As January’s transfer carousel rolls around once more, a whole flurry of players and clubs will find themselves associated with one another—an awkward affiliation that may last until the window closes at the end of the month. Among the names that will continue to crop up in the back page rumour columns are a number of African stars all primed to move onto bigger and/or better things in the new year.
Demba Ba, currently near the summit of the Premier League leading scoring charts with 13 goals is hot property and looks likely to make a move come January. With a unique contractual clause meaning that every other transfer window could see the Senegalese frontman leave for a veritable pittance, the frontman could be on the wishlists of many Premier League managers. Bleacher Report’s own Pradeep Kumar has identified Arsenal and Liverpool as two potential destinations for the former Hoffenheim man.
Alan Pardew, in a feverish paranoia, has even attempted to block Shola Ameobi’s maiden international tournament with Nigeria to preserve some semblance of attacking options in the new year. He may be facing a depleted stock of strikers come the end of the month, particularly if B/R’s featured columnist Thomas Atzenhoffer’s forecasts come true.
Another Premier League star who could well be going up in the world is QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt. Whilst Taarabt’s exclusion from Morocco’s squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations is a boon for Rangers boss Harry Redknapp, it may also spell the premature end of Taarabt’s career in West London. At times, it has been troubled, at times it has been inspired, but now it appears that Taarabt’s abilities may well be showcased elsewhere.
B/R football expert Allan Jiang produced an elaborate study back on Christmas Day examining the potential contribution Taarabt could make to Barcelona, comparing the North African magician’s impact for the Rs to Barca’s current crop of attacking talent. Whilst Jiang ultimately concluded that Taarabt’s "genius" perhaps wouldn’t flourish at Camp Nou, a player of such talent will always prompt gossip and speculation.
With Redknapp keen to offload talent before he brings in his own faces, Taarabt, with all his self-indulgence and showboating, may have been identified by the new boss as an expendable (and expensive) asset. Reports have suggested that Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United may also be tempted to take a punt on the midfielder, described by The Sun as "mercurial but inconsistent."
A third African star who could well be on the move in January is West Ham’s Senegalese midfielder Mohamed Diamé. One of the star performers in the first half of the season, Diamé has been an influential figure as he has helped the Premiership new boys to a comfortable mid-table berth.
With his rugged tackling, boundless energy and driving runs, the former Wigan man is a complete performer and could be an asset to a club looking to shore up its midfield, or one requiring a bit more dynamism in the middle of the park.
Arsenal have reportedly been sniffing around the Hammers’ star man, and Moroccan frontman Marouane Chamakh could well be used as a makeweight between the two London clubs.