When the summer transfer market opens, one cannot help but revel in the aroma of the excitement it produces. Risks are taken and bidding wars erupt as clubs buy and sell, leaving little hints behind to help the fans decipher the direction a club will take over the course of a new season.
By contrast, the winter transfer market has rarely produced excitement simply because brilliance is seldom made available mid-season while risks are not so readily taken for fear of disturbing the flow. Instead, it is a period dedicated to purchasing the band-aid required to temporarily fix a wound that wasn’t addressed over the summer.
Transfers made in January are usually done to repair a squad that has either suffered heavily due to injuries or has experienced a weakness in a certain department, and listed below are the details of potential moves in Serie A.
Those quick vertical accelerations, that efficiency in front of goal, Fernando Torres was once a beast of a player both mentally and physically. Yet, it quickly became apparent that Milan were not in possession of the greatness that was Torres, but a poor replica who was both static and forgettable.
Managing only one goal in 10 appearances, Milan needed a leader to guide them forward but instead found a player who couldn’t so much as muster a single shot in the derby against Inter – incidentally the last game he played and will ever play in the Rossoneri colours.
The club’s management continue to insist that the player tried his hardest, training strenuously in order to turn his and his club’s fortunes around but in the end, a return to Torres’ boyhood club is a solution that suits everyone. Perhaps there he can recapture the form that catapulted him to fame.
Estimated Value: Loan deal
Destination club: Atletico Madrid
Neither current coach Andrea Stramaccioni nor Francesco Guidolin before him were left satisfied with the effort shown by the player in training yet despite his flaws, Muriel boasts enough raw talent to ensure he’s coveted by some of the best sides in Europe including both Liverpool and Fiorentina.
Boasting memetic turn of pace, genuine strength and power, Muriel has been likened to Ronaldo and has courted Italy’s attention ever since he made the €1.5 transfer from Deportivo Cali to Serie A. Hailed for his confidence on his field and his ability to break past strong Italian defences, his only weakness is the lack of professionalism shown, including his past inability to maintain an athlete’s physique.
Speaking to Colombian papers, the forward admitted he was tracked by several clubs but is close to joining Sampdoria as they have shown ‘genuine interest’. The player is likely to join the club on loan with the transfer being made permanent in the summer.
Estimated value: €15m
Clubs interested: Liverpool, Southampton, Fiorentina, Sampdoria
Looked at as the villain in a team compromised of technical beauty, Norberto Neto experienced a disturbing start to his Serie A career, making the type of errors witnessed only at amateur levels. Yet the manner in which the goalkeeper has developed and progressed has been nothing short of remarkable, pulling off the kind of saves that has bewildered even the most skeptical among us.
The goalkeeper’s strength of character coupled with the faith shown by coach Vincenzo Montella and the club as a whole helped him to progress, pulling off what newspapers described as ‘miraculous saves’ against the likes of Udinese in the Coppa Italia.
For this reason, no-one in Fiorentina and Tuscany as a whole can understand why the ‘ungrateful’ Neto is so reluctant to renew his contract with the club that believed in him, potentially forcing them to make a quick sale now to rescue a small sum of cash.
Estimated value: €4m
Clubs interested: Roma, Juventus, Liverpool
Pazzini has only made seven appearances for Milan this season and not a single one as a starter. The player is clearly disappointed at the lack of playing time yet despite the interest shown in the player by other clubs, Milan are not yet ready to let go of the forward.
One can understand why as Pazzini is renowned for his tactical intelligence and ambitious style of play. He may not possess the skill of others but he’s generous in his approach and a team player — one who sacrifices for the unit when managed properly.
Having reportedly rejected two offers already, many believe it’s only a matter of time before the right offer is made to force Milan into giving up the forward who would excel in a happier environment. The Rossoneri have already secured the signing of Alessio Cerci and are bound to bring in another attacking player and as such, financial sacrifices have to be made.
Estimated value: €4m
Clubs interested: Parma, Burnley, Sampdoria
Combining technique with physical strength, Stefano Okaka is the player that has captured the attention of several clubs, earning himself a call up to the Italian National Team.
The 25-year-old was once the youngest Italian ever to play in Europe but after a sensational start to his footballing career, his development stagnated, showing his brilliance only on occasion. Capable of so much yet frustratingly inconsistent, current coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has provoked the right reaction from the forward who has impressed even his critics this season despite only managing three goals in 17 appearances.
Concentrated on the task at hand, the striker has matured and works tirelessly for his club while his generous style of play and never say die attitude has earned him plaudits.
His reluctance to commit to Sampdoria and renew his contract makes him a target for clubs looking to bolster their attack.
Estimated value: €15m
Clubs interested: Milan
The left footed young forward with a penchant for the outrageous has been in excellent form for Sampdoria this season, benefitting from the motivating ways of coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Once upon a time looked at as an enigmatic player who may never realise his potential, Gabbiadini has developed rapidly this season to earn plaudits. His past experiences with various clubs have helped the forward to mature and develop an ice cold approach to the game and as such few are able to rattle the player who knows how to impact the biggest of games and rise above the pressure imposed.
Not only is he athletic with a strong physique but he technically gifted and able to perform rather sensational sequences of play. Possessing good control and footballing intelligence, he has already scored nine goals in 15 appearances this season, helping guide Sampdoria up the table.
Estimated Value: €13m
Destination club: Napoli
Striving to stay true to the Financial Fair play rules, Inter’s Roberto Mancini said that the club ‘might have to sacrifice big players to reach other targets’. It’s assumed Fredy Guarin is that big player for two simple reasons. The first is that he no longer enjoys the support of the Inter fans and the other is that he’s managed to retain his value, meaning his sale would help the club invest in new arrivals, namely Ignacio Camacho.
The Colombian has been described as incredible by his current coach and is one of the few stars Inter still possess in the squad. A midfielder who loves nothing more than to make timely insertions going forward, he excels when offered the freedom to express his talent.
Physically strong, his shots are powerful and his stamina impressive and Guarin would help improve most midfields. The only problem is that while clubs have registered a passing interest, few seem determined to take him away from the Nerazzurri.
Estimated value: €12m
Clubs interested: Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspurs
Once highly regarded, Ilicic failed to live up to his potential at Fiorentina, demonstrating his talent only in fits and bursts yet his coach, Vincenzo Montella kept his faith in him. However, the deterioration of the relationship between the player and the club’s fans coupled with the Slovenian’s inability to prove his naysayers wrong has seemingly resulted in Fiorentina’s desire to sell.
The attacking midfielder boasts suitors for his talent is undeniable. Not only is he technically gifted but tactically intelligent too. The problem is he needs a coach who believes in him and like Montella himself admitted, one who can offer him consistency.
He is somewhat fragile and requires attention but if entrusted, Ilicic has the talent to impress. Versatile and elegant, he can play in any attacking position and whomever he joins is bound to enjoy watching the player’s wizardly touches.
Estimated value: €8m
Clubs interested: Leeds United, Torino, Aston Villa, Everton, Sampdoria
So many clubs are looking to the Colombian in their quest to bolster their attacking line and few forwards seems as interesting as Napoli’s Duvan Zapata.
Boasting an immense physique and blessed with strength and height, Zapata is a powerful striker who is aware of his ability. Lethal in the box, he intimidates opposing defences yet still manages to maintain a certain elegance to his game.
However the player is still very raw and is yet to perfect his technique and tactical ability but he boasts the necessary potential to develop, especially in a league that demands an aggressive forward in hopes of piercing the toughest of defences.
Napoli continue to insist he’s not for sale but if the right offer is made then the player will leave, especially as Manolo Gabbiadini’s arrival may well further hinder his opportunities for the club.
Estimated value: €13m
Clubs interested: Torino, Udinese, Sampdoria, Cagliari
The striker has gone on loan to so many clubs in Italy and beyond and yet hardly any coach has managed to extract what so many claim exists within the player – genuine talent.
Despite having played for the biggest clubs in Italy, Borriello has rarely been offered the consistency he has craved whether it be due to the lack of professionalism shown at times or due to tough competition that he has failed to overcome. Yet he’s consistently described as a big player – one that hasn’t actually played for some time.
Roma seem far from interested in the striker who was once renowned for his athletic physique and aerial ability but a few of the smaller clubs in Italy would love nothing more than to lure the 32-year-old to their club in hopes his experience and desire for continuity will make the difference to their squad.
Estimated Value: €2m
Clubs interested: Cagliari, Parma, Cesena
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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday backed a one year transfer ban against Barcelona in a major blow to the Spanish football giants.
The court said in a statement that it had "dismissed" an appeal made by Barcelona against the ban imposed by FIFA in April for breaching rules on signing players aged under 18.
Barcelona, who are second behind Real Madrid in La Liga, are banned from buying players during the transfer window that opens on January 1 and for the summer transfer period before the 2015-16 season.
That means they cannot sign a player until January 2016. Barcelona were also fined 450,000 Swiss francs (Dhs 1.6 million).
The Spanish federation was also reprimanded by FIFA.
"The panel found in particular that FC Barcelona had breached the rules regarding the protection of minors and the registration of minors attending football academies," said the statement.
"The FIFA decision is confirmed in full and the sanction remains in force."
The CAS panel promised to give the full reasons for its decision as quickly as possible.
FIFA announced the ban in April this year after an investigation into several players aged under 18 who were registered and played for Barcelona between 2009 and 2013.
It found that Barcelona and the Spanish federation were guilty of a "serious" infringement of rules for 10 players.
Barcelona made a first appeal to the FIFA disciplinary committee and the sanction was suspended enabling them to make major signings such as Luis Suarez from Liverpool for 95 million euros ($115 million).
The club spent more than 150 million euros in all before FIFA's appeal committee upheld the ban.
Barcelona then went to the CAS and asked for an emergency procedure so that a decision was announced before the January transfer window opens.
Barcelona are one point behind Real Madrid but have played one game more.
Atletico Madrid in third place are just three points behind.