January Transfer Window Deadline Day: 10 Bold Predictions
It's been a window built predominantly on transfer speculation, but as we edge closer to deadline day in the January Transfer Window, we've already seen some big deals go through and it looks as if clubs have no intention of closing their cheque books just yet.
Italy international Mario Balotelli left Manchester City to return to his homeland, this time with AC Milan, in a deal worth a reported £19 million on Tuesday (BBC Sport), while Inter Milan starlet Philippe Coutinho became Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers' second signing in the window, joining the Merseysiders for a fee said to be in the region of £8.5 million (Guardian).
However, as well as deals happening, some have been dramatically called off at the last minute, with Everton announcing Leroy Fer will not link up with the Toffees after failing a medical despite agreeing a fee with his club FC Twente. (Daily Mail)
But what does this mean for other clubs in the window?
Balotelli's departure leaves a gaping hole in Manchester City's attack, and the Citizens coach Roberto Mancini could be tempted into the market with Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko failing to score in the 0-0 draw at QPR.
One thing is for sure. With over £88 million spent so far in the window, there's no doubt spending will surpass the £100 million mark when midnight strikes tomorrow evening.
David Villa joins Manchester City in £15 Million deal
With Mario Balotelli leaving to join AC Milan, the most frequently asked question at the Etihad Stadium has been who will replace the controversial 22-year-old?
The most likely outcome of the situation is that Roberto Mancini will look to his current crop of attacking talent in the form of Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez to spearhead the Premier League champions' mission to secure back-to-back triumphs.
However, despite being strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, David Villa is being tipped for a dramatic deadline day move to Eastlands to replace Balotelli, with the Spain striker reportedly unhappy with his current situation at Barcelona.
The 31-year-old may be running out of time in his career but his ability and eye for goals means he could definitely make an impression in the Premier League, and with Arsenal ruling themselves out of the running for the former Valencia forward on Tuesday, it could be the perfect moment for Manchester City to swoop for the World Cup winner.
Tottenham Land Celtic Striker Gary Hooper
When I was in Marbella, I ran into Celtic manager Neil Lennon. The Northern Irishman told me that under no circumstances would the club want to sell Gary Hooper, seeing as he could be an England international in the near future.
No surprise then that Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has been keeping tabs on the former Southend United striker, who joined Celtic for £2 million from Scunthorpe in 2011. According to the Daily Mail, Hooper has been priced out a dream move to White Hart Lane, with the Glaswegian club said to be holding out for £10 million.
But with the club desperately needing some firepower with Jermain Defoe the only recognized striker at the club with Emmanuel Adebayor currently at the Africa Cup of Nations with Togo.
With Hooper keen on a move to White Hart Lane and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy known as a tough negotiator, it could take an 11 p.m. helicopter to seal this deal on deadline day.
Arsenal Sign a World-Class Player in a Multi-Million Pound Deal
What's that? You say you want a bold prediction? This is bold.
The idea of spending over £20 million on a player is something Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger simply does not comprehend. Santi Cazorla, the club's record signing, was a £16 million buy from Malaga last summer, but the Gunners never really go above the £12 million mark.
However, Wenger admitted that Napoli's Uruguayan international Edinson Cavani, who has hit 17 Serie A goals this season for the title challengers, is a player he likes according to The Guardian.
And he didn't rule out a move when he spoke almost two weeks ago about the 25-year-old, although he conceded he would cost a fortune.
It would be a bold move from Wenger considering his attacking options currently include Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Gervinho. And with Chelsea and Manchester City known to be admirers of Cavani, their financial muscle would surely oust the North Londoners out of the race.
Nevertheless, the signing of Cavani would send shockwaves through the Premier League if he signed for the Gunners, and a signal of intention to return to the glory days of the 2003-04 squad of "Invincibles."
You are, of course, allowed to continue to dream, Arsenal fans.
West Ham Sign Two Left-Backs in Two Days
They've already swooped to sign former Middlesbrough full-back Emmanuel Pogatetz from Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg, and now it seems West Ham could be set for an audacious move for Shakhtar Donetsk defender Razvan Rat.
Joining the Ukrainian giants in 2003 from Rapid Bucharest, he is one of the longest-serving players at the club. Rat is an experienced full-back with several years of Champions League experience, and signing him would significantly boost Sam Allardyce's defensive options.
The only stumbling block would be convincing Shakhtar to sell, with Mircea Lucescu reluctant to allow any of his players to leave before their Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.
Nevertheless, after 10 years at the Donbass Arena, Rat could be tempted to try his luck at Upton Park with his career in the final stages. And at around £2 million, he could be a decent signing for the Hammers.
Fulham Sign Kieran Richardson's Double—AC Milan's Urby Emmanuelson
Fulham are looking to bolster their squad and who better to join them than Dutch midfielder Urby Emanuelson?
Well, there are several better options, but obviously there are slim chances of getting a good deal in January, and so the former Ajax utility man will certainly do a job for the West Londoners.
He's struggled to make a lasting impression under Massimiliano Allegri at AC Milan, but as he's a Holland international and he's only 24. It seems like he could be a decent signing for Martin Jol.
Emanuelson will be keen to build a great rapport with the fans, unlike his lookalike Kieran Richardson, who has endured the wrath of the club's fans since he joined in the summer from Sunderland.
Rafa Benitez Sacked After Reading Draw, Former Legend Gus Poyet Hired
You can almost see it now. "Benitez axed by Abramovich, Poyet brought in" reads the back pages after a shock defeat to Reading on Wednesday evening.
The Spaniard has endured a difficult spell as manager of Chelsea, with the club crashing out of the Champions League, Club World Cup and League Cup under his guidance. The fans are even said to be filing a petition against giving him a permanent role as first-team coach.
But they might not need to, with the Chelsea hierarchy seemingly unimpressed with the team's 2-2 draw with League One side Brentford in the FA Cup. And reports suggest the former Liverpool manager is looking to replace Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.
Now, Brighton have evolved under Gustavo "Gus" Poyet, but would the former Chelsea legend be a successful replacement for Benitez?
If he's anything like Roberto Di Matteo, it's certainly a risk worth taking.
Birmingham Keeper Jack Butland Snubs Chelsea and Joins Stoke City
Largely seen as England's understudy to current keeper Joe Hart, Jack Butland clearly has a huge decision to make with his club Birmingham being forced into selling him due to financial difficulties.
The 19-year-old was in the Great Britain squad last summer and has shown a lot of promise while playing for the Championship outfit, but their precarious financial position means that Butland can leave for as little as £3.5 million according to The Guardian.
And with Chelsea bidding for his services, Butland has reportedly rejected the European champions' advances due to his wish to play first-team football on a regular basis.
So while a move to Stamford Bridge may be off the cards, with Stoke said to be interested in replacing the out-of-favour Asmir Begovic, Butland could find himself in the Premier League by January 31.
Andrey Arshavin Swayed by Russian Roubles at Brian McDermott's Reading
Andrey Arshavin was once viewed as a key man at Arsenal after his deadline-day £15 million move from Zenit St Petersburg back in 2009.
The little Russian is best remembered for his magnificent four-goal haul as the Gunners played out a terrific 4-4 draw with Liverpool at Anfield, but unfortunately for the 31-year-old, there's been little activity since then.
A loan move to Fulham was once mentioned but the interest was never quite concrete enough to form an offer, and since Reading were taken over by Russian millionaire Anton Zingarevich, several Russian players have been linked with a move to the Madejski Stadium, a list which includes Arshavin.
With Arshavin unhappy at warming the bench at Arsenal, he could be set for a move on deadline day once again to revitalize his career in England.
And if that fails, there's always a return on the cards to Russia again...
QPR Buy 7 Former Portsmouth Players (including Kevin-Prince Boateng)
QPR boss Harry Redknapp is famously known for his wind-down-the-window interviews with the media as deadline day approaches, and surely the veteran coach will be looking to add at least three more faces to his squad ahead of tomorrow's deadline.
The signing of Loic Remy was a huge coup for the West London club, with the Marseille striker scoring on his debut last week. But Redknapp's insistence on signing players who he has worked with before could potentially send them down.
Unfortunately for the R's, he's also secured Tal Ben-Haim, a player unpopular with the fans of Portsmouth for almost crippling the club and playing a major part in their humiliating 4-2 home defeat to MK Dons in the FA Cup.
Niko Kranjcar, Papa Bouba Diop and other former Portsmouth players have been linked with a Redknapp reunion, but unless AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng is on his way to Loftus Road, you have to feel Tony Fernandes' money is better spent elsewhere.
Inter Milan Sell Coutinho, Sign Mateo Kovacic and Swoop for Luka Modric
Philippe Coutinho may have sealed his move to Liverpool today but only an hour after it was confirmed he had moved from Inter, his former club announced they had secured the signature of Croatia's brightest talent, Mateo Kovacic.
Inter parted with a fee of around £13 million to bring the 18-year-old from Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb, with the Italian giants reportedly beating the likes of Manchester United to the highly rated youngster's signature.
With one attacking midfielder going out and another coming in, could Kovacic be joined at the San Siro by another former Dinamo boy, Luka Modric?
The former Tottenham playmaker has endured a difficult start to his career at Real Madrid since his summer move and is looking for a move either back to the Premier League or to Serie A. And a loan move could very much appeal to Andrea Stramaccioni as he looks to build on their improved start to the campaign.