We have all seen the drama of the summer transfer window which is now far in the rear-view mirror, but more transfer madness is about to begin this January Transfer WIndow.
This January transfer window should be quite interesting given the current status of league race around Europe. The Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 races don’t have all that must suspense at this stage, and Serie A is the only one of the “major” league whose title remains up for grabs as the calender turns to 2018.
Club’s pursuit of Champions League places, a Champions League title and an eye on the future, coupled with a number of players soon to be out-of-contract with their current clubs, however, could make for some headlines in the coming weeks.
Then there’s the matter of players who have already participated in the Champions League this season, as they may have their value diminished for the clubs still remaining in the last 16, given that they are cup-tied and cannot play for a second team in the competition. For players who are out of contract at the end of the season, these players can negotiate moves for six months from now, committing their futures to new clubs while playing out the season at their current ones.
With all that said, here are Football Weeks 10 biggest names to watch for when the transfers window re-opens next month and who are most certainly on holiday wish lists around Europe.
Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool
The Barcelona transfer saga with Liverpool continues with the La Liga giants odds-on signing the Brazilian according to some top sport betting sites out there. All throughout the summer, Coutinho was reportedly holding out hope for a Barcelona move that never came to fruition. The Merseyside is in the same position it was in the summer. The club shouldn’t feel compelled to sell, as it has Coutinho under a long-term contract, but if the price for the former Inter Milan midfielder reaches an exorbitant level, then the best move may be to part ways with the player. For Coutinho, he’s performed well with Liverpool and its four-headed attack comprising of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane. Losing Coutinho might hamper their top-four hopes and Champions League aspirations.
Angel Di Maria, PSG
Like with Ben Arfa, Di Maria could be the next big name leaving Paris Saint-Germain this January. The former Real Madrid man was reported to be close to a return back to the La Liga (Barcelona) in the summer, which would have seen him teamed up with compatriot Lionel Messi, but he stayed put with the Les Perisiens. Di Maria started just over half of the PSG’s Ligue 1 matches, but plays a position of considerable depth. The club’s overflow of riches could be another team’s gain.
Julian Draxler, PSG
What Draxler wants is getting the playing time needed to ensure a spot-on Joachim Low’s Germany World Cup team. And in so doing, he’s ready to leave PSG for any suitable club that comes knocking. Draxler’s been getting attention recently, but if the math results in PSG needing to cash in, then the former Schalke star would be a desirable target for any club.
Nabil Fekir, Lyon
Ranking third in Ligue 1 with 13 goals (only two more than Neymar), the 24-year-old has long been linked to a Premier League move. Like Arsenal who are desperately in need of an attacking star, Fekir would be an ideal signing to pair with his former Lyon star, Alexandre Lacazette. As it stands, Lyon is tied for second in Ligue 1 and nine points behind PSG, so Fekir leaving the club doesn’t seem like a possibility.
Leon Goretzka, Schalke
Perhaps the best of the out-of-contract rising stars, the 22-year-old Goretzka has yet to sign a new deal at Schalke. Doing so would at least force suitors into spending a massive fee to pry him away in future windows, but until he does, he’s available for free come the end of the season. That’d be a horrible piece of business from Schalke to lose Goretzka for nothing, but if it feels like it can re-sign him, then it’s worth the risk. For what it is worth, Schalke is currently in second in the Bundesliga and very much in the mix for a Champions League berth–something that isn’t necessarily a given at the Premier League clubs calling for his services.
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Out of contract at the end of the season, Ozil has been the subject of speculation for months. He’s been vital to Arsenal’s success this season, and Arsene Wenger remains convinced that he’ll sign a new deal. That doesn’t mean he necessarily will.
Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
Like Ozil, Alexis is out of contract at the end of 2017-18, and there’s plenty of chatter that he’ll leave for free in the summer to join Manchester City’s cavalcade of attacking talent. There’s no doubting that he’d have a more featured role at Arsenal, but it doesn’t appear that he’s long for the Emirates. Would Arsenal cash in, for a discounted windfall, this January Transfer WIndow? Not necessarily, if it doesn’t think it can finish in the top four without him.