The January transfer window in the Premier League is always a bit slow. This year was no exception. It was hard to come up with a top 10 for this post. The reality is that — given how little time is left in the season — it is hard for January transfers to make a huge impact in a new home.
One or two usually do, though. The clubs of these players all hope their guy will. Here’s my (Scott’s) prediction as to who it will be:
10. Dominic Solanke (BOU) - He has been at two top 6 clubs already in his young career. That hasn’t necessarily been a sure sign of greatness (see: Jordon Ibe), but sometimes it means good things (see: Nathan Ake). It’s not overstating it to think that this is going to be a defining 4 months for his career.
9. Jason Puncheon (HUD) - Terriers fans want me to say Karlan Grant here, but I don’t think so. You have a new manager saying all the right things about wanting to stay up, and Puncheon is a veteran who doesn’t know where his career will go from here. He should be motivated. He has the ability to provide a spark, and his presence could inspire something. I’m not guessing it will, but it could.
8. Oumar Niasse (CAR) - What he showed for Everton in flashes justifies his place on this list. Cardiff need him up front. Is he ready to step right in and perform? Why were Everton willing to sell him? It seems just as possible that he will not play for Cardiff either, but if he does…
7. Youri Tielemans (LEI) - He put up some individual stats on a bad Monaco team earlier this season. If he can find a place in Leicester’s ever-shifting midfield, good things are possible.
6. Miguel Almiron (NEW) - My fellow Americans are angry with me now. He dominated MLS! He has enormous potential! Why is he so low on your list? While he should feature in Rafa’s lineup once his work permit issue is sorted out, it’s still asking a bit much of him to come right in and perform in the Premier League. See me about Almiron in August when he’s had some time to acclimate. Then I’ll transfer him in.
5. Ryan Babel (FUL) - I, too, made fun of this deal when it was announced, but come on. You are just as impressed as I am so far. He’s another motivated veteran — and those are two words that always carry potential for results. It may not last, but he may be the first January transfer that you also transfer in.
4. Peter Crouch (BUR) - See Puncheon, Jason and Babel, Ryan under “Motivated Veteran.” You will always rank higher when you have done it before. Crouch has done it in the Premier League before.
3. Denis Suarez (ARS) - This is the first of a different type of January transfer that brings hope. It’s the kind that reunites a player with his former manager. Emery has struggled to find the right lineup at times this season. When he does find it, Arsenal have been magic. If Suarez provides a spark, look out.
2. Michy Batshuayi (CRY) - This was one of those transfers that made watching the news on Deadline Day feel a little more worth it. Palace swooped in and got Bats, someone who was able to score when he played for Chelsea. His opportunities were so few, though. He should get more for Palace. He has to fit in alongside Zaha, though. If he doesn’t, he’ll just be another Max Meyer.
1. Gonzalo Higuain (CHE) - I know the early returns have been…mixed, at best. Chelsea may be a train wreck waiting to happen as Sarri seems to be at “locker room destruction” phase in record time for a Chelsea manager. Still, here’s a legitimate star playing for a familiar manager. There’s a reason why 1% of FPL owners transferred him in before a single minute played in the league. Don’t count him out yet. He’s too good.