Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Looking ahead to the January window

Trying to predict what will happen in the January window is a bit of a mugs game - there will be left-field signings, loan moves from England, players we've never heard of up here. About the only certainty is that Rangers will be linked with big money moves for players (or for their own - £6m for Barrie McKay!!!) which come to nothing.

But still, let's look ahead anyway...

WHAT DO THEY NEED? Derek McInnes wants to 'freshen up' the squad, according to his chairman, and apparently will be given money to do so. Despite the emergence of Scott McKenna and the improved play of Kari Arnason, I bet a commanding centre-back would be welcomed. They could also do with a sitting midfield player, having not properly replaced Ryan Jack.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Aberdeen actually have just about the smallest squad in the Premiership so there's unlikely to be many exits. Perhaps Nicky Maynard, third in the centre-forward queue, will be allowed to return south. Craig Storie has been out of the first team picture after injuries and might benefit from a loan move.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? Centre-back is an obvious weakness, and 32 year old German Marvin Compper is set to arrive from RB Leipzig for £1m. Time will tell if he upgrades the position sufficiently to allow a Europa League run. There has been talk of other signings, but they are more likely to be youngsters brought in with the future in mind. Lewis Morgan, set to arrive from St Mirren and immediately return to Paisley on loan, is one example.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Erik Sviatchenko is out of favour and seems certain to depart, possibly for the English Championship. Given the potential for fixture congestion in the spring, Brendan Rodgers will be loathe to let too many others leave, but several of the youngsters would surely benefit from loan spells and Liam Henderson, out of contract in the summer, surely has no future at Parkhead.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? Another keeper to compete with or provide cover for Elliot Parish. The squad is already bloated but more quality in midfield and attack would be extremely welcome...especially in the shape of a proven goalscorer.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Neil McCann is likely to try and shift as much dead wood as possible. Danny Williams was let go last month'. Scott Bain, who has been binned after a row with McCann, has been linked to Hearts. Randy Wolters has also apparently fallen out with the manager. It's not clear if Jon Aurtenetxe's contract or AJ Leitch-Smith's loan will be extended past January. Other candidates to be 'mutually consented' include Julen Etxabeguren, Kostadin Gadzhalov, Nicky Low and James Vincent.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? Martin Canning doesn't have a great January window record (Kemy Agustien! Oumar Diaby!). He'll be surely up for bringing in anyone who can improve his defence or midfield.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Botti Biabi's loan from Swansea ends during the window and it seems unlikely to be extended. Steven Boyd has already been loaned to Livingston.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? Gabriel Somi of Ostersunds seems set to be the next proposed solution to the never-ending problem at left-back. Though Jon McLaughlin has been solid enough in goal, Hearts have been linked with Dundee's Scott Bain. Craig Levein has suggested he wants more new faces, but that would depend on getting players out.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Viktor Noring and Malaury Martin clearly have no future at Tynecastle. Perenially injured Ashley Smith-Brown probably doesn't either, but its unclear whether his loan from Manchester City can be terminated in January or if he is stuck till the summer. If a new keeper does come in then surely Jack Hamilton will be loaned out.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? An upgrade in the full-back positions would be useful, especially as Steven Whittaker has been a bit of a disappointment. Neil Lennon criticized Ofir Marciano recently, so it wouldn't be surprising if they made a move for a new keeper.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Deivydas Matulevicius is only a quarter of the way into a two year deal but the Lithuanian striker is well down the pecking order. The main worry is that someone makes an offer for John McGinn that the club can't refuse.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? Steve Clarke has worked wonders with the squad he inherited, and this is his first big chance to put a stamp on it. Having already brought in Youssouf Mulumbu, they have ex-Spurs and Norwich centre-back Sebastien Bassong on trial. Another striker would be tempting, despite the recent good form of Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Brad Spencer and Alex Samizadeh are obvious candidates to be binned, with neither Lee McCulloch signing anywhere near the first team. Steven Smith has been injured but doesn't look like he has a future at the club.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? A replacement for Louis Moult is the overwhelming priority.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Moult's £450,000 move to Preston will go through as soon as the window opens. Keeper Gennadio Xenadochov is only on a short-term deal. There are so many midfield options that loan moves away for Shea Gordon, Ross MacLean and Liam Brown are possible.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? To improve the defence, either through getting players back from injury or new signings. The question is whether to bank on the likes of Callum Booth and Abdul Osman providing sufficient reinforcement, or whether new faces need to be brought in regardless.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Thistle's back line has been rank for much of the year, yet Milan Nitriansky still can't get a game. If they don't need him for depth purposes, he'll be away.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? The situation is complicated by the lack of a permanent manager at this point - if they appoint one then he'll want to bring in his own players; if not, then any new signings will be presumably controlled by the Director Of Football, Mark Allen. They have been linked with Brighton attacker Jamie Murphy.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? How many Caixinha signings will want to leg it from Glasgow? Eduardo Herrera and Fabio Cardoso may not be happy with spending the rest of the year on the bench. Dalcio and Aaron Nemane will surely go if their loan spells can be terminated in January.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? One suspects Roy MacGregor will have another busy January bringing in the reinforcements required to maintain County's top flight status. Another centre-back would be helpful, and a regular goalscorer is a priority too (yes, I know that's the case for everyone).

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? There are already four centre-forwards but none have scored frequently; Thomas Mikkelsen and Billy Mckay haven't done enough to justify even a run in the team and could be moved on. Tim Chow is also on the fringes.

WHAT DO THEY NEED? After the win over Rangers, Tommy Wright talked of his intention to bring in a few new faces, and how this week he would find out if he was shopping for "new cars or used cars" (not the greatest analogy, but you know what he means). A deal has already been done for Dundalk forward David McMillan.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURES? Not Chris Millar, who seems to be back in favour. It's unclear if Michael O'Halloran's loan deal will be extended, while Chris Kane may stay out on loan at Queen Of The South. Graham Cummins has been linked with a return to Ireland.

Lawrie Spence has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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