Home » GOAL’s January dreams: 10 transfers that MUST happen in the winter window

GOAL’s January dreams: 10 transfers that MUST happen in the winter window

10 transfers that MUST happen in the winter window

This is a notoriously tough time of year to do deals but it’s not impossible – and some moves just make so much sense…

The winter window is open. The January sales have begun. But will we see any major deals done over the course of the next month? It is, as every manager likes to constantly remind us, a tough time of the year to sign players, with most clubs reluctant to sell their stars midway through the season.

However, while it’s difficult to do deals, it’s not impossible. With that very much in mind, GOAL is here to pick out 10 transfers that we’d love to see happen this January for a variety of reasons.

Not all of them would be easy to pull off, but some of the suggested signings just make perfect sense. And besides, it costs nothing to dream, so let us know your thoughts, and your own dream January transfers in the comments section below…

Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich to Man Utd)

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is in dire need of a centre-back that he can construct a brand new defence around, while Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel doesn’t appear to have very much faith in Matthijs de Ligt, who has struggled for form and fitness this season.

So, a January move to Old Trafford makes perfect sense, especially when one considers that De Ligt and Ten Hag previously worked together at Ajax, and Bayern could use the money raised to belatedly sign Portuguese defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha from Fulham.

Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe (PSG to Real Madrid)

This has dragged on long enough: It’s time for Kylian Mbappe to bring an end to the most protracted transfer saga in football history by finally moving to Real Madrid.

Paris Saint-Germain would obviously be loath to lose the cornerstone of the Qatari-owned club’s sporting project – particularly midway through the season – but if they don’t do a deal now, they’ll lose the most valuable player in world football for nothing when his contract expires at the end of June.

It’s high time that PSG moved on from Mbappe, who has been essentially holding them to ransom for years now.

Kalvin Phillips

Kalvin Phillips (Man City to Juventus)

England manager Gareth Southgate certainly has his favourites and is willing to continue picking them even if they’re not playing well at club level – or, in some cases, not at all. However, it is difficult to see Kalvin Phillips making the Three Lions squad for Euro 2024 if he spends the remainder of the season sitting on the Manchester City bench.

The midfielder hasn’t started a single Premier League game so far this season, amassing just 89 minutes of game time in total, and is in dire need of a move away from the Etihad. Liverpool are in need of a defensive midfielder, as are Newcastle, but the best solution for City would obviously be to avoid strengthening a rival by sending Phillips overseas.

Juventus looks like the perfect destination, given coach Massimiliano Allegri is short on quality in the middle of the park, with the only possible stumbling block City’s preference for a permanent deal. Phillips is also reportedly reluctant to leave England, but a transfer to Turin could be the making of him – just look at how Fikayo Tomori has excelled in Serie A since moving to AC Milan.

Aaron Ramsdale

Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal to Newcastle)

It’s now been made painfully clear to Aaron Ramsdale that David Raya will remain Mikel Arteta’s No.1 no matter what happens between now and the end of the season. The Spaniard has been worryingly shaky at times, but is still starting nearly every game for Arsenal, with Ramsdale restricted to the odd outing in cup competitions.

With Euro 2024 looming large on the horizon, the Englishman desperately needs game time, and he would get plenty at either Chelsea or Newcastle, both of whom have lost their first-choice shot-stoppers to serious injuries in recent weeks.

It’s hard to see Arsenal allowing Ramsdale to join a London rival, even one that represents zero threat to the Gunners’ hopes of a top-four finish, but the mooted transfer to Tyneside could well happen. The 25-year-old remains a big fan favourite at the Emirates and has repeatedly spoken of his determination to reclaim his starting spot, but he cannot afford to spend any more time warming the bench at Arsenal if he wants to be on England’s summer flight to Germany.

Gio Reyna

Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund to Brentford)

Dortmund is a fantastic place for a young player to hone his craft, which is why Gio Reyna moved there in the first place. However, the American’s career has stalled at Signal Iduna Park.

The versatile attacking midfielder has started just one Bundesliga game this season and saw only 20 minutes of Champions League football, as Borussia Dortmund progressed to the knockout stage by winning this year’s ‘Group of Death’. It’s quite clear, then, that Edin Terzic feels he can do without Reyna, with the BVB boss publicly admitting that the United States international is behind Marco Reus and Julian Brandt in the pecking order for the No.10 role.

Terzic is under pressure at the moment, with Dortmund in a poor run of form domestically, and a change of coach might boost Reyna’s first-team prospects, but it’s not difficult to conclude that he’d be better off leaving during the winter window, at least on loan.

Some Premier League clubs are said to be interested and it would not be a surprise if Brentford were one of them, given their attacking issues right now. The Gtech Community stadium could be the perfect place for Reyna to kickstart his career, as Thomas Frank is an excellent coach with a counter-attacking style of play that could bring the best out of the 21-year-old and his impressive dribbling skills.

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho (Man Utd to Borussia Dortmund)

Right now, Jadon Sancho should be shining for Manchester United and looking forward to lighting up Euro 2024 with England. Instead, he’s rotting away at Old Trafford, having been banished from the first team by manager Erik ten Hag.

At this point, it doesn’t really matter who’s to blame for this sorry situation. Both parties just need to ensure that it’s resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible. If United don’t receive a sizable bid during the winter window for their £73m signing from Borussia Dortmund (and let’s face it, such an offer is only likely to arrive from Saudi Arabia, which is unlikely to appeal to Sancho), they should let him leave on loan. That way, he can get some game time and hopefully prove his worth to prospective buyers.

Dortmund have been playing down talk of a return, primarily for financial reasons, but it would make a lot of sense from a sporting perspective. Sancho ran riot during his previous spell in the Bundesliga and BVB might need to strengthen their attack, given both Reyna and Donyell Malen could leave in January.

Sancho to Dortmund could be a win-win for everyone involved.

Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney (Brentford to Arsenal)

As if anyone needed reminding, Arsenal’s shock loss at home to West Ham on Thursday night underlined that Gabriel Jesus will never be a prolific Premier League goalscorer – which is why Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola allowed the Brazilian to leave the Etihad for the Emirates.

The question is, what is Mikel Arteta going to do about it? The Spaniard is always singing Jesus’ praises, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see Arsenal winning the title without a lethal finisher up front.

Victor Osimhen would obviously be ideal, but the money involved would be astronomical, given the Nigerian No.9 has just signed a contract extension at Napoli that means he’s unlikely to leave the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona until the summer at the earliest.

Brentford would also demand a big fee for Ivan Toney, who is also of interest to Chelsea and Tottenham, but the Bees have publicly admitted that the presently suspended striker could soon be sold.

The England international will be determined to make up for lost time following his illegal gambling ban, as well as force his way back into Southgate’s thinking ahead of the Euros, and boasts the kind of presence, physicality and goal threat that Arsenal are sorely lacking right now.

Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane (Man Utd to Real Madrid)

Given the dreadful quality of the majority of the centre-backs at his disposal, Erik ten Hag’s treatment of Raphael Varane at Manchester United this season has been utterly bizarre. The Frenchman has been welcomed back into the fold in recent weeks, after spending a shocking amount of time on the Old Trafford bench, but he’d definitely be best served by leaving behind the mess in Manchester in the next few weeks.

There’s already been talk of interest from Saudi Pro League clubs, as well as Bayern Munich, which could work out perfectly if the aforementioned De Ligt moves in the opposite direction as part of a player-plus-cash deal. However, Varane should really return to Real Madrid, given Carlo Ancelotti is in dire need of a proven, world-class centre-half, having lost both Eder Militao and David Alaba to serious knee injuries.

Marco Verratti

Marco Verratti (Al-Arabi to Barcelona)

This is a transfer that should have happened years ago. But there’s still time to put things right.

Luis Enrique would have loved Marco Verratti back when he was Barcelona boss, but after taking over at Paris Saint-Germain last summer, he immediately made it very clear that the midfielder was surplus to requirements at Parc des Princes, resulting in a surprise €45m (£39m/$50m) switch to Al-Arabi for the Italy international.

Given the level of investment, the Qatari club wouldn’t allow Verratti to leave for a knockdown fee, while Barcelona remain strapped for cash. However, if Joan Laporta can raise some funds by selling some average players such as Raphinha and Ferran Torres to flush Premier League clubs for decent fees, the Blaugrana president could make amends for the ludicrous decision to sign Oriol Romeu (simply because he was cheap) and belatedly bring in the kind of deep-lying, ball-winning playmaker that struggling coach Xavi so desperately needs.

Dusan Vlahovic

Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus to Chelsea):

Chelsea need a striker and Dusan Vlahovic needs to get as far away from Massimiliano Allegri as possible – so this should be a no-brainer for the Blues, particularly when one considers that they are in possession of a player that the Bianconeri long coveted, Romelu Lukaku, who is presently shining on a season-long loan at Roma.

Of course, the new owners at Stamford Bridge aren’t exactly known for making sensible decisions and it’s worth noting that this is a deal that could have been done last summer, only for Todd Boehly & Co. to decide for once that the price wasn’t right and opt instead to begin the 2023-24 season without a quality No.9. Shockingly, that daring decision has backfired, meaning signing a striker is absolutely imperative if Mauricio Pochettino is to have any hope of avoiding an embarrassing mid-table finish in the Premier League.

Chelsea, after all, do not have a problem creating chances, whereas Vlahovic’s issue is that he doesn’t get any at Juventus. This, then, is a chance to kill two birds with one stone, as the Bianconeri would be more than happy to sell a striker that Allegri doesn’t trust – provided the money is right.