No one would’ve guessed the big mover so far this January would be Toronto FC, yet they seem to be the only organization getting anything done. The addition of American star Michael Bradley means big things for a club that finished above only two teams points wise in the MLS last year. However, I’m not convinced the move is healthy for Bradley or American soccer. While having the Center Midfielder back in the MLS will certainly help sell jerseys and build excitement in Toronto, there are aspects that he will miss out on. Before his injury, Bradley was a critical player for Roma, who looks destined for a Champions League birth next year. The amount of games the Italian club would take on would mean Bradley would get time on club soccer’s largest stage. As an athlete, this is a step back for Bradley, who will most likely never get another chance to play at this level. However, the paycheck he will receive might make up for it and it is a great move for Toronto.
Toronto’s other big move is more conducive to both parties. Jermain Defoe has apparently been told by Roy Hodgson that he still has a chance to make England’s national team, and coming to Toronto could be the chance for him to get the playing time he needs. With Walcott’s injury and Sturridge’s injury issues England will be desperate for quality strikers. However, since Defoe hasn’t really played this year we don’t really know if he is in better form than say a Rickie Lambert. The move to the MLS could reignite Defoe’s game much like it has Robbie Keane’s, which means goals for a club that is desperate for them. Last year only bottom dwellers DC United scored less than Toronto, and Defoe should be able to give the club the goals they need to be competitive.
When the sun rose over England it seemed that Shane Long was leaving West Brom, either by loan or a 5 million pound sale. However by the afternoon, Hull manager Steve Bruce denied any such transaction. This wouldn’t be a story if Hull’s front office was a little easier to predict and I’m not completely sold on Steve Bruce’s claim that no such talks have happened. The media did jump the gun, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce has held talks over the Irishman. Long’s work effort and his ability to hold the ball up would make the Tigers a harder club to deal with and could potentially add goals.
January broke with a crash as AC Milan signed Japanese international Honda. Lewandowski also agreed to a deal with Bayern for next years campaign. This should just be the start of the festivities though. Real Madrid has reportedly joined the chase for out of favor Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata. If Los Blancos are serious about their bid, the move makes since for both parties. The addition of Mata would mean that the Bernabeu would take the best attacking midfield title away from Bayern Munich. Mata would also get playing time in Spain surrounded by some of the best players in the world, hopefully securing his place on Spain’s World Cup Squad. Paul Pogba’s stock seems to be rising as well as PSG have joined Chelsea in trying to convince the Frenchmen out of Juventus. It is hard to see Pogba leaving a club he is performing so well at, but the pockets that PSG and Chelsea could be deep enough to tempt.
With all the rumors circling, some of the blockbuster deals have dissolved. Real Madrid resigned Xabi Alonso to a new deal that included a 1.6 million pound bonus. Confusingly, Arsenal seem to have taken their foot off the gas in the search for a big name striker, despite recent injuries to both Giroud and Walcott. The Gunners have been mentioned in a loan deal for Real Madrid striker, Morata, but Wenger may perfer to have his fellow Frenchman Benzema in the line up. Arsenal has been hurt in the past by not making moves early enough, and this could prove true in this window as well. A possible option for Wenger is out of favor PSG striker Lavezzeti who has apparently turned down a transfer move to Inter Milan. PSG seem to be more then willing to unload the Argentinian and would be a crucial asset to many Premier League clubs.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, PSG and Real Madrid all seem poised to do something this January, but for now we have to play the waiting game. Reports say that Moyes is looking to clear his books, a move that Barcelona are interested in. Apparently they see Vidic as viable option for their center back woes, but don’t expect this move till summer. Until then, the Scotsman has been promised cash to go out and spend but with so many leaks its hard to see where Moyes puts his finger first. The other 4 are looking for the edge to put them over the top both domestically and on the Champions League stage. The combination of a lot of money to spend and a lot of big name players looking for a move means this January should get a lot more interesting.