The January transfer window is right around a corner and speculation is already ramping up about who will go going where. The global financial crisis is really starting to hit teams. Even Chelsea is sacking scouts to save money. Some experts in London’s financial sector believe that 11 clubs will be effectively up for sale in the first quarter of 2009. Obviously this would make most teams sellers in the January transfer window instead of buyers
One team that will be a buyer in January resides in the blue half of Manchester. Manchester City are the richest club in the world and the current worldwide financial crisis will not impact their ability to spend big. City will be linked with a lot of players, but the January window is a hard time to get quality players to change teams so I would not be surprised if City buy less players than expected. So expect five to six signings for City. Some of the names I expect Mark Hughes to target are Roque Santa Cruz of Blackburn, Lassana Diarra of Portsmouth and Wayne Bridge of Chelsea.
Russia forward Andrei Arshavin’s name will be mentioned, but I don’t think he is what Man City need. They need to start building their team from the back and I would expect Hughes to target a center half to play along side Richards as Richard Dunne is not the answer. Joe Hart is a nice keeper but Hughes has been used to Brad Friedel who was worth at least 10 points a season to Blackburn. I expect Hughes to target a world class goalkeeper like Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon or Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas who Hart can learn from. Juve are through to the knockout stage of the Champions League which would make it difficult for Buffon to leave, but if Real Madrid slip up in their next two games and don’t qualify for the group stages, then Casillas is a real possibility.
Another team with some unwanted transfer speculation if Liverpool. Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are trying to refinance some debt that is due January 2nd. The problem they have is that the debt is that the two principal lenders, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia, are two that have suffered the most in the recent worldwide financial meltdown. Even if Liverpool’s owners can get an extension they will still need to repay by next summer the £31.5 million borrowed to sign the Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel. While Rafa Benitez will not want to sell any of his players it might be out of his hands if a big enough offer came along. If Manchester City offered £50 million in cash for Fernando Torres would Liverpool’s owners and bankers be able to turn down that amount of money?
One team that has announced they will be selling in January is West Ham. The bank crisis has really hit the Hammers Icelandic owners and Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola has admitted he intends to sell players in the January transfer window. If the High Court decides before Christmas that West Ham cannot appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the Carlos Tevez saga then the Hammers will be holding a fire sale as everyone will be available.
I don’t expect any action in January from Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United unless on of them experiences a season ending injury to one of their high profile players between now and the end of the year. Portsmouth are rumored to be in financial difficulties and I would not be surprised to see that team dismantled, especially if they do not qualify for the next stage of the UEFA Cup. Who do you think will be buying in the January transfer window?