We could well use bolstering all over the pitch but it is the middle where we look most bare to my eyes. Partly due to some bad injury luck (in midfield) and partly due to a lack of transfer activity (in defence). In both midfield and defence, we could badly do with a bit more pace and athleticism and general energy; midfield especially could use some more players who can actually keep hold of the ball. We still lack a top-class striker but Calvert-Lewin is proving his worth more and more and Kean will surely get more time under Ancelotti. I expect them and Richarlison to be our striking options unless a particular juicy offer presents itself.
Brands is not known for liking the January window and those such as Paul the Esk will tell us that we do not have money to spend unless we want to run into Financial Fair Play issues; the sales of Tosun, Niasse etc could help to that end. Anyway, here are some players.
Jean-Clair Todibo — Young defender who has found minutes very hard to come by at Barcelona (sounds familiar?) but was pretty good for Toulouse though he didn't play alot at senior level. He's fast, good on the ball, but very raw. Similar to Holgate in fact and would be as likely to make mistakes as keep things tight. Could be a loan or purchase with buy-back.
Mohammed Salisu — Similar in many respects to Todibo. 6'-3", strong, quick-ish and young left-footed centre-back. Not played a huge amount but has looked very good this season at Valladolid. Not expensive as has a £10M buyout, could prove a bargain.
Armel Bella-Kotchap — This one is even younger at only 18! Has been good when played for Bochum in the Bundesliga 2 but this would be a huge step up. Very raw.
Djene Dakonam — More experienced at 28 and has been very good at Getafe for the last few years. Quick and strong, not the tallest but blessed with a good leap. Plays the ball forward well and would hit the ground running hopefully. Probably in the £25-30M range.
Kalidou Koulibaliy — One of the best defenders in the world. Seems highly unlikely he would come to us but if he did we'd instantly improve as a team. Would cost upwards of £50m.
Presnel Kimpembe- One of many talented young French defenders the PSG man has not played much this season and would surely be looking for more minutes. Perhaps a loan or even a transfer could be on the cards?
Ibrahim Konate — One of the many excellent defenders at Liepzig. Konate has not had many appearances this season though would still likely cost a big whack. Maybe one for the summer; there would no doubt be others interested.
Boubacar Kamara — The talented young Frenchie is a bit like our own (sorely missed) Jean-Philippe Gbamin in that he can play in either midfield or defence. Like Holgate too perhaps. He is fast, reads the game well, and looks comfortable on the ball. He is doing very well at Marseille who are having an excellent season.
Adrien Rabiot — Talented young Frenchman who has been left out at Juventus and would be a big Schneiderlin upgrade. Good passer, good tackler, and more mobile than his compatriot. His wages would be big and he comes with some 'personality baggage' but, if he came either on loan or (unlikely, I think) permanent transfer and Ancelotti got the best of him, he would be a big asset.
Franck Kessie — The young star was a massive breakout at Atlanta but has been woeful since joining Milan. He has energy to burn but has not seemed effective in the last few years. He could be available on loan and could be awesome if re-discovering his form… but that seems a big 'if'.
Piotr Zielinksi — Very classy all-round midfield player coming into his prime. Napoli grabbed him for only £14M a few years back and this is the sort of deal I'd be hoping for from Brands. Now he'd cost upwards of £40m probably but he'd be very useful.
Ibrahim Sangare — A player I wanted all summer. He's not been as good this season for a terrible Toulouse team but still tackles well, passes well, and carries the ball effectively enough. In a better team with a good manager, I think he'd do well.
Denis Zakaria — Very mobile rounded player whose been doing well for an over-achieving Borussia Moenchengladbach team in the Bundesliga. Unlikely to leave or want to leave them currently but certainly a player who should be on the radar.
Emi Buendia — Another player who won't leave now but don't underestimate how good he has been for Norwich this season. One of the few players in the league to make over 50 tackles and also create over 50 chances. Very interesting young player.
Boubakare Soumare — Many teams will be after this talented young Frenchman whose been good at Lille this season. On the radar of some big clubs for good reason as he seems another well-rounded player with athleticism to spare.
Xaver Schlager — A less well-known name but the young Swiss has been decent at Wolfsburg since moving from Salzburg where he was excellent last season. Very quick across the ground and very hard working.
Eduardo Camavinga — One of only two players in France to make more tackles per game than our missed Gana Gueye this season! The youngster (only 17!) is having a breakout season but has been very impressive both with and without the ball. Big clubs lurk but perhaps it would be too early for them to put a big bid in? Maybe a risk worth taking?
Kalvin Phillips — One of the best players in the Championship this season, the 24-year-old combines hard-tackling with very impressive vision. Leeds are unlikely to want to sell him with promotion being chased but again, worth a look at.
Reader Comments (55)
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1 Posted 03/01/2020 at 17:36:43
2 Posted 03/01/2020 at 18:25:17
3 Posted 03/01/2020 at 18:29:27
A slightly unrelated question for you. In the summer you questioned why we weren't in for Haller. After seeing him at West Ham for the past 6 months, would you swap him for DCL?
4 Posted 03/01/2020 at 18:55:53
5 Posted 03/01/2020 at 19:01:08
I think now under Ancelloti Calvert-Lewin's pace and all round game could be more useful.
It will be interesting to see who finishes the season with more goals.
Haller was expensive but at the time we were looking for a focal point who would bring goals. He's been decent in a poor team and certainly made more impact than Kean. So far.
6 Posted 03/01/2020 at 19:39:16
This is a very thought provoking article, and thank you for taking the time to write it up.
Could I ask a question though, do you know the state of the EFC scouting network, Data collection and analysis departments, and if we would still be looking for 16-17 y.o.s for the Academy?
It seems that most clubs now are using metrics regards selecting player recruitment, and I was wondering where EFC stand in relation to the rest of the clubs in the PL.
Cheers again :D
7 Posted 03/01/2020 at 20:04:34
8 Posted 03/01/2020 at 21:20:08
9 Posted 03/01/2020 at 21:37:18
Mina has impressed me this season, he has knuckled down to his defensive role and shows a touch of class. Converting a few more headed chances would be the icingson the cake [starting Sunday!] Holgate impresses me too since he has taken over and similarly shows a touch of class. Keane is backup at the moment. A solid loan deal maybe the way to go for a CB this window, see how Mason progresses these next few months.
Centre Midfield is the more urgent requirement. Siggy and Tom are struggling to an extent, Delph is a little slow and a fraction off the pace mentally, he would improve with a run of games without injury, but that is unlikely.
Is Nzonzi still available ?, I thought he would be on your list, a quality loan would suit us whilst Gomes and Gbamin recover. Zeilinski of Napoli would be an good signing for us in the summer, if we can do some wheeler dealing, get some players out and a player of his calibre in it would be great business.
10 Posted 03/01/2020 at 21:57:17
This is a guy with real character and lots of ability to go with it.
Out club should put plans in place now to make this transfer happen.
I think it is highly unlikely that Villa will sell in January. No amount of money will replace him now and the chance that he will spearhead them to safety.
But come the summer, one of two things will happen.
They get relegated and the scramble for his signature begins. A lower transfer fee is commanded and wage offers therefore become extortionate.
They stay up. Villa can command a much higher fee and also have some influence over his loyalty.
For me, look at the latter. I think they'll stay up. Meanwhile we can have a deal in place that suits this outcome. All other clubs will gamble on Villa going down and being able to poach Hrealish on a lesser fee
11 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:01:04
Plenty of players. Another defender worth considering is Demiral who has struggled for time at Juve. Leicester have apparently bid for him and if they pair him with his countryman Soyuncu they'll have a decent defense sorted for the next few years.
12 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:03:55
Staying with Villa was a big mistake and I can only think they made him an outrageous offer at the time.
Yes, most clubs would love to have him but I am thinking that Villa would now ask the earth for him.
On another note whilst there is no denying what Klopp has done for RS is everyone getting tired the way he keeps slagging off the league for his fixture problems.
The fact that RS went to Dubai for 2 meaningless games as far as the league is concerned and they obviously got paid big for it is of their own doing so he should just shut up about it.
13 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:22:11
14 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:22:11
15 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:31:03
I didn't know that Unsworth was playing a different system to Silva. Explains alot.
16 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:53:25
This assessment and the media suggesting the potential of the big Uzbek, supporting EFC, plus the time to build a solid foundation for the future of the club, suggests that the board may now have a plan.
Let's hope so, and hopefully a good result on Sunday.
17 Posted 03/01/2020 at 23:21:34
18 Posted 03/01/2020 at 23:26:04
19 Posted 04/01/2020 at 00:54:48
20 Posted 04/01/2020 at 01:16:12
Some players seem to get away with generally average performances interspersed with just enough flashes to make them appear extraordinary. David Platt was one who I thought was dismal 95% of the time but the 5% of good stuff seemed to make him a great player in the eyes of many.
21 Posted 04/01/2020 at 01:18:03
22 Posted 04/01/2020 at 04:45:02
23 Posted 04/01/2020 at 05:17:59
The priority for the club in the next two windows unfortunately is to continue the job that Brands began to meet FFP rules - to get wages off the books. Martina, Niasse, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Bolasie, Walcott, Tarashaj, Martina, Sandro, Besic, Garbutt...I am sure there are more that I can't even recall.
Until USM starts sponsoring every at the club to generate commercial income, we will need to be pragmatic. Maybe one or two will come in, but not more at this stage.
24 Posted 04/01/2020 at 08:55:18
25 Posted 04/01/2020 at 09:02:54
Crazy thinking. Mediocre teams do not mean mediocre players.
That lad Van Dijk has looked alright since leaving Southampton! There's a long, long list of excellent players coming from lower teams but here's a few off top of my head: Mane, Henderson, Lallana, Alderweireld, Valencia, Robertson, Maguire, Maddison, Vardy etc
26 Posted 04/01/2020 at 09:21:08
For defence, the options are:
- todibo (classy but v young and right footed. Doesnt give us much balance).
- niakhate of Mainz (big left footed captain)
- pau torres of Villareal (big, classy left footer)
- ndicka of frankfurt (big left footed)
- amir rramani of verona (uncompromising tackler, right footed, having good season)
- rugani and demirel of Juve. Rugani not really developed from a v promising youngster. Demirel, I suspect, is the young player they will build their new defence on. Excellent Turkish player.
All are young but experienced (for context only niakhate and pau torrres are older than Feeney). Pau Torres would cost about £35m and the rest cheaper. Salisu is very good and would be good value - maybe £15m. These are my two favourites.
Ake is good too but Bournemouth won't sell for fear of relegation. Wait till summer when they are relegated.
Midfield is more complex. You've listed some v good players but in a mix of positions.
Also Camavinga is destined for an Elite club next, Zakaria will be playing champs league next season and kalvin phillips is Leeds' best player in their bid for promotion. All out of reach (as are grealish, ndidi, doucoure for various reasons).
Looking at what we have, we seem to need either a box to box player or an upgrade on schneiderlin (although Gbamin is really our upgrade on schneiderlin).
Options for the holding midfielder are:
- sangare (surprised he's not playing in the prem already. Young, good value looks v promising).
- sander berge (koeman nearly signed him. Big, classy and likely to move soon)
- rabiot (would be ace. He's not just a sitting midfielder though, he's approaching box to box)
- lobotka (short playmaker type, Celta Vigo may sell in anticipation of relegation / or even if we offer Tosun, say)
For box to box:
- maksimovic of getafe (stylish and intelligent positionally, good passer)
- Emre can (possibly more gettable than Rabiot)
- bruno guimaraes (excellent midfield prospect from Brazil. May take him time to settle in)
... And at that point I've run out of steam. My point is that the options are narrow but the players are always there. Summer is a better time to buy but January offers a great deal if weve got some dosh to spend on a couple of v good quality players.
27 Posted 04/01/2020 at 09:34:08
Our lads seem well intentioned but don't have a bad bone in their bodies. They need to be sly, like gerrard. They need to manage games better, waste time, use the black arts etc To be able to do this you need to be clever. Our players always seem slightly thick to me and too honest for their own good. Brains not (only) brawn.
28 Posted 04/01/2020 at 16:36:35
29 Posted 04/01/2020 at 16:55:21
There's also the kids at Benfica Gedson Fernandes and Luis Florentino. Like you say it's not the easiest time to get players but still lots around.
30 Posted 04/01/2020 at 17:53:01
In terms of midfield the sorts of players available in summer would also include :
- marc roca of espanyol (like a spanish gareth barry but more mobile) and probably to be relegated
- teun koopmeiners of az alkmaar maar (as above, scores goals too but a bit raw for the prem right now)
- max eggestein of werder bremen, quick energetic and versatile (and also about to be relegated)
- florian grillitsch of hoffenheim, big athletic and versatile
These are all v good quality and gettable I'm summer certainly.
But with a few quid to spend id love to see some real quality reinforcements. Personally Rabiot and Pau Torres would be dreamland - with James Rodriguez on loan (or maybe Calvin Stengs in summer).
31 Posted 04/01/2020 at 18:24:55
I don't see the need to be out there buying at silly prices, let's keep our powder dry and do our strengthening in the summer window when the choice is at its maximum and prices lower.
I can only advice my fellow toffewebers to moderate their expectations for the remainder of the season, we're not going to make the top 4 and there's a reasonable chance the FA cup will be gone this weekend, who wants to be in the Europa? Going into next season fully strengthened and not over burdened will give us the best shot of a CL place.
I'm all for seeing the season out and starting afresh in the summer.
32 Posted 04/01/2020 at 18:36:57
33 Posted 04/01/2020 at 18:57:42
Hopefully via his network he'll have some decent players that can complement and improve this squad.
Go big in the summer unless there's a few killer opportunities to exploit.
Every hour the media links EFC, with a new player, which is the normal this time of year.
Let's hope if we buy, we buy proven quality.
34 Posted 04/01/2020 at 19:43:32
I'll agree with any killer buys, another Gueye (@ £8m) would be marvellous, anything else can wait until summer.
35 Posted 04/01/2020 at 21:51:30
It was an interesting list you put together. I'm a nerd about these things but the lad at Bochum was new to me. I like Buendia. Strange how many norwich players look promising (cantwell, aarons, Godfrey and Buendia) yet they're a bit shit. I'd be happy with all of them - yet no-one at Sheff Utd grabs me even though they're doing great.
36 Posted 04/01/2020 at 22:21:43
Yes, I'm a nerd too. Jude Bellingham at Birmingham is another interesting one. And would have loved Palacios from River.
37 Posted 05/01/2020 at 00:37:04
38 Posted 05/01/2020 at 09:15:26
We certainly need reinforcements in both of those areas, but not sure where we stand in the FFP stakes OR how much Carlo has been allotted for this Window.
At the very least we need a strong midfielder, even if it is on loan, with an option to buy or not. Central Defence certainly needs bolstering as we don't have a rock we can call reliable or consistent at present.
Hopefully between Carlo and Brands they can pull something off.
39 Posted 05/01/2020 at 09:37:18
40 Posted 05/01/2020 at 10:36:21
You'd seriously want Zouma?
He did a job last season, but he'll never be top class.
He proved as much ant goodison this season when run ragged by a team in the relegation mix.
Zouma is the type of player who to some fans looks great. Last ditch sliding tackles, steaming into challenges around the box to put the ball out for throw ins, using his excellent pace to recover.
Distin was very much in this category for me and people loved him. But he couldn't lace the boots of Joleon Lescott, whom he replaced. Lescott was a far superior player.
The better defenders hardly resort to this type of defending. They don't have to. They position well, they sense danger and prevent it from happening. Defending is more skill than it is physicality.
Italian football places great emphasis on real defensive strategy. And I expect Ancelotti to try and bring in players capable of implementing this type of defending.
41 Posted 05/01/2020 at 11:09:35
I'd have Zouma back in a heartbeat at the right price; he has those extraordinary physical capabilities and is good enough to be coached better positioning etc. He's not world class but in this league, when well coached, he's a very good defender. And we are desperate for pace at the back.
42 Posted 05/01/2020 at 11:22:40
43 Posted 05/01/2020 at 11:28:44
44 Posted 05/01/2020 at 18:15:24
45 Posted 05/01/2020 at 19:54:47
46 Posted 05/01/2020 at 21:05:01
47 Posted 05/01/2020 at 23:25:33
My youngest grandson is 1 on Tuesday, and I even despair of him ever seeing us win anything. I've already blighted him by buying him Everton gear he is just growing into.
48 Posted 06/01/2020 at 09:56:27
Aarons Salisu Niakhate Grimaldo
Berge Sangare Rabiot
Chiesa Osimhen Barbosa
49 Posted 06/01/2020 at 11:49:42
Idrissa Gana Gueye is the loss we have not recovered from. In 2019 Gana was irrepressible, some of his performances were tantamount to having two players on the pitch. Put it this way, Gana would have done more work yesterday than Sigg and Schnied combined. Gbamin may have filled the gap, but with his injury we have to rely on Tom to do his best to fill it. Sigg, Schnide and Delph are slow and poorly motivated journeymen, not in the same class as IGG as players or as professionals.
50 Posted 06/01/2020 at 11:58:34
I'd rather scour the leagues below for the next Cahill, the talents that deserve a greater stage and have the hunger to prove themselves.
The next Vardy or Moise Kean? It'll be harder to find the former but the latter is a complete waste of space and money.
52 Posted 06/01/2020 at 20:09:46
I think we should go for Jarrod Bowen, arguably best player in the Championship. Goals from the left hand side, will be a huge improvement on Bernard.
We should then go for Eberechi Eze from QPR. Goodbye Sigurdsson.
Then Kalvin Phillips from Leeds, tchau Schneiderlin.
Ollie Watkins up front too.
53 Posted 06/01/2020 at 20:12:06
Play Gordon on the right, tchau Walcott.
54 Posted 07/01/2020 at 11:12:45
Whoscored (which is far from perfect but has its uses) has John Swift as the best player statistically in the Champiosnhip, closely followed by Eze with Bowen not far behind.
Bowen will almsot certainly get a move to the PL this January i'd think with Newcastle the frontrunners; will be interesting to see how he does but for every Maddison there is a Dwight Gayle or a Scott Hogan, players who excelled at Championship level but never cut it in the PL.
I do think the Champiosnhip is a good source that we under-use. Who was the last first team player that we bought from there? Holgate?
55 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:37:55
56 Posted 09/01/2020 at 08:48:58
We need young, hungry, energetic and skillful players who are used to or can adapt to the competitiveness of the Premier league not some 28/29 year old who has been strolling around in European leagues smoking a cigar !
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