January’s football transfer roundup

It was one of the quieter transfer windows but there was still plenty of activity. Even if it didn’t make the headlines, it ticked all the old transfer window boxes.

There was the proverbial merry-go-round, a shock, a legend (sort of) leaving, the return of a prodigal son and the final piece to the jigsaw puzzle – a clean sweep of the clichés.

The merry-go-round was at Chelsea where World Cup star Juan Cuadrado signed from Fiorentina in a deal worth up to £26.8m. Cuadrado said: “I am very happy and thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given. This is a great club and honestly it is like a dream to join the Chelsea family and know that the manager believes in me. I’m happy.”

Cuadrado, 26, signed a five-and-a-half-year deal which saw young Egyptian international Mo Salah move in the opposite direction on loan, with a view to buy.

Generally when a player has a ‘future fee’ option in his loan contract that means he’ll be leaving – think of it as an extended trial – so the youngster’s days at Stamford Bridge seem to be over, in line with Chelsea’s policy of making quick assessments of player suitability, and if deemed surplus to requirements, sold on before they lose too much value.

It is that same principle that has seen Andre Schurrle move to Wolfsburg for around £23m. While the German had impressed in his time in West London, Jose Mourinho felt that it was a hard offer to turn down and balances the books nicely.

The legend that left was Manchester United fan-favourite Darren Fletcher who joined West Brom on a free transfer after a move to West Ham broke down. The midfielder signed a two-and-a-half-year deal having made 342 appearances for the Old Trafford club but then seeing his chances diminish after the appointment of Reds supremo Louis van Gaal.

Fletcher told West Brom’s website: “I’ve spent my career at Manchester United and it’s all I’ve ever known. But I felt it was the right time to move and I’m not sentimental about doing that.”

Wilfried Zaha returned to Crystal Palace for a fee believed to be in the region of £3m after failing to impress under either David Moyes or Louis van Gaal. In a shock move, United signed 21 year-old Bolton Defender Andy Kellet on loan to replace Saidy Janko who went on loan in the opposite direction. It was a strange bit of business with the Old Trafford club seemingly keen to sign a player on loan to play in their U21 team for the rest of the season.

Across the city, Wilfried Bony completed his £25m move to Manchester City from Swansea. The 26 year-old Ivorian, currently at the African Cup of Nations, agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal at the Etihad and will wear the number 14 shirt.

The striker has notched 34 in 70 appearances since moving to England (well, Wales) for £12m two summers ago and was the top scorer in the Premier League for the 2014 calendar year, closely followed by new teammates Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Yaya Touré as well as United’s Wayne Rooney and Chelsea’s Diego Costa. Bony represents the perfect foil for Argentinean Aguero and perhaps the final piece of the puzzle for Man City.

Manuel Pellegrini said: “He is very difficult to mark because he is so strong… He is an intelligent footballer who has skill and power.”

Meanwhile, defender Matija Nastasic has joined Schalke on loan, with a view to buy.

 

TNT Sport Lloyd Wall

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