The longest month of the year has been and gone, along with one of the most nerve wracking and increasingly pointless times in the football calendar. The January Transfer Window has been on a slippery slope for the last few seasons.
Its original purpose was to stop clubs being able to transfer players at any time in the season, which was totally necessary. But now that clubs have cottoned on to the fact players are more expensive, sold to avoid being offered new contracts or bought in an emergency, it’s turning into a bit of a damp squib.
This January, West Ham’s biggest signing came on the very first day of the window opening and it was no surprise. Samir Nasri signed for no fee as he was without a club following a doping ban following a breach of World Anti-Doping Agency rules.
Pellegrini offered the midfielder the opportunity to train with his West Ham squad before the start of the season and subsequently offered him a contract until the end of the 18/19 season. So far, Nasri hasn’t done his chances of a contract extension much harm. He slotted in really nicely and he looked part of the squad immediately. It goes to show what advantage training ahead of signing was for him.
The Hammers also signed Portuguese youngster Mesaque Dju on a free transfer from Benfica. The 19-year-old forward has been scouted by the Academy for some time and has been offered a three-and-a-half-year contract. He has scored 14 goals for Portugal in 51 appearances at various levels of youth football, winning both the U19 and U17 European Championships along the way.
As most young players do, he has an impressive highlights reel full of nice touches, good control of the ball and an eye for goal – so hopefully he can learn more about the Premier League with the Hammers’ youth setup and progress to first team football within his contract.
Deadline Day television marathons have become a habit whether fans are expecting their club to make any last minute purchases or not. This year we were teased with the potential loan signing of Michy Batshuayi. The Chelsea striker’s story dominated the last few hours of Sky’s deadline coverage with reports of high demands made by a striker who has had little opportunity to shine in the league.
He’s got potential to be a top striker – at most of his clubs he’s had a really good appearance to goal ratio. He wouldn’t have been a bad loan signing but too much of a risk at inflated wages and there’s nothing to say he would have been given regular football.
Pellegrini denied that Batshuayi was a serious target for him during this window given that no players were sold. In the same breath he revealed that Gary Medel had been a target given his versatility, but he later found out he wasn’t available for no fee.
Outgoings were kept to a minimum in this period, which is generally positive. West Ham loaned out three players; Moses Makasi headed back to Stevenage, Reece Oxford went out to Augsburg and Vashon Neufville was loaned to Newport County. The biggest story of January for West Ham was the future of Marko Arnautovic. That big wave to the fans against Arsenal was a sure goodbye. He was supposedly on the way to make his millions in the Chinese Super League for £35million, but that move did not transpire.
Arnie eventually made an emotional plea to Hammers fans via his Instagram account to say that he was staying at West Ham. My take on the situation is that the “goodbye wave” was genuine – he thought he was going to get his move but he honestly wanted to say goodbye and thanks to fans who have really appreciated him since he signed in July 2017.
I do think he was tempted by the money on the table and I’m not in the slightest bit surprised. We know his temperament, we can’t expect anything else when he becomes slightly discontented with his form. Given injury woes, he’s been a little patchy this season.
It goes without saying that there was plenty of complaining being done by West Ham fans about the lack of action for us in the Transfer Window and on Deadline Day. But this window is for emergencies, not for overspending.
I’m much happier to have brought in a couple players for no fee than to have panic-bought someone who may not make enough of a difference to our season. Manual Pellegrini seems to echo those sentiments saying he is “not fazed” by the lack of action.
This sentiment seems to have been reflected across the Premier League, with spending down from £430 million in January 2018 to just £180 million in this window.