For football fans, January is not only looked forward to as the start of a new year but also signals the onset of the winter transfer window – the soap opera of football. All leagues around the world have this one-month window of opportunity to strategically maneuver and secure the missing pieces for their ambitions.
However, this year’s transfer window hasn’t been as savory as football fans would have hoped. The obvious reason for so few clubs being prepared to spend is that many are walking an FFP tightrope.
While the footballing world is more familiar with high-profile transfer names, such as Kalvin Phillips to West Ham or Timo Werner’s loan to Tottenham, there are several names that have gone quietly under the radar. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad):
The moment Takefusa Kubo started to get referred to as the ‘Japanese Messi,’ we gained insight into his potential.
The Real Sociedad winger has had an influential spell with the Spanish club, becoming their second-highest scorer this season. The 22-year-old has been in good form, scoring six goals and providing four assists in 25 appearances across all competitions.
His versatility and quick feet were bound to grab attention from footballing giants, and so it did, starting with the Saudi giants.
Reportedly, Al-Nassr has shown interest in signing Kubo in the summer transfer window. Kubo has a contract with the La Liga club, binding him until 2027.
However, Al-Nassr is willing to pay €60 million to trigger his release clause and has proposed a contract deal worth of €40 million in wages.
But before the clubs could get to the talking stage, the former Real Madrid man himself has cooled down the discussions. It was reported that Kubo has blatantly rejected their offer to join the Saudi club.
It’s not always easy to resist the money temptation, but kudos to the winger for staying true to his club and following his dream to excel in Europe. Interestingly, Kubo also took a similar step last summer when he rejected a €40 million per year for four years contract offer from another Saudi side, Al-Hilal.
The decision made by Kubo becomes even more sensible when considering his age and potential and especially given Saudi Arabia’s notorious reputation as the ‘retirement house.’
Furthermore, it holds greater significance when he knows that European giants like Real Madrid and PSG are closely monitoring his progress.
Arthur Vermeeren (Royal Antwerp):
Atletico Madrid has always carried the reputation of being the most frugal among La Liga clubs, known for its low-budget yet impactful transfers. However, this time, Atletico Madrid is surprisingly ready to break the bank for an 18-year-old.
Arthur Vermeeren caught attention in Antwerp’s match against Barcelona in the group stages of the Champions League. The 18-year-old has been linked with several top clubs across Europe since then, including Arsenal, Manchester United, and Barcelona.
Amidst this, Vermeeren previously indicated that he would only move to a club where “the puzzle must fit together,” and apparently, that place is Atletico Madrid under Simeone.
Fabrizio Romano reported that Antwerp’s star wonderkid is on the verge of a move to Atletico Madrid.
After Antwerp rejected an initial deal of €15 million last week, Atletico and Antwerp have finally closed the deal at €22 million, plus bonuses that will total up to €25 million.
Despite his young age, Vermeeren is a leader at Antwerp, with 66 appearances, 3 goals, and 8 assists for the first team. He has also played 2 matches for the Belgian national team. It will be interesting to see what he can bring to the Atleti table.
The negotiations are at the final stage, with last-minute details to be sorted out. Apparently, the Spanish club has already prepared the document that just needs the final signature from Antwerp, and the player before we can say- ‘HERE WE GO.’
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
USMNT international Gio Reyna’s contract with Borussia Dortmund is set to expire in June 2025. However, the versatile attacker is looking to terminate his spell early as he signed with super agent Jorge Mendes in December, just before the transfer window opened.
Gio Reyna has had links to numerous La Liga clubs, including Real Sociedad, Sevilla, and Atletico Madrid but the USMNT forward is now poised to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the Premier League side, Nottingham Forest.
Talks are underway between Nottingham Forest and Borussia Dortmund for a potential loan deal until the end of the season, with Forest expressing a keen interest in including an option to buy.
Reyna is said to be open to the idea of moving on at an important stage of his career because it is vital for him to get game time under his belt if his full potential is to be unlocked. The final details are yet to be sorted out before confirmation.
Considered to be a rising star, Gio’s career has been stalled due to frequent injury issues. This season, he has only played 320 minutes for his German club in 13 appearances, starting in only 2 matches. His international ventures are not positive either, owing to his fallout with USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.
With the 2024 Copa America and the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, Reyna could benefit from a change in environment. Joining Nottingham Forest would not only reunite him with familiar faces like Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath but also provide him with the playing time he desperately needs.
Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
With Pavard gone, Bayern Munich has been on the lookout for a quality fullback for quite some time now. Amidst this, Kieran Trippier is one of several players Bayern is considering, as manager Thomas Tuchel remains keen on signing a right-back this month after missing out on Manchester City defender Kyle Walker last summer.
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe would be reluctant to lose the 33-year-old defender, who has been a key part of a transformative spell for the club. However, Tuchel has been equally adamant.
Bayern has contacted the Magpies for a loan spell for the former Tottenham player. After rejecting the deal without a second thought, Bayern has presented yet another offer. This time, it is a significant one pertaining to a permanent transfer, amounting to €15m.
However, Newcastle has put its foot down. The Sporting Director ,Dan Ashworth has made it clear that Trippier is not for sale at any price this month. Despite the Englishman’s reported interest in joining the German club, Newcastle has rejected Bayern’s newest offer as well. The 35-year old still has 18 months of his contract left for the Premier League side.
Recent updates suggest that the talks are now completely off between the clubs. It remains to be seen if Bayern reinstates the talks or rather focuses on their pursuit of the Paris Saint-Germain right-back, Nordi Mukiele.
Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United)
Newcastle has made its stance clear on Trippier, but it’s not unknown that they have faced financial difficulties in recent times. The Magpies have posted an eye-watering losses of £73.4 million ($93.6m) for the last tax year.
Amidst this, they are aiming to free up their wage bill as they strive to create room to invest in new players while remaining within the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR). And the first player to fall victim is looking to be their veteran Paraguayan midfielder – Miguel Almiron.
Meanwhile, talks have emerged connecting Miguel Almiron with interest from the Saudi Pro League’s Al-Shabab. Newcastle has reportedly valued the player at £30m, and if the Riyadh club comes up with the valuation for the player, the Saudi owners will be considering letting the player go.
According to Ben Jacobs, the two parties are in negotiations with Al-Shabab and have reached a ‘verbal agreement’ to sell Almirón. Although there is no deal in place with the player’s side as of yet, Almirón is said to be willing to make the switch to the mid-table Saudi club. The final details of the agreement are yet to be revealed.
Additionally, Atlanta has also inserted a 20-25% sell-on clause into the sale of the MLS league-record outbound transfer (£20.7 million) in the January 2019 deal. Should the Saudi club meet Almiron’s demands, Atlanta could see an additional £6m-£7.5m land in the bank.
It must be noted that this deal wont arise any conflict of interest because Al-Shabab is one of the Saudi Pro League sides not owned by Newcastle’s majority shareholders, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
But will Eddie Howe give his green signal to this deal? With a slender squad debilitated by injuries, losing the attacking midfielder would be a massive blow for him. But given the fact that Newcastle are after Benjamin Sesko for a reported £43 million deal, the financial aspect does make sense.