It's a Knockaert

The ramblings of a football obsessive and Game of Thrones nerd.

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The Major Moves This January

Another January transfer window has come and gone, and clubs will now have to make do with what they have until the end of the season. The window started slowly, but really heated up in the last week or so, and some very interesting transfers ended up taking place.

Juan Mata – Chelsea to Manchester United, £37m


Let’s start with the big one. The biggest transfer fee paid this window, and one Premier League club selling in my opinion it’s best player to a rival? When the rumours of this move started, I laughed it off, thinking there was no way Chelsea would sell their best player to United, and no way that Mata would want to move to a club that might not even be in the Champions League next season. But, it really did happen, and Mata is now at Manchester United. How did this happen? Mata had been having a poor season by his standards at Chelsea, no goals and only 2 assists in only 13 league appearances. It was said that he didn’t suit Mourinho’s style of play, and Mourinho seemed to prefer Oscar as his number 10. Mata has already matched his number of assists in the league in his first 2 games for Manchester United, so he already seems rejuvenated by the move. It is questionable where he will actually play for United, as the number 10 role is filled by Wayne Rooney, and he isn’t suited to playing out wide in a 4-4-2, so they will probably change to a 4-2-3-1 and play him on the right wing where he can cut inside. This move will give him a much greater chance of making Spain’s World Cup squad, as they have no shortage of attacking midfielders, and even a slightly below par season could see someone not make it.

Hernanes – Lazio to Inter Milan, £16m


A move that it makes me sad to report, as Hernanes is one of my favourite players and Lazio one of my favourite clubs, so I was willing him not to leave. Hernanes had been linked with a move for several months now, ever since the Confederations Cup, but not once did he ask to leave or hand in a transfer request. Having resisted PSG, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid in the summer, Lazio had been having a terrible season, and Hernanes was far below his usual form, not even making the starting XI some weeks. On January 30, he was filmed breaking down into tears as he took pictures with the Lazio supporters for the last time, which seemed conclusive proof that he was on his way. Finally, on deadline day, his move to Inter was confirmed for £16m. However, I have to question whether he is more likely to win trophies at Inter than Lazio – despite being a traditionally better club, and admittedly having a better season than Lazio, Inter are still quite a way off the Champions League, and not even in Europe this season. Hernanes is 29, but has signed a contract until 2018 at Inter, so he may yet achieve his ambition of winning trophies at Inter, but it would require a big turnaround in Inter’s fortunes.

Diego – Wolfsburg to Atletico Madrid, £1.2m


Another move I didn’t want to happen, Diego is another of my favourite players and Wolfsburg another of my favourite clubs! This move seemed to appear out of nowhere on deadline day, the news broke that he had signed without any warning, and took Wolfsburg fans by surprise. It had seemed likely that Diego would leave at the end of the season when his contract expired, but Atletico decided to sign him now for a minimal £1.2m. He returns now to a club where he had a successful loan in 2011/12, and Wolfsburg have De Bruyne and Max Arnold to take his place, so all in all, this transfer seems to suit everyone. And, should he help Atletico to go on a run in the Champions League, or even win La Liga, is a Brazil recall so out of the question?

Kurt Zouma – St Etienne to Chelsea, £12m


Zouma is considered one of Europe’s best young defenders, and it is Chelsea who have won the race to sign him. He has been loaned back to St Etienne for the remainder of the season, and it will be interesting to see if he forces his way into Chelsea’s first team plans next season. Mourinho, and Chelsea in general, don’t have a great record of giving young players a chance – the likes of De Bruyne, Piazon, Chalobah, McEachran and Lukaku have all been sent on loan after loan, never really being given a chance. However, with Chelsea lacking in quality defenders, I believe Zouma will be given a chance in Chelsea’s first team last season, and should he adapt quickly to the Premier League, Chelsea will have a fantastic defender for the next 15 years.

Nemanja Matic – Benfica to Chelsea, £21m


This move is something of an embarrassment for Chelsea, as Matic is a former Chelsea player but they didn’t give him a real chance in the first team and gave him to Benfica as part of the David Luiz deal, and have now had to shell out £21m to re-sign him. Nevertheless, Matic is considered to be just what Chelsea were lacking, a strong defensive midfielder who also had offensive skills, he will have a big part to play in the title and Champion’s League run-in.

Pablo Osvaldo – Southampton to Juventus, loan


Osvaldo never really got going in the Premier League, scoring just 3 goals in 13 appearances, and after headbutting Jose Fonte in training he was never going to be able to stay at Southampton. His Southampton team mates said they would not welcome him back after his two week suspension by the club, so he moved to Juventus on loan with a view to a £15m permanent move in the summer. He will offer Juve more depth up front, as apart from Tevez and Llorente their other strikers have failed to impress recently. And should he get back in form, he could yet make Italy’s World Cup squad.

Kevin De Bruyne – Chelsea to Wolfsburg, £17m


Despite a great season on loan at Werder Bremen in 2012/13, De Bruyne couldn’t force his way into Chelsea’ star-studded midfield, making just 3 Premier League appearances for them. It was seen as a great coup for Wolfsburg to sign him, and he will certainly give them a great chance of making the Bundesliga’s top four, despite losing their first two games of the second half of the season.

Yohan Cabaye – Newcastle to PSG, £20m


Cabaye has been one of the Premier League’s most underrated players ever since he joined Newcastle, and he will definitely be missed in the North East. He fits the bill for what PSG needed: they needed more depth in central midfield, and Cabaye is home grown, eligible for the Champions League, and can play both deep-lying and more advanced playmaker roles. £20m may seem a lot, but when you consider he is regular in France’s starting eleven, and just entering his peak years, it seems a good investment for PSG.

Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley – Tottenham and Roma to Toronto, £6m and £7m


The MLS has a reputation for only being able to sign over-the-hill players looking for one last pay day, so it was something of a surprise when Toronto managed to sign two international players still playing at a high level – Defoe was still an important member of the Spurs squad, and may have been considered for England’s World Cup squad if not for this move, and Michael Bradley, still only 26 and one of the USA’s best players, was playing for Roma in Serie A, although not a regular starter. These two marquee signings are hoping to revitalise an underachieving MLS team.

Other noteworthy transfers

Lewis Holtby – Spurs to Fulham, loan

Michael Essien – Chelsea to AC Milan, free

Aymen Abdennour – Toulouse to Monaco, loan

Dimitar Berbatov – Fulham to Monaco, loan

Mohamed Salah – Basel to Chelsea, £11m

Konstantinos Mitroglou – Olympiakos to Fulham, £12m

Sergio Canales – Valencia to Real Sociedad, £3.6m

Keisuke Honda – CSKA Moscow to AC Milan, free