Bold Predictions for Remainder of January Transfer Window in England
It can sometimes seem like the January transfer window is designed more to provide fodder for the tabloids than squad solutions to teams, but world football's midseason shopping spree can occasionally secure pivotal signings.
The key is to separate the headline-grabbers from the realistic moves.
While the sensational big-name deals tend not to materialise—the truly top players of any league are unlikely to become available mid-campaign, especially when Champions League eligibility is a factor—savvy strategic moves can prove season-changing.
BBC Sport's incisive analysis of transfer window spending over the past five years in the Premier League confirms that January deals can be crucial, particularly to clubs facing the new year with relegation or European qualification on the line.
Here are five predictions for the remainder of the 2013 January transfer window in England.
Newcastle to Retain Fabricio Coloccini
Sitting at 16th in the Premier League table, just two points off the relegation zone, Newcastle United are prime candidates for a productive transfer window.
They have already made one exciting deal—for marauding French international right-back Mathieu Debuchy, a missed summer target—and seen another, for Marseille striker Loic Remy, hijacked by QPR.
But their most crucial and delicate negotiation may turn out to be convincing club captain Coloccini to stay.
The Argentine centre-back has reportedly requested a move to home club San Lorenzo due to personal circumstances, as detailed by Martin Hardy in the Independent.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew's focus will be on retaining Coloccini's services until the end of the season as perhaps the crucial key to staving off relegation.
In addition to his valuable contributions on the pitch, Coloccini's staying would contribute enormously to exactly the kind of fighting spirit that Pardew will need to rely on within his squad.
No Chelsea Old Guard Exodus to Old Trafford—Yet
Sometimes no news is good news.
Every matchday that Frank Lampard appears in blue is a blessing to Chelsea supporters fearful that one of the most iconic heroes in the club's history might succumb to the charms of Manchester United.
As Lampard's Chelsea contract—and apparently career—draws to a close, former assistant manager Ray Wilkins made a convincing case to the BBC that the England midfielder could do worse than to extend his illustrious career with the Premier League leaders.
With interim Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez making it clear that his role is not to retain the old guard but depose them, rumours have also surfaced that Ashley Cole could sign for hated rivals United, as reported in the Sun and Mirror.
But while tensions between the club and two of its longest-standing and most decorated servants would be understandable, neither is likely to leave Stamford Bridge in January.
Wilfried Zaha to Man United
One piece of business Man United do look likely to complete is securing the sought-after signature of Crystal Palace's Zaha.
The talented winger has dominated English transfer speculation all season as his efforts have propelled Palace toward promotion.
Links to Arsenal and Spurs have gradually faded into the background, leaving United in pole position to sign the 20-year-old England international. The move in fact seemed confirmed when Zaha apparently posted a Tweet to that effect, since removed.
It is likely that United, however, will assuage Palace's concerns at losing their best player by allowing him to remain on loan at Selhurst Park for the remainder of the season.
This is a move for the future, with United looking to rejuvenate an ageing midfield that has often looked short on creativity and vigour.
Wesley Sneijder to Spurs
Inter Milan may have agreed to sell Sneijder to Galatasaray, but the Dutchman is pushing hard for a more prestigious move to the English Premier League—and Tottenham would be the perfect destination.
Spurs do not seem to have made any advance on their failed summer attempts to sign Portuguese international Joao Moutinho from Porto, and Sneijder could prove an inspired substitution.
Sitting in fourth and desperate to seal a top-four finish, Spurs are another prime candidate to splash the cash this January.
Sneijder's undoubted talents have occasionally been undermined in the transfer market by his wage demands and somewhat difficult reputation.
But Spurs' resources—not to mention their previous experience accommodating Sneijder's similarly challenging Holland teammate Rafael van der Vaart—plus Sneijder's determination to avoid a potentially career-ending move to Turkey should mean a deal can be worked out.
Yann M'Vila to QPR
In the BBC's January transfer data, there are two notable league positions where clubs tend not to spend—first and last.
Presumably the club in last place by the time the January window creaks open have already given up hope of top-flight survival and may instead be more focused on engineering a soft landing in the Championship.
But for cash-splashing QPR, that is apparently not the case.
Their last-minute move to foil star striker Loic Remy's move to Newcastle proved that QPR are willing to pull out all the stops in a desperate bid to stay in the Premier League.
Another sought-after France international seems sure to follow—midfielder M'Vila, previously linked with Arsenal.
It is questionable how positively M'Vila, a controversial figure currently serving a two-year international ban imposed by the French FA for a forbidden nightclub foray, will contribute to a QPR team dogged by accusations of dressing-room discord and lack of motivation.
But what is certain is that Harry Redknapp won't let his team go down without bringing in as many transfer targets as possible.
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