January is almost done already. How did that happen? And how did so few transfers manage to happen in that time? We know January can be difficult and all a bit last ditch and panicky, but even so. Here are 10 lads who could do with sorting something about before the music stops…
10) Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace)
An absolute staple of forgotten man lists and players in need of moves lists for the last three years. Signed a three-year contract extension with Palace in 2021 that we remain hugely grateful for. Palace fans, who have seen him rack up less than 400 minutes of Premier League football since then, may be less thrilled.
9) Facundo Pellistri (Manchester United)
Plenty of loan interest for Pellistri with the Uruguayan failing to nail down a place even among the wreckage of Manchester United’s current season. PSV, LA Galaxy and Granada make up an eclectic collection of interested clubs as Pellistri looks set to follow Donny van de Beek, Hannibal Mejbri and long-time number one of this particular feature Jadon Sancho out of Old Trafford, for now at least.
8) Bryan Gil (Tottenham)
Plenty of peripheral Spurs players have, often by absolute necessity in a paper-thin squad, proved themselves extremely useful over the first half of the season. A couple of months ago, you might have had Giovani Lo Celso in ‘needs a move’ territory, for instance. Ben Davies and Emerson Royal both looked surplus to requirements before forming the Premier League’s unlikeliest centre-back partnership. Spurs might have ideas about upgrading Oliver Skipp or Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but such is the state of the squad at present that this could only happen if someone else comes in.
None of that really applies to Bryan Gil, a relic of a time that really wasn’t that long ago when Tottenham transfers were mainly high-profile misses with the occasional hit rather than the more recent trend of the exact opposite. Bryan is not without his charms, but they have always looked ill-suited to the Barclays and not even Angeball has changed that. Lazio have been linked, and that seems ideal for all concerned.
7) Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
Nobody particularly wants it to happen. Not Mikel Arteta, certainly not Smith Rowe and definitely not the Arsenal fans who cheered his latest cameo appearance in the 5-0 win over Crystal Palace. But while there are some mitigations in the form of injuries and the form of others, the bald facts are that he has made one Premier League start in the last season and a half with the vast majority of his other appearances in the 15-minute cameo range.
Too good and no longer too young not to be playing more, even if that’s not at his beloved Arsenal and even if only on loan somewhere else for a bit. It may well be better for his long-term Arsenal future to catch the eye playing a proper amount of football elsewhere for a few months rather than gathering dust on the bench at his Emirates happy place.
6) Miguel Almiron (Newcastle)
Emerged as an unlikely hero in the early stages of the post-takeover new world at Newcastle but the team’s slump this season has coincided with a diminishing of Almiron’s contributions. It’s hardly been a disaster, but with Newcastle’s need to comply with Premier League profit and sustainability rules always in mind and Saudi Arabian clubs interested in a 29-year-old who would command a decent transfer fee it might just be a deal that enormously conveniently suits all parties. All the related parties.
5) Leander Dendoncker (Aston Villa)
Nearly made a move to Turkey late in the summer window. Probably should have made a move to Turkey late in the summer window. The fact he wasn’t even getting regular starts in the Conference is a bit of a giveaway and, while he has been slightly more visible in recent weeks having played a significant role in that very silly game at Manchester United, it’s up for debate about how much good that might actually have done him.
Did get 70 minutes of the FA Cup win over Middlesbrough, but it all feels a bit shop window. He hasn’t played for Belgium since the summer. Surely has to move to give himself any chance of a place at the Euros.
4) Jonny (Wolves)
Turned down the chance to return to Spain at the end of August to stay and fight for his place at Wolves. Took that far, far too literally when, having subsisted on a meagre Carabao diet, he swung an elbow at an Under-21 player in training and has been in solitary ever since.
We kind of assumed he’d already slunk off unnoticed as soon as the window reopened, but no. He’s still there, still training on his own, still with a grand total of four Premier League minutes to his name this season with Gary O’Neil even making tentative noises recently about a potential reintegration if nothing materialises over the coming days.
“He is working hard to stay fit, whether that is for someone else in February or whether it is a discussion about what it looks like here, we will decide after the window,” he shrugged last week.
3) Ben Godfrey (Everton)
Clearly some way behind James Tarkowski, Michael Keane and Jarrad Branthwaite in the Toffees pecking order having made just two Premier League appearances all season, Godfrey should definitely be looking for a move somewhere over the coming days.
He was at one point being considered as a cut-price option by both Tottenham and Newcastle as they sought a way out of their own defensive crises. While such talk has dried up a touch now, the identities of the three clubs currently apparently at the head of the queue for a player whose best form at Everton under Carlo Ancelotti had him in the England squad do highlight the idea of a career at a crossroads: Sheffield United, Leeds United, AC Milan. Choose wisely.
2) Malang Sarr (Chelsea)
We genuinely thought he’d gone on loan somewhere at the end of the summer. We’re in full Mandela Effect territory here. We’d have sworn to it. Galatasaray or Saudi Arabia or somewhere. After the English window had closed. But no.
Surely, though, he cleared out as soon as the January window opened given how very far away from the first-team frame he finds himself at Chelsea? Still no, despite headlines stating vaguely ominously that Chelsea are willing to assist his departure from the club ‘by any means necessary’.
He’s still somewhere at Cobham, presumably far away from first-team training, and still collecting 100 grand at the end of every single week for his troubles.
Whether or not he therefore ‘desperately’ needs a January move depends entirely on how he views his career. He is in many ways currently living an absolutely absurd dream. But surely you’d want to go somewhere else and play a little bit of actual football?
1) Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)
Gareth Southgate would like him to make a move. We would very much like him to make a move. Man City would probably be quite keen. Phillips himself should probably be keener than he appears, but the number of clubs up for it who are within an hour’s drive of Leeds isn’t as large as he might have hoped.
Has made two club appearances of longer than 40 minutes this season, in a Carabao defeat at Newcastle and the last game of City’s saunter through the Champions League group stage. Assorted defenders and younglings have been preferred to him in central midfield, with even Rodri’s publicised and famously damaging absences failing to move the needle on Phillips’ minutes in meaningful matches.
The problem for Phillips has been the lack of a Goldilocks club – and not just geographically. Everyone knows he’s available and there are lots of clubs for whom that would be worth a note in their big book of transfer plans. But clubs Phillips might consider a first-choice option would consider him a fall-back option, and vice versa.
It’s all a big game of wait and see, and that kind of game leads to one place and one place only and that place is a six-month loan at West Ham.