Man Utd winger inevitably tops list of 10 Premier League players in urgent need of a January move

Dave Tickner
Jadon Sancho, Emile Smith Rowe and Giovani Lo Celso
Jadon Sancho, Emile Smith Rowe and Giovani Lo Celso

The last interlull of the year is finally done! It’ll soon be Christmas! Let the celebrations commence! Also means it’ll soon be time for another transfer window, and we all enjoy those.

Here, then, are 10 Premier League players who could do with taking advantage of January’s opportunity to seek pastures new. Some for international aspirations, some just to play a bit of actual football, some so that we remember they exist, and some so they can escape what is now a deeply toxic relationship with the Premier League’s baldest manager.


10) Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace)
An absolute staple of forgotten man lists and players in need of moves lists for the last three years. Signed a three-year contract extension with Palace in 2021 that we remain hugely grateful for. Palace fans, who have seen him rack up less than 300 minutes of Premier League football since then, may be less thrilled.

A severely depleted squad for a game against Forest did give us one more (last?) chance to see Riedewald start a Premier League game for Palace in a drab goalless draw. He got injured and had to come off after 75 minutes, and has been back on the bench ever since. Rumours abound that Palace may retire his seat in the dugout when his Palace career does finally come to an end.


9) Jonny (Wolves)
Turned down the chance to return to Spain at the end of August to stay and fight for his place at Wolves. If his precise wording of that fight plan included the word ‘Carabao’ then success! He played the full 90 minutes in both Wolves’ Carabao games. Alas, the second of those was a 3-2 defeat to Championship promotion-chasers Ipswich, which isn’t ideal and also meant no more such games to enjoy.

Back to the Premier League bench he went, and sometimes not even that. Did play the last four minutes of the 2-1 win over Manchester City at the end of September. You’d almost want to keep that as your only Premier League appearance of the season, wouldn’t you?


8) Maxwel Cornet (West Ham)
Been hugely disappointing to see someone who was so exciting at Burnley struggle so desperately after a West Ham move that looked just the thing for him. Beyond obvious that David Moyes doesn’t fancy him one little bit, and Cornet may now wish the touted deadline-day move to Everton had come off at the back end of the summer. Loves a bit of Dycheball, does Cornet.

West Ham’s current injury problems, with both Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio out of action, do offer a tantalising glimpse of a road to redemption for Cornet, but his best chances of kickstarting his career in the first six months of 2024 still very much appear to be away from the London Stadium.


7) Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham)
Takes some doing to remain on the fringes of a squad that was wafer-thin to start with and now absolutely riddled with injuries. But if he isn’t going to be starting games even with James Maddison injured then it probably is time for everyone to just call it a day on this one. He did get 14 minutes at the end of the Wolves game, but given what happened at the end of the Wolves game that probably isn’t really something you’d want to crow about.

It’s baffling in many ways that it just hasn’t worked out for Lo Celso at Spurs. There were times in his first season where he was just about the only good thing about the team, with flashes of evidence that he could provide the creative spark they lacked. But overall his Spurs career has just ended up being a great big nothing, arguably no better than that of all-time transfer snafu Tanguy Ndombele who arrived that same, ill-fated summer back in 2019.


6) Leander Dendoncker (Aston Villa)
Nearly made a move to Turkey late in the summer window. Probably should have made a move to Turkey late in the summer window.

If he suspected that he might be struggling for game time back then, finding himself not even a regular starter for Europa Conference games should be the clincher for a player whose status at Villa has been made clear not just in the games he’s not played but arguably even more so in the ones he has. The earliest he has made it to the pitch in any of his four Premier League appearances this season was the 86th minute at Nottingham Forest, with Villa already 2-0 down. His other three appearances in the league have come after the fourth official’s added-time board has gone up. Arguably even more damning are the single start he’s made in each of the Conference of the Carabao, failing to make it past half-time in either.

In related news, hasn’t played for Belgium since the summer. Surely has to move to give himself any chance of a place at the Euros.


5) Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
Might not be able to make a move in January anyway even if he wanted to, depending on the severity of a knee injury that has kept him out of action since finally making his first Arsenal start in almost 500 days in the 5-0 win over Sheffield United at the end of last month. Could be a desperately unfortunate coincidence, of course, but the fact ESR felt something in his knee after playing 73 minutes of football on the back of a year-and-a-half subsisting on eight minutes against Bournemouth here or 20 minutes against PSV there could also be extremely related.

Too good and no longer too young not to be playing more. Assuming that knee injury isn’t a long-termer, needs to be playing proper amounts of football in the second half of the season, even if that’s not at his beloved Arsenal and even if only on loan somewhere.


4) Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)
He’s still one of Gareth’s best boys, so his England place is probably under far less threat than it ought to be for a player who is these days a part-time footballer. Has started twice as many games for England this season (2) as he has for his club (1) and played very nearly as many minutes for England as City.

The writing has been on the wall for Phillips at City for the longest time now, but the clearest indication yet of where he stands came last month. It’s one thing not being able to get a game because of Rodri. Quite another to see Rodri get injured and then a teenage full-back and a fresh-from-injury John Stones still preferred to you in central midfield.


3) Malang Sarr (Chelsea)
We genuinely thought he’d gone on loan somewhere at the end of the summer. We’re in full Mandela Effect territory here. We’d have sworn to it. Galatasaray or Saudi Arabia or somewhere. After the English window had closed. But no. He’s still somewhere at Cobham, presumably far away from first-team training, and still collecting 100 grand at the end of every single week for his troubles.

Whether or not he therefore ‘desperately’ needs a January move depends entirely on how he views his career. He is in many ways currently living an absolutely absurd dream. But surely you’d want to go somewhere else and play a little bit of actual football? Maybe not.


2) Ben Godfrey (Everton)
The former Norwich centre-back finds himself in the frankly astonishing position of being way down the pecking order at Everton but on the wishlists of both Tottenham and Newcastle. He should definitely be looking for a move in January. With Godfrey now clearly some way behind James Tarkowski, Michael Keane and Jarrad Branthwaite in the Toffees pecking order, the defensive crises at some pretty hefty clubs could offer Godfrey a hugely improbable and improbably huge opportunity after spending all but one minute of the Premier League season so far sat on the Everton bench.


1) Jadon Sancho (Manchester United)
Entirely ostracised at United now and has absolutely no way back or any way of winning his stand-off with Erik Ten Hag. Even the prospect of just waiting out Ten Hag seems remote now, given that United keep irritatingly and inexplicably winning games despite quite clearly being demonstrably sh*t.

It’s a remarkable statistic that a man with 23 England caps at the age of 23 hasn’t won a single one of those since joining Manchester United at the age of 21. Dortmund Sancho is surely still in there somewhere, but he’s not going to be located at United. The good news for everyone is that Sancho’s likeliest destination now appears to be Juventus. It’s an unexpected career turn, but infinitely better than the bleakest timeline which sees a player of Sancho’s ability and potential packed off to the Saudi retirement league at such a young age.


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