January Transfers: 20 Players Who Need a Change of Scenery

Tony MabertContributor INovember 10, 2011

January Transfers: 20 Players Who Need a Change of Scenery

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    There comes a time in almost every player's career when it is best for them to move on.

    Perhaps they have outgrown the club they are at, maybe they are no longer wanted by their current employer, or they could even have gone through an experience the ghost of which can never be fully exorcised unless they up sticks and leave.

    While the lucky few may be able to see their ambitions and talents match those of one club, and one club only, for their entire career, the time comes for most players when they must go elsewhere.

    Here are 20 players who may consider a change of scenery come the January transfer window. 

1. Niko Kranjcar

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    It is a real shame for the Croatia playmaker that things have gone downhill for him since he joined Tottenham. It is certainly through no fault of his own that he is now on the periphery of the Spurs team.

    When Harry Redknapp nabbed him from former club Portsmouth for an outrageous bargain price of just £2.5 million in September 2009, Kranjcar took little time in repaying that sum with some great performances, including a brace in the 3-0 win over Manchester City, which was a huge victory on the path to the Champions League for the club.

    However, Gareth Bale's evolution from left-back to winger and Rafael van der Vaart's deadline-day signing exactly a year later have both contributed to the 27-year-old being nudged out of the team. With Luka Modric's desired move to Chelsea not materialising in the summer, Kranjcar will have to move elsewhere if he wants to play every week.

2. Christopher Samba

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    The man-mountain of a defender has had a rather tumultuous year at Blackburn. When Blackburn owners Venky's sacked Sam Allardyce and replaced him with Steve Kean last December, the Congo centre-back announced he had no intention of staying at the club.

    The 6-foot-4 centre-back's desire to leave Ewood Park piqued the interest of many an Arsenal fan, keen as they were to finally add some height and strength to their porous back line. Unfortunately for the Congo defender, such a move failed to get off the ground, and he remains at Ewood Park.

    Rovers have only won one game in the league this season—against Arsenal, ironically—and sit in the relegation zone, four points from safety. There is more to Samba than merely being a defensive brick wall and an aerial powerhouse, but at 27 years old his chances of proving so at a bigger club will not be around for much longer.

3. Marcus Berg

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    In the summer of 2009, Berg seemed to have the world at his feet. The centre-forward had just completed an excellent season for Dutch side Groningen, scoring 17 goals in 31 Eredivisie matches for the unfashionable northern side. 

    He then went on to star in the European Under-21 Championship for Sweden, with his seven goals firing the hosts to the semi-finals and winning him both the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament.

    That form won him a move to Bundesliga club Hamburg, but things have not worked out for him since. He scored just four goals in his first season in Germany, and a move back to Holland with PSV failed to reignite his scoring form.

    Berg still has plenty to offer as a striker, both aerially and on the deck, and if a club can sign the 25-year-old from struggling Hamburg in January, then it could be a very shrewd move.

4. Hugo Rodallega

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    Despite only scoring three league goals in 15 games upon arriving at Wigan in January 2009, Rodallega caused quite a stir. The Colombia striker proved a handful for even the best defences in the Premier League—after netting 10 goals in his first full season in England—and was linked with moves to Tottenham and Liverpool.

    He scored the winner at Stoke in May, which ensured Wigan's Premier League survival on the final day of last season, but has not opened his account in nine appearances this term and has cut a jaded figure during the Latics run of eight straight defeats, which has left them bottom of the table.

    With plenty of pace, work ethic and more strength than you would initially suspect, the 26-year-old may be looking to follow Charles N'Zogbia out of the club come January and try to live up to his nickname of "Radagol" elsewhere. 

5. Milos Krasic

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    When the 27-year-old winger terrorised one defence after another in the Champions League for CSKA Moscow two years ago, it seemed he virtually had his pick of the top clubs in Europe.

    He plumped for Juventus and repaid them with with sparkling performances, scoring his first goals for the club with a hat-trick against Cagliari and also netting a stunning long-range effort against Brescia.

    However, his reputation has been tarnished by several high-profile incidents of diving, including an act of simulation in the 0-0 draw against Bologna, which earned him a two-match ban.

    As part of manager Antonio Conte's major rebuilding this summer, the boss has most often opted for Alessandro Matri, Simone Pepe and new signing, Mirko Vucinic, in the attack, something which has limited Krasic to just four starts so far this season. Should this continue for the rest of the campaign, the Serbian may be tempted to look elsewhere. 

6. Wesley Sneijder

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    When you win the league, domestic cup and Champions League in your first season at a club, it's hard to know where to go from there. That's what happened to Wesley Sneijder when, after being booted out of Real Madrid because he was not a "galactico" in the eyes of Florentino Perez, when he was an integral part of the Inter Milan side which became the first Italian team to win the treble in 2009-10.

    The 18 months since then have been quite a comedown for all involved at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. The club are on their fourth manager since Jose Mourinho left, with current incumbent Claudio Ranieri struggling to clean up the extraordinary mess Gian Piero Gasperini managed to make in just five games in charge at the start of this season.

    Sneijder revealed how close he came to a move to Manchester United in the summer once the transfer window had closed and admitted he would still be interested in a move away from Milan. If Inter do not look like getting anywhere near back to their treble-winning best soon, he may make good on that threat.

7. Marouane Chamakh

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    How do you solve a problem like Marouane? The Morocco striker looked to be an absolute bargain when Arsenal signed him on a free transfer in 2010, right after he had starred in Bordeaux's Ligue 1 title-winning season.

    He got off to a great start too, scoring 10 goals in his first 21 appearances in England and providing plenty of the aerial prowess and holding ability that the Gunners so lacked when using Nicklas Bendtner as a target man.

    Since then, however, his form has nosedived at an alarming rate. Since December 2010, he has scored just twice for Arsenal—once in a 5-0 FA Cup win over Leyton Orient and a late goal which did not change the result in September's 4-3 defeat at Blackburn.

    It is not his lack of goals, but his utterly abject performances, which have led to him becoming such a figure of fun at Arsenal. Right now, it seems that the sooner he leaves north London, the better for all concerned.

8. Jay Spearing

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    The Wirral-born player is the very definition of a midfield terrier, constantly nipping at the heels of opposition players who bring the ball anywhere near his patch in the centre of the pitch. That is not to say he is incapable as a footballer, but his presence in the Liverpool midfield is a destructive one rather than creative.

    Having graduated through the club's youth ranks, Spearing has had to look on this summer as one expensively recruited midfielder after another has arrived at Anfield. As such, the 22-year-old has been restricted to just 25 minutes of Premier League action this season.

    As if to confirm his place in Kenny Dalglish's plans, Spearing has started all three of Liverpool's Carling Cup games this season.

    As a boyhood Liverpool fan, Spearing may be happy to serve the club he loves in any way he can for his entire career. However, if he wants to play regularly throughout his career and develop into the best player he can be, then he will almost certainly have to look elsewhere.  

9. Eden Hazard

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    The 20-year-old attacker has long been one of the brightest prospects in European football. He is part of a highly rated clutch of young Belgian players that threatens to produce a golden era for the country, although they will have to wait for the 2014 World Cup after failing to qualify for next summer's European Championships.

    With his creative displays out wide and through the middle, Hazard was one of the key men in Lille's title-winning season last term, and he has continued that form into the current campaign. Many of Europe's big clubs have been circling for a long time, hoping to pounce for the starlet at the end of the season.

    Hazard recently revealed that his plan is also to quit LOSC at the end of the current campaign.

    "I feel ready to make it to the next level in a great club. I stayed in Lille this season because there were still things I had to work on, things to prove. But now, I'm ready," Hazard said.

10. Craig Gordon

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    Before David de Gea's move to Manchester United this summer, Gordon was the most expensive goalkeeper in the Premier League following his £9 million move to Sunderland in 2007. The Scotland international showed he was not immune to the odd error, but on the whole, he proved an excellent signing for the Black Cats and has rescued countless points for them.

    However, since his debut season, Gordon has had a string of serious injuries, having been ruled out with knee problems and a broken arm. He is yet to appear this season as he recovers from anterior cruciate ligament damage.

    As such, Simon Mignolet has assumed the No. 1 position at Sunderland and has largely been impressive, while manager Steve Bruce also brought in Kieren Westwood from Coventry in the summer.

    With Rangers' Allan McGregor usurping him as Scotland's first choice, Gordon may have to find another club if he is to get back to playing regularly and reviving his international prospects.

11. Amauri

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    The Brazil-born striker's greatest legacy may be the wrangle between his homeland and Italy over who got to give him his first cap. After Juventus refused to let him leave to answer a call-up from Brazil, Amauri finally made his debut for the Azzurri in August 2010. It is so far his only cap for Italy.

    If that whole fuss was a disappointment for him, then it is reflected in his form for the Bianconeri. Amauri's 15 goals in a season for Palermo convinced Juve to sign him 2008, but after a decent first season, his goal tally has plummeted.

    A loan spell to Parma in the second half of last season snapped him out of his Turin-based malaise, as he scored seven goals in 11 games to help the club secure their Serie A status.

    Back at the new-look Juve, Amauri appears to have no place in the plans of Antonio Conte. His squad number was given to another player, and he is yet to feature this season. When his contract expires next summer, there seems little doubt Amauri will be off, but he could well return to haunt Juve.

12. Nedum Onuoha

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    It is incredible to think that, given he made his Manchester City debut in 2004, Onuoha is still only 24 years old. The versatile defender was for a long time tipped as a future England international. However, despite making 21 appearances for the Under-21s, he is yet to earn a senior cap. Therefore, he is still eligible to play for Nigeria, the country of his birth.

    With the likes of Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure and Stevan Savic all bought in over the past few seasons, there seems little room for one of only three players still at the club from the days before Thaksin Shinawatra's takeover in 2007.

    A loan spell at Sunderland last season—which included a well-taken goal in the 3-0 win at Chelsea last November—will give plenty of other clubs food for thought when they are looking to strengthen their own defences, and Onuoha is still young enough to make a big impact in another team.

13. Tomasz Kuszczak

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    It can be a tough life as a goalkeeper. Whereas an outdoors player can boost their chances of getting a game either by being adaptable enough to play in more than one position or by carving out a niche as an impact substitute, with a keeper it's all or nothing, in or out.

    Kuszczak has experienced the bad side of that coin throughout his time at Manchester United. After grabbing just a handful of Premier League appearances during his time at Old Trafford, as he lived in Edwin van der Sar's shadow, any hope of him inheriting the Dutchman's place were scuppered by the signings of Anders Lindegaard and David de Gea.

    While his recent assertion that he is United's slave may be more than a little excessive, his disappointment at not being allowed a loan move to Leeds proves just how desperate he is to build a career away from the club.

14. Federico Macheda

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    When a little-known 17-year-old appeared from the bench and scored an incredible strike to seal a 3-2 win over Aston Villa that got United's stuttering title bid back on track, he seemed destined for big things.

    In the three years since Macheda's electrifying debut he has failed to live up to such lofty expectations. A loan move to Sampdoria in his homeland of Italy last season yielded just one Serie A goal, as the club's spectacular mismanagement caused them to nosedive down the league and get relegated.

    Still only 21, the powerful and instinctive striker has more than enough potential to develop into a good player somewhere. With the presence of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck at his current club, it seems unlikely that place will be Old Trafford.

15. Esteban Granero

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    Like so many graduates of Real Madrid's academy, Granero has struggled to make the transition from playing regularly at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano (where the B team, RM Castilla, plays) to the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Not that such a state of affairs is necessarily bad; at any given time at least 50 former Castilla players are playing their trade in La Liga for other clubs.

    Granero has fared better than most, playing so well for Getafe that Real decided to exercise the buy-back clause they inserted when they sold him to their southern Madrid neighbours.

    However, any player who is up against Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Lassana Diarra, Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop for a central midfield berth is always going to struggle. This season, the 24-year-old has played for a grand total of seven minutes in La Liga.

    Unless he fancies a career of being grateful just to make the bench, he should leave.

16. Adel Taarabt

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    When the mercurial Moroccan playmaker led Queens Park Rangers back up to the Premier League after a 15-year absence, Taarabt was at the heart of things. As club captain, he scored 19 goals in the championship and set up many more as the Rs ended the season as champions.

    His return to the top flight was supposed to prove a point to all the doubters who labelled him a show pony during his three years at Tottenham, where he made a grand total of nine league appearances notable only for his array of tricks and lack of end product.

    However, it has not worked out like that. This season he has again disappointed, often cutting an isolated figure. He has had the captaincy taken from him, has rowed with teammates on the field and, during the 6-0 thrashing at west London neighbours Fulham, stormed out of the stadium when substituted and caught the bud home, still in his track suit.

    There were reports of a big-money offer from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, which the player claims to have turned down, but those kind of opportunities are going to become more scarce unless he starts delivering what his immense natural talent promises. Next time such a chance comes along, he should think long and hard before he refuses.

17. Clint Dempsey

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    The versatile attacker is a much-loved figure at Craven Cottage for his ever-industrious performances and knack of scoring goals at crucial times. Who can forget his marvellous lob against Juventus in the middle of Fulham's glorious run to the Europa League final?

    However, now in his sixth season at Fulham, it is difficult to see how he can go any further with the west London club. It is highly unlikely they will ever go one better in the Europa League, for starters, and the club simply does not have the resources to mount any kind of serious challenge on a top-four spot.

    With his regular place on the USA national team locked down, the 28-year-old may feel he has already done pretty well for a young man from Nacogdoches, Texas, but if he harbours any grander ambitions, then there would surely be plenty of takers for his services.

18. Gregory Van Der Wiel

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    At the age of 23, with more than 100 league appearances for boyhood club Ajax under his belt, a World Cup runner-up medal and Eredivisie title to his name, it seems Van der Wiel has outgrown his status as a promising young player.

    The attacking full-back has been linked to a whole host of Europe's top clubs, who can these days promise far more than even the great Ajax in terms of potential European success.

    After serving his hometown club so well over his six years as a professional and proving his loyalty in the face of interest from elsewhere on numerous occasions, surely no one would begrudge him leaving to claim the rewards his talent deserves.

19. Hulk

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    The sale of Radamel Falcao last summer must have served as something of a wake-up call for Hulk. After the two had lain waste to all before them in the league, Portuguese Cup and Europa League, it was a shame for all neutral observers that such an obscenely potent partnership was to be broken up before they had the chance to mount an assault on the Champions League.

    However, perhaps it was inevitable that one of them had to go in order to fund improvements throughout the rest of the squad, although some money went to Porto buying a majority stake in a player they co-own with Uruguayan club Rentistas.

    The Brazilian striker may still be banging in goals for fun without his departed partner-in-crime, but if he decides that the Superliga is beginning to cramp his style, then he must find a club willing to meet to €100 million buyout clause in his new contract, which runs until 2016.

20. Marouane Fellaini

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    In the month that he turns 23 years old, Fellaini is approaching a crossroads in his career.

    Everton are keen for the afro-sporting midfielder to sign a new contract at the club he joined from Standard Liege three years ago. 

    Should he sign, then Fellaini will provide a huge boost to David Moyes and the cash-strapped club, proving there is still enough spirit and belief at Goodison Park for them to continue to punch above their weight. If he turns down an offer, then Everton may have no choice but to sell and make a profit on their club record £15 million investment.

    Like his Belgian compatriot Hazard, the versatile Fellaini has an abundance of talent, albeit in a very different way. The tall midfielder seems capable of playing his game at any level, and at a reasonably young age, he would make a decent addition to almost any side.

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