deep-lying midfielder that could pass and tackle. 

    At this point, Rennes management knew M'Vila was their most valuable player since Shabani Nonda. 

    Unlike the Petr Čech and Yoann Gourcuff sales, Rennes were going to cash in on M'Vila Lyon style.

    That's why the defensive midfielder's reported transfer value was around £20-35 million. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    M'Vila wants out and Rennes are increasingly frustrated with his wayward behaviour.

    Arrests for assault, a lack of professionalism and cruising along at 50 percent for Rennes are reasons why management wants to end their association with him. 

    He used to be compared to Claude Makélélé and Patrick Vieira but there's an even more accurate comparison that should be used more regularly by the media. 

    He is France's answer to Joey Barton.

    Just like with Robin van Persie at Feyenoord and Antonio Cassano at Real Madrid/Sampdoria/AC Milan, M'Vila will be let go for a derisive transfer fee.

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £2-5 million. 

19. Mauro Zárate, Lazio, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 25

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    Player Summary 

    It was a red flag that a player of Mauro Zárate's ability went into semi-retirement at such a young age during his short-lived loan spell with Al-Sadd. 

    Rafael Sóbis took a leaf out of Zárate's book when the Brazilian signed with Al Jazeera a year later. 

    In one of the most left-field Premier League transfers ever, then-Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish managed to sign Zárate on loan. 

    Who would have thought that technically superb footballers like Daniël de Ridder, Olivier Kapo and Zárate would all find themselves at Birmingham. 

    De Ridder was there because his career had been derailed. Kapo wanted to be a big fish in a small pond after an unpleasant experience with Juventus. 

    To this day, I still have no idea why Zárate's handlers chose Birmingham. Either way, it led to him donning a Lazio shirt, where his performances ranged from world-class to walking liability. 

    When you think about it, the majority of his best performances came during his loan to the Italian club, which was essentially an audition for a full-time gig. Once he signed on the dotted line for a permanent deal, he couldn't live up to expectations nor did he justify being the highest paid player on the team. 

    He was sent out loan to Inter Milan, where he tanked. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Lazio manager Vladimir Petković doesn't see the point of having an overpaid benchwarmer in Zárate.  The Argentine's playmaking ability isn't on the level of Hernanes and the 25-year-old isn't as prolific as Miroslav Klose. 

    Zárate doesn't track back like Alvaro González nor is the former Birmingham player effective out wide. 



    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £5-7 million.

18. Frank Lampard, Chelsea, Holding Midfielder, Age: 34

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    Player Summary 

    Only Bobby Tambling and Kerry Dixon have scored more goals as a Chelsea player than Frank Lampard. 

    Chelsea's No. 8 was one of the best goal scoring midfielders in world football. 

    It's another example of the poor man-management from the Blues to force Lampard into a holding midfield role. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    He won't be played in his preferred attacking midfield role and isn't an ideal impact sub. Who would you prefer off the bench, Victor Moses or Lampard? Moses, every day of the week. 

    Interim manager Rafa Benítez suggested Lampard could leave the club. Benítez is only a puppet for Roman Abramovich, so you can only presume that the Russian wants to move on from Lamps. 

    All good things come to an end and Frank certainly deserves a lucrative pay-day in America, China, the Middle East or even Australia. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £3-5 million. 

17. Zdravko Kuzmanović, Stuttgart, Centre Midfielder, Age: 25

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    Player Summary 

    Zdravko Kuzmanović became newsworthy after a bitter tug-of-war between Fiorentina and Palermo for his services. 

    After two-and-a-half seasons with the Viola, Kuzmanović transferred to Stuttgart, where he developed into a first-rate midfielder. 

    He can turn out of trouble and shields the ball quite well. He's always involved in the play because he demands the ball and is an efficient passer. He isn't a robust tackler but he compensates with goals from midfield. 

     


    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Kuzmanović bluntly told kicker (via SBS World Game): "It's simple. Next year I'm out of here."

    With an expiring contract, Stuttgart will be forced to sell him in the January transfer window, or risk losing him on a Bosman.  



    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £3-6 million. 

16. Andrey Arshavin, Arsenal, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 31

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    Player Summary 

    Andrey Arshavin is an outcast at Arsenal, having been one of the most coveted players four years earlier after his Euro 2008 exploits. 

    What's the point of keeping him as a super sub? Give Serge Gnabry that role. 



    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    The Gunners will be looking to offload him in the January transfer window. 



    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £5-7 million.

15. Moussa Sissoko, Toulouse, Centre Midfielder, Age: 23

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    Player Summary 

    What is Moussa Sissoko actually good at?

    He doesn't score enough goals to compensate for his tendency to avoid defending. He isn't as creative as Étienne Didot. Sissoko is nowhere near the midfield enforcer that Étienne Capoue is. 

    Sissoko is an average player with a limited skill set. 

     


    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    He has been in the Toulouse football system since he was a teenager and he believes he's ready to take the next step. 

    He isn't. If he was playing at the same standard as Steed Malbranque or Jérémy Clément, then yes, he should leave for bigger and better things. 

    Instead of signing Sissoko, clubs should seriously consider Capoue. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £3-7 million.

14. Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea, Right Attacking Midfielder, Age: 23

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    Player Summary 

    During the 2010-11 season, Fernando Torres scored once in 14 Premier League games for Chelsea whilst Daniel Sturridge scored eight goals in 12 league games on loan at Bolton Wanderers. 

    It's comical that Chelsea management attempted to change Sturridge from a No. 9 to a wide player. 

    Was it a surprise that he played like a No. 9 out wide? Of course not.

    Who did he harm in the process? Torres, because the Spaniard wasn't receiving accurate crosses or through balls from Sturridge.

    Instead, El Niño had to watch Sturridge take low-percentage shots. 

    Torres was frustrated with the lack of service from Sturridge whilst the Englishman was incensed by management's refusal to give him an extended run as the centre forward. 

    Only at Chelsea could this improbable scenario occur. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    The Blues can afford to let Sturridge leave on a Bosman but he doesn't seem to enjoy his football. There's no smile, there's no enjoyment, nor will he link up with Torres. 

    It's an unfortunate situation for the Blues because Sturridge is easily a better striker than Torres but Roman Abramovich doesn't see it. 


    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £7-12 million.

13. Joan Verdú, Espanyol, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 29

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    Player Summary 

    There is no reason why Joan Verdú should stay at Espanyol. 

    To his left, he has Wakaso, who can't control himself whether it's tackling or shooting. 

    To Verdú's right, there is no decent player there. Cristian Alfonso has been anonymous and Sergio García is inefficient. 

    Up front is Inter Milan's 20-year-old loanee Samuele Longo, who is still learning on the job.

    Do you want to guess where Espanyol are ranked on the La Liga ladder? Dead last. 



    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    By not extending his contract, he is effectively saying: "I don't want to stay at this cesspool." If Espanyol somehow avoid relegation, it will be due to Verdú's creativity. 



    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £1-3 million. 

12. Theo Walcott, Arsenal, Right Attacking Midfielder, Age: 23

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    Player Summary 

    Six years after Arsène Wenger promised to give Theo Walcott a run as a No. 9, the Englishman is still waiting. 

    Last August, Walcott reiterated his stance on being a striker (via The Telegraph):

    I would like to put it out there that I would like to play up front. The boss has always promised me I will get a chance to play up front, so it’s been six years and if I just keep on scoring and doing well, I’ll maybe get a chance up front.

    Walcott is not a winger, he's a forward that was played out wide because of his blistering pace.



    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    If Walcott doesn't commit long-term to the Gunners, Wenger will have to sell him in January. 



    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £10-15 million. 

11. Oliver Baumann, Freiburg, Goalkeeper, Age: 22

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    Player Summary 

    If Oliver Baumann can be as good as Richard Golz, Freiburg could sell Baumann for a decent transfer fee. 

    They let Simon Pouplin for nothing and he's now one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Freiburg don't have enough leverage to push bigger clubs around. The German club let Papiss Cissé, one of the most prolific forwards in Europe at the time, go to Newcastle United for £8 million. 

    That's the kind of cash Chelsea and Manchester City pay for bench warmers. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee 

    £2-5 million. 

10. Cristian Tello, Barcelona, Left Forward, Age: 21

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    Player Summary 

    One of the primary reasons why Barcelona spent €40.6 million on Marc Overmars was due to his incisive running. 

    That is something Cristian Tello offers because the majority of defenders can't deal with the 21-year-old's freakish acceleration. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    He doesn't want to sign a contract extension because the club want to insert a hefty buy-out clause, which would restrict his ability to dictate where he goes, should he want to leave. 

    Surely, Barça will resolve this contract saga given how invaluable Tello is to the team. Should he leave, perhaps Gerard Deulofeu may get a chance. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £10-15 million.

9. Alain Traoré, Lorient, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 23

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    Player Summary 

    Alain Traoré is one of the most flamboyant footballers in Europe right now. He's so dangerous that opposing teams generally have two players marking him. 

    He has a cannon of a left-foot and threads some great through balls. This season, he's already scored four league goals (none of them inside the box) and created five goals. 

    He will be at one of Europe's elite clubs sooner rather than later. 

    Interestingly, he was going to be a Manchester United player until work permit problems sunk the deal. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Laurent Koscielny, Kévin Gameiro and André-Pierre Gignac weren't sold at inflated transfer fees, so Traoré probably will continue the trend. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £3-8 million

8. Nenê, Paris Saint-Germain, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 31

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    Player Summary 

    Nenê scored 21 goals and accumulated 11 assists in 35 league games for Paris Saint-Germain last season, yet he isn't even a regular starter for Carlo Ancelotti.

    Contractual disputes with PSG and a fight with Zlatan Ibrahimović means one of the world's most precocious talents in Nenê is available. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    He is deemed surplus to requirements at PSG. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £5-7 million.

7. Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao, Centre Forward, Age: 27

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    Player Summary 

    Fernando Llorente is a complete forward with the ability to beat opposing teams in the air and on the ground. 

    He's technically superb and is a good finisher. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Since voicing his desires to leave for Juventus, Athletic Bilbao have gone out of their way to mistreat the forward, who in turn hasn't given 100 percent on the field, missed a press conference and got into a heated argument with Marcelo Bielsa. 

    By the way, how has Bielsa not been sacked yet? 

    Since Juve have been telling their supporters about how little financial muscle they have, they probably won't even submit a £10 million for Llorente, knowing that he wants to wear the Bianconeri shirt.

    Just do an Adriano Galliani and sign the Spaniard on a Bosman.  

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £5-8 million.

6. Gil, Valenciennes, Centre-Back, Age: 25

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    Player Summary 

    I've only seen Gil in a handful of games but he has been so dominant that it's hard to overlook his performances. 

    He's got a solid physique, is comfortable in possession and is a strong ball-winner.  

    This Valenciennes team also has some quality players: Anthony Le Tallec, Gaël Danic, Rudy Mater and Foued Kadir.  

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Valenciennes have never sold a player over £10 million. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £2-5 million.

5. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke, Centre Forward, Age: 29

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    Player Summary 

    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is one of the most efficient goal poachers in the past decade. The only reason why he didn't succeed at AC Milan and Real Madrid was due to a lack of opportunities. 

    He was seen as a limited striker, but all he does is score. 

    It seems odd that he would leave a better club in Schalke for Liverpool but maybe he's attracted to the Reds' illustrious history. 

    Can you imagine Huntelaar and Luis Suárez together (again)? That would be fantasy football gold. During the 2007-08 season for Ajax, they combined to score 58 goals. 

    If you're wondering why Huntelaar hasn't played that well this season, it's probably due to his contractual dispute with Schalke. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    If he doesn't extend his contract with Schalke, he'll leave on a Bosman, which means he'll have to be sold in January.

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £8-12 million.

4. Lewis Holtby, Schalke, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 22

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    Player Summary 

    Lewis Holtby was always destined for great things during his loan spell with Mainz.

    When he returned to Schalke, he showed his versatility as a defensive midfielder, even though he did a bit of Alex Song by being caught out of position a few times. 

    This season, he has been given a chance as a No. 10 and he's flourished. 

    What an outstanding talent. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Holtby hasn't signed a contract extension, which is a big red flag because he's talked about moving to the Premier League in the past. 

    His favourite Premier League club is Everton and his dad served in the British army. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £8-12 million.

3. Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 25

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    Player Summary 

    Iago Aspas scored 25 goals last season, which shows he's a prolific goal scorer. This season, he has a higher shots created per game than Lionel Messi. 

    Aspas can dribble past defenders if he needs to. 

    He's an elite player with world-class potential. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    He's a big fish in a small pond which may lead to a modest transfer fee. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £5-8 million. 

2. Leo, Rayo Vallecano, Centre Forward, Age: 20

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    Player Summary 

    Michu made great runs and was a good finisher but Leo can do that whilst also being a threat as a dribbler.

    He's only 20 and has the potential to be an elite footballer. 

    Geromel, who has been in excellent form for Mallorca, struggled to deal with Leo as he was involved in both of Rayo Vallecano's two goals. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Michu was sold for £2 million, so you wonder if Rayo have learnt their lesson, which means jacking up Leo's transfer value. 

     

    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £3-6 million. 

1. Ashley Cole, Chelsea, Left-Back, Age: 31

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    Player Summary 

    There's a bit of karma for Chelsea because they had the financial edge over Arsenal, which ultimately persuaded Ashley Cole to join the Blues. 

    Now Paris Saint-Germain are willing to offer higher wages and a longer contract to Cole, who will be living up to the "Cashley" nickname, if he jets off to Paris. 

    Even though his behaviour at times has been regrettable, he is the club's only world-class defender this season. 

    If Roman Abramovich is willing to let Cole leave, then please get rid of David Luiz. 

     

    Reasons For Being a Potential Bargain

    Cole has leverage over Chelsea because of his expiring contract. With PSG the front-runner for his signature, Abramovich needs to inflate Cole's transfer fee to £20-25 million. 


    Estimated Transfer Fee

    £15-25 million. 

     

    Please read Serie A's 5 Unsung Heroes

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