With only a week left of the January transfer window, this week has seen a flurry of transfers go through as clubs look to add some quality to their squads for the vital second half of the season.
The problem with the January transfer window is that it can often prompt rash decisions from both players and clubs alike. Clubs who are suffering from a few injuries may panic buy to bolster their squad, even if the player they bring in isn’t their first choice, and players, who may not be getting a game or out of contract at the end of the season, may choose to move to the first club that offers them a good deal. Although on the flip-side, clubs can pick up players whose contract is running down for a lot less money.
All this could explain some of the strange transfers that have gone through this week. Below I have gone through, what I believe, to be the good, the bad and the strange, of the last seven days:
Emile Heskey, Wigan to Aston Villa: Heskey has revived his career in the last few years and, while he still rarely troubles the scorers, he is one of the best target men in the Premier League and he will fit in perfectly with the system that Martin O’Neill has created at Aston Villa. He will have to challenge with John Carew for the role as target man but with his contract running down at Wigan and having just turned 31, was determined to have one last shot at a big club.
Mido, Middlesbrough to Wigan: After being something of a wonderkid after joining Ajax at 18, the Egyptian’s career has suffered over the last few years. A number of injuries have halted his progress but his lack of professionalism (e.g. putting on two stone) and hot-headed nature has seen him constantly on the move. Despite all of this, and an apparent desperate last minute attempt to get himself a move back to Tottenham by texting Daniel Levy, Mido, when fit, is a very good player. And by partnering him with his compatriot, Amir Zaki, Wigan boss Steve Bruce may be able to get the best out of him.
Jermaine Pennant, Liverpool to Portsmouth: Like Mido, Jermaine Pennant is another former wonderkid whose career has never hit the heights it promised. After moving to Arsenal at 15, the former Notts County player looked to have the world at his feet. But at Arsenal he found it impossible to break into a first team that was full of world-class players. He moved to Birmingham where he thrived and got himself a move to Liverpool. Despite playing 34 games last season, Pennant once again struggled to become a first team regular and this season has found it hard to get into the squad at all. At Portsmouth he will be re-united with his former Liverpool team-mate Peter Crouch and will be hoping to fire the crosses for the big man to help keep Pompey up.
Marlon King, Wigan to Middlesbrough: Marlon King is one of those players, like John Stead, Nigel Quashie and Rob Earnshaw, who need their own league. One that is better than the Championship but not quite as good as the Premier League. King has shown enough during his time with Hull this season that, when a team is set up in a certain way that suits his game perfectly, he can do a job. But when it’s not, as with his time at Wigan after his £5m move last January from Watford, he can also look hopefully out of his depth. Middlesbrough are having a bad season and Gareth Southgate is hanging onto his job by the skin of his teeth. When your £12m Brazilian isn’t scoring goals for you, I don’t think Marlon King is the answer.
Jimmy Bullard, Fulham to Hull: Firstly, this is a great signing for Hull. Bullard has proven his quality ever since making the step up into the Premier League with Wigan. He has energy, a good passing range, scores the odd goal and is a happy-go-lucky guy who is great for team morale. He was inspirational in keeping Fulham up last season and has again been in great form this season, as Fulham have had a decent first half of the season and have one of the best defensive records in the league. Hull, despite a great start, are falling fast and are starting to look out of their depth. Bullard fell out with Fulham over money and Phil Brown’s team were more than happy to match his wage demands but Bullard is taking a huge gamble on assuming that his new team have enough quality to stay in the division.