Assessing the January Transfer Window so Far: Movers, Shakers, Rumours
We are 19 days into the January transfer window, so here is a quick recap of the notable transfers and loans so far.
Biggest Transfer Move So Far: Nemanja Matic (Benfica to Chelsea; £22 million)
Early Contender For Best Transfer: Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow to AC Milan; Bosman)
Feel free to comment below with your views.
Nemanja Matic (Benfica to Chelsea; £22 million)
The only saving grace of this debacle is the fee being £15 million cheaper than his release clause (£37 million), and Benfica did not receive another Chelsea prospect, as they did three years ago when the Portuguese club negotiated Matic into a packaged deal that sent David Luiz to Stamford Bridge.
Matic has world-class potential as a box-to-box midfielder but can also shield the back four as a pivot.
The fact that Blues management were willing to disregard the grovelling nature of signing back a Chelsea player suggests Matic will play a significant role for the team.
Hopefully his second spell at the club will be a success just like Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona after the Catalan club let him go to Arsenal and had to sign him back for £35 million.
Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea to Wolfsburg; £16.7 million)
This transfer sets a smart precedent going forward regarding how Chelsea management should handle players who are not an important member of the first team.
Instead of throwing them away in packaged deals for other players, a la Matic, Blues management need to actively pursue deals that lean towards their advantage.
Granted, the £16.7 million is £8.3 million below what Chelsea originally wanted (£25 million, as per Matt Law of The Telegraph), it still represents a £10 million profit having signed him from Genk for £6.7 million.
Leandro Damiao (Internacional to Santos; £10.7 million)
Damiao once scored 40 goals in a season, was the top scorer at the 2012 London Olympics and a regular in transfer gossip articles.
The output of his last two seasons combined (37 goals) is still three goals short of his 2011 return (40 goals), so his career has been in decline.
Maybe he should have tried his luck in an attack-driven league such as the Eredivisie, though, he probably believes the move to Santos is a stepping-stone to a big-money European move.
Lacina Traore (Anzhi to Monaco; £8.6 million)
Signing Traore was bizarre, as Monaco have Falcao, Emmanuel Riviere and Anthony Martial.
Monaco have the second-highest scoring attack in Ligue 1 with 32 goals in 20 games (behind Paris Saint Germain; 46 goals in 20 games).
Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion to Hull City; £7 million)
Long played well in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea when he scored and hit the woodwork. He is an industrious Premier League-standard forward who presses opposing defenders.
Though, he has never scored 10 Premier League goals or more in one season, so £7 million is a steep price to pay.
Nikica Jelavic (Everton to Hull City; £6.5 million)
Hull are basing this fee not on Jelavic's form this season (yet to score a league goal) but when he scored nine times in 13 league games for Everton during the 2011-12 season.
Last season, he was decent, scoring seven goals in 37 games, but this season, he has struggle. So Hull have overpaid for him.
Michael Bradley (Roma to Toronto FC; £6.1 million)
In 10 years' time, Bradley will wonder what if he stayed at Roma.
He was an invaluable member of Rudi Garcia's midfield rotation at a club contending for Serie A.
Bradley was a Garcia-type of player: understood his role in the team, would wait for his chance, come into the line-up and distribute the ball accurately.
Garcia did not want to lose Bradley, but it could be a win-win situation for all three parties: Roma have upgraded Bradley to Radja Nainggolan, Toronto receive a classy player and Bradley will get a career payday.
He should watch ESPN 30 for 30: Broke to ensure he does not go broke.
Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow to AC Milan; Bosman)
Honda has high football IQ, is a wonderful passer, can complete difficult through balls and is an experienced footballer.
Milan are big winners out of this deal, as they have signed an elite playmaker on a free transfer.
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur to Toronto FC; £6.1 million)
Technically speaking, it is a February transfer, as he will join Toronto FC on Feb. 28, though, let's still talk about him.
If an unheralded footballer by the name of Camilo Sanvezzo can light Major League Soccer up with 22 goals in the past season, surely Defoe will score 25-plus.
He was excellent in the UEFA Europa League, scoring five times in four games.
Goals win championships, and Toronto are showing ambition to their fanbase by signing Defoe.
Adil Rami (Valencia to AC Milan; loan)
Rami tends to intercept rather than tackle. He is a passionate, open and heart-on-your-sleeve type of person.
It got him in trouble at Valencia last year when he verbally eviscerated management and players, as per Lucas Brown at Sky Sports.
One concern for Milan is Rami's inactivity.
Alessandro Matri (AC Milan to Fiorentina; loan)
There is no way Matri is better than upcoming forward Ryder Matos, who is Fiorentina's top scorer in the UEFA Europa League.
If Fiorentina are not willing to give Ryder extended minutes, he should be loaned out.
Matri is only at the club due to injuries to Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez.
Anderson (Manchester United to Fiorentina; loan)
A positional change, injuries, weight gain and complacency are reasons why Anderson became a running joke as opposed to the next United superstar.
Fiorentina have a plethora of elite midfielders, so it will be a challenge to Anderson as he looks to rebuild his career.
Artjoms Rudnevs (Hamburg to Hannover 96; loan)
The emergence of Pierre-Michel Lasogga diminished Rudnevs' playing time at Hamburg. He does have quality as he once scored a hat-trick against Juventus for Lech Poznan.
Bertrand Traore (Chelsea to Vitesse; loan)
One of the most highly touted Chelsea prospects, he looked excellent during pre-season. He could end up displacing Renato Ibarra as Vitesse's right-forward in a 4-3-3.
In that situation, Traore would be playing as an inverted wide forward, cutting in and shooting with his left foot.
Dempsey played as a deep-lying forward behind Dimitar Berbatov during Fulham's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
Dempsey only scored one goal in 12 league games for Seattle and is currently goalless in two league games for Fulham as they attempt to stay in the top flight.
Jan Kirchhoff (Bayern Munich to Schalke; loan)
Kirchhoff is a tall and mobile defender who can play in midfield. He has world-class potential, and Bayern manager Pep Guardiola rates Kirchhoff enough to have played him off the bench seven times in league play.
The move to Schalke will give Kirchhoff the minutes he needs. He is good enough to be a future Bayern starter.
John Guidetti (Manchester City to Stoke City; loan)
Guidetti came off the bench against Crystal Palace, which is an achievement when you consider his career was debilitated by illness.
He is strong, has good positional sense and a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Last time he was on loan at Feyenoord, he scored 20 times and created eight goals.
Stoke would be overjoyed with half of that production.
Leo Baptistao (Atletico Madrid to Real Betis; loan)
Why did Baptistao not join his former club Rayo Vallecano and help them avoid relegation?
Money talks, as per Football Espana:
It is being reported [by AS] that Betis are paying out €2.3 million for the deal.
Los Beticos, currently bottom of La Liga, will reportedly take over the player's wages for his six months at the Benito Villamarin, totaling €850,000, whilst Atletico will be paid €1,250,000 for loaning him out.
Baptistao was electric for Rayo and he will need to score a goal a game if Betis are to stay in La Liga.
M'Baye Niang (AC Milan to Montpellier; loan)
His physical attributes are immense, and when he builds up his confidence, he will be a nightmare for opposing centre-backs.
Scored on his Ligue 1 debut against Monaco.
Majeed Waris (Spartak Moscow to Valenciennes; loan)
Was is it a surprise that Bastia centre-back Sebastien Squillaci struggled to deal with Waris? Nope.
He has pace, his awareness in front of goal is excellent and Valenciennes will be expecting more goals from Waris.
Ola John (Benfica to Hamburg; loan)
A massive talent like his brother, Collins, but hopefully Ola doesn't end up like him. His first step is lethal, and he will be another weapon for Hamburg.
Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari to Roma; loan)
"Nainggolan knows how to do everything," Roma manager Rudi Garcia said, as per Eurosport. "He has technique, plays the long ball, can push forward and shoot for goal."
Nainggolan is a natural ball-winner, he can take on players and is an all-action midfielder.
Biggest Rumour of the Window so Far
When asked if Schalke left attacking midfielder Julian Draxler had been given a tour of Arsenal's facilities, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said the reports "were like a UFO sighting," as per Jamie Sanderson at The Metro.
Schalke could "be open to offers this month" for Draxler, so Arsenal have a chance of signing him, per Jeremy Wilson at The Telegraph.
In Schalke's 109 years of existence, they have sold a player for £15 million plus once (Manuel Neuer to Bayern for £19.5 million in 2011), so Schalke will be inclined to sell Draxler.
Instead of playing him on the wings, he has the potential to be a world-class No. 9 like Thierry Henry.
Signing Draxler would be a monumental transfer coup for Arsenal.