As we approach the festive season, many people are thinking about decorating their Christmas trees, buying gifts for loved ones and spending time with their families. Football fans, meanwhile, will already be looking ahead to the hective period of festive fixtures, big Boxing Day clashes and the January transfer window.
There are already plenty of teams who look like they need a fair bit of surgery in the upcoming window if they are to reach their aims for the current campaign, and most will already have drawn up their shortlists, identified their targets and started making phone calls. A very select number of clubs have already reached pre-contract agreements with a player and club which means they are sure to arrive in January, and it’s those pre-arranged deals that are the subject of this video.
Last April I made a similar video ahead of the summer transfer window, but just so we’re absolutely clear, these are not rumours or speculation. These are seven already officially confirmed transfers that will take place as soon as we head into the new year. Just before I start, I’ve only done one HITC Sevens Fantasy Football update so far this season which is poor form from me, so a mid-season hats off to Mike Manera who currently tops our not-so-mini-league. Mike’s Pie & Mash United have amassed 880 points so far, putting him in the top 2,000 in the world. Ishaan Bhattacharya and Advait Choudhary are still hot on his heels in second and third respectively though!
Right, back to the video, here are 7 pre-arranged January transfers:
7. Halil Dervişoğlu to Brentford
Brentford are wily old operators when it comes to the transfer market, and the Championship side have turned an impressive profit through player sales in recent years. Now in 7th and very much in the hunt for a play-off spot though, Bees fans will be hoping they can add to their squad rather than simply replace this January, and make a real push for Premier League football. Turkish youth international Halil Dervişoğlu is one confirmed arrival at Griffin Park this winter, having agreed to link up with manager Thomas Frank on transfer deadline day in August.
Born in Rotterdam and a graduate of the Sparta Rotterdam academy, Dervişoğlu represents Turkey at under-19 level through his family lineage on the international stage. Capable of playing wide on the left, in behind the centre-forward or through the middle as the main striker himself, the 19-year-old scored 11 goals in 34 games to help Sparta win promotion to the Eredivisie last season. He has only bagged 4 goals in 14 games in the top flight of Dutch football since promotion, but he’s an intelligent young footballer with bags of potential, and Brentford will hope the £2.7 million signing can help aid Ollie Watkins in the goal scoring charts.
6. Michael Hector to Fulham
I have to say this is a transfer that shocked me. Not because of the player or club, which aren’t particularly hard to believe, but more the transfer fee. If reports are to be believed, Fulham are paying near neighbours Chelsea a whopping £8 million to take Michael Hector off their hands next month. I know transfer fees are no longer supposed to make sense, but I think the Blues have robbed their west London rivals blind to be honest.
Hector joined Chelsea in the summer of 2015 in a move thought to be worth around £4 million. In the four-and-a-half years since then, Hector has made precisely zero competitive appearances at Stamford Bridge, going out on-loan back to Reading, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday. As a Jamaican international with Bundesliga pedigree, I was quite excited when Hull brought the centre-back in, but his bambi-on-ice performances soon changed that.
In fairness, Sheffield Wednesday fans spoke glowingly about him last season, but he was still dreadful when we played them and dubious at best the couple of times I watched the Owls on TV. Anyhow, with Hector entering his final year at Chelsea, the Hillsborough club reportedly refused to meet his £5 million asking price. In September though, Fulham confirmed that they had reached an agreement for the serial loanee, but that since the transfer window had closed he couldn’t be registered until January. Slightly unusually, Hector has been training at Craven Cottage for the last few months, so his arrival into the squad should be pretty seamless.
5. Nigel Lonwijk to Wolves
The youngest player in this seven, Nigel Lonwijk was born after the 2002 World Cup, which makes me feel a little old, and we don’t have many images of him in our database. The teenager turned 17 last month, and he has represented the Netherlands at under-16 level. Highly thought of at PSV, the Eindhoven-based outfit have now lost both Lonwijk brothers, with Justin Lonwijk having left for Utrecht in the summer.
It is Wolves who momentarily averted their gaze from Portugal to snap up Nigel ahead of the January transfer window though, doing so for a reported fee of €220,000. Lonwijk is yet to register a senior appearance for PSV in any competition, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see him in a Wolves shirt anytime soon. Primarily a centre-back but also capable of playing at right-back, the West Midlanders will hope that he is one for the future.
4. Hakon Evjen to AZ Alkmaar
From a teenager who will be departing the Eredivisie next month to one set to make his arrival, midfielder Hakon Evjen signed off on his January move to AZ Alkmaar in September. A really highly-regarded prospect in his native Norway, Evjen had been linked with both Manchester United and Manchester City. According to the youngsters agent, Man City came the closest, but both player and agent ultimately decided he would be better off playing regular football in the Netherlands than youth team football at the Etihad.
An incredibly versatile young footballer, Evjen is quick and good on the ball. He can play on either flank or in central midfield, and he began his career with Mjolner in the third tier of Norwegian football when he was just 15. He joined FK Bodo/Glimt in 2017, and the 19-year-old has spent the last two seasons getting top flight experience.
A regular throughout Norway’s youth ranks, Evjen is now in the under-21’s, with a senior cap the natural next step. Not many 19-year-old Norwegians have commanded £2 million plus transfer fees, and the clubs interested in Evjen are a mark of his potential. AZ are a club with an impressive record of nurturing young players, and Evjen could be another one to look out for.
3. Wayne Rooney to Derby County
From a couple of players who are just starting out on their journeys within professional football to one at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. If either Nigel Lonwijk or Hakon Evjen experience just a fraction of the success Wayne Rooney has enjoyed since making his first team debut in 2002 they will have had very fruitful careers.
England and Manchester United’s all time record goal scorers, Rooney was a sensational footballer who played with such intensity and explosivity. That dynamism had started to wane a little towards the end of his time at Manchester United and during his season-long return to Goodison Park – if you’ll pardon the pun – but Derby fans will hope the veteran rediscovered his mojo in the MLS.
Rooney scored 25 goals in 52 games during a season-and-a-half with DC United, making the 2018 MLS Best XI, the 2019 MLS All-Star XI, and being named as DC United’s 2019 MVP. Rooney isn’t as old as some of you may think, only recently having turned 34, and he could be a real asset to Derby if they can keep him fit. Capable of playing anywhere through the spine of a team from centre-forward to holding midfield these days, Rooney has already joined the Rams in a coaching capacity, and he will become a Derby player on January 1st.
2. Slobodan Tedic to Manchester City
One of the most successful clubs in European football over the last ten years, the finest youth facilities in world football and the chance to play under Pep Guardiola make Manchester City an attractive proposition for any young footballer. Like all the top clubs these days, the Citizens hoover up exciting prospects from across the globe to bring into their academy system, and they were at it again in the summer.
Slobodan Tedic was a player the Man City scouts had been monitoring for some time, and in September they struck up a deal said to be worth around €3 million for the teenager. Tedic came through the youth ranks at Vojvodina, which is where Sergej Milinkovic-Savic began his career, before joining Cukaricki in 2017. The 19-year-old has scored 7 goals in 47 games for the top flight side since then, as well as representing Serbia at under-17, 19 and 21 level.
Tedic is tall, physical, good in the air and capable of mixing things up in forward areas. A starting berth at Man City is a long, long way off, but Tedic will link-up with the Citizens, most likely in their youth ranks, on New Year’s Day.
1. Joao Pedro to Watford
Watford may well have appointed their third manager of the season by the time this video comes out, with Chris Hughton the bookies favourite at the time of recording. Three managers before Christmas Day tells you all you need to know about the Hornets first half of the season, routed to the foot of the Premier League table with just one win from fourteen. They looked set for a rare win against fellow strugglers Southampton at the weekend, but Ralph Hassenhuttl was able to save himself for one week at least, with Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse turning that game on its head.
Unlike a lot of these signings then, Watford could really do with Brazilian Joao Pedro making an immediate impact at Vicarage Road. That could be a tall order for Pedro, who only turned 18 in September. The Fluminense forward made waves when he first broke into the club’s starting lineup at 17, scoring 8 goals in his first 11 games. That’s a better record than fellow youngsters Gabriel Jesus, Vinicius Junior and Neymar had from their opening 11 appearances, and it put a lot of European giants on high alert.
In the end, Pedro decided to follow in the footsteps of Richarlison by swapping Fluminense for Watford. Somewhat bizarrely, Liverpool were still said to be chasing the teenager even after he had signed off on a £3 million move to Watford, although that interest seems to have dimmed in recent times. Pedro hasn’t been as prolific over the last couple of months, and now has a career record of 10 goals from 33 games. Adjusting to life in the Premier League can be difficult enough for established professionals, never mind 18-year-olds, mid-season, joining a club that look destined for relegation. Nevertheless, the Hornets and their new manager will hope Pedro can be something of a wildcard and give them a much-needed spark going forward.