Zonal Marking’s Michael Cox looks at 10 January window transfers that could alter the course of this Premier League season, and how rumoured and acquired targets will fit in at their new clubs…
Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace to Manchester United
The most-discussed transfer of the January transfer window is unlikely to have a significant impact on the 2012/13 Premier League season, with current rumours suggesting the winger will be loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the campaign. With Antonio Valencia out of form, Nani out of favour and Ashley Young often out of the side, United certainly need another wide option – but it’s difficult to believe Sir Alex Ferguson will find much immediate use for Zaha if he does move to Manchester this January.
Mario Balotelli, Manchester City to Milan
Manchester City are supposedly holding out for £31m from Silvio Berlusconi’s back pocket, which seems an outrageously large amount for a wayward and inconsistent, if talented, forward. Balotelli has not added £10m to his value since his move from city rivals Inter in 2010, and Milan have been conservative with their spending over the last 18 months. Balotelli will be missed more by journalists than by City – he’s been underwhelming as frequently as he’s been brilliant, and finds himself City’s fourth-choice forward. Milan, meanwhile, haven’t been in the Serie A title battle this season, and Balotelli wouldn’t change their fortunes significantly.
Coutinho, Inter to Liverpool
The Brazilian attacker would be something of a luxury buy for Liverpool – with Daniel Sturridge joining earlier this month and Fabio Borini returning from a long injury lay-off, it feels like Brendan Rodgers should concentrate on reformatting his forward line with his current options, rather than adding another quick, versatile attacker. Coutinho’s an interesting player – he broke through as a winger, but now seems to prefer playing as a number ten. Either way, one suspects his first few months at Liverpool, if he signs, will be spent learning English football as an impact substitute.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Montpellier to Newcastle
This one makes perfect sense, and the French centre-back should have an immediate impact at St James’ Park. Fabricio Coloccini has declared his wish to return to Argentina for personal reasons, a significant blow to Alan Pardew – but the truth is that Coloccini’s form has been well below his best this season, perhaps due to his personal problems, and statistics website WhoScored.com recently reported that he had the worst aerial duel success rate of any Premier League centre-back. Yanga-Mbiwa, a huge physical presence, will fix that problem.
Yoan Gouffran, Bordeaux to Newcastle
The pacey forward – perhaps most famous for his allergy to grass – will be Newcastle’s replacement for Demba Ba, after they missed out on Loic Remy, who chose QPR instead. Pardew will appreciate Gouffran’s versatility – he can happily play in a wide role or as a centre-forward, which means Pardew can switch between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 accordingly, having encountered problems when asked to play either Ba or Papiss Cisse in a wide role. Gouffran lacks Ba’s finishing ability, however, and Cisse’s form must improve in his favoured centre-forward position.
Lucas Biglia, Anderlecht to Southampton
Biglia’s agent must be desperate for a big payday – the Argentine holding midfielder has been continually linked with Premier League and Serie A clubs in recent years, but hasn’t moved clubs since joining Anderlecht in 2006. His compatriot Mauricio Pochettino would greatly value Biglia’s qualities – he’s a traditional Argentine ‘number five’ that tenaciously breaks up play and distributes the ball calmly, in the manner of Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva. But Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork have struck up a good partnership in recent months, and it would be a shame to drop either.
Mohamed Diame, West Ham to Arsenal
Just half a year after joining West Ham from Wigan, Diame has now been linked with a move to Arsenal – where he would probably play the role of Abou Diaby during the Frenchman’s inevitably injury lay-offs, charging forward powerfully from midfield. He was impressive in the Hammers’ 3-1 defeat to Arsenal earlier this season, motoring past Aaron Ramsey and curling the ball into the far corner to open the scoring, and he’ll be keen to impress Wenger with a dominant display at the Emirates tonight – that might seal his transfer.
Danny Graham, Swansea to Sunderland
Stephane Sessegnon was a revelation when fielded as a makeshift striker a couple of seasons ago, but since dropping back to his natural role as an attacking midfielder, his form has been very disappointing. Steven Fletcher has received little support, and Martin O’Neill presumably feels that a second striker would suit preferred style of play, and provide another target for crosses from Sunderland’s attack-minded wingers, while offering more link-up qualities than Fletcher. Sessegnon could play in midfield, but is more likely to be benched.
Kenwyne Jones, Stoke to Swansea
Swansea will need a Graham replacement, and are likely to turn to Jones. While Michu has been prolific this season, the Spaniard actually prefers to play slightly deeper as a ‘number ten’, and Graham has acted a reliable, centre-forward ahead of him. Jones is less suited to Swansea’s style of play – he’s more than a target man, but having acted as a target for long balls since Tony Pulis signed him in 2010, it would require a significant change in style, and is far from a guaranteed success.
Lewis Holtby, Schalke to Tottenham
The half-English Germany international has already committed to joining Spurs in the summer, but there is increased speculation the midfielder will complete his move a few months early, joining before the end of the month. Although Sandro’s season-ending injury has prompted this idea, the two are very different players –Sandro is a pure holder, Holtby starts higher up, and likes to break forward into the box. Granted, maybe Mousa Dembele would play in a deeper position – but that seems unlikely, and Holtby would probably take Clint Dempsey’s position behind the main striker.
Newcastle have completed the most intriguing signings so far this transfer window, strengthening at both ends. The threat of relegation shouldn’t be ignored, but with plenty of bottom-half sides in poor form, there’s every chance the new arrivals could catapult Newcastle into the top ten – it’s worth trying to back that outcome at 10.0 on Betfair.
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