The January transfer window has its own dynamics, working a slightly different way to the summer.
Firstly, there’s rules to consider. A player can be registered with three clubs in one season, but can only represent two of them. That means if a move happened in the summer after a footballer had already made an appearance for his then club, he can’t now play for a third team… regardless of how well or bad the transfer has gone.
Every January window, some rumours pop up, such as Vincent Janssen to Napoli and Wahbi Khazri to Everton, which are made impossible by the rule, so it’s always worth considering.
This winter sees the World Cup factor, and players not getting enough minutes can be desperate to get a transfer in the hope they can catch their national manager’s eye. Then there’s money, most winter transfer windows will see one of Portugal’s top clubs looking to balance the books, having failed to do so the previous summer.
Free transfers also appear on the horizon, and clubs can be convinced to part with a player now for a small fee, rather than see him go for nothing in the summer.
At Sport Witness we cover transfers throughout the year, as situations for players and clubs dictate that moves in future windows are likelier. For January we’ve compiled a list of 20 players who look like reasonable opportunities for a move.
Kiko Casilla (Real Madrid) – Potentially free, maybe a few €m
Several times a week for the past couple of months or so, the Spanish sport media have gone over Casilla’s failed move to Newcastle United in the summer window. The claims go that Rafael Benitez really wanted him, it was a great opportunity for the goalkeeper, but Real Madrid stood in his way.
Now looking to buy Kepa, Casilla isn’t needed at Madrid and there’s some level of guilt that they prevented a move which is now needed. Newcastle haven’t yet returned.
Pau Lopez (Espanyol) – Free in the summer, €2-7m now
Spending last season on loan at Tottenham, Pau was supposed to be there for the long term, but Spurs and Espanyol fell out over price. Spanish reports said Tottenham had decided not to use their buying clause, of around €7m, and instead offer a fraction of that.
Then the idea was to stay at Espanyol and extend, but Pau has yet to accept an offer and there’s an increasing list of Spanish clubs, including Sevilla, interested in the 23 year old. Last week saw a Spanish rumour that Manchester City could sign the player and loan him to FC Girona.
Alex Grimaldo (Benfica) – €20-30m
Alex Grimaldo lives a funny situation at Benfica. No one at the club doubts his abilities, as he’s by far the best left-back they have, but it doesn’t mean they would be against the idea of selling him.
The Spaniard is constantly suffering injuries, and that’s the reason why a good bid would now be enough to take him. He’s been linked to the likes of Napoli, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United, and Benfica would be looking for €20-30m, with bonuses perhaps taking the lower end of that range to the higher end.
Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City) – anything from £1-5m
While the Tunisia international (he sat once on their bench back in 2010) wasn’t going to be on this list, recent rumours have suggested he could very well one of the exits at King Power Stadium in the coming weeks.
The former Saint-Etienne centre-back is said to be very keen on either returning to his old side in France, or just moving back to Serie A, a league he spent five years in at Atalanta, Cesena and Parma. As for the price, it really depends where Leicester stand. If Puel deems him a worthy backup, which doesn’t appear to be the case right now, then they could hold out for a bit more. Our bet is he leaves for a very, very small fee.
Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic) – £2-7m
Down on his luck at Celtic, Sviatchenko has been told he can find a new club in January. Still with faint hopes of going to the World Cup with Denmark, the central defender had been linked with a move to Belgium or France by his own country’s press.
Since then the player has made it clear he’d be open to the idea of a Championship move, and that looks a good fit for the January window. In Denmark, it’s thought the chance of a move to FC Copenhagen isn’t so great.
Kara Mbodj (Anderlecht) – £10-15m
If it hadn’t been for his recent knee operation then King Kara may well have been the first name on this list, in his own little section, and for good reason. In December we published an article saying ‘Kara to Everton is like pieces of a jigsaw fitting themselves together before the window opens’.
The 6’3” Anderlecht defender nearly moved to Crystal Palace a year ago, but Anderlecht blocked the transfer. He then wanted to go under the knife in February, with the Belgian club delaying things until they couldn’t do so any longer.
Steve Walsh is a fan as well as Sam Allardyce, so Everton interest would naturally follow. Kara is currently out injured and isn’t expected back for at least a month or so, but he recently said he couldn’t rule out an exit before the season ends.
Jean-Michael Seri (Nice) – €35-40m.
Close to a move to Barcelona in the summer, the Ivory Coast international saw his dream move collapse in front of his own eyes, forcing him to stay with the Ligue 1 club at least half a season longer. His eye for a pass and ability to press the opposing team has caught the eye of the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal, both teams whose style of play would suit the 26-year-old perfectly.
While release clauses aren’t allowed in France, Nice and the player have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, if you will, that would allow him to leave for €40m. Considering his form hasn’t dropped all that much, and we’re midway through the season, we expect that amount to stick, perhaps reached with bonuses if needs be.
Andreas Samaris (Benfica) – €15m
Never afraid of showing his will to play in England, Andreas Samaris has been linked to a Premier League move for quite a while now. The midfielder isn’t getting enough playing time at Benfica, and could turn out to be a cheap and quick fix for any mid-table English club.
The Greek international mostly plays as a holding midfielder, and is seldom used in a more advanced position. Running out of contract with the Eagles in 2019, it’s likely that he will be available for around €15m soon, maybe cheaper depending on Benfica’s moves in the transfer window.
Rodrigo Battaglia (Sporting) – €20-30m
Signed by Sporting on a €4m deal this summer, Rodrigo Battaglia hasn’t had time to show he was worth the money and is already involved in transfer rumours. The Argentine midfielder had good spells at the likes of Braga and Chaves, and that’s why the Lions trusted him to replace Adrien Silva, protecting the new signing with a €60m release clause.
Now linked with the likes of West Ham and West Brom, the 26-year-old is likely available to leave in January, but only for those who pay between €20m and €30m.
Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht) – €20m+
Already keen on a move last summer, Anderlecht will likely accept to sell him next summer, but could be persuaded to do so before then. Manchester United have been linked several times over the past few months, and the midfielder has made it clear he’d jump at the chance of a move to Old Trafford.
This week has seen strong claims in Belgium of West Ham interest and a possible fee of €20m. Anderlecht would likely prefer to wait, but if Dendoncker is offered a move which tempts him a lot then some kicking and screaming, and a reasonable offer, could see a move before the end of the month.
Wide players & Flexible attackers
Jonathan Bamba (Saint-Etienne) – somewhere around £3-4m
The France U21 international, while not guaranteed to leave in January, doesn’t appear to have a future with Saint-Etienne. That’s mostly his own doing, asking a club with a salary cap for around €150k/month, an amount they refuse to pay.
With a contract running out in June, the Ligue 1 side could very well be open to a sale in the coming weeks in order to make some money from a talented youngster instead of seeing him leave on a free in the summer. Newcastle and Huddersfield in the Premier League have both been mentioned as potential suitors for the 21 year old who can play across the front three.
Lucas Moura (Paris Saint-Germain) – £Changes wildly by the day
This is a delicate one, as talk from France is the Brazilian forward, who knows he has no chance of making his national team’s squad for the upcoming World Cup, would be happy to stay in Paris, where he has a lot of his friends, until the end of the season. On the other hand, the Ligue 1 leaders are desperate for cash for FFP reasons, and would be open to a sale if the price was right.
Chelsea were said to be interested briefly, Manchester United too, but considering he has barely played this season, perhaps aiming a little bit lower would be better for all involved. His direct approach to attacking could certainly help a few Premier League side (maybe someone like Stoke?), but the price could put off a few.
Rafa Silva (Benfica) – Loan with buying clause
Benfica are not used to making big investments, and that’s why Rafa Silva arrived at the club with great expectations around him. The €16m fee paid to Braga was considered to be pretty big, and that could maybe be a reason why things haven’t worked out for him. Silva was never good enough to impress for the Eagles, who now look for a way to recover the good form he showed at Braga. The loan deal seems to be the most likely option now, with Championship sides like Wolves said to be interested in the winger.
Over the weekend, Everton and Leicester City were linked to the left winger by the Portuguese media.
Nico Gaitan (Atletico Madrid) – €20m, potential loan
Not having the impact at Atletico he’d have hoped for, Gaitan is very much available. Marca have this week linked the 29 left winger with Everton, West Ham, Southampton and Watford, and a Premier League move is being talked up.
Whilst a figure of €20m has been put on a permanent transfer, it would be no surprise to see that amount come down, or for Gaitan to move on loan in January.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Paris Saint-Germain) – free
Despite having a contract running with the Ligue 1 leaders until the summer, the former Newcastle and Hull City attacking midfielder could end up reaching an agreement with PSG to see his contract cut short. This would make the most sense for all parties involved, unless he decides to sit back and cash in a hefty paycheque until the summer.
The obvious move here would be to Leicester City, who, with talk of Riyad Mahrez potentially leaving, could need a new creative spark. That and the fact Claude Puel loves Ben Arfa. A lot.
João Carvalho (Benfica) – Loan
Like any other big club, Benfica have a problem giving playing time to youngsters. Offensive midfielder João Carvalho has already shown potential wearing the Eagles’ shirt, but struggles to get more appearances, having made only four games this season.
With his career managed by Jorge Mendes, it’s very unlikely that the 20-year-old will stay at the club for long if it continues this way, especially after having his name linked to clubs like Wolves, who have been doing a good job with young Portuguese players. A loan deal is more likely, though, since Benfica still trust that Carvalho can become the real deal in the future.
Islam Slimani (Leicester City) – £25-30m
Probably one of the more obvious names to be featured on the list, the Algeria international should be a shoe-in for a transfer in January. Not playing enough under Claude Puel, extremely capable in front of goal and determined to prove everyone wrong, the 29-year-old would be a great addition to many Premier League clubs.
Watford looks like a good bet, teaming up once again with Marco Silva, but Newcastle have been heavily linked with him too. There’s been repeated links in Turkey, and Sporting have been brought into the picture too, but it’s though Leicester would prefer a Premier League move.
Raul Jimenez – However much Benfica can trick out of a club
There were some crazy stories about Raul Jimenez in the summer, when Everton were said to be interested in him, and Benfica would simply demand €50m for the sale. Quite a crazy fee for a bench player, even though he’s often having decent performances.
The Mexican striker still can’t manage to hold a starting spot, or score many goals, and is still frequently linked to a Premier League move. That’s why we could see it happening, as long as some club convince Benfica to accept a reasonable bid, or Benfica do a great sales job.
Sandro Ramirez (Everton) – €6m+, potential loan
Sandro sealed his move to Everton with a meeting at Liverpool’s Titantic hotel, and his Merseyside side career has quickly sunk.
The Spanish forward should have left Everton by now and be at Valencia, with December reports in Spain making it sound like a move was nailed on.
But the player’s big salary, thought to be around €6m a year, sees clubs coming and then quickly going. The Valencia door was likely shut when they signed Luciano Vietto instead, and similar has happened with other Spanish clubs. Sporting have been linked in Portugal, but they’ll face the same wages issue. Perhaps a Premier League loan wouldn’t be the worst idea, if nobody wants to give Everton their €6m transfer fee back.
Łukasz Teodorczyk (Anderlecht) – €5-10m
Ah, Teo. Not so long ago the Polish striker was banging in goals for Anderlecht and a transfer was being talked up. Now a transfer is being talked up because he’s gone goal-shy.
Just 3 goals in the Jupiler Pro League this season have seen the player’s value plummet and what could have been a €20m deal would struggle to make half that.
He’s an emotional sort, and a move could just as easily kickstart his career and see goals raining down as make everything worse and see the 26 year old regress further. That’s why there’s now suggestions in Belgium that Anderlecht may be lucky to get much more than the €4.75m they paid Dynamo Kiev back.
West Brom and West Ham have been seriously linked in the past, Tottenham have been less seriously linked this month.
Assorted Barcelona fringe players
We couldn’t compile a list of possible January transfers without including Barcelona’s wish to sell fringe players to get their wage bill under control. Failing in the summer to shed the excess weight, there’s a group of players available again.
According to various Catalan newspaper front pages and double page spreads, the following have differing degrees of availability: Arda Turan, Denis Suarez, Rafinha, Gerard Deulofeu, Andre Gomes, Aleix Vidal.