Yet again, we have reached the January transfer window. Some people love it, some hate it, but there is no denying that year after year it is the topic of footballing conversation.
Transfers made at this time can make a club or equally make no difference. Each club has its own policy but sometimes the rules can be broken, especially as the 11pm UK deadline approaches on January 31st. Gone are the days when clubs like West Ham have to worry about losing their growing talents all season long.
Effectively the entire season was a shop window, and if a youngster had a good few games they would be instantly linked with a big move. The introduction of the transfer window brought about a different approach to play, and it seems as though if a player is after a move in January they will play their socks off in December. This does mean that the month is a tense one. There is a short period of time during which any player could leave, meaning that in one moment a player can be happily playing for West Ham, and within a few hours they are whisked away for a medical at “a bigger club” (sorry Rob, QPR doesn’t count)
West Ham’s transfer policy under the Davids, Gold and Sullivan, has been quite different to what we have seen before. We have added to the recent trend of contract release clauses, thus attracting the bigger names in the knowledge that they can up and leave if they’ve had enough come January or June. We now know that Mohamed Diame has one, and elsewhere in the league Demba Ba has used his to switch from Newcastle to Chelsea and now even Marouane Fellaini has clubs falling over each other to capitalise from his.
For clubs with limited resources, this can be a blessing in disguise. It means they can take a bit of a gamble, investing highly in a player and if it doesn’t work out for them, they can opt to leave. However, it also highlights the growing issue of player commitment to a club, its staff and the fans. It may be a cynical approach to football, but I firmly believe that football is a money game. There are still a few honest players left, those who will commit to a club and mean it, but if a club comes in with a better offer for someone less committed, it’s human nature to take it.
Some clubs do struggle in January. If you are a “smaller” club with one or two young talents, you’re going to struggle to keep hold of them if a club comes in with good money. There are many bright sparks currently in the UK; Crystal Palace are battling to keep Wilfried Zaha, Blackpool would like to keep hot shot Tom Ince and Neil Warnock has already stated that top scorer Luciano Becchio will not be for sale. Of course, there are always the silly stories that get floated around too. I have to admit that on January 31st, I love watching the rumours being broadcast on Sky Sports News.
Messi is suddenly “spotted” in every cab in London, Kaka is conveniently getting on a plane, and I even remember Ryan Babel once reportedly being in an helicopter bound for Upton Park. We all like to dream, and as soon as the likes of Beckham are mentioned, we get hopes up that there may be some truth. Rumours don’t do anyone any good really and all that matters is who’s gone in and out come February 1st. As for our own signings so far in this window there have been mixed emotions.
The return of Joe Cole was well received, his debut was good and it really feels like he’s home. However the loan signing of Marouane Chamakh was greeted with mixed responses. I’ll be honest, my initial reaction was muted. That was until I heard a statistic that changed my mind.
In the two seasons before Chamakh joined Arsenal, he scored the most headed goals in the top five European leagues. Arsenal didn’t make full use of his abilities – they may have needed the services of a good header of the ball, but they didn’t employ the right style of football. Another signing we have made so far is that of Wellington Paulista on loan from Cruzeiro. It always feels a bit exciting when a Brazilian striker turns up on your books, but the media are undecided as to whether he can make an impact in England.
I’ve seen a few of his goals on YouTube and I have to say he has a fantastic finish, which is never a bad thing. His stats aren’t too bad either.
In three seasons at Cruzeiro he scored an impressive 59 goals in 108 appearances in both league and cup games. He has been described as quick and versatile, but, it remains to be seen whether he can cut in in England and is strong enough for the Premier League. As for our outgoing players, well that remains to be seen. There are plenty of rumours to scare our own fans, but so far in this window Tomkins and Diame have been the only high profile rumours. In the last few years we have done really well to protect our valued players against unnecessary moves. I’m hopeful that this policy will remain in this January window.