10 Surprise Transfers to Look out for in January

Laura GreeneFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2013

10 Surprise Transfers to Look out for in January

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    With non-stop coverage, an endless flow of rumours, and speculation that never dies down, can any transfer still be deemed a surprise?

    We think so.

    Over the following slides, we have picked out 10 players who could be making shocking moves in the January window.

    To qualify as a surprise transfer, these choices have to fill at least one of the following criteria:

    1. The player signs for a new club but not the one we all expected. Step forward, Robert Lewandowski.
    2. The player seems content at their current home but still leaves in January. Sergio Aguero, take a bow.
    3. We can't believe anyone would let them go. Marco Reus, we're looking at you.
    4. A strange choice, straight out of left field. Diego Forlan to...West Ham?

    The players have been chosen from gossip that already exists, which does not mean the moves will happen, only that they would be completely shocking if they did.

    The slides are arranged from least to most surprising, with my ranking logic addressed in each slide.

    Feel free to add your comments below!

10. Diego Forlan to West Ham

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    Kicking off the slideshow is Diego Forlan.

    It's no surprise that West Ham will be dipping into the transfer market to buy a new striker this January, but the 34-year-old would be an unexpected choice.

    It looked like the Uruguayan was beginning to wind down his career when he made a free transfer to Brasileirao side Internacional in 2012.

    However, according to the Mirror, Sam Allardyce's side are now the favorites to sign the striker when the window reopens next month.

    Although he failed to set the world alight during his two years with Manchester United, Forlan does have Premier League experience. His goal ratio in La Liga with both Villarreal and Atletico Madrid was nothing short of prolific, and he was voted best player in the 2010 World Cup.

    The forward moved to Inter Milan in 2011 before signing for Internacional, where he has scored 22 goals in 54 games.

    This is transfer gossip straight out of left field.

9. Mario Balotelli to Chelsea

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    At No. 9 is Mario Balotelli—could he really be on his way back to the Premier League?

    The striker left Manchester City last January, departing England with a list of misdemeanors in his wake, including training ground bust-ups, car crashes and memorably, setting his bathroom alight with a firework, as seen on BBC Sport.

    His efforts on the pitch were overshadowed by those off it. Yet it's impossible to deny his talents as a player.

    Recent reports suggest that he could be on his way out of AC Milan to reunite with former boss Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola was quoted by Declan Warrington in the Daily Mail as saying:

    Balotelli and Mourinho could be reunited because they know each other and they didn't leave each other with hate. 

    There was a not very nice incident between them, but they parted company on good terms. They have remained in contact and there is mutual respect.

    This cryptic tweet from the Italian striker heightened speculation last month:

    This is the end. :-)

    — Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) November 24, 2013

    A move to Stamford Bridge would definitely be strange for Balotelli, who was not an automatic starter under Mourinho at Inter Milan.

    It would also be surprising if Massimiliano Allegri allowed him to leave San Siro. Just like Forlan to West Ham, this rumour has come right out of the blue.

8. Pato to Arsenal

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    It is widely agreed that Arsenal need to draft in a new striker this January, yet Alexandre Pato would be a surprise addition to the squad.

    According to ESPN FC, the Gunners remain keen on signing the 24-year-old, despite having a €8 million offer turned down by Corinthians.

    Pato returned to his native Brazil last January midway through a 2012/13 season that, due to injury, was spent largely on the sidelines with AC Milan.

    If Arsenal were pursuing the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Luis Suarez over the summer, why would they look towards Pato, who has fallen out of form and out of favour with Corinthians? 

    According to the Daily Star's David Wright:

    A number of uninspiring performances and a shocking penalty in a shootout against Gremio - which saw his side knocked out of the Copa do Brazil in October - has meant Pato has only started three of the club's last 11 league games.

    If Arsene Wenger manages to resurrect Pato's career in much the same way that he did with a post-Juventus Thierry Henry, it could be a masterstroke.

    However, if he wants a new striker to come straight into the team to help Arsenal towards their first Premier League title in almost 10 years, Pato would make for a shocking choice.

    The Brazilian's poor form makes him an even odder January target than Balotelli and Forlan, putting him in the rankings at No. 8.

7. Luis Suarez: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

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    January is going to be a long month for Liverpool fans. Their star player, Luis Suarez, can currently do no wrong, and it's going to be very hard to keep his admirers at bay.

    His performances this season are a double-edged sword. He's setting the Premier League alight, entertaining, impressing and netting an incredible 13 goals, despite missing the first five games of the season.

    However, his goalscoring exploits will attract some huge bids in the new year.

    Over the summer, a move looked likely when the striker professed his desire to join Real Madrid, as reported by Andy Hunter in the Guardian. Later, Arsenal tried to bring him to the Emirates, as seen on the BBC Sport website.

    Liverpool's resolve will be pushed to the limit in January as they try to keep hold of their most valuable asset. Nevertheless, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him go—as we know he's expressed his wishes to leave Merseyside in the past.

    A little different from the other names in the slideshow, the biggest surprise in Suarez's case is if he stays.

6. Lewandowski to the Premier League

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    Coming in at No. 6 is Robert Lewandowski, whose move away from Borussia Dortmund will come as no surprise. But his destination may leave you scratching your head.

    Only those who resolutely refuse to indulge in transfer gossip will have missed last summer's saga when Lewandowski looked like a nailed-on certainty to join Bayern Munich.

    His agent said he was going, as seen on Sky Sports, and it looked like Bayern had gotten their man until Dortmund—still smarting from the departure of Mario Gotze—nixed the move, as reported in Bild, via the Guardian.

    And so began weeks of speculation, in which Lewandowski claimed he's been "forced" to stay at the Westfalenstadion, seen here on Goal.com. Manager Jurgen Klopp admitted, via John Drayton in the Daily Mail, "I think it is a known fact that Robert is going to play for Bayern after the upcoming season."

    So, he's going to Bayern in the summer?

    Well...no.

    Now it looks like Dortmund will try to sell Lewandowski to a Premier League club in January, rather than letting him leave for free in the summer.

    In the Express, Ben Jefferson reports that Chelsea are preparing a big-money move to bring the Poland international to Stamford Bridge in the new year.

5. Ramires to Real Madrid

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    Chelsea midfielder Ramires has been linked with a move to La Liga.

    As seen on ESPN.co.uk, the Brazilian is rumored to be a Barcelona target. Elsewhere, gossip reported by James Dickenson in the Express suggests that he has also been attracting interest from Real Madrid.

    Ranked as fifth in the list, this rumour falls into two ranking categories: 2. He seems perfectly happy at Stamford Bridge and 3. Why would Chelsea consider letting him go?

    Ramires is one of few Blues players to play every minute of every game in the Premier League this season. He's an important cog in Mourinho's Chelsea machine and, although he goes about his business with little fanfare, he would leave a gaping hole in midfield were he to depart the club.

    In the Mirror, Darren Lewis reports that the 26-year-old has played down rumours of a move away from SW6.

    Nevertheless, Chelsea fans will no doubt be hoping that this is a surprise that doesn't happen in January.

4. Marco Reus to Manchester United

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    Borussia Dortmund recently revealed that Marco Reus is the only player in their first-team squad with a release clause in his contract.

    As seen on ESPN FC, BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke said: "Reus has a contract with Dortmund until 2017, but media reports suggest a figure of 35 million euros (29.4 million pounds) could see him leave before then."

    This, inevitably, has led to a slew of speculation linking the German midfielder with a move away from Signal Iduna Park, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain named among his suitors.

    But why would Reus leave Dortmund at this stage?

    He returned to the club in 2012 after leaving their youth setup in 2005 and was a finalist with the side in last season's Champions League.

    This season, he has appeared in every single Bundesliga game for Dortmund as well as every Champions League fixture. He has netted 11 goals and made 10 assists in all competitions.

    In the Times (subscription required), James Ducker suggests that Manchester United are considering a January bid for Reus, with Shinji Kagawa possibly going the other way as part of the deal.

    United do need a player in Reus' position, and it looks like he'd be a perfect fit. However, as he looks at home with Dortmund and we can't believe Jurgen Klopp would let him go, it would be a highly shocking move if it went ahead.

3. Falcao to Chelsea

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    Radamel Falcao has been a Monaco player for a matter of months, yet rumours still suggest that he is "unhappy" and seeking a way out of the Stade Louis II in January.

    The club's sporting director Vadim Vasilyev has been at pains to insist that the 27-year-old will not be leaving in the coming transfer window, as seen on ESPN FC.

    However, this has not dampened speculation that Falcao could be on his way to Real Madrid or Chelsea.

    The Mirror's Paul Gorst reckons that the Colombian striker may go to Stamford Bridge on a short-term deal before signing him in the summer.

    Elsewhere, in the Daily Mail, Paul Collins suggests that Manchester United and Real Madrid also want to sign Falcao in January.

    Coming in at No. 3 in the rankings, no one could have predicted that Falcao would be tipped for a move so soon after joining Claudio Ranieri's side. We can't believe Les Rouge et Blanc would even consider letting him go.

2. Cavani in PSG Exit?

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    In July, Edinson Cavani put an end to speculation linking him with a host of clubs across Europe when he put pen to paper for Paris Saint-Germain.

    Not five months later, the Uruguayan striker is rumored to be looking for a way out of the Ligue 1 club.

    As Ben Jefferson writes in the Express: "Arsenal are preparing to battle Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona for PSG striker Edinson Cavani in January."

    Jefferson also reports that Cavani is unhappy at playing second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the PSG pecking order.

    This would be a truly surprising move, as the criteria fills the category of 3. Why would anyone let him go (Cavani has scored 13 goals in all competitions for PSG), 4. The story has come out of the blue, and potentially 1. Cavani signs for a new club, but not the one we expected.

    The 26-year-old is on a reported £135,000-a-week at Parc des Princes, which may play a part in determining which clubs could afford to add him to their wage bill in January.

     

1. Sergio Aguero on the Move?

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    According to the Guardian's Jamie Jackson, Sergio Aguero is at the top of Real Madrid's January wish list.

    Aguero's current contract runs until 2017, but Jackson claims that Madrid may make a move in the new year for a fee in excess of the £38 million that Manchester City paid for him in 2011.

    The Argentina international has already scored 17 goals (in all competitions) for City this term and seems at home at the Etihad. He was quoted in the Guardian as saying, "I'm very happy at City, very happy since the day I came. I knew that the project was good and in my head there is nothing else but Manchester City, so how long I'm going to be at City is just never a question."

    In the Manchester Evening News, David Lynch suggests that Isco may be offered to City as part of a swap-deal for Aguero. 

    The striker has also been linked with Barcelona, even though the Catalan club refute these claims, as seen on Sky Sports

    It seems that he wants to stay at the club. City would be crazy to let him go, and the story has come right out of left field.

    For those reasons, Aguero gets my vote as the most surprising transfer to watch out for in January.