Going nowhere: one player per Premier League club left stuck after the January window

Dave Tickner
Man Utd captain Maguire

The January transfer window is closed.

The Premier League squad lists have been updated.

And not everyone got the move that they either wanted, needed or didn’t want but should really have taken. These are they.


Arsenal –  Emile Smith Rowe
You wouldn’t exactly say anyone is currently in desperate need of escaping Their Arsenal Nightmare given the way things are going at The Emirates, but form and fitness and other transfer activity have seen Emile Smith Rowe slide a long way down the Gunners pecking order.

He’s played barely an hour of football this season, and while a groin injury has played a part, he’s not exactly been getting opportunities since his return. Does he still have a future at Arsenal? Probably yes. Would six months somewhere else getting the playing time he needs to make that happen? Definitely yes.


Aston Villa – Philippe Coutinho
Villa have won five of their eight league games under Unai Emery and Steven Gerrard’s pal Philippe Coutinho’s most significant contributions to that run have been 45 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Wolves and another 45 minutes of a 4-2 defeat to Leicester. He did however get a start in the FA Cup third-round defeat to Stevenage. In Coutinho’s defence, Villa were 1-0 up after his 66 minutes on the field, with the late collapse very much occurring while he was off duty. But still.

Coutinho definitely wouldn’t have signed for Emery’s Villa, and Emery definitely wouldn’t have signed him given the choice. A touch surprising there wasn’t more noise about a January escape route that would appear to have served everyone’s interests.


Bournemouth – Junior Stanislas
Junior Stanislas has seen quite a bit during his nine years at Bournemouth and he will undoubtedly leave the club healthier than he found it back in 2014. But leave he surely will at the end of this season, with nostalgia and vibes the only possible arguments to be made for extending his contract past the summer. Injuries have done him in this season: denying him game time and pretty much ensuring this will be his last season there while also making him an unattractive option for anyone lower down the food chain looking for short-term January reinforcements and experience.


Brentford – N/A
The idea is laughable. It’s too good a club, too sensibly run, with a lovely manager. They do everything the right way do Brentford. Everyone at Brentford is happy. Nobody is stuck there. It’s enough to make us suspicious. It’s far too much like a cult.


Brighton – Moises Caicedo
Whoops. Might be a small amount of grovelling required after Brighton’s resolute and consistent stance led Arsenal quite understandably to conclude that £12m on the short-term benefits of Jorginho was probably a better choice than dropping £80m on the long-term potential of Caicedo, who had made his desire to move awkwardly plain.


Chelsea – Hakim Ziyech
There are several Chelsea players, many of them signed as recently as the summer, who might now be wondering where their next game is coming from after the absurd trolley dash around Europe carried out by Big Todd Boehly and his Massive Great Contracts. But it’s Ziyech with greatest cause for frustration after his deadline day escape to Paris fell through due to a paperwork snafu.


Crystal Palace – Jairo Riedewald
He was barely getting a look in before Palace signed two midfielders before the deadline, playing less than one half of Premier League football this season spread across four cameo appearances. His total Premier League playing time across the last season and a half amounts to not quite two full matches. And 77 of those minutes were on the very first day of last season. Why/how is he still there? Isn’t even out of contract in the summer, either.


Everton – James Garner
It’s sort of everyone and no-one here, in a way. Everyone at Everton is probably questioning the life choices that led them to this point, but you can’t all be Anthony Gordon and get a massive great inexplicable move to an upwardly mobile club. Some of you are going to have to stay and Dycheball your way to safety. But after such a good season for Forest last year before a permanent move from Manchester United to Everton, the oft injured and rarely seen Garner has more reason than most to think he might have gone wrong here.


Fulham – Shane Duffy
There are clearly worse places to be stuck right now than Fulham, but Duffy’s story is a strange one. Especially as he left Brighton, another good place to be stuck, to get there. Having initially joined Fulham on loan in the summer, he has made a grand total of four Premier League appearances, none of them longer than a minute, yet found himself signed permanently on deadline day to free up a loan spot in the Cottagers’ squad for Cedric Soares. He’s presumably happy enough with this scenario, but it still feels an odd one for a 31-year-old who surely shouldn’t yet be reduced to a ‘good person to have around the place’ role.


Leeds – Adam Forshaw
More Leeds being stuck here than Forshaw, whose reduced influence and frequent injury setbacks have made him hard to shift as his contract runs down. Really, the contrast here is with Mateusz Klich, who has similarities with Forshaw on the ‘once vital, now not so much’ scale but given the choice was surely the one Leeds would rather have kept around in January.


Leicester – Caglar Soyuncu
Already surplus to requirements at Leicester even before the arrival of Harry Souttar from Stoke, Soyuncu surely couldn’t quite believe his luck when it looked like Atletico Madrid were going to sign him. There may be a quite alarming amount of cloth-cutting going on at the Metropolitano but it’s still Atletico Madrid, isn’t it? It’s still a pretty decent step up from the Leicester bench. But we can’t all be Matt Doherty, can we? Caglar Soyuncu remains at Leicester, a peripheral figure in a relegation battle. Could be worse, though; he could be Jannik Vestergaard.


Liverpool – Arthur Melo
Takes quite something for a player on loan to find himself stuck, but such is the lot for the Juventus man. Remember when everything Liverpool touched in the transfer market turned to gold? Arthur has played just 13 minutes for Liverpool in an injury-hit campaign for player and club, and those 13 minutes game in the Champions League. There won’t be any more of those minutes because he’s not in their updated Champions League squad.

Talk of a January move to Brazilian side Palmeiras came to nothing, so it’s six months of watching Champions League games for Arthur while hoping to get fit enough to maybe play in a few meaningless mid-table league games. Liverpool are, we’re told, apparently not planning to exercise their option to make the loan move permanent. Loan players aren’t ideal for this feature, admittedly, but it does stop us just using the tired old default for all these sorts of pieces of just going “Who remembers Nat Phillips?” in a bad Peter Kay voice.

Liverpool newcomer Arthur

Manchester City – Kalvin Phillips
There’s been plenty of bad luck around Phillips’ struggles at City but it did always look a strange kind of move. West Ham, Everton and Phillips’ former club Leeds all reportedly asked about a loan in January and all three would have made more sense than another six months not playing for Manchester City.


Manchester United – Harry Maguire
No great surprise in truth to see Maguire remain at United through January, but it will be a massive shock if he’s still there come the end of August. There doesn’t appear any feasible way back now for a defender whose career is at a crossroads. This next move is going to be very difficult for a player who has pretty harshly been reduced to a punchline and a meme. Makes sense really not to make a rash January decision, but it’s a huge summer for the England man.


Newcastle – Allan Saint-Maximin
Yeah, we said it. There’s mischief here, of course, with being ‘stuck’ at this Newcastle a vaguely silly idea anyway and even if it wasn’t there are more obvious contenders for that title than ASM. Javier Manquillo is still there, for goodness’ sake. And Jamaal Lascelles. But Saint-Maximin is an interesting footnote to this season, isn’t he? When Newcastle found themselves in possession of all the money, his was the one name constantly mentioned as a player who could bridge Newcastle’s two worlds and be a significant part of the future. Turns out that player was actually Miguel Almiron. Don’t feel bad, none of us got that right.

But maybe it’s revealing about the kind of player Saint-Maximin is. Maybe he’s one of those players who shines brightest when he’s the only thing gleaming at all in a sea of churning shod. A bright spark that makes dark days worthwhile. But not actually as much use when everything is going rather better. He should have gone to Everton in an Anthony Gordon swap deal, is basically what we’ve just convinced ourselves of here.


Nottingham Forest – Lewis O’Brien
Omar Richards, Steve Cook, Lyle Taylor, Cafu and Harry Arter all find themselves still technically Nottingham Forest players but sat outside looking in with no place for them in the 25-man Premier League squad. But it’s Lewis O’Brien who’s really been stitched up after the collapse of a loan switch to Blackburn left him stranded at Forest with no place in the squad. Steve Cooper was pretty clear about where he felt the blame lies: “It wasn’t us, that’s for sure – even though we’ve ended up with the problem it wasn’t us. It won’t take a genius to work out what has happened. I hope some questions are getting asked over there in Lancashire.”


Southampton – Jan Bednarek
Alright, he wasn’t getting much of a look-in at Villa on loan. But coming from a club that made an astute mid-season managerial change to instant and transformative effect and finding yourself back at what is now Nathan Jones’ Southampton can’t be much fun.


Tottenham – Oliver Skipp
He’s been desperately unlucky with the timing of his injury woes last season just as he appeared to be establishing himself in the first team. But, now fit again, he finds himself in something of a Catch 22, unable to get enough minutes to get his match sharpness and lacking match sharpness to force his way back into the side. He’s definitely behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma in the pecking order and quite possibly Pape Matar Sarr as well now. Fifth-choice central midfielder for a team that only plays two is not ideal when you’re desperately trying to prove your fitness after injury. Six months actually playing significant minutes somewhere else would surely have been better for all involved here.


West Ham – Lucas Paqueta
There’s not really anyone stuck at West Ham. A combination of them not being very good but also having a great deal of games means that pretty much everyone is getting a decent look-in even if only in the Conference and everyone who isn’t has already been shipped out somewhere or other on loan. So we’ll go with Brazil World Cup star Paqueta, not because he’s necessarily stuck but because we still just genuinely can’t work out how he ever ended up here in the first place.


Wolves – Diego Costa
We were all excited about the return to the Premier League of the shithouse’s shithouse
and ‘getting more red cards than goals’ would definitely have been high on our list of acceptable potential outcomes, but it’s all felt a bit joyless. We thought this would at least be fun. It isn’t fun.