Connect in the back of the net

It seems to have become rather fashionable to decry the January transfer window as being in danger of lapsing into irrelevance, something which must be highly tempting if you happen to be one of the unfortunate sports journalists forced to spend all day standing in football club car parks waiting for a deal that never actually takes place.  

It should be remembered, however, amidst all the gloomy muttering of ‘No value in the market’ and ‘Just trying to get himself a better contract’, that some hugely important signings have been made in January, not least amongst them Nemanja Vidic to Manchester United, Luis Suarez to Liverpool and Ashley Young from Watford to Aston Villa.

Whilst the clubs chasing the title generally added very little in the way of eye-catching talent, it tended to be the newly affluent sides further down the league that caught the eye – whether bolstering to pull away from the relegation zone, investing for the future or simply aiming to end the season with a flourish.

 

Mohamed Elneny, Basel to Arsenal for £5 million

Mainly purchased by Arsene Wenger as back up to/competition for Frances Coquelin, the 23 year old Egyptian midfielder is also an investment for the future, considering the ageing profile of other Arsenal midfielders such as Cazorla, Arteta and Flamini.

The fact that he has Champions League experience, is eligible to play in this year’s knockout stages and scored an impressive 92.4% pass accuracy whilst playing in the Europa League this season all, presumably, had Wenger licking his lips (or whatever it is that impressed football managers do).   

 

Emmanuel Adebayor to Crystal Palace – free

Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace, languishing in 13th place in the Premier League at the time of writing, seem to require some kind of a spark to reignite a season which once promised much more. Adebayor might be just the player.

Will he give 100% week in, week out, covering every blade of grass and straining sinews for the cause? Unless the cause in question is winding up Arsenal fans, then probably not.

Will he frustrate and delight in equal measure, making the most of a cameo role to remind us all of how good he can be when the mood takes him? Eagles’ fans will be fervently hoping so.   

 

Charlie Austin to Southampton – £4 million

Southampton need goals for that late winter/early spring push for a European spot, Austin is a proven goal scorer and £4m now counts as an absolute snip (although the fee probably comes with a pretty impressive wage bill).

Football can be such a simple game sometimes, and as if to prove that this is the case, Austin introduced himself to Saints fans with a last minute winning goal at Old Trafford.

 

Giannelli Imbula to Stoke City for £18.3 million  

Hands up who woke up on deadline day convinced that Stoke would pull off the coup of breaking their club transfer record for a French holding midfielder from Porto? Now tell the truth.

To be serious, the ambition showed by Stoke on the pitch this season found an echo in the decision to buy a player who, at the age of 23, combines promise and potential with an already impressive Champions League pedigree, and who, Stoke fans will be hoping, should be able to put a slightly disappointing spell at Porto behind him.   

 

Ramires to Jiangsu Suning – £25 million

The signing of Chelsea midfielder Ramires by Chinese side Jiangsu Suning is important in that it reflects both the financial clout of Chinese football and their determination to be taken seriously.

Ally it to the £40m purchase of Liverpool and Chelsea target Alex Teixeira and you have a situation in which players in their prime, rather than oldies looking for one last pay day, are now being targeted by an emerging football superpower.

 

Written by Matthew Harris

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