Here’s a rundown of some of the big talking points from the January transfer window so far…
Alexis Sanchez’s move away from Arsenal looking increasingly likely
The Arsenal hierarchy are resigned to losing Sanchez in January. The Chilean is keen to move to Manchester City, although Manchester United may swoop in as they did for Romelu Lukaku last summer. Phil Neville said it would be an “absolutely unbelievable signing”, likening the deal to the surprise arrivals of Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and Robin Van Persie.
In 1993, Roy Keane made a verbal agreement with Kenny Dalglish to sign for Blackburn Rovers. The Irishman had a change of heart though, and accepted Manchester United’s £350k-a-year offer in a £3.75m deal from Nottingham Forest. When Keane broke the news to Dalglish, the Scot was not too pleased:
“I told Kenny ‘I’m going to Cyprus with me mates, and when I come back I’m going to sign for Man United. He was effing and blinding (on the phone), saying ‘you’re a f**king disgrace’. He said, ‘I’m going to find you. I’m going to come to Ayia Napa and find you.’ So, every bar in Ayia Napa, I was looking over my shoulder waiting for Kenny Dalglish to walk in”
It sounds like a less-threatening footballing prequel to Liam Neeson’s Taken. I doubt Pep Guardiola will be quite so aggressive if Sanchez does choose United in this transfer window, although it’s difficult to imagine quite how City would accommodate Sanchez in their set-up anyway. United certainly need him more than City do.
In a season which has allowed the City fans unbridled bragging rights over their neighbours in red, the surprise move would represent a small victory for fans of United.
Coutinho to fill the turquoise boots
On the day that Neymar shook the world with his 222m Euro transfer to PSG, I tipped Coutinho as the man to replace him at Barcelona. This week, he finally completed a deal worth an estimated £142m.
Since then, things have turned out rosy for the Calatan club without the Brazilian – they currently sit top of La Liga, nine points ahead of Athletico Madrid in second. Brazilian 2.0 will offer set-piece specialism and astuteness in possession without the ego. It’s a sound match.
Walcott to Everton
At the time of writing, Theo Walcott is on the cusp of signing for Sam Allardyce’s Everton. Since scoring in the shoot-out in the Community Shield, Walcott has been on the fringes at Arsenal. After the dismal League Cup victory over Norwich, Arsenal legend Ian Wright said Walcott should leave the club to find first-team football elsewhere.
Arsene Wenger is keen to keep hold of Walcott, saying they still have a ‘good relationship’, although a move would surely help his chances of going to the World Cup in Russia this summer. The feeling remains that a move has probably come a couple of years too late – this is his 13th season at Arsenal with only two FA Cups in his trophy cabinet. The dice should have been rolled much sooner.
Virgil Van Dijk already a hero at the Kop
A deal worth £75m raised more than a few eyebrows over a family game of Linkee at Christmas time. Jesus. Jurgen Klopp’s comments made in 2016 have also come back to haunt him. After Manchester United signed Paul Pogba for a record fee, Klopp said:
“If you bring one player in for £100m and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney. The day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore. Other clubs can go out and spend money and collect top players, I want to do it differently. I would do it differently even if I could spend money”
Cue the signing of a 26-year-old centre-back for £75m whose only Champions League appearances came over two and a half years ago for Celtic. The comments were of course made in a different context, although the hypocrisy is there for all to see.
Liverpool have no doubt signed a shrewd operator in a position they desperately needed to fill. Scoring the winner in the Merseyside derby to destroy your rivals’ only hope of silverware is not a bad place to start.
We’re only halfway through this hoopla, but we’re knee-deep in it and the transfers continue to roll on. For the players involved here, especially those backing out of a move to Anfield, word to the wise: don’t try to hide in Cyprus. He will find you…