The true importance of the January transfer window is often skewed by a generous degree of bluster and bluff. But this one might be different.
Never before has a mid-season transfer window been so important to so many teams. Every club in the Premier League’s current top eight (perhaps excluding Everton) will be looking to plug gaps in their respective teams over the window.
This could be the most crucial January transfer window on record. Manchester United’s season will likely pivot on what business David Moyes conducts over the next month. Currently slumped in seventh place in the Premier League, having been knocked out the FA Cup, United are in desperate need of new blood and fresh ideas.
January is a notoriously difficult time to conduct business but Moyes has no other choice. United need a solution, even if it is a temporary solution. Signings like Koke and Marco Reus may have to wait until the summer, but there are other options out there and if Moyes can find them he may just be able to rescue United’s season and his Old Trafford career.
And he’s not the only one whose future could depend on what business is done in January. Indeed, there seems to be many more Premier League irons in the fire this year.
Of course, this is largely a symptom of the Premier League’s overall poor performance in the summer transfer window. Only Manchester City sufficiently strengthened in the off-season, spending nearly £100 million on four exceptional players (Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas). That success in the summer market has given City a strength that is now unmatched in England.
Chelsea needed reinforcements for the new season. The return of Jose Mourinho prompted some to suggest his acceptance of the job had come on the condition of a transfer wishlist being handed over to Roman Abramovich.
Willian and Andre Schurrle arrived but interest in Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani but solid offers never materialized, as Chelsea strengthened in the one area they didn’t need to. Samuel Eto’o, the only striker added to the squad, has failed to carry the goalscoring burden.
And while Arsenal may have made a significant statement of intent with the record £42.5 million signing of Mesut Ozil the suspicion that the Gunners need a truly world-class striker to lead its frontline persists.
Apparently everyone’s looking for a striker. Chelsea need one, despite already having three that boast 593 senior goals between them. And as aforementioned, Arsenal needs one too.
But as is the case with Manchester United’s search for a central midfielder both teams are unlikely to secure their top targets mid-way through the season.
Is Diego Costa (allegedly Arsene Wenger’s priority) going to leave Atletico Madrid while they still have a chance of achieving a historic league triumph? Nope. But Wenger knows he’s playing a dangerous game relying solely on Olivier Giroud to fire the Gunners to their first title in 10 years.
Who will spend most in January?
So important is the next few weeks in the transfer market it could have a genuine bearing on how the top four will look by the end of the season. Such is the intensity of this year’s January window Premier League clubs might not wait until deadline to conduct an entire’s months business. Don’t count on it though. Some things never change.
The Premier League season has been one of the most unpredictable and generally entertaining in memory but that has come as a result of a collective weakness. No one team has taken a grip of the title race and the eventual winner could be the team that rectifies as much of that weakness in the January transfer window.
But it’s not just those with the twinkle of trophies and Champions League football in their eye that will be hoping to use the January window to make up for failure in the summer market.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reportedly been promised a ‘war-chest’—transfer window speak for a lot of money, as per Metro—by Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan as the Welsh club attempts to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
If West Ham and Sunderland are to fight their way out the relegation zone the comeback will probably start with the signings made by both sides this month (the Hammers presumably have better options up their sleeve than Roger Johnson).
There’s an air of apocalyptic finality about this window, even though the next one is only months away. But by that time it might be too late for certain teams and managers.