It’s that time of the season again when clubs dust off their cheque books, journalists hide behind bushes and agents leak information. Yes, you guessed it, it’s the silly season, otherwise known as the January transfer window.
The rumours have been in play since the end of the last window: player unrest, owners pledging to splash the cash and title/relegation hopes resting on a potential golden signing.
With some of Europe’s biggest leagues being nail-bitingly close and a World Cup looming, we can expect quite a few moves this month.
Although not as big as the mid-year transfer period, the month of January has seen some big plunges, including Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea for £50 million in 2011, which allowed Liverpool to sign Andy Carroll from Newcastle for £35 million.
And lets not forget Australian-raised Christian Vieri, who moved from Lazio to Inter Milan for a then-record £32 million in 1999.
Here’s some of this week’s big transfer news, and what we could expect in the coming days.
English giants move for star strikers
As the battle for the Premier League title heats up, so does the battle for a world class striker as both Chelsea and Arsenal – the latter now without Theo Walcott for the rest of the season – search for an attacking edge.
The one man on both clubs’ wish list is Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa. The Brazilian-born striker has scored 29 goals in 29 games this season, turning him into one of football’s hottest properties.
According to Britain’s The Daily Star, Arsene Wenger is happy for Arsenal to enact Costa’s contract buy-out clause of £32 million.
Atletico Madrid strikers moving to the Premier League have had success in the past, with both Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero starring after signing for Liverpool and Manchester City respectively.
Arsenal could also launch bids for Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic with the German side recently announcing the upcoming signing of Robert Lewandowski, along with Dimitar Berbatov, a proven striker at the top level with Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Meanwhile, reports from Goal suggest Chelsea are keeping tabs on AC Milan star Mario Balotelli.
The highly unlikely move would see Balotelli reunite with old boss Jose Mourinho. In January 2011, Balotelli caused waves when he said: “Mourinho is the best coach in the world, but as a man he still needs to learn manners and respect.”
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has denied reports that Chelsea have or will bid for Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Lucas Neill remains club-less leaving Brazil dreams on its hinges
Although the Socceroos captain does not have to sign for a club in January, failing to sign for one soon will seriously hinder his World Cup dreams.
Neill is currently training at former club, Blackburn Rovers, but it does not look likely he will receive a contract there.
Neill’s best chance could be back in the A-League but with the defender in the UK, are A-League clubs not interested in signing the national captain?
A move to Australia could become more complicated now with reports out of Asia suggesting fellow Socceroo Sasa Ognenovski is also in search of a new club after his side Umm Salal signed Iran’s Pejman Montazeri.
Neill’s time at J.League outfit Omiya Ardija ended last month when he left for undisclosed family reasons.
Paul Pogba – Europe’s next big thing
Juventus star Paul Pogba, 20, is set to be Europe’s next big thing with a host of clubs keen on luring the French international.
Pogba has caught the eye of both Real Madrid and PSG while he has also admitted to dreaming of playing for Barcelona and Arsenal.
However, Juventus have no intention of selling Pogba to a European rival according to director general Beppe Marotta.
With his contract running till mid 2016, a large transfer fee would be expected for the youngster.
United’s targets “too big” for January?
Sitting seventh in the Premier League, and now out of the FA Cup, David Moyes start as Manchester United manager has not begun well.
With the club struggling, United may be a big player in the transfer market. However, recent comments by Moyes suggest otherwise.
“There is an urgency that we would like to bring people in, but are those players available in January?” Moyes said
“There is no point in me hyping it up because the players we would like to bring are probably not available in January, not because we don’t want do it.”
Players linked to United so far have been the likes of Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder and Juventus midfielder Auturo Vidal, while Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao, who had his move to United fall through on the final day of the last transfer window, is also linked to a move.
Moyes’ star signing in August, Marouane Fellaini, has failed to fire and struggled with injuries since arriving at Old Trafford.
Mitch on his way out?
The A-League’s biggest transfer saga could well be in the hands of Melbourne Victory once again.
After fighting to keep captain Mark Milligan in the last window, Victory have received offers for young midfielder Mitch Nichols.
Reports from the Herald Sun suggest Japanese club Cerezo Osaka have increased their offer to $350,000, up from the original $200,000.
Victory lost midfielder Billy Celeski in July, and another influential loss in their midfield could hinder their A-League title chances.
On the weekend, Nichols was substituted for “tactical” reasons at half time as the Victory suffered a 3-0 loss at home to league leaders Brisbane Roar.