As the month of January continues to pass us by, we are now approaching the end of the much debated January transfer window. All month long, teams have been once buy or sell players as needed for one month in the middle of the season. With no major deals going down so far, despite all the rumors, it’s safe to say that so far it has been pretty mundane.
The transfer season is one of the most exciting times of the year for fans who love juicy rumors that often aren’t true, but it’s also subject of debate by pundits and managers. The debate centers around the timing of the transfer window, with many people questioning why transfers are allowed in the middle of games going on as manager can have a player available one day and not the next.
There is now a new debate forming where people are questioning the necessity of the January transfer window seeing as big name moves rarely happen, mainly because big players are all up cup tied in the Champions League. Therefore, nothing that happens in the January transfer window will really swing the title race. People who argue that are missing the point of the January transfer window.
The January transfer window isn’t for building a title winning team this year, it’s about putting together the pieces so you can win in the future, or putting the finishing touches on what you’ve already built.
If the missing piece to your title winning team is a Gareth Bale or a Thomas Muller, you probably aren’t in the title race to begin with. But if the missing piece in your title winning puzzle is an extra striker or a winger to add for depth, a “minor” signing like that could be exactly what your team needs.
The best example of using the January window to it’s complete effectiveness is what Manchester United did en route to the 2006/07 Premier League title. United hadn’t won the league in three years and were rebuilding. While the team was built around a young Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, they won the league behind three January transfers. In January of 2006 the team signed relatively unknown left back Patrice Evra and center back Nemanja Vidic.
The moves were very low key, especially since United already had top centerbacks and a left back. Evra and Vidic spent their first six months at United rarely playing, but adapting to life in England. The following season United sold a few players and inserted the defenders into the team and they were ready to hit the ground running. They became the backbone of United’s defense for nearly a decade.
The final move came the following January. Amidst a few injuries to their attackers in January of 2007 United completed a three month loan for Swedish striker Henrik Larsson. Larsson only scored three goals for United, but was so monumental in helping United win their first title that United asked the league to give him a winners medal even though he didn’t play in enough games.
All three of those signings were pivotal for United to win the title but all three weren’t really given a second look when they happened. The Vidic and Evra signings were made with their eye on the future while Larsson was brought in to supply depth when the team was dealing with injuries.
Those are the types of January moves that can win you a title and it’s exactly what Arsenal have done when they completed the signing of midfielder Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian midfielder was signed in a £7 million deal that gives the Gunners depth in midfield.
It’s a move that shows Arsenal are serious about Francis Coquelin going forward but more importantly, it can win Arsenal the title. Elneny is a good midfielder who will challenge Coquelin but likely won’t eclipse him as the teams first choice holding midfielder. However, what he will do is provide depth in the midfield, which will allow Arsene Wenger to rest Coquelin from time to time to make sure he doesn’t burn out. The ability to give Coquelin rest, or simply have cover for him in case of injury, will go a very long way for Arsenal to try and win the title.
While fans may not like the fact that no big transfers ever seem to happen in January, that doesn’t take away the necessity of the January transfer window. You may not be getting the big name, but if you use the window properly, it can absolutely still propel you to a title.