January transfer windows usually come in like a lamb and go out like a slightly-active lamb that has a lot of fans really angry at lambs for not being more active.
Convoluted comparisons aside, it seems this January could be a busier window for a number of reasons. For one thing, Arsene Wenger is clearly salivating at a chance to end his championship drought — and maybe his career — on a high note, and has admitted the Gunners should be doing some business.
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But it runs deeper than that. While Steven Naismith and Loic Remy are already being discussed as near surefire movers within the PL, there are two looming thoughts that could literally have every team active in January.
1) Avoiding relegation is as important as ever — With the gobs of money heading for Premier League teams as part of the new TV deals next year, being a part of the mix is critical. In the past, dropping down into the Championship could bring a quick rebound. But, and this is certainly conjecture, teams that stay in the PL have a headstart on building against relegation in future years.
In other words, Aston Villa has never been relegated, but could’ve picked a much better year to finally drop (should Remi Garde not turn it around). And that’s why we could see teams like Villa, Sunderland, and Norwich City invest more than usual.
2) Competition for Europe is also as open as ever — Crystal Palace and Leicester City are in the Premier League’s Top Five, but we could see any number of unfamiliar faces in the Champions League and Europa League given the unpredictable nature of the season. Consider that one of Stoke, Liverpool, Man City and Everton will win the League Cup and qualify for Europe; Any could, on talent, finish in the Top Five as it is, adding another European slot in the table.
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The only surprising things about the buzz so far are the intra-PL transfer rumors. With the competition so fierce, it’s easier to imagine it will be a buyers-buyers league rather than a buyers-sellers market (unless some overachievers think to sell high and guess at already-assured safety).
Consider why January is usually less active than August: Board rooms, management and fans can imagine their club going in any direction come midseason, whereas summer risks don’t come with looming doom four months away.
That’s why we expect more Premier League buys from the continent, or from the Championship. Bright teams beginning to supplement with depth, and lesser squads — like talent-starved Villa and Sunderland — trying hard to find a magic bullet that will gain enough points to make up for their woes.
And while, of course, all this means that January could disappoint for activity again, we’d suggest that this year, more so than traditional windows, things could be very, very interesting.