Another exciting January week is upon us and all the signs are there that there will be plenty more activity to come as the transfer window draws to a close. The start of a new calendar year always proves to be an interesting time in football, especially since the introduction of the mid-season transfer window. January was once famed for being the date of the F.A. Cup third round, the time when the minnows of English football had the opportunity to embarrass one of our giants. Of course, this is still the case, but it is no longer what January stands for in our game. January is now the month of the transfer. With only a few days to go before the window slams shut on clubs, it seems an appropriate time to assess a selection of the deals made thus far, and see what could still happen.
A couple of weeks ago, defender Matthew Kilgallon was highlighted in this article as a potential target for a Premier League side. In spite of growing interest in his services, Kilgallon and his agent went on the record to say that he would be remaining with Sheffield United until the end of the season. Now, this writer would hate to say “I told you so”, but sure enough, Sunderland have secured the services of the 26 year-old defender for a fee believed to be in the region of £2m. Sometimes, a deal is just too good to turn down, and this appears to have been the case here. Of course, the Blades did not want to sell their star asset and although Kilgallon will of course have held desires to step up to the Premier League, his statement of intent to stay with Kevin Blackwell’s side seemed genuine. It just goes to show that you can never be certain of anything in football, regardless of what is said.
Dipping into League One and the big transfer target is undoubtedly Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford. Love him or hate him, it cannot be denied that he is quite a talent in front of goal. Unfortunately, he seems to have developed a reputation for being a bit stroppy and has lost the respect of many of the Leeds faithful owing to this. Conversely, his goals look sure to fire Simon Grayson’s men to promotion this season and with some fine performances in the cup as well, including a fine display against Spurs last weekend, his value has shot up. In this transfer window alone, Beckford has handed in a transfer request and subsequently withdrawn it, stating that he wants to see out the season in Yorkshire and achieve promotion. Now every player has a price and it was thought that Newcastle were closing in on his signature, however Leeds have insisted that their valuation has not yet been met and that he will remain on their books until the right offer is made. With a growing list of admirers, don’t be surprised to see Beckford move late on in the window. Perhaps this could even be the deal that goes to the wire. Remember Dimitar Berbatov last year? Not entirely a deal of such magnitude, but possibly the Football League equivalent.
One of the more interesting signings this January has been that of Nolberto Solano moving to Leicester City. A massive favourite of the fans during his time with Newcastle, the Peruvian has been a popular figure in English football for some time now and it is only a shame that it has taken so long for him to find his way back into employment. Unsuccessful spells with both Colchester and Sheffield United have seen him arrive at the Walkers Stadium where he will link up with Nigel Pearson, with whom he worked under during his days on Tyneside. A hard-working midfield player with an eye for a good free kick, Solano will work well in the middle of the park for the Foxes and is more than capable of contributing to their goal tally and helping Pearson’s men in their promotion push. An experienced head is always a welcome addition at any club, so long as they can prove their fitness, but Pearson will know exactly what he can expect from Solano. A dependable figure with a proven track record at the highest level, he has definitely got another season in him.
With only a week left of the transfer window, there are sure to be many more deals to be completed. Some will even come out of nowhere, unexpectedly, whereas others seem nothing short of the inevitable. Victor Moses as an example is still a Crystal Palace player, but for how much longer? What is certain is that the transfer window adds an extra element to the football season. Many managers will openly admit that they are not a fan of the system, suggesting that it encourages an environment of panic buying, and this may will be true. However, it certainly offers a lot of excitement and plenty of debate for the football fan.