Ten players available for transfer a year after joining include Liverpool star Klopp loves

Matt Stead
Kalidou Koulibaly clears the ball against Liverpool

Some mistakes may be corrected by Saudi Arabia, while a Liverpool man beloved by Klopp will be one of a few signed in summer 2022 and offloaded a year later.


10) Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa)
Long after the novelty had worn off and it was excruciatingly clear the money could be far better spent elsewhere, Steven Gerrard examined the possibility of signing Philippe Coutinho for Aston Villa on a permanent deal, then channelled Shaun Williamson and decided he was gonna do it anyway.

Villa chose to lumber themselves with a player whose six-month loan spell started ferociously (four goals and three assists in eight games) but ended with something less than a whimper (one goal and no assists in 11 games), giving a four-year contract to a 29-year-old with no obvious place in the starting XI, because Liverpool.

Gerrard, not entirely coincidentally, was sacked 14 games into the new season, of which Coutinho played 13 while failing to score or assist. Injuries and rank unsuitability have restricted the Brazilian’s opportunities further under Unai Emery, whose ambitious Villa renovations will have no room for such mercurial nonsense.

Their rise in the second half of this past season would not have been possible if Coutinho was a central figure – and on his wages and standing, the former Liverpool forward has to be. There is apparent interest emanating from those favourite Premier League scrapheaps in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both of which would satisfy all involved.


9) Nathan Collins (Wolves)
A partnership with Max Kilman showed early promise at the heart of the Wolves defence but it was an ultimately disappointing debut season for Nathan Collins, who might have cherished the front-row seat to weekly Craig Dawson masterclasses had it not come at his expense.

“Even though I’ve not played as much since he came in, I’ve learned a lot and I’m just looking forward to the future now,” Collins recently said on international duty as the most expensive Irish player in history.

That future would involve Brentford on a far more intimate level if the Bees got their wish. An offer of £20m – money back for Wolves on their initial investment, basically – was teased without yet materialising. Julen Lopetegui is likely to need to sell before he can buy so might at least see how far he can stretch the Ruben Neves windfall before cashing in on Collins.


8) Neal Maupay (Everton)
It might seem as though spending £15m on a striker who goes on to score a single goal in 27 Premier League appearances is sub-optimal. But less is more for Neal Maupay, whose winner in a 1-0 victory over West Ham in September secured a crucial three points for a side which only survived by two.

The Frenchman might have theoretically, technically, kind of rescued Everton, but his profligacy equally contributed to their predicament. Yerry Mina played roughly half the minutes of Maupay and scored twice as many goals. Conor Coady, James Tarkowski and Michael Keane all matched the forward for goals and beat him in terms of assists.

Sean Dyche prefers a different brand of striker, as interest in Viktor Gyokeres, Tammy Abraham, El Bilal Toure and others taller than Maupay’s 5ft 7ins suggests. If Everton can make anything close to their money back from either Salernitana or Ligue Un they would be delighted and probably confused.


7) Kevin Mbabu (Fulham)
One of the all-time great eclectic transfer windows nevertheless had room for improvement. Jack Butland, Wout Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer, loan signings from Crystal Palace, Burnley and Bayern Munich, was a solid effort in terms of January weirdness. A gold star for Erik ten Hag on his first attempt. But it would have been immeasurably better if Man Utd signed some defensive back-up from Fulham as well.

It is unknown whether Kevin Mbabu was one of the 804 right-backs tracked at Old Trafford before Aaron Wan-Bissaka arrived in 2019. Yet the claim in January was that the Swiss international would be joining to leap ahead in the defensive pecking order and provide cover for Diogo Dalot.

Wan-Bissaka instead suddenly emerged as a competent option post-Christmas, while Mbabu joined Servette on loan instead. There is unlikely to ever be an advance on his single Premier League start for Fulham – which might be for the best considering it came in the 4-1 defeat to Newcastle in which he was substituted at half-time.


6) Thomas Strakosha (Brentford)
It is safe to say this was not the vision Thomas Strakosha was sold. Brentford pulled off an apparent coup by capturing the former Lazio keeper and Albania international, with an almighty tussle and eventual changing of the guard expected to follow David Raya’s imminent departure. But the Spaniard stayed and played every minute as Strakosha played two cup games and otherwise watched from the bench.

Having bided his time and with Raya even more likely to leave, Strakosha might have at least felt he had earned his chance to make the gloves his own. Then Brentford signed Freiburg shot-stopper Mark Flekken, the keeper of the most Bundesliga clean sheets in 2022/23, for £11m.

Strakosha will surely not accept another season of diligent training drills and splinter gathering, especially when Brentford rate 20-year-old Matthew Cox highly enough to give him more matchday squad spots. Strakosha was given permission to seek a loan move in January and similar dispensation could be granted again.


5) Sergio Gomez (Manchester City)
“The idea is to stay there. It is my wish,” said Sergio Gomez this month, who added: “I’m going to go from the first day of the pre-season with a lot of desire to show him that I can have more minutes.”

After being given 962 in a Treble-winning season, it was uncertain which way Gomez would go. Some would relish the challenge of fighting their way into the side, while others might acquiesce and seek increased opportunities elsewhere.

Burnley have tried to make that second option as appealing as possible but the Spaniard is not yet keen on a reunion with former Anderlecht colleague Vincent Kompany. Or perhaps it’s the concept of starting more than two Premier League games which has Gomez so perturbed.


4) Emmanuel Dennis (Nottingham Forest)
Steve Cooper will welcome the chance to streamline his Nottingham Forest squad for the challenges which lay ahead. The 30 signings made in the club’s debut season have helped establish foundations upon which to build, although there will be unavoidable debris to clean up.

Some of those brought in will predictably be moved straight back out. It has already been suggested that offers for midfielder Remo Freuler will be entertained, while Emmanuel Dennis briefly served as club-record signing but never really fit the job brief.

Across two relegation-battling campaigns, the Nigerian has scored 12 goals in 52 Premier League appearances, of which he started 36. A talented player though he is, Dennis will have to be a menace elsewhere.


3) Fabio Carvalho (Liverpool)
“I think there is a possibility that maybe Fabio will go on loan or whatever,” said Jurgen Klopp in May, praising Liverpool teenager Carvalho for his “work ethic” and “reactions” to “not the best year of his career”.

The manager has perhaps laid it on thicker than necessary to placate a player who will have expected so much more after Liverpool fought so hard to procure him from Fulham. Klopp has hailed Carvalho for “training exceptionally” and showing the attitude of a “role model” with “unbelievable character”, but that has not translated to many minutes.

Across a difficult Liverpool campaign there were 638 of them. Carvalho, to his credit, crammed in a goal in the 9-0 thrashing of Bournemouth, the dramatic winner against Newcastle a few days later and a League Cup strike against Manchester City post-World Cup. But there are suggestions that he is displeased by the situation at Liverpool and Leipzig and West Ham are unlikely to represent the sum total of his prospective suitors.


2) Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham)
Michail Antonio said it best: Gianluca Scamacca is “a quality player” but “the way David Moyes plays, if you’re up front you’re dealing with scraps and you’ve got to be more of a fighter, that’s not him.”

It is the proudest of lineages – the line of failed West Ham strikers. Scamacca briefly hinted at greater things but even his three goals each in both the Premier League and Europa Conference proper were overshadowed by injury.

Continental glory was delivered with Scamacca on the sidelines, apparently deep in conversation with Roma over a Serie A return. Personal terms are said to have been agreed but West Ham have rejected the idea of a loan and would want a replacement to be obtained before then. Efforts to clone Antonio are said to be going well.


1) Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)
“My dream was always to play in the Premier League,” said Kalidou Koulibaly upon his arrival at Chelsea. Before then, the centre-half had been one of those tantalising perennial transfer targets, an ever-present of gossip columns and veteran of the speculation merry-go-round.

On this evidence, William Carvalho, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Julian Draxler are far better off existing as alluring ideas rather than becoming painfully mortal realities.

Koulibaly has been slow, slack and entirely bulliable, a £33m liability whose failure seems to have encouraged a change in transfer approach from Chelsea, who have since specifically targeted far younger talent.

How fortunate that Saudi Arabia seem happy to take that four-year contract worth £160,000 a week, as well as a few other troublesome Stamford Bridge wages, off Chelsea’s hands. That really is quite the boon.