Top ten transfers which should go through on a weirdly exciting January deadline day

Matt Stead
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka tries to tackle Jorginho

The 2023 January transfer deadline day actually promises to be a phenomenal one, with Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Nottingham Forest and more all scrambling.

 

10) Sasa Lukic to Fulham
While their promoted brethren continue to make signings aplenty, Fulham have bided their time this month. Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest are locked in different stages of relegation panic but Marco Silva has used the breathing space offered by an unlikely European push to pick his targets more meticulously.

The Portuguese has openly stated his desire to sign a midfielder and a right-back. Sander Berge and Cedric Soares could end up at Craven Cottage, Andre of Fluminense probably won’t and Sasa Lukic almost definitely will. The Torino star and international teammate of Aleksandar Mitrovic, capable of playing as a No. 6 or No. 8, has agreed terms on an £8.8m deal which has commenced smoothly thus far.

 

9) Naouirou Ahamada to Crystal Palace
Fulham are one of three Premier League clubs yet to make a single signing as the non-capitalised transfer deadline day brings an exciting winter window home. Everton are another, with their managerial situation complicating matters somewhat. Crystal Palace have no such excuse but only now are they heeding the advice of Patrick Vieira to strive for the “next level” with a new player or two.

Naouirou Ahamada will arrive as the long-awaited replacement for the unobtainable Conor Gallagher, the 20-year-old French youth international being lined up for £10.5m. Cheick Doucoure might finally be able to palm off some of that midfield workload.

 

8) Hamed Traore to Bournemouth
Much to the probable chagrin of Scott Parker, the eventual completion of Bournemouth’s takeover in December has unlocked a few more doors to the Cherries. Dango Ouattara, Darren Randolph, Antoine Semenyo and Matias Vina represents more than £30m of business from a club which remains active, pursuing a deal for Ukrainian centre-half Ilya Zabarnyi and having to accept that Nicolo Zaniolo never saw them as more than friends. The Roma player’s rejection of a possible loan move to the south coast at least provided ample time for Bournemouth to switch their attention to Hamed Traore, alleged brother of Man Utd forward Amad Diallo and definite attacking midfielder of Sassuolo and Ivory Coast. Bournemouth have locked in a fee of around £21m to sign the 22-year-old on a four-year contract.

 

7) Jonjo Shelvey to Nottingham Forest
So active have Nottingham Forest been in the transfer market this season, that summer signings Loic Bade and Loic Mbe Soh have already left, with Emmanuel Dennis, Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo hoping to join them before the deadline. Steve Cooper’s rampant hoarding of any and all footballers has and will continue unabated as Gustavo Scarpa, Danilo and Chris Wood have joined a cause that Keylor Navar, Sergio Rico, Felipe, Angelo Gabriel or Brenner might still.

Jonjo Shelvey can be discussed with a little more certainty after Eddie Howe and Newcastle relented, accepting the 30-year-old’s desire for more regular playing opportunities. After undergoing a medical on transfer deadline eve, the midfielder’s move to his fourth Premier League club should be confirmed soon enough.

 

6) Pedro Porro to Tottenham
Perhaps the result of an attempt to see how much they can wind up Antonio Conte, Tottenham acknowledged the £40m release clause in Pedro Porro’s Sporting contract but spent the best part of a month trying to negotiate it down to avoid paying any lump sums. Master negotiator that he is, Daniel Levy talked the Portuguese club into accepting a £39.4m deal which they predictably reneged on at the final hour, leaving a panicked scramble to resolve the issues and prevent Emerson Royal from spending another minute as a regular starter. Never change, you ludicrous football club.

 

5) Harry Souttar to Leicester
It might be that Leicester have acted a little too late on their interest, but Brendan Rodgers may have wanted to let the World Cup dust settle first. A bidding war for Harry Souttar was predicted after his stellar displays for Australia in Qatar but while Stoke braced themselves to bat offers away, none were forthcoming.

Leicester, having belatedly realised that a) their six possible centre-back options are Caglar Soyuncu, Wout Faes, Daniel Amartey, Jannik Vestergaard, permacrock Jonny Evans and midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, and b) they could sign Harry Maguire’s regen, have made a £15m proposal to the Championship club.

 

4) Kamaldeen Sulemana to Everton
It did not take long for Everton to corrupt Sean Dyche. The 51-year-old operated wonderfully on a strict budget at Burnley but in his first day at Goodison Park the entire Anthony Gordon windfall was pushed towards Chelsea in the forlorn hope they might sell Conor Gallagher.

The Toffees have far more pressing concerns throughout their squad, not least a lack of goals that free agent Andre Ayew is apparently the panacea to. Sheraldo Becker of Union Berlin could also be called upon for this season’s salvage mission but Kamaldeen Sulemana, winger of Rennes and target of Southampton, seems a more likely deal. The Ghanaian might have his pick of relegated clubs under new managers after the bottom two teams in the Premier League had £22m bids accepted. Lucky sod. But Everton’s desperation feels slightly more pressing.

 

3) Vitinha to Brighton
Not that Southampton are without their own goalscoring-based anguish. They have scored more Premier League goals than Everton, Wolves and Nottingham Forest this season but not since the ninth minute of Nathan Jones’ first game in charge on November 12 has a player not named James Ward-Prowse netted in the league. The hope was that Vitinha could provide an answer, with some reports suggesting Saints had offered to pay the striker’s £26.4m Braga release clause.

But Brighton have taken a page out of their bigger and far more foolish brother’s book by seemingly hijacking that move and throwing a curveball towards a player with 13 goals and five assists in 27 appearances so far this season.

 

2) Jorginho to Arsenal
The most optimistic of Arsenal supporters might view Brighton spending close to £30m on a player as an indication that the Seagulls are anticipating some sort of transfer windfall of their own. But Moises Caicedo will enter the pool of desirable central midfielders in the summer; the Ecuadorean is not moving until then.

So the Gunners must switch their focus to sign the No. 6 Mikel Arteta desperately wants as cover and competition for Thomas Partey. Jorginho has been targeted by the Premier League leaders before and that interest has been renewed out of necessity in a deal which could suit all parties. The Italian is out of contract at Stamford Bridge this summer and while his minutes have not been affected by Chelsea’s unrestrained recruitment, that could change awful soon and Arsenal offer the chance to add to a glittering trophy collection.

Every central midfielder that Arsenal have been linked with in 2023: Caicedo, Rice, Zubimendi…

 

1) Enzo Fernandez to Chelsea
The key to it all – for transfers involving Arsenal, Newcastle and numerous other clubs – could rest in the pockets of Todd Boehly. Chelsea have signed a goalkeeper, a right-back, a left-back, two centre-halves, a right-winger, two left-wingers and two centre-forwards this season, with loanee Denis Zakaria, 20-year-old Cesare Casadei – who has been sent to Reading – and teenagers Carney Chukwuemeka and Andrey Santos representing their only additions in central midfield.

It is an area Chelsea have sorely needed to refresh for some time and a British record move for a World Cup winner would be some way of doing it. The Enzo Fernandez pursuit which at one point seemed doomed has been revived to the point that it would be a surprise if the Argentinean is not chasing wayward Marc Cucurella passes soon.