The transfer window has started and I’ll be covering all the moves and rumours over the next couple of weeks. So far, the deals have been largely loan moves of Premier League squad players to Championship sides. Queens Park Rangers have been the busiest, wrapping up loan deals for West Ham’s Hogan Ephraim, Arsenal’s Matthew Connolly, and Manchester United’s Kieran Lee.
The biggest loan move thus far has been Manchester City’s capture of highly touted Mexican international striker Nery Castillo on a year-long deal from Shakhtar Donetsk. Castillo only moved to the Ukraine in the summer in a £15m move from Greek side Olympiacos but he has failed to hold down a starting place. Even though he struggled at Shaktar, Castillo’s reputation was built after he scored four goals to help Mexico reach the semi-finals of the 2007 Copa America and managed 12 goals in 25 games – including three goals in six Champions League matches – in his final season with Olympiacos in Greece.
City have needed help up front since Valeri Bojinov blew out a knee in a match against Manchester United in August. Despite the signing of Castillo, Manchester City have insisted Rolando Bianchi will not be leaving in January to return to Serie A. Bianchi, an £8m summer signing, has failed to hold down a regular place and Darius Vassell, Georgios Samaras and Emile Mpenza have scored only three times between them so City may not be done in the transfer market yet. They’ve been linked with a number of strikers including Nicolas Anelka.
To that end, they handed a trial to Asian player of the year and Saudi Arabia captain Yasser Al Qahtani. The 25-year-old Al Hilal striker helped Saudi Arabia reach the final of the Asian Cup in July and has continually been linked with a move to a European club. He was offered the chance to train with Chelsea when he was crowned Asian player of the year in November. Ultimately, the trial did not work out but it shows City’s desire to find more goals in the second half of the season.
Not everyone is excited about the transfer window. Take for example, Reading’s manager Steve Coppell who said: “I cannot see the logic in a transfer window. It brings on a fire-sale mentality, causes unrest via the media and means clubs buy too many players.”
There is some logic in his statements but you have to wonder if his comments are influenced by the fact that two of his players, full-back Nicky Shorey and midfielder Stephen Hunt, are the subject of many rumours linking them with a move away from Reading.
I’ll be back again a bit later this week with a “Fact or Trash” look at the early days of this January transfer window.