The January transfer window has come and gone, and unlike its more glamorous summer brother, provided no sensational blockbuster moves. Since we’re waist-deep in the season, it’s understandable that only teams facing the long descent back into the mire of the Championship want to gamble by making radical changes to their squads.
Sadly, we weren’t treated to any last-minute ‘shockers’ like August’s Ashley Cole – William Gallas swap. While teams chasing silverware might benefit by adding a cog here or a widget there, this year’s window may just be as noteworthy for the transfers that didn’t happen then the ones that did. A look at January’s most notable business:
Arsenal – In: Despite sitting fourth, Wegner’s squad is playing attractive football (shocking!) and getting results. The Professor had said months ago he wasn’t bringing anybody in, nor did he need to.Out: Alexandre Song makes a temporary trip over to Charlton for some rare relegation battle-experience. Luckily for him, it’s just a loan, and he won’t be facing that situation the rest of his career at the Emirates. It builds character, though. Lauren, who Wegner pegged for an exit during the fall makes a trip down south to Portsmouth to join Harry’s batch of resurgent defenders once thought past their prime.
Aston Villa – In: Martin O’Neill splashes the cash for young Ashley Young, while bringing in the resourceful John Carew. Carew has floated around the past few years, which is curious because I think he’s quite useful. O’Neill should get the most out of him. Also, Phillip Bardsley comes over from Manchester United to slum it for the rest of the season.
Out: Milan “Head Down and Run” Baros is swapped with Carew, reuniting with Gerard Houllier at mighty Lyon. While I’m sure Houllier is thrilled to have the Czech again, the Villians got the better of this deal. Also, Eric Djemba-Djemba, of wash-out at Manchester United fame, packs his bags for Burnley.
Blackburn – In: Stephen Warnock, too deep in the pecking order at Anfield, comes in to shore up the defense. A good move for Rovers, and I wish Stephen the best. I’m not sure he’s a hard/dirty enough defender for them, though. He’ll compete with Bruno Berner (from Basel) for the left-back spot, but Warnock has the early edge. And, in “You can never go home again’ news, David Dunn ends his injury-blighted time at Birmingham to come back to Blackburn. Remember when he and Damian Duff were lighting it up there years ago? Oh, what a difference a few years can make… Also, powerful defender Christopher Samba makes his stay at Rovers permanent.
Out: More defender movement; the promise James McEveley once showed as a youngster continues to fade as he moves to Derby. Lucas Neill chooses West Ham over Liverpool, and Dominic Matteo moves to Stoke.
Bolton – In: David Thompson leaves the south shore to shore up the Wanderers’ midfield. Although he’s just slightly on the wrong side of thirty (29) for Big Sam, this is exactly the kind of move that is expected of him.
Out: Nobody of note.
Charlton – In: Arsenal’s Alexandre Song comes in to learn more about life on the other half of the Premiership table, while Ben Thatcher makes a lateral move from Manchester City.
Out: South Africa’s finest, Jonathan Fortune, moves to Stoke. Bambi-on-Ice, Djimi Traore, goes to Portsmouth in search of Harry’s magical defending potion.
Chelsea – In the most shocking move of all, Chelsea spends no money and brings nobody in! A month ago, in the midst of all their injuries, would you have wagered even $5 that Mourinho wouldn’t bring in a single player? I didn’t think so.
Everton – In: Portsmouth can’t make the loan permanent, so Benfica’s Manuel Fernades takes his boots to the bitter half of Merseyside.
Out: Simon Davies quietly exits for Fulham, while David Weir retreats north-of-the-border, to Rangers.
Fulham – In: Alexei Smertin returns to England from Dinamo Moscow. He may actually get to experience a Premiership game now. Simon Davies bolsters the midfield, while the American contingent grows with the addition of Clint Dempsey. In a shrewd piece of business, the highly-underrated Vincenzo Montella jets in from Roma on loan.
Out: Niclas Jensen leaves for FC Copenhagen, while Luis Boa Morte joins the revolution at West Ham. They don’t play the same game, but Davies won’t fill the gap left by Boa Morte.
Manchester City – In: Michael Ball comes in from PSV Eindhoven after he becomes surplus to the requirements… in Holland.
Out: City terminates Claudio Reyna’s contract by mutual consent so Captain Sicknote can sign spend what little is left of his career on an American physio table. Kasper Schmeichel goes to Falkirk in search of experience that will never make him as great as his father, while Ben Thatcher packs his bags for Charlton.
Manchester United – In: After six years, Six Alex gets his man, luring Henrik Larsson out of ‘near-retirement’ with Helsingborgs.
Out: Giuseppe Rossi is rescued from Newcastle and sent to his secondary homeland with Parma. Phillip Bardsley temporarily trades a fire-breathing Scottish manager for a Northern Irish fire-breathing manager by moving to Aston Villa.
Middlesbrough – In: The unfortunately-named Dong-Gook Lee comes in from Pohang.
Out: Massimo Maccarone heads back to the homeland with Siena, and Ugo Ehiogu joins the Protestant side of the two-team league Scottish league. Ray Parlour, apparently is still alive, but will no longer appear in a ‘Boro uniform.
Newcastle – In: Standard Liege’s Oguchi Onyewu finally makes the big move to the Premiership. Unfortunately for him, it’s with the Barcodes. How long do you think it will take him to seriously regret turning down Fulham’s American Contingent and life in London? Two, maybe three, matches?
Portsmouth – In: Harry Redknapp continues to endulge his taste for Artists Formerly on Great Teams, as Lauren joins Sol Campbell on the back line. This theory, however, does not explain the move for Djimi Traore.
Out: David Thompson bolts to Bolton. Dean Kiely doesn’t want to wait a few seasons for The Championship, so he heads off early and joins West Brom.
Reading – In: If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Michael Duberry comes over from Stoke as the new boys stick with the squad that got them to the top flight.
Sheffield United – In: Jon Stead (Sunderland) and Matthew Kilgallon (Leeds) both come over for a four-month sampling of the Premiership before the clock hits May and they’re whisked back to the Championship.
Out: David Unsworth heads to Wigan and Paul Ifill moves to Crystal Palace. If this were 2002, it might matter.
Tottenham – Out: Reto Ziegler can’t get a game, so he’s shipped off to Sampdoria. Martin Jol shockingly parts with a young Englishman, as Calum Davenport doesn’t bother to pack bags for the cross-town move to West Ham. And, alas, Major League Soccer and Dallas FC won’t be seeing the Pitbull, as Edgar Davids wanders back to the figurative woods of Ajax, looking for a place to die.
Watford – In: The once-promising, but still young Moses Ashikodi leaves Rangers and rejoins footballing civilization, and the still-promising Gareth Williams leaves the not-so-promising confines of Leicester.
Out: Ashley Young to Aston Villa. Good news, you just bagged 10 million. Bad news, you just sold your most promising player.
West Ham – In: It looks like Alan Curbishley is trying to buy his way out of relegation. At least he’s gone after quality (or quality-ish) defenders. The ever-popular transfer target, Birmingham’s Matthew Upson, finally makes a move back to the Premiership. Lucas Neill leaves Blackburn to cash in on a great World Cup, and Calum Davenport comes over from Tottenham to get his youthful progression back on track. Nigel Quashie (West Brom) and Luis Boa Morte (Fulham) round out the spending for the Hammers.
Wigan – In: David Unsworth trades one bottom feeder for another (Sheffield United). Known for his energetic goal celebrations, Julius Aghahowa comes in from Shakhtar. I’m not sure how many back-flips he’ll be doing at the JJB Stadium.
Out: Michael Pollitt (Burnley), Gary Teale (Derby). I have nothing to say about either of them.
…and lastly, Liverpool – In: After talking about how important the youth system is, Rafa makes some moves to bolster the coffers. They may not be local boys, brought up through the Academy, but talent is talent, isn’t it?
24-year old full-back Alvaro Arbeloa makes a shock move (to him, apparently) from Deportivo. Another Spainard, Francisco Duran (18, midfielder) comes over from Malaga.
Striker Jordy Brouwer, who apparently has been banging them in for the Ajax youth side signs up and Italian under-21 goalkeeper Daniele Padelli joins from Sampdoria. Fancy another fullback? Let me introduce you to Emiliano Insua, on long-term loan from Boca Juniors.
Beating the deadline by a hair, Rafa also signed 17-year old Paraguayan defender Ronald Huth (no ‘Nazis in South America jokes here). But, the real gem of them all may be the Swedish 16-year old midfielder Astrit Ajdarevic.
Also, FIFA gave the green light to a move for Javier Mascherano, but the Premier League is giving it another look, so while the paperwork has been filed, that one is on hold.
Out: Salif Diao is finally off the books, making his stay at Stoke a permanent one. Stephen Warnock needs first-team football and should find it at Blackburn. Darren Potter’s footballing future lies elsewhere, namely at Wolves. Also, Dubai Investment Capital and their half a billion dollars go back to the Middle East.
So, it seems Liverpool may be bringing in another new owner. George Gillett’s bid to takeover the club is now being taken seriously after DIC pulled out of the proposed deal. Gillett has completed his due diligence in only three days, and the board decided to delay accepting the Sheikh’s offer in order to properly mull over the American’s bid. Apparently, DIC didn’t take this well, and ‘tried to bully the board’ into accepting the offer according to Rick Parry. The board would have none of it, so DIC took their toys with them and trudged back to their sandbox.
The original knock on George was that he favored a groundshare with the Toffees, but word out of Anfield is that he most certainly does NOT. Reports have his latest bid at even more than DIC’s. No word on a time-table, so the take-over saga looks set to last a little bit longer.