January Transfer Gossip
Issue 9, Volume 113
By Jack Cao
At midnight on Sunday, January 1, the January transfer window officially opened. Subsequently, the world’s biggest clubs started making moves to boost their squads for the second half of the 2022-23 season. Some stellar signings have already been made, such as Liverpool’s purchase of electric Dutch winger Cody Gakpo for around €45 million and Al Nassr’s free acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo. However, there is still plenty of time left for clubs to make groundbreaking deals that could alter the course of 2023 club competition. Here are the most exciting rumors about who’s going where circulating around the soccer world:
Mykhailo Mudryk to Arsenal
Following the injury of their main striker Gabriel Jesus that will sideline the Brazilian for up to three months, Arsenal are on the hunt for a replacement to spearhead their Premier League title challenge this season—a hunt that has, surprisingly, led them to Ukraine.
According to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, the current leaders of the Premier League are looking toward Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk as a suitable reinforcement for their attack, and have already submitted two separate bids for the 22-year-old. At Shakhtar Donetsk, he has terrorized the left side of the pitch whenever he’s played this season, grabbing 14 goal contributions in the Ukrainian Premier League and scoring three goals for Donetsk in a Champions League group that contained defending champions Real Madrid. However, the problem for Arsenal lies in the ridiculous €100 million price tag that Donetsk has put on their starlet—a risk that is very hard to take, regardless of who the €100 million is paying for.
Enzo Fernández to Chelsea
Having won the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar and being deemed the best young player at that tournament, 21-year-old Enzo Fernández has undoubtedly attracted the attention of Europe’s finest clubs. At the head of this rush are English heavyweights Chelsea, who want to write a new, successful chapter of their long history after having replaced Russian owner Roman Abramovich with American Todd Boehly and sacked coach Thomas Tuchel for the promising Graham Potter. However, the Blues are currently sitting 10th in the Premier League table and are suffering from injuries to many key players, particularly in midfield.
Thus, Enzo Fernández would be a perfect option to solidify and inject quality into that area of weakness. The Argentine midfielder is very comfortable with the ball under pressure, and though he is a defensive player, he has the vision to orchestrate attacks with nice, long passes into the final third. Defensively, Enzo is aggressive, gritty, and a hard tackler—a welcome change for any Chelsea fan who has had to watch the passive and shaky performances of Jorginho recently. That being said, it will be difficult for Chelsea to pry Enzo away from his current club Benfica at this moment in time due to his €120 million release clause, which the Blues cannot afford lest they risk breaching financial fairness regulations.
Pedro Porro to Tottenham Hotspur
Just like Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur are also suffering from inconsistency. However, in their case, defending has been the main concern as they have conceded at least two goals in every Premier League game they have played since late October. So, it was no surprise when European tabloids revealed that Spurs were sniffing around Sporting Lisbon’s Pedro Porro as a replacement for the below-average performances of Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty.
A 23-year-old Spanish international, Porro would suit the system of Spurs coach Antonio Conte perfectly as he could be deployed as a right wingback who could run up and down the right side of the pitch relentlessly to support his team’s attack and defense. Along with his pace, Porro is also a great passer with both feet and an excellent playmaker, as evidenced by his average of six big chances created per match, according to Sofascore. Defensively, Porro is as good a tackler as any other defender, and his pace allows him to track down any tricky wingers. As confirmed by Romano, Sporting Lisbon will be hesitant to let this type of quality go in January, which may well mean that Spurs will be forced to pay up the full €45 million release clause in Porro’s contract or wait until the season ends.
Illan Meslier to Bayern Munich
After captain and storied goalkeeper Manuel Neuer suffered a season-ending injury while on vacation, German juggernauts Bayern Munich began scouting for another shot-stopper for the rest of the campaign. The Bavarian boardroom was originally between two options: signing the experienced Yann Sommer from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach or recalling Alexander Nübel from his loan in France at AS Monaco. However, negotiations between Bayern and Mönchengladbach for Sommer are currently very tense and complicated. In addition, AS Monaco is very hesitant to let the promising Nübel go back to his parent club, especially considering that his loan deal of two seasons has not run its course. That said, Bayern are not out of choices, as they discovered a possible alternative in Leeds United’s shot-stopper Illan Meslier.
At 22 years of age, Meslier holds the record as the youngest goalkeeper in Premier League history to start 50 games. In each of those, he has displayed consistency characteristic of veteran keepers. The 6’6” Frenchman possesses great reflexes and his young age means that he still has a lot of time to develop. He is comfortable in big games, as shown by his man-of-the-match performance against Liverpool this season to help Leeds win and pull themselves out of the relegation zone. However, the issue for Bayern with pursuing this signing is the fact that Meslier still has four more seasons in his contract with Leeds meaning it will be very difficult to pry the keeper out of the English club—particularly when he is one of their key assets. Reports also state that the German team will face heavy competition for Meslier’s signature by English counterparts Chelsea and Newcastle United.
The January transfer window is usually associated with desperate panic deals as clubs around the world try desperately to find short-term solutions to their mid-season problems. However, this window appears to be one to remember as certain big names have already finalized their dream moves with many more to come. The talents mentioned on this list are only the tip of the iceberg as teenage sensations and experienced leaders across the biggest leagues are searching for new endeavors.