The January Transfer Window Forecast

Louis Van Gaal needs to open the chequebook this winter to save his club's season and potentially his job.
Louis Van Gaal needs to open the chequebook this winter to save his club's season and potentially his job. /

It’s that time of year again! No I don’t mean Christmas and certainly not New Years Eve. January 1 not only brings in the new year, but opening of the transfer window.

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In a league completely flush with cash from top to bottom, the English Premier League is set for a hectic month. With so many teams having so many needs to address, it has the potential to be the biggest January transfer window in history.

The reality is it’s very difficult to sign players in January. Winter purchases are often the stereotypical “panic buy”, but this is often because of the prices involved.

Players simply cost more in the midseason window. Clubs selling have less need and less desire to sell because their squads are mostly settled, so they can afford to charge a premium for players in demand.

Don’t forget, great players have been signed before midseason. The £22.5m (bargain) signing of Luis Suarez to Liverpool from Ajax, Patrice Evra’s £7m move from Monaco to Manchester United, Nemanja Vidic’s move to United in the same window for £7.2m (arguably two of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best ever moves).

Javier Mascherano’s £18m move to Liverpool from West Ham was another great piece of business. Then the crucial moves of Gary Cahill and Nemanja Matic to Chelsea proved pivotal in their future success. Value can be found in the right areas if you play it smart.

It’s not just for the big clubs either. Mikel Arteta moved to England from Real Sociedad for £2m in 2005, and the rest is history because Arteta’s still plying his trade in the Premier League.

Clint Dempsey’s move to Fulham for the same price ended up with 5 years of terrific service before he moved onto Tottenham. Christophe Dugarry’s loan that became a free transfer saved Birmingham from relegation in 2003, scoring crucial goals that kept them in the top flight.

However not all transfers end that well. For every Luis Suarez, there’s an Andy Carroll. His £35m move from Newcastle to Merseyside will go down as one of the worst transfers of all time, as will Fernando Torres’ £50m move from Liverpool to Chelsea.

Christopher Samba £12.5m transfer was supposed to save Queens Park Rangers from relegation in 2013, but they didn’t stay up and he was sold seven months later. Last year Juan Cuadrado joined Chelsea last winter in what seemed like a well-priced £23.3m deal, but is at Juventus now on a loan that has become permanent.

So clubs need to be wary. Not every transfer will provide the answers they will be looking for. Fans can demand certain types or specific players to fix their issues in the window, but a transfer requires in most cases at least 12 months scouting.

Scouting departments spend rigorous amounts of time covering every single angle of a player joining the club, from how he will settle in the country/area to how he will blend with his teammates on and off the field.

But when the pressure is on in January and a club needs to improve and do so fast those things can go out the window. This is why January transfers can be labelled panic buys.

A player has started the season well or had a great 12-18 months and a club decides to buy him without proper scouting? That player can become the next Afonso Alves or James Beattie.

In such a crucial season for clubs in the Premier League though, those purchases are going to happen. There is so much at stake for so many teams from top to bottom heading into the second half of the season.

The glaring needs across teams in the division are vast, and perhaps only Manchester City (who you could argue need another forward) and Chelsea (due to their managerial situation) not looking to buy this winter.

Jose Mourinho is gone, which may mean Chelsea don't spend money this winter.
Jose Mourinho is gone, which may mean Chelsea don’t spend money this winter. /

At the top of the league Arsenal still don’t have a defensive midfielder, and they’re going to need one if they want to push on and win the title (similarly to when Chelsea signed Matic back from Benfica 2 winters ago).

Manchester United have needs across all areas, but in particular another defender and attacker at the bare minimum if they want to get back amongst the fight at the top of the league.

Champions elect Leicester City require reinforcements to shore up their threadbare squad, as Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy cannot be expected to carry the load all 38 games. Regression and rest are going to be factors going forward, and their star duo will need a reprieve at some point.

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Watford have already made their first move and have signed what could be one of the bargains of the season in Juan Iturbe, whose set for a loan move with view to a permanent deal

West Ham have lost Dimitri Payet and have been a different side without him, and will need to bring in reinforcements if they are to solidify their top half position.

Down the bottom teams like Bournemouth will be scouring the market, whose injuries are semi-crippling their bid to stay in the Premier League.

Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea have no choice but to spend if they are to give themselves the edge in the relegation battle.

Players like Mahrez, Vardy, Victor Wanyama, Sadio Mané, Kevin Mirallas, Andros Townsend, Karim Benzema and so many others are set for a hectic month of rumours and heresay over their club futures.

Prepare yourselves, it could be a historic month of speculation and spending.