10 Bold Predictions for Premier League Transfer Deadline Day
The January transfer window comes to a close on Friday evening, with plenty of business expected to happen before then—most of it no doubt in a frantic few hours before the deadline arrives.
With clubs at the top of the league still looking to find that extra asset that might drive them to glory and plenty of relegation-threatened clubs frantically searching for the player (or two, or three, or...) to preserve their Premier League status, there is no end to the possibilities for deadline Friday.
With that in mind, here are 10 big predictions for the day almost every football fan has come to love nearly as much as the action itself.
Arsenal Will Make a Move for a Striker You Have Never Heard Of
It is often folly to predict Arsene Wenger's next move. He is perhaps the most principled and unwavering manager in the Premier League, yet his motives and thought processes are often relatively well masked from the media and, as a result, the wider public.
What is clear, however, is that Wenger wants a new striker to add some depth to his squad—someone to alleviate the pressure on Olivier Giroud, Nicklas Bendtner and Lukas Podolski.
His interest in Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata betrayed his thought process. He wants an ideally young, physical presence whom he can use as a back-up to Giroud, allowing him to use Podolski more out wide and use Bendtner (who is currently injured) far less.
Arsenal could see out the season without adding another striker, but with the title tantalisingly within reach, the temptation to find what might be the missing piece will surely prove too hard to resist. The question, then, is whom they will find.
Morata appears to be out of the question, per Alex Richards of The Daily Mirror, while a return for Chelsea's Demba Ba (on loan) would seem likely to be as difficult as it proved in the summer (if only because of Wenger's recent criticism of Juan Mata's sale to Manchester United).
A target from left field seems likely, then. To make a couple of uneducated guesses: Fabio Quagliarella (Juventus) and Papiss Cisse (Newcastle).
Ravel Morrison Will Be This Year's Last-Minute Transfer Saga
Ravel Morrison's West Ham future became a talking point at the start of the month, but it will be in the final few hours of this window that his status really becomes a topic of discussion.
The Hammers are clearly open to selling perhaps their most talented young player, due in part to the various clauses and stipulations in his contract that could soon see his current £15,000-a-week wages inflated to something far less palatable, per The Telegraph's Matt Law.
In the final hours of the window, when relegation-threatened clubs are panicking and looking for a creative midfielder who might be the difference between them staying up and going down, Morrison's name is going to be one that crops up a lot.
Some club is going to take the bait and engage the Hammers in talks, fighting up to the deadline to sign the ex-Manchester United trainee.
Whether he goes is a different matter. For what it's worth, our money is that he will.
Tom Ince Will Move to the Premier League, Won't Make an Initial Impact
It seems Tom Ince, whose contract at Blackpool expires in the summer, has visited almost every medium- to lower-tier Premier League side in the last few weeks. He's held talks with Stoke and Swansea, per David Anderson of the Daily Mirror, and is also interesting the likes of Everton, Crystal Palace and Monaco.
It seems almost certain Ince will make the move to one of them (Swansea City?) by the time the deadline shuts, but don't expect him to make an immediate impact.
Considering how distracting this process has been, along with the increased quality of Premier League defences, it seems probable it will take Ince at least six months to mentally and physically get in the condition required for the top flight.
Ince could improve a lot of Premier League sides, but he is unlikely to be the player who makes a decisive impact on the remainder of this campaign.
"Overexcited" Fans Will Cause Trouble on TV Somewhere
It's become almost as much of a deadline-day tradition as Harry Redknapp winding down his car window for a quick roadside television chat. Every year, it seems fans turn up and cause havoc behind reporters on live television.
In recent years, we've had Southampton fans engaging in a poorly attended but energetic midnight rave behind an unsuspecting reporter, to pick out just one example. Most journalists have come to expect a certain amount of pulled faces and jokes at their expense whenever the camera's "recording" indicator comes on.
Fear for the reporters sent to these clubs: Stoke, Arsenal and Tottenham. And feel disappointed that Mr. Redknapp will not have such a high-profile role in proceedings this time around.
Yevhen Konoplyanka Will Be Another Who Got Away for Liverpool
On Wednesday, The Times' Tony Barrett (subscription required) reported that Liverpool had made a £15 million bid for Dnipro winger Yevhen Konoplyanka.
Liverpool's recent record with the pursuit of (left-sided) attacking midfielders has not been great. They missed out on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian and Mohamed Salah in recent months, according to the BBC.
As a result, and for almost no other reason than that, we are (not so) boldly predicting that Liverpool will also miss out on Konoplyanka in this window.
Chelsea and Manchester City Will Put Their Money in High-Interest Accounts
Manchester City and Chelsea both have their needs—for City, a defender, per Paul Clennam of Goal.com; for the Blues, a striker, per La Sexta (via Hannah Duncan of Metro)—and have been linked with £30-40 million bids for players over the final few days of the transfer window.
With both squads relatively settled at the minute, however, and any new signing unlikely to be available for Champions League service, we reckon both clubs will keep their money in the bank and wait until the summer to do some big business.
Six months in a high-interest account, and suddenly they'll have a few million extra to throw at a receptive club.
West Ham Will Make Another High-Risk Bet
West Ham's willingness to lose Morrison is somewhat odd considering the club has long shown itself to be happy to gamble big wages on their Premier League survival.
A few years ago it was Robbie Keane, signed on loan at vast expense in an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to avoid relegation.
The loan additions of Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino from Italy already show the Hammers hierarchy are happy to go along those lines once again, and we can see a third highly paid addition on deadline day—whether or not Morrison departs.
Dani Osvaldo Will Be Shipped out by Deadline Day
Currently banned by Southampton after a training ground altercation with defender Jose Fonte, we reckon the Saints will somewhat ruefully accept a loan offer from an Italian club for the controversial striker's services.
With a World Cup place to fight for also, it might be a move that the forward gratefully accepts.
Tony Pulis Will Be so Tired He Will Sit Down for His Next Press Conference
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis has the odd habit of taking all his pre- and post-match briefings with the press while standing up—perhaps to facilitate a quicker exit from a chore for which he appears to have little fondness.
After Friday, however, we exclusively predict that Pulis will be taking his next media conference sitting down, so tired he will be after a day of wheeling and dealing.
The former Stoke City boss has made little secret of his desire to add to the Eagles ranks, but so far there has been no movement. Palace were the biggest movers of the summer transfer deadline day, so it is not implausible that they will be once again this time around.
Sky Sports and Jim White Won't Act Like Deadline Day Is the Biggest Thing Ever
Well, it would be nice if they finally dialled down the hyperbole, wouldn't it?