Dubai: The January transfer window is one of the most exciting periods of the football season and if some good pieces of business are done it can make the difference between success and failure.
It is the month when clubs all around Europe scour the market for new players hoping that they will transform their fortunes. This is their chance to freshen up their squads for the second half of the season with new arrivals keen to leave their mark - but it is also an opportunity to get rid of the dead wood.
For clubs in England and Scotland January 1 2023 is when they can begin to sign or sell players. The transfer windows in Germany and France also open on January 1, while in Spain and Italy they will open on January 2. The window will close everywhere on January 31.
Managers, scouts, agents and chairmen will have been doing their homework on players months in advance. They will have been watching said targets closely and sounding them out via their reps on whether or not they would be keen on a move. Fans of football teams desperate for new heroes will eagerly anticipate news of deals completed by their clubs and it is always an exciting 31 days.
Two windows during a year
The main one takes place over summer at the end of the club season in most European nations and lasts for two and a half months. The second one comes in the middle of the season and there is a huge difference between them both. In the summer window clubs tend to make strategic signings to help improve the team in key areas while the nature of the January window has more of a reactive element to it. It is the chance for clubs to re-enter the market as they bid to get out of a relegation scrap or to capitalise on a good start and push on for a higher league finish and win some silverware. With the season already underway many clubs will have lost key players to injuries and so they will be seeking replacements.
Talks will have taken place between clubs and agents representing players way before any move is actually completed. To get the ball rolling, so to speak, the first step tends to be agreeing a transfer fee between clubs for a particular player. When this has been done the player is allowed to speak to the buying club to agree personal terms. If all goes well and he passes a medical examination - where the buying club will check him for injuries - the transfer is then confirmed by both clubs. But, players have a huge say over their futures and ultimately the final word on who they wish to play for is theirs.
Once the January window is out of the way the focus then shifts again to the summer. Clubs are not able to make transfers between this period unless they are signing free agents, who are players that are not affiliated with any club.
Haaland a success
Last summer the standout deal was striker Erling Haaland moving to English Premier League champions Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund. His arrival at the Etihad has been a rousing success with the 23-year-old Norwegian already scoring 18 league goals.
Kylian Mbappe was heavily tipped to leave Paris Saint-Germain for Real Madrid but the move never materialized. The Spanish giants could revive their interest in the French international who had a superb World Cup but PSG would be loath to lose their star man in the middle of the season.
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The Gunners are currently top of the Premier League table but they will need reinforcements. Coach Mikel Arteta’s priority is to replace the goals they will miss during Gabriel Jesus’ expected three-month absence. They will be looking for a top-class striker and have been linked with Shakhtar Donetsk’s free-scoring winger Mykhailo Mudryk.
The Reds look to have beaten Manchester United to the signing of PSV Eindhoven striker Cody Gakpo and they are also keen on Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund. If they are able to get both deals over the line then it would bolster Jurgen Klopp’s aspirations of reclaiming a Champions League place.
Speaking of United, they could target Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos and Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic while Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to join Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.
Their cross-town rivals Manchester City are believed to be looking at younger players such as Sheffield United prospect Kylan Midwood and New York City left back Christian McFarlane.
Newcastle are having a great season and coach Eddie Howe will want that to continue into the new year. The Toon Army have been linked with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho and Nice’s Khephren Thuram.
Spurs are believed to have been offered Barcelona’s Memphis Depay but they may be more keen on Fiorentina’s Moroccan star Sofyan Amrabat who had a terrific World Cup.
The Blues could have a busy month and will need to bring in several top signings if they are to break into the top four. They are in talks with Monaco for centre back Benoit Badiashile, Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, Molde striker David Fofana and Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.
Everton, who are struggling at the wrong end of the table will need to use the window to give their depleted squad a boost. The Toffees need a striker having lost key man Dominic Calvert-Lewin to injury and the sale of talisman Richarlison in the summer to Tottenham. As a result the goals have dried up at Goodison Park and coach Frank Lampard will need to bring in several attackers to stave-off the threat of relegation. He is an admirer of Watford’s Ismaila Sarr but the club’s financial constraints could mean loan deals are their only option.
Without a shadow of a doubt January is a time of excitement, promise and expectation until the window slams shut. Let the wheeler-dealing begin!