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Feb 1, 2007

Gazing through the window

Arsenal

In: None
Out: Lauren (Portsmouth, £500,000), Anthony Stokes (Sunderland, £2 million), Alexandre Song (Charlton, loan), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham, £1 million)

After an uncharacteristic spending spree last January, Arsene Wenger has reverted to prudence. Back-to-back wins at Anfield justified his confidence in his youngsters and he was even able to reduce the average age further by disposing of Lauren.

With Robin van Persie injured, and uncertainty as to whether he will return this season, Jeremie Aliadiere's move to Middlesbrough was halted.

Aston Villa

In: John Carew (Lyon, part exchange), Ashley Young (Watford, £9.65 million), Phil Bardsley (Manchester United, loan), Shaun Maloney (Celtic, £1 million)
Out: Milan Baros (Lyon, part exchange), Didier Agathe (released), Eric Djemba-Djemba (Burnley, loan), Peter Whittingham (Cardiff, £350,000), Lee Hendrie (Stoke, loan)

Martin O'Neill's quest to provide Villa with more cutting edge has been costly. Reports that MBNA's APR will increase to fund the inflated fee for Ashley Young may be facetious but it has served to give Randy Lerner more credit with the Villa supporters.

Milan Baros' departure is unlikely to be lamented and John Carew provides a taller option in attack and Shaun Maloney a familiar face from O'Neill's Celtic days.

Signing Phil Bardsley on loan may not bode well for either Aaron Hughes or Mark Delaney and suggests O'Neill's summer shopping may well include a right-back. His Villa side may be in transition, but they are starting to take shape, with both Gavin McCann and Olof Mellberg offered extended deals.

Blackburn Rovers

In: David Dunn (Birmingham City, £2.2 million), Stephen Warnock (Liverpool, undisclosed), Christopher Samba (Hertha Berlin, undisclosed), Bruno Berler (FC Basle, undisclosed)
Out: Lucas Neill (West Ham, £1.5 million), Dominic Matteo (Stoke, free), Jay McEveley (Derby, £600,000)

The return of the prodigal son, in the burly shape of Blackburn supporter David Dunn, provided the month's off-field highlight for Rovers.

In the next few months, however, he could prove the least significant signing: with Andre Ooijer out for the season and Lucas Neill off to buy a bigger wallet at West Ham, there was a need for defensive reinforcements.

Compatriot Brett Emerton proved a ready-made replacement for the rich Australian at right-back, but that, in turn, brought a need to strengthen on the left, where Neill played for much of this season.

Hence the arrivals of Stephen Warnock and Bruno Berler after Mark Hughes decided against the Ukrainian Andriy Nesmachniy.

Bolton Wanderers

In: Lubomir Michalik (Senec, undisclosed), Zoltan Harsanyi (Senec, loan), David Thompson (Portsmouth, nominal fee)
Out: None

A comparatively quiet month for Sam Allardyce. He may have added two Slovakians to his foreign legion but the intent, surely, was to strengthen further. David Dunn's decision to rejoin Blackburn was a blow, and Allardyce lacks alternatives to his first-choice trio in midfield; David Thompson, at a fourth club in 13 months, may only be a reserve.

The Bolton manager has lamented the smaller squads that the European giants possess now, meaning fewer loan signings for enterprising managers such as himself. It is not merely the age of his side that makes him feel nostalgic. At least he can console himself that Tal Ben Haim stayed.

Charlton Athletic

In: Ben Thatcher (Manchester City, £500,000), Madjid Bougherra (Sheffield Wednesday, £2.5 million), Zheng Zhi (Shandong Lenang, loan), Alexandre Song (Arsenal, loan).
Out: Djimi Traore (Portsmouth, £1 million), Stephan Andersen (Brondby, undisclosed), Simon Walton (Cardiff City, loan)

For some, January represented a bar they could pop into. For Charlton, it was a last chance saloon. And yet, in spite of three additions, greatest hope may have been provided by victory at Portsmouth. Presumably when selling Djimi Traore, they inserted a clause stipulating he had to play against them.

More seriously, Alan Pardew's attempts to buy an entire new defence suggest where he felt Charlton's problems lay. He has traded an error-prone left-back - in Traore - for an aggressive one (Thatcher).

Attempts to offload Souleymane Diawara, no stranger to mistakes himself, were foiled, in part by FIFA. Elsewhere, the great personnel exchange between the Valley and Upton Park was halted when Charlton refused West Ham's offer for Hermann Hreidarsson. Darren Bent, another supposed target for former manager Alan Curbishley - among others - remains. He, rather than the three January arrivals, is surely Charlton's likeliest potential saviour.

Chelsea

In: None
Out: Scott Sinclair (Plymouth, loan)

Nobody comes and nobody goes but, to paraphrase an icon who predated Jose Mourinho, quite a lot happened. Chelsea, as is their wont, were linked with all and sundry, and then some other players besides. They bought no one.

They couldn't even muster a swap deal, despite their willingness to exchange Shaun Wright-Phillips for Milan Baros. For Jose Mourinho, the need for another striker and a central defender were obvious, especially when forced to pair a right-back and a midfielder at the heart of his back four. Yet none came.

Micah Richards, at a Wright-Phillipsesque price, was clearly expensive, but Tal Ben Haim, at around £3 million, also appeared to be; there was a time not too long ago when that would have made him too cheap for Chelsea.

Everton

In: Manuel Fernandes (Benfica, loan), Anderson Silva (Montevideo, free)
Out: David Weir (Rangers, free), Simon Davies (Fulham, £2 million)

David Moyes has enjoyed better months. Joey Barton, his principal target to add energy to the midfield, professed his loyalty to Manchester City; Madjid Bougherra, wanted as a younger, more adventurous replacement for the worthy David Weir, ended up at Charlton; and his plans were disrupted further by injuries to Andrew Johnson and James McFadden that suggested his resources might have to be diverted towards a new forward.

Consolation was provided by Manuel Fernandes joining for a second loan stint in the Premiership and Simon Davies' move to Fulham, ending an unsuccessful spell on Merseyside.

Fulham

In: Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution, £1.5 million), Simon Davies (Everton, £2 million), Alexei Smertin (Dynamo Moscow, undisclosed), Vincenzo Montella (Roma, loan),
Out: Luis Boa Morte (West Ham, £4.5 million), Niclas Jensen (released), Gabriel Zakuani (Stoke, loan)

Chris Coleman's expertise in the January transfer market must make him the envy of his counterparts. Vincenzo Montella's high-class finishing means he is already staking a claim to be the pick of the Premiership signings.

Elsewhere, the Fulham manager has used the proceeds from the sale of Luis Boa Morte in an astute rebuilding job. A midfield decimated by injuries has been his major focus.

Simon Davies joins Coleman's Welsh contingent and Clint Dempsey is the latest American addition while Alexei Smertin's Premiership pedigree attracted the attention of several managers. That Coleman got him, then, was something of a coup.

Liverpool

In: Danielle Padelli (Sampdoria, loan, Jordy Brouwer (Ajax, undisclosed), Emiliano Insua (Boca Juniors, loan), Javier Mascherano (West Ham, loan), Alvaro Arbeloa (Deportivo la Coruna, £2.6 million), Francisco Miguel Duran (Malaga, undisclosed)
Out: Stephen Warnock (Blackburn, undisclosed), Salif Diao (Stoke, free)

A month of frustration for Rafael Benitez was eventually alleviated by late arrivals. Transfers are rarely completed quickly at Anfield; in January, they were hardly completed at all until, belatedly, FIFA acceded to their request to sign Javier Mascherano, giving the Argentine a lifeline in England and Benitez a much-desired anchor midfielder (providing, that is, the Premier League allow him to play) and Alvaro Arbelao finally provided an alternative to Steve Finnan at right-back.

He was required because Lucas Neill, a long-term target, to West Ham. Amid claims and counter-claims, two things were apparent: the Hammers would pay the Australian far more than Liverpool and, whatever the reasons, it still represented a surprising snub to Benitez. Perhaps he is better off moulding his own players.

The introduction of an up-and-coming trio may be an attempt to replicate Arsenal's youth policy though it will be instructive if Padelli displaces Jerzy Dudek on the bench.

Meanwhile, Stephen Warnock, a graduate of the Anfield Academy relegated to the status of third-choice left back, left and Salif Diao, the last of Gerard Houllier's disastrous buys in 2002, is finally gone.

Manchester City

In: Djamel Abdoun (Ajaccio, loan), Michael Ball (PSV Eindhoven, undisclosed)
Out: Ben Thatcher (Charlton, £500,000), Claudio Reyna (released)

Stuart Pearce's pruning of his squad has made City's wage bill more acceptable, though he was unable to remove one of the biggest burdens on it; though Blackburn showed some interest, no one was prepared to save City from Danny Mills' sizeable income.

Sylvain Distin remains, though that suggests City may lose him on a Bosman this summer. Pearce's problems do not end there: he could not add to a less-than-prolific attack while the fact the two additions are only short-term signings suggests that investment from the board was not forthcoming.

Manchester United

In: Henrik Larsson (Helsingborgs, loan)
Out: Phil Bardsley (Aston Villa, loan), David Jones (Derby, £1 million), Giuseppe Rossi (Parma, loan), Jonny Evans (Sunderland, loan), Danny Simpson (Sunderland, loan), Lee Martin (Stoke, loan), Adam Eckersley (Barnsley loan)

Sir Alex Ferguson did his most significant piece of business early, securing Henrik Larsson's services on loan before the window even opened.

The intention, however, was that the Swede would not be the sole newcomer. There is no end in sight to the tedious Owen Hargreaves saga and, seemingly, no limit on the amount United are prepared to pay for a player scarcely coveted before the World Cup.

United interest in Gareth Bale, meanwhile, has not yet brought the Southampton teenager to Old Trafford.

The number of departures, mainly on loan to Championship clubs, are an indication of the size of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad but, as David Jones' permanent transfer to Derby shows, the future of the majority of them could lie in the lower leagues.

Middlesbrough

In: Dong Gook Lee (Pohang Steelers, free)
Out: Ugo Ehiogu (Rangers, released), Ray Parlour (released), Massimo Maccarone (Siena)

Gareth Southgate has set about clearing out his contemporaries, along with disposing of Steve McClaren's most expensive buys. Massimo Maccarone has finally left Teesside, but, though there was interest from Italy, their reluctance to pay a fee meant Boro made an £8 million loss on their former record signing.

Shedding Ugo Ehiogu and Ray Parlour means the average age of the squad has been reduced while the South Korean Lee Dong-Goog joins the long list of exotic arrivals at the Riverside.

Newcastle United

In: Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege, loan)
Out: Giuseppe Rossi (Manchester United, end of loan)

Paradoxically, the more Newcastle players were injured, the less seemed to happen for them in the transfer market. Eventually, the American Oguchi Onyewu arrived although the suspicion is that Glenn Roeder wanted at least one more defender and a striker; perhaps West Brom's Curtis Davies was priced out of a move.

A failure to shift Albert Luque, persona non grata at St James' Park and Newcastle's costliest misfit, must be their greatest regret.

It should now be evident that they will never recoup the £10 million Graeme Souness spent on the Spaniard, but Roeder's reluctance to select Luque, despite the lengthiest injury list in the Premiership, means even his wages are wasted. Injuries meant other departures were impossible.

Portsmouth

In: Djimi Traore (Charlton, £1 million), Lauren (Arsenal, £500,000), Arnold Mumbai (Rennes, loan)
Out: Manuel Fernandes (Benfica, end of loan), Dean Kiely (West Bromwich Albion, undisclosed), David Thompson (Bolton, nominal fee)

Harry Redknapp turned Portsmouth's season around with his January signings last year. This time, he has been more restrained, perhaps because their need for newcomers was less pronounced.

A pair of full-backs joined on permanent deals though Lauren, deployed in midfield and at left-back in his first two games, may find himself in unfamiliar positions as long as Glen Johnson is at Fratton Park.

A left-back was a more obvious target, though the choice of Djimi Traore can be queried.

A strange fondness for Charlton defenders prompted an interest in Souleymane Diawara; all the more baffling because, with the majority of Redknapp's side in fine form, there was no need for radical surgery.

Reading

In: Mikkel Andersen (AB Copenhagen, undisclosed), Alan Bennett (Cork City, undisclosed), Greg Halford (Colchester United, undisclosed), Michael Duberry (Stoke City, undisclosed)
Out: None

In keeping with a man who likes to keep out of the limelight, Steve Coppell's dealings were typically low profile.

The nearest he came to the headlines was by handing Michael Duberry a surprise Premiership return, perhaps as cover for the injured Ibrahima Sonko, not that a Stoke centre-back often captures the imagination.

Colchester's versatile and highly-rated Greg Halford was secured while attention was focused on big-money deals elsewhere.

Goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen and defender Alan Bennett may be unknown but so, 18 months ago, was a certain Kevin Doyle.

Sheffield United

In: Matthew Kilgallon (Leeds, £1.75 million), Jon Stead (Sunderland, £750,000), Luton Shelton (Helsingborgs, £1.85 million), Mamadou Seck (Le Havre, free), Ahmed Fathi (Ismaily, £700,000)
Out: Paul Ifill (Crystal Palace, £750,000), Neil Shipperley (Brentford, released), Ade Akinbiyi (Burnley, £750,000), David Unsworth (Wigan, free), Steve Kabba (Watford, £500,000)

As September, October, November and December almost felt like a restraint of trade for an enthusiastic wheeler-dealer like Neil Warnock, it was scarcely surprising that he ranked among the busiest Premiership managers.

Enter five recruits, charged with keeping Sheffield United in the top flight, a task that could be particularly demanding for the three newcomers to English football.

The Blades boss signed an Egyptian and, tongue firmly in cheek, announced his intention to play the pyramid system. More typical was the recruitment of another Championship striker in Jon Stead.

Old habits, it appears, die hard, as the departure lounge at Bramall Lane shows. Three more forwards departed to lower division clubs.

Tottenham Hotspur

In: Ricardo Rocha (Benfica, undisclosed), Ben Alnwick (Sunderland, £900,000), Abel Taarabt (Lens, loan), Oscar Jansson (Karlsund, loan)
Out: Calum Davenport (West Ham, £3 million), Marton Fulop (Sunderland, £500,000), Edgar Davids (Ajax, free), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria, loan), Mark Yeates (Leicester, loan)

No surprise in an eclectic assortment of arrivals at White Hart Lane. Ben Alnwick follows the template for young English signings, Abel Taarabt and Oscar Jansson the fondness for youthful recruits abroad.

In the short term, anyway, the most important is the Portuguese international Ricardo Rocha, especially given Ledley King's continued injury problems. The profit generated by Calum Davenport's move to West Ham helped.

The success of Tom Huddlestone, one of the emerging Englishmen, enabled Edgar Davids' departure.

Gareth Bale, following in the line of earlier talented teenagers, was targeted. That he stays at Southampton means another move may be made in the summer.

Watford

In: Moses Ashikodi (Rangers, nominal), Lee Williamson & Will Hoskins (Rotherham, combined £1 million), Steve Kabba (Sheffield United, £500,000), Gareth Williams (Leicester, undisclosed), Johan Cavalli (Istres, free), Cedric Avenil (Creteil, undisclosed), Douglas Rinaldi (Veranoplis, loan)
Out: Ashley Young (Aston Villa, £9.65 million), Matthew Spring (Luton, £200,000), Toumani Diagouraga (Rotherham, undisclosed).

If he wasn't before, Aidy Boothroyd has spent January preparing for the Championship.

The arrival of three forwards is an indication of how much Watford missed Marlon King, as well as the need to replace Ashley Young. Each of the first quintet should have their best years ahead of them, but Watford hardly faced competition from their Premiership rivals for their signatures.

All should make more of an impact in the Championship while Gareth Williams, a rare passer at Vicarage Road, could even alter their style of football. The latter trio, meanwhile, must rank as the lowest profile arrivals of the entire window.

The good news: Toumani Diagouraga's move comes as relief to commentators and journalists everywhere, except those working at Rotherham.

West Ham

In: Luis Boa Morte (Fulham, £4.5 million), Nigel Quashie (West Brom, £1.5 million), Calum Davenport (£3 million), Lucas Neill (Blackburn, £1.5 million), Kepa Blanco (Sevilla, loan), Matthew Upson (Birmingham, £7.5 million)
Out: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, loan)

Desperation appears the underlying emotion, certainly if the price tags provide a guide. Besides spending over £19 million, West Ham were apparently willing to double that expenditure to secure Darren Bent.

Eggert Magnusson cannot be accused of not backing his manager and Alan Curbishley has appeared willing to replace much of Alan Pardew's team. Besides Nigel Quashie and Luis Boa Morte, both making the midfield more combative, the arrivals of Lucas Neill, Calum Davenport and, eventually, Matthew Upson are signs that Curbishley was eager to replace each component of Pardew's back four.

With no departures save for the unwanted Javier Mascherano and the unused Tyrone Mears, Curbishley has a huge squad now, but whether they will keep West Ham up is another matter.

Wigan Athletic

In: David Unsworth (Sheffield United, free), Caleb Folan (Chesterfield, £500,000), Julius Aghahowa (Shakhtar Donetsk, £2.1 million), Kristofer Haestad (IK Start, loan), Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborgs, loan)
Out: Gary Teale (Derby, £600,000), David Wright (Ipswich, undisclosed), Andy Webster (Rangers, loan, Mike Pollitt (Burnley, loan)

As relegation has appeared an ever greater danger, the profile of Paul Jewell's targets has risen. After the comparatively unknown Scandinavians Kristofer Haestad and Andreas Granqvist slipped in unnoticed, Jewell's attentions switched to two Africans.

The flamboyant forward Julius Aghahowa arrived, but attempts to add Papa Bouba Diop's muscle to the midfield failed.

Gary Teale's transfer to Derby removed yet another member of last season's surprise package while, with greater reliability required at the back, David Unsworth has made an inauspicious start.


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