The transfer window activity had been quite up to this point and the sacking of Sam Allardyce had been the big story. However, with the Anelka move to Chelsea that should kick off some action.
Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko has revealed he is close to securing a move to Italian giants Juventus. The Malian has fallen out of favour at Anfield and his reported £10m departure could enable the Reds to secure the permanent signing of Javier Mascherano.
Speaking of Liverpool, they have completed the £6.5million signing of Martin Skrtel from Zenit St Petersburg. The Slovakian international has penned a 4 1/2 year deal at Anfield after passing a medical and agreeing personal terms. The 23-year-old will provide much-needed competition for places in Liverpool’s defence and Reds boss Rafa Benitez has likened him to Jamie Carragher.
“I think he is a player maybe not many people know about but he played against Everton for Zenit St Petersberg, and he is a centre-half that knows the English style,” said Benitez. “He is aggressive, quick, is good in the air and I think he’s a very good player for the future and also for the present.
Skrtel has 22 international caps and helped Zenit to their first post-Soviet era league title this past season.
Arsenal’s disgruntled number two keeper Jens Lehmann has agreed terms with Borussia Dortmund. However, the deal is unlikely to be wrapped up for several days as the 38-year-old German international has other issues to resolve regarding a move. Dortmund spokesman Joseph Schneck said they had agreed terms but added it was “too early to confirm that he’ll come”.
“I have not agreed a move to BVB and at the moment it doesn’t look like I will,” Lehmann told Kicker. “If I can get my private matters satisfactorily resolved then I could come, otherwise I won’t. If I come to Dortmund then it would only be for six months. I want to have complete freedom to decide what I do next in the summer.” Lehmann enjoyed a three-year spell with Dortmund where he made 129 appearances before joining Arsenal in 2003.
Manuel Fernandes is set to rejoin Everton on loan for the rest of the season. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Goodison Park from Benfica, but left to join Spanish side Valencia in August. This week also saw Everton reject a £2.5m bid from Birmingham for striker James McFadden and manager Alex McLeish was unsure if he would push forward with another bid for McFadden, who was one of the stars of Scotland’s Euro 2008 qualifying campaign when McLeish was the manager of Scotland.
Finally, Derby County has been one of the busier clubs in January. In the past week they’ve shored up deals for Laurent Robert and Robbie Savage while bringing in Egyptian international midfielder Hossam Ghaly on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season. Manager Paul Jewell feels the likes of Savage, Ghaly, Robert – and a fourth new signing Argentine striker Emanuel Villa – will make a big difference to the club.
Derby have also signed former England defender Danny Mills on a loan deal from Manchester City. The 30-year-old right-back will stay with the Premier League’s bottom club until the end of the season.
The trouble I see is that three of the players Derby are bringing in have had well publicized run-ins with mangers in the past. Robert had a public falling out with both Bobby Robson and Graeme Souness during his time at Newcastle, Savage had a famous spat with Wales manager John Toshack and Ghaly has not played for Spurs since throwing his shirt at former coach Martin Jol in May 2007. Savage has revealed he rejected a move to Sunderland and took a pay cut to complete a £1.5m move from Blackburn to Derby County.
All I can estimate is that Jewell either must have a voracious appetite for antacids or that the mere challenge of getting Derby out of the relegation zone (currently on 7 points for the season and 11 from safety) wasn’t daunting enough. Shine on you crazy diamond, shine on.