It’s that time of the year. The time of year of snow falling outside. Of making unnecessary, expensive purchases. Of pledging to correct the mistakes of the past year. Of running around, hectically, trying to get everything done. That’s right, it’s transfer season! Or, at least, it will be very soon. The coming of January signifies the reopening of transfer window and therefore the silly season in European football. And nowhere is the silly season as crazy as in England.
With so much money in the Premier League, and so much stiff competition, clubs will do anything to add that one extra piece to secure the title/top four/avoid relegation. But that doesn’t mean clubs are only looking to buy. Many clubs will have to sell in order to buy, or be forced to give up a player to a bigger, richer club, from England or the continent. Now, traditionally, the January transfer window has been less interesting than its longer, whackier counterpart, the summer. But this has not been the case in recent years. Just last January alone, we saw the marquee transfers of Ross Barkley to Chelsea, Lucas Moura to Tottenham, and the big swap between Manchester United and Arsenal of Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. (One of the most even, fair swaps ever as both players have been pretty awful for their new clubs). But what will we see this year? What does January 2019 have in store for us in terms of transfers? Here are 20 rumored, potential transfers that could shake up the football world this winter.
20 Ivan Perišić To Manchester United
Let’s be honest; Manchester United is a mess. José Mourinho’s position as manager seems untenable and many believe that he would have been fired already had United not scraped through their Champions League group.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward reportedly refused to let Mourinho buy the players he wanted in the summer, which would be admirable were Woodward’s modus operandi not simply buying star players with no idea of how they could play together. Regardless, Ivan Perišić is a talented winger who United/Mourinho has wanted for a long time now. But Inter have the best squad they’ve had in years and they won’t let the Croatian winger go for nothing...
19 Anthony Martial To Inter Milan
Some reports have Perišić going to United for £30m. Other reports say that it will be a swap deal for Anthony Martial. At this point, Red Devils fans are probably tearing out what’s left of their hair. Martial has probably been United’s best player this season, though even he has been inconsistent. United already has a glut of wingers and if Mourinho is staying on, this could be the end of the talented forward's time at Old Trafford. Mourinho has been taking shots at Martial all season and it's not hard to see why Martial would want to get away from the difficult manager.
18 Isco To Manchester City
Another manager/player feud is playing out at the Santiago Bernabeu. New Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari seems to not favor fan-favorite Isco. There have been reports all season that Isco is carrying a little extra timber (though an Instagram post from the Spaniard appears to disprove this). Isco did wear the captain’s armband and scored a brace in Los Meringue’s largely meaningless second-leg trouncing of Melilla in the Copa del Rey.
Does this mean relations have thawed or was this just to temporarily placate Isco? If Solari hasn’t a place for Isco in his lineup, there is no shortage of clubs interested in him. But chief among them are Manchester City. They have the money and Pep Guardiola is believed to see Isco as the long term replacement for David Silva.
17 Christian Eriksen To Real Madrid
Another possible reason for Real Madrid to sell Isco is to make way for Christian Eriksen. Madrid have carried a torch for the Danish midfielder ever since his dazzling display for Tottenham against them last season. As good as they can be on the pitch, off the pitch, Spurs are a bit of a mess. Their new stadium is still not finished and they brought in no new players this summer. Furthermore, manager Mauricio Pochettino is constantly being linked with other clubs --most notably Real Madrid-- and one wonders how long Spurs can hold it together. If Madrid do come in with a big money offer for Eriksen, Spurs are unlikely to be able to resist.
16 Christian Pulisic To Liverpool
Christian Pulisic is the premier name on the list of young U.S. soccer players to have impressed in the Bundesliga in recent years. The Hershey, PA native signed with Borussia Dortmund as a 16-year-old in 2015 and he has been a big reason for the Black and Yellow’s resurgence back to the top of the Bundesliga table, where they now sit.
However, the new, promising young players in Germany all seem to be UK based. And chief among them is Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, who has somewhat stolen Pulisic’s thunder. It would be vintage Dortmund to be wise enough to sell Pulisic on for big money before potential buyers realize that Dortmund don’t really need him anymore. And it just so happens that Liverpool are interested in Pulisic.
15 Dominic Solanke Loaned To Huddersfield
Dominic Solanke has barely featured at all for Liverpool this season. If Pulisic were to arrive at Anfield, that would push Solanke even further down the pecking order. This seems like a classic setup for another young player not getting time at a “Big Six” club to run off and impress in the Bundesliga. But while manager Jürgen Klopp does not have Solanke in his current plans, he’s not ready to give up on him.
Liverpool are reportedly looking for suitable Premier League sides to whom they can loan Solanke. There are several options, but Huddersfield Town appear to be the front runners, largely because of the close friendship between Klopp and Terriers’ manager David Wagner.
14 Cesc Fàbregas To AC Milan
Chelsea’s midfield is stacked. But while everybody is moaning about Ruben Loftus-Cheek being left out of the squad and N'golo Kanté being played out of position, not many are paying attention to Cesc Fàbregas. The Spanish veteran is largely being used as a substitute for Jorginho at the base of the Chelsea midfield. The 31-year-old is not too happy with this role. He’s been linked to several clubs, most strongly Valencia and AC Milan. While a return to his homeland would make sense, Fàbregas is likelier to turn up at the San Siro. Serie A has a slower pace and is famously kinder to older players and the Rossoneri has a rich history of employing veterans to great success.
13 Aaron Ramsey To Juventus
Aaron Ramsey is another veteran midfielder that has been linked with Italian clubs. While only 27, there are currently no talks to extend the Welshman’s contract beyond this season. Arsenal has previous for this but this is a particularly baffling case. It made sense not re-sign Jack Wilshere last summer, but Aaron Ramsey has not had as many injury problems.
Ramsey’s recent success in the North London Derby and his captaining of the Gunners at Old Trafford suggest that manager Unai Emery is perhaps rethinking his decision to let Ramsey go. However, if the plan remains the same, Ramsey has a long list of suitors, including Bayern Munich and Juventus. But because of their penchant for picking up players on a free transfer and Serie A’s slightly slower pace, the Bianconeri are in pole position to get Ramey’s signature.
12 Miguel Almirón To Newcastle United
In just their second season in the league, Atlanta United have reached the MLS Cup Final and are currently the favorites to beat the Portland Timbers and lift the trophy. A big reason for their success has been the play of Paraguayan attacking midfielder Miguel Almirón. Almirón is a real MLS success story having made his name in America, though he did win the Argentine Primera División with Club Atlético Lanús.
However, Almirón’s time in MLS is likely at an end. This rumored transfer has been reported all over the place, so it looks like it’s pretty much a done deal. Presuming manager Rafa Benitez can get owner Mike Ashley to pry open his wallet and spend the relatively low sum of £15m, we should see the Paraguay youngster in the black-and-white stripes of Newcastle this January.
11 Abdoulaye Doucouré To Everton
In the first few weeks of this season, Watford had a remarkable record that had some believing they would finish as high as sixth. And a big reason for their early success was the play of Abdoulaye Doucouré. But, just like last season, the Hornets have fallen off the pace. However, this year has been a much milder regression to the mean than last year’s dramatic firing of Marco Silva. The Portuguese manager was tempted by a move to Everton and this summer he finally got it.
Silva has already brought over Richarlison to Goodison Park from Watford and that has probably been the Toffees’ best player. Now Silva is looking to raid his old club again and bring over Doucouré.
10 Éder Militão To Manchester United
Leicester City’s Harry Maguire was famously one of the defenders that José Mourinho wanted to bring to Manchester Untied in the off-season, but Ed Woodward wouldn’t let him. However, Éder Militão is also believed to be one of the defenders Mourinho wanted. If Mourinho is in fact staying at Old Trafford, it looks like he will at least get this wish granted.
Militão’s great play has been a big reason why Porto are top of the Liga Nos table and why they sailed through their Champions League group. But with the promise of so much success coming to the Estádio do Dragão this season, there’s a good chance both Porto and Militão will want to hold off this move until at least the summer. Man United will have to pay big get Militão in January.
9 Marko Arnautović To Manchester United
This is a move that is both weird and is totally predictable. Marko Arnautović finally clicked in PL football last year for West Ham. He’s a big, athletic striker who can hold the ball up, and is therefore, very much a Mourinho player. He was even a bit player in Mourinho’s Champions League winning Inter team in 2010.
What doesn’t make sense is that Manchester United already have Romelu Lukaku, a striker in the same mold as Arnautović and who is, by most accounts, better. Lukaku has struggled this season, but much of this is because of Man United’s style and formation doesn’t suit him. And the game has kind of passed this style of play by at the top end. There’s no reason think why Arnautović would be any more effective.
8 Zack Steffen To Manchester City
It looks as though fans of the Columbus Crew will get to keep their team as their long-rumored move to Austin appears to have been fallen through. However, they’ll probably have to find a new goalkeeper. Zack Steffen has impressed in the Crew net and this has attracted international attention. Manchester City (whose parent company, the Abu Dhabi royal family, also own New York City FC) have certainly noticed. City are set to swoop in at the close of the MLS season and bring the American keeper over in January.
“But wait”, you ask, “are City actually looking to replace Ederson?” Of course not. They’re looking at Steffen as depth and possibly their number one in the far future. In the immediate future, expect City to loan the 23-year-old keeper to a lower tier league.
7 Tanguy Ndombélé To Manchester City
With City as good as they are, it’s scary to think of them adding players to improve. But that’s what they’re looking to do. While securing Isco’s signature is dependent upon circumstances at Real Madrid, they should be able to grab Tanguy Ndombélé at will. Lyon are the only team to have defeated City so far this season (and they drew their other match) and Ndombélé was a big reason for that. Guardiola’s deputy, Mikel Arteta, was seen talking to the midfielder in the tunnel after the two teams drew in Lyon.
Some reports have City waiting until the summer and others suggest they will sign Ndombélé and then loan him back to Lyon. Regardless, it’s pretty likely that Ndombélé will find himself in a light blue shirt eventually.
6 Eliaquim Mangala To Inter Milan
With all these players coming in, even a club of Manchester City’s wealth must shift somebody out to make room. Luckily for them, Eliaquim Mangala isn’t likely to leave a big hole in their defense. The defender has barely featured this season after spending 2016-17 and the winter of 2018 on loan to Valencia and Everton, respectively. Clearly, Mangala either isn’t up to Guardiola’s high standards, or simply doesn’t fit into his team. Either way, Mangala is only 27 and should still have several good years ahead of him. Inter are hoping those years will be in the blue-and-black stripes of the Nerazzurri.
5 Antonio Candreva To Fulham
Inter spent big this past summer in order to rival Juventus for the Serie A title. But they didn’t spend as much as Fulham. The newly-promoted Cottagers spent over £100m this past summer! And it hasn’t gone particularly well. Fulham were dead bottom of the EPL table when fired Slavisa Jokanovic and brought in Claudio Ranieri.
The club's manager is believed to be after his fellow countryman, Antonio Candreva. The 31-year-old midfielder has seen himself largely surplus to the plans of Inter boss Luciano Spalletti, having only made seven Serie A appearances by December. The allure of playing time and a big pay packet should be enough to persuade both Candreva and Inter to make this move happen.
4 Danny Drinkwater To Fulham
Danny Drinkwater’s transfer from Leicester to Chelsea last summer didn’t make a lot of sense. And so it has proved to be a puzzler. Chelsea barely used the midfielder at all last season and at the time of writing he has made precisely zero appearances for the Blues in the league this season.
Rumors already had Drinkwater leaving Chelsea this past summer. While he’s unquestionably being paid very well, Drinkwater’s already 28. He can’t want to spend the last few years of his prime on the bench. Some rumors have him going back to Leicester, but perhaps Fulham is likelier. Fulham need more help than Leicester do, Drinkwater could be reunited with Ranieri with whom he won the 2015-16 Premier League title, and he won’t have to move away from West London.
3 Andreas Pereira To Chelsea
This list sees a lot of players leaving Chelsea. That’s mostly because their midfield is overstocked as it is. But if they do transfer a couple of these players, they will want some added backup. Andreas Pereira is believed to be annoyed with the lack of playing time he’s receiving at Old Trafford.
Chelsea are said to be keen on the 22-year-old midfielder. It’s possible that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri sees Pereira as something of a reclamation project after his progress has been halted at Man United. With all the craziness going on up in Manchester, it's unlikely many Red Devils fans would even notice Pereira’s exit.
2 Alexis Sánchez To Paris St. Germain
If Manchester United pick up all the players on this list, it will leave even more players annoyed at being on the sidelines of their bloated roster. Alexis Sánchez’s time in Manchester has been an unmitigated disaster. The papers talked of his January departure as a sure thing before his hamstring injury threatened to ruin any possible deals. If Sánchez is healthy enough to play before February, he’ll likely leave Old Trafford.
Paris St. Germain is one of the few European clubs who could afford the winger’s wages. And who knows, they might just see value in Sánchez as backup in their push for that coveted Champions League trophy. If not them, then it’s probably off to China for Sánchez.
1 N’golo Kanté To Manchester United
N’golo Kanté has just signed a five-year contract extension with Chelsea, so this deal could be pure fantasy. But we all know contract extensions mean very little in the world of transfers. Kanté, fans, and pundits alike have all been dismayed at Sarri playing him higher up in midfield. Sarri prefers to play Jorginho at the base of midfield where Kanté is most comfortable.
Meanwhile, Manchester United continue to struggle to find the best way to use Paul Pogba, for whom they broke the world transfer record just two years ago. Pogba plays infinitely better for France than he does for United. And Pogba won the World Cup alongside, you guessed it, N’golo Kanté. Would Chelsea really want to sell Kanté to a Premier League rival? Is United really even a rival to Chelsea right now?