It’s that time of year again when the January transfer window opens. After a feast of football over the holiday period, many face the ultimate comedown. Known to some as the most depressing week of the year, early January conjures up many images.
From the over basting of the turkey to copious amounts of sherry, football fans are as bloated as a whale come the New Year. Yet as far as managers are concerned, there is no time like the present. The strategies are drawn up and a list of targets are organised as clubs fight tooth and nail to land their man.
In the years, there have been a number of impressive January transfers that caught the attention of fans and the press alike. This includes the likes of Luis Suarez who made the move from Ajax in January 2011. Little did they know what kind of sensation he was to become when they moved the Uruguay international on to FC Barcelona for well over $100 million.
In addition, former Manchester United centre back Nemanja Vidic was another winter signing. The Serbian international was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for around $15 million. The Scot had beaten off stiff competition from both arch rivals Liverpool and Fiorentina for his signature. However, it paid off as Ferguson bolstered his defence and in tandem with Rio Ferdinand was to cement a long standing defensive partnership. This alliance saw both players reign in a host of trophies under Fergusons reign as United dominated the following seasons.
Another defender who made his mark in January was Chelsea’s Gary Cahill who was signed from Bolton Wanderers for $12 million. Since the Blues capture in 2012, he has become a stalwart at the heart of Chelsea’s back four alongside John Terry. But which players will make the headlines when the transfer window shuts?
15 Kolo Toure
Former Manchester City and current Liverpool defender Kolo Toure is on the hit list of many clubs. At present, he is yet to decide his future on Merseyside which could open the door up to a wealth of sides. Reports have surfaced recently which have expressed that Toure is unaware of whether he will be offered another contract at Liverpool. His contract is set to run out at the end of the current campaign and is all set to head to the African Cup of Nations. The 33-year-old may only have a few years left so he may decide to go elsewhere in terms of first team football.
14 Rafael Varane
The French international Rafael Varane is a target for several clubs including Manchester United. Currently playing his football at Real Madrid alongside several Galaticos such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Varane could be shown the exit door. He has already demonstrated his ability at the 2014 World Cup, not to mention a string of impressive performances for Madrid. However, Los Blancos have an array of talent on defence and may be happy to let him depart. The price for the 21-year-old would likely be in the region of $25 million and interest has already been shown from Manchester United and Chelsea.
13 Winston Reid
One of the best up and coming defenders in the Premier League, Winston Reid has only just announced that he will leave his club West Ham United at the end of the season. The New Zealand international’s contract expires at the end of the season and now would be the time for a big club to come in. Arsenal has already expressed their interest in capturing the signature of the current Hammer but would cost upwards of $10 million. Now that the transfer window is officially open for business, Reid can talk to clubs in order to secure that big money move away from Upton Park.
12 Wesley Sneijder
This on off transfer saga has been rumbling for quite a few transfer windows but Wesley Sneijder would be a likely candidate for a move. The Dutch international counts Inter Milan among his impressive list of former clubs. Currently in Turkey playing for Galatasaray, Sneijder is once again in the transfer shopping window. The two Manchester clubs have been strongly linked with a multi-million dollar swoop, whilst Southampton has also expressed interest. Nevertheless, this finally might be the moment when the Flying Dutchman decides to take the ultimate journey to a new terra firma.
11 Ezequiel Lavezzi
It seems that the future of Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Lavezzi is up in the air. The papers have been swirling with reports regarding the Paris Saint Germain player who might be available. According to some rumours, Roberto Mancini might be interested in signing Lavezzi. The Inter Milan coach who has already signed Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski on loan for the rest of the season is looking to augment his squad. A multi-faceted player who can play out on the wing as well as in a central role, Lavezzi could also be a target for other clubs in the Premier League.
10 Wilfried Bony
Ivory Coast striker probably has other things on his mind at the moment including the African Cup of Nations. Yet, this does not detract from the fact that the Swansea striker might have played his last game for the Welsh club. Bony has been the subject of plenty of controversy involving a move away from the Swans. No one can deny his goal scoring prowess and has impressed so far at Swansea City. He's currently away on international duty, but Bony is likely to attract interest from Manchester City who are allegedly set to put in a $30 million dollar plus bid for the frontman.
9 Xherdan Shaqiri
Bayern Munich all round playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri could see himself pulling on a different shirt come the end of January. All reports coming out of Munich seem to suggest that the Swiss international may be set to leave Bayern for a new challenge. If this is the case, then several clubs will be alerted to his excellent functionality and flexibility to play on the wing and up top. Inter Milan and Roberto Mancini are allegedly interested, whilst Juventus could be another option for Shaqiri.
8 Saido Berahino
Much has been said of England and West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino. If it was not enough scoring four goals in their third round cup matchup against non-league Gateshead, Berahino has already attracted the interest of numerous clubs. This features Liverpool where he could easily fit in to manager Brendan Rogers’ style of play. With a reputation that is slowly increasing week by week, Berahino may be on the move in no time with Tottenham Hotspur also rumoured to be interested.
7 Julian Draxler
Considered to be one of the most influential young midfielders in the game today, Julian Draxler could finally move in this window. The Schalke player has won many plaudits for his ball play and passing ability which has attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal previously. The German team are looking for something in the region of $32 million for the player, with Manchester City at the top of the tree to sign him.
6 Loic Perrin
St Etienne centre-back Loic Perrin looks likely to lace up his boots for another club come the end of the month. The 29-year-old defender has been highly rated by many and could prove to be a worthy addition to any club. Reports that have emerged in the last few days reveal that Arsenal are certainly among the favourites to capture Perrin. Furthermore, Arsene Wenger does have a penchant for French defenders and could be the solution to remedy their leaky defence.
5 Bafetimbi Gomis
Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis is believed to be seeking a departure from Liberty Stadium. Reports from France have proclaimed that the striker is ready to quit Swansea City in favour of a move away this January. He would be a cost effective solution to bolster any strike force and there are believed to be several clubs on the radar. This includes several Premier League teams from Newcastle United and Crystal Palace to Aston Villa. However, Gomis may favour a move back to France as Ligue 1 team St Etienne are keeping tabs of the situation.
4 Jermaine Defoe
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermaine Defoe is currently plying his trade for Toronto FC. Rumour has it that he may be on a flight back across the pond to join up with a Premier League side. The transfer window is full of surprises but the English front man could be in for a shock return to England from Major League Soccer. It is alleged that Liverpool and Hull City manager Steve Bruce are interested in the striker. After all, the Tigers have just lost misfit Hatem Ben Arfa who has returned to his native France to play for Nice. If it does come to fruition this could be one of the shrewdest signings of the window.
3 Mario Balotelli
That’s right. Mario Balotelli could be on the move yet again after signing for Liverpool less than six months ago. The Italian forward has been frustrating for many fans on Merseyside who feel his work rate has let him down. This is also coupled with the fact that he has only scored one goal in the Premier League for Reds. Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers took a gamble on Balotelli and ultimately it does not seem to have paid off. Milan are eyeing up a move for the striker and it is Italy where Balotelli may leave for in the end.
2 Ross Barkley
When it comes to transfer speculation, there has been plenty of gossip surrounding Everton’s Ross Barkley. The sparkling midfielder has attracted lots of praise for his performances for the Toffees this season. Arguably he could become the biggest transfer saga of the lot as Robert Martinez looks to improve a dismal domestic season. It is believed Manchester City could be ready to table a bid where Barkley might earn in excess of $160,000 per week.
1 Steven Gerrard
There can be no other player who has sparked such controversy of his next move. Ever since Steven Gerrard announced that he was to leave Liverpool at the end of the season, it has sparked a myriad of transfer stories and rumours of his future club. After nearly a quarter of a century spent on Merseyside, the Liverpool icon will be irreplaceable at Anfield. Yet, the midfielder has already reportedly turned down an offer worth an incredible $25 million to play in the Middle East. Other clubs who will most likely come in for Gerrard feature MLS side L.A. Galaxy who have supposedly offered $27 million to lure him away.
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