VIDEO: Six of the best January transfer window targets
Are you an obscenely wealthy football club owner stuck for something to throw your money at now that the festive period’s over?
Well fear not! The January transfer window is open, and though not always the best time of year to do business, the on-the-ball oligarch has plenty of options to consider when deciding which over-rated prima donna to blow his not-inconsiderable wad of cash on.
The Packet will even help you decide, with a handy list of six of the best choices out there. Why not have one of your minions print it out so you can tuck it safely away in your Dunhill wallet next to your JP Morgan Palladium credit card for future reference?
With list in hand all you need do is hop on the Learjet, track them down and convince them to sign on the dotted line. And remember, flattery – along with several hundred thousand pounds a week and the promise of a lucrative sponsorship deal with Pepsi - will get you everywhere.
Who are your top tips to make a move to the Premiership this January? Let us know at the bottom of the page.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Chelsea, Real Madrid
There were some who questioned the sanity of Athletico Madrid president Enrico Cezero when Los Rojiblancos splashed out €40m on Porto’s Colombian striker Radamel Falcao. So vast must that particular slice of humble pie be, Falcao and Cezero’s detractors will no doubt be munching their way through it well into 2014.
A replacement for the aptly named Hulk (who made the spectacularly wrong-headed decision to turn his back on Europe’s top clubs in favour of a move to Zenit St Petersburg, where the enlightened local support greeted his arrival with monkey chants, and a fake bomb left at the training ground alongside a note reading ‘HULK OUT!’), Falcao scored an astonishing 36 goals in his first season in La Liga.
He’s now widely regarded as the best out-and-out striker in world football, with a whole host of clubs clamouring for his signature, including Chelsea, who are still struggling to plug the yawning gap left behind by the departure of Didier Drogba last summer.
A recent statement by Cezero claiming a deal was agreed with fierce rivals Real Madrid appears to have poured cold water on Chelsea’s hopes, but whether there’s any truth to the rumours remains to be seen. A move to the Bernabeu would certainly not endear Falcao to Athletico fans, with whom he enjoys a good relationship.
In any case, the reality is that only Chelsea and Real Madrid look likely to succeed in prizing him away from the Estadio Vicente Calderon, although Demba Ba’s recent move from Newcastle may satisfy Abramovich until the summer.
With Man Utd spending big on Robin Van Persie less than six months ago, and Barcelona preferring to play without a recognised striker, it would appear to be a straight shoot-out between the Blues and Real. Expect Chelsea to blink first.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Man City, Paris St Germain, Real Madrid, Chelsea
Uruguay international Edinson Cavani is, like Falcao, a prolific goal scorer, netting 60 in 83 games for Napoli since his move from Palermo in 2010.
A rangy forward known for his tireless work rate and spectacular strikes, Cavani was thought to be on his way to Man City last summer until he demanded an exorbitant £150,000 a week.
For a player untested outside Serie A - a league widely considered to be a spent force in European football - this understandably caused Man City owner Sheikh Mansour to recoil in horror.
In fact, so outrageous were Cavani’s demands that even his own club were said to be reconsidering their decision to offer him a new contract.
But rapacious wage demands aside, there’s no denying the Uruguayan is an outstanding talent who would in all likelihood score goals whatever the team, and whatever the league.
Cavani was recently said to have agreed to hold talks with both Liverpool and Arsenal, but it’s unlikely Liverpool can afford him, and even less likely, given their recent history, that Arsenal will spend such a substantial chunk of cash on a single player.
Expect to hear that those talks have failed, thereby alerting Europe’s big guns, who will doubtless come calling with suitcases full of cash and the promise of silverware.
POSITION: CENTRE BACK
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Man Utd, Barcelona
At 6’3 Matts Hummels cuts an imposing figure at the heart of the Borussia Dortmund defence, but you’d be wrong to think of the 23 year-old Germany international as just another old-fashioned lump at the back. There’s nothing old-fashioned about the way Hummels plays.
A superb reader of the game and passer of the ball, Hummels is as elegant as he is effective, cementing his place as Europe’s best centre back with a series of outstanding displays for Dortmund in the Champion’s League where they sauntered their way unbeaten into the last 16 despite sharing a group with Real Madrid, Ajax and Man City.
And while it’s a stretch to mention him in the same breath as Franz ‘Der Kaiser’ Beckenbauer just yet, there are many who remain convinced he has the potential to be even better.
With Nemanja Vidic’s dodgy knee still giving him gyp, and Carlos Puyol’s dodgy hair lacking the same silky lustre it once did, expect the likes of Man Utd and Barcelona to come calling – if not in January, then certainly this summer.
POSITION: CENTRE BACK
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Man Utd, Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid
A year older and an inch taller than Hummels, Serbian international Neven Subotic is the other reason Dortmund’s defence has proven so difficult to break down over the last couple of seasons.
Similar in style and physique to his German teammate, Subotic has become a stalwart for both club and country – a feat made all the more impressive when you take his past into account.
Born in Bosnia, Subotic moved to Germany at the age of five, only for his family to be deported.
Rather than move back home they instead went to the US where, after spending weeks training alone in a park, he was spotted by US Under-17 coach Keith Fulk, who organised a move to the University of Florida.
It was whilst playing for the Under-17s in a tournament in Holland that he was spotted by scouts for German club Meinz, who snapped him up.
He eventually moved to Dortmund with Meinz coach Jurgen Klopp in 2008.
Pacey, powerful, a superb header of the ball and, like Hummels, a wonderful reader of the game, Chelsea failed with a £17.5m bid for Subotic last year. And despite him putting pen to paper on an extension to his current deal at Signal Iduna Park, expect fierce competition for his signature in 2013.
COST: £25,000,000 or season-long loan.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Arsenal, Liverpool at a push
At any other club David Villa’s return to fitness after suffering a broken leg last year would be cause for wild celebrations, but the response from Barcelona fans has been predictably muted.
At 31 years-old the Spain international is still a superb striker, but suffers from being at perhaps the only club in the world whose system doesn't incorporate an out-and-out front man.
And why should it? Lionel Messi scored 91 goals last year – only two fewer than Man City on their way to winning the Premier League title – and at 25 years-old the Atomic Flea is likely to get even better. It’s fair to say chances are limited for strikers at the Camp Nou; even strikers of Villa’s quality.
So where next for a player who scored 108 goals in 166 games for former club Valencia? Well, one option could be a loan move to the Premiership, with Arsenal a likely destination.
Arsene Wenger is, for the first time in his career, under real pressure from a cross section of Gunners fans who after eight years without a trophy are openly questioning the club’s policy of thriftiness in the transfer market.
And with compatriot Santi Cazorla already well established at the Emirates, the time might be right for Villa to think about a fresh start. Where better than in London?
POSITION: DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City
Fearless in the tackle, built like a Sherman tank, and possessing the stamina of a racehorse. That just about sums up Celtic’s Victor Wanayama, but there's much more to the youngster's game than pace and power: he's technically gifted too.
The Kenyan international sprang to the attention of the wider world with some scintillating performances in the Champion’s League late last year, most notably his towering header against Barcelona that helped the Bhoys beat mighty Barcelona 2-1 at Parkhead.
Raw he may be, but at 21 years-old Wanayama has the potential to play at the highest level, providing the right team with the right kind of manager are prepared to spend the time and effort required to polish his admittedly rough edges.
Wanayama’s biggest issue at the moment is his over-exuberance, exemplified by a couple of wince-inducing tackles last season. His two-footed lunge on Rangers’ Steven Whittaker during one of the Old Firm derbies serves as a perfect example of how his enthusiasm can get the better of him. The resultant red card arguably cost Celtic the game.
But for around £10m you’d be getting a player with experience in Europe, his best years ahead of him, and the kind of bravery you can’t teach. With a host of Premiership sides lacking bite in midfield, Celtic may choose to cash in on Wanayama while his stock is high.
And given Michael Carrick's continued fecklessness, expect Man Utd to come calling first.