Who will be the Football League's big winners on Deadline Day?
Transfer deadline day is a strange phenomenon. Driven forward remorselessly by Sky Sports News, the hyperbole reaches a crescendo on the 31st days of both January and August – but the focus always seems to remain firmly on the clubs towards the top of the Premier League and there is very little coverage afforded to events further down the divisions.
This year, admittedly, we have the unusual scenario of Arsene Wenger and his henchmen frantically attempting to plug the gaping chasms throughout Arsenal’s squad after shipping eight goals at Old Trafford. But the bulk of the interest for Sky, as ever, relates to Harry Redknapp leaning out of a Range Rover and shooting his mouth off like a man who prefers making transfers to winning football matches.
And then there’s the Football League. If you strip away all the sensationalism and misdirection, this is an important time for many Football League clubs.
Most of all, perhaps, for Leicester City, to give them their previous name. Nowadays, they are continuously afforded the prefix “big-spending” and this trend could carry on if the club get their way on deadline day. There is talk of nine bids currently either sitting in email boxes or lying discarded in the recycle bin around the United Kingdom, with £6.5million having been rejected by Glasgow Rangers for the services of striker Nikica Jelavic.
Sven-Goran Eriksson is targeting a centre-forward and a winger with various names floating around for weeks now – Bristol City’s Nicky Maynard has always been Eriksson’s first choice but this deal appears no nearer to fruition and there is no telling who could end up pictured holding a blue shirt on City’s official website come Thursday morning.
At the other end of the M69, things could barely be more different. Coventry City lost Marlon King, Keiren Westwood and Aron Gunnarsson during the summer and it looks like more names will be added to that list before the window slams shut. Birmingham and Cardiff are both in for Sky Blues centre-back Ben Turner, with the Welsh side more likely to secure a signature and their man-mountain forward Jon Parkin set to head in the opposite direction, while Middlesbrough have been linked with the former Everton striker Lukas Jutkiewicz. With money too tight to mention at the Ricoh Arena, departures would hit the club hard and manager Andy Thorn might have to work wonders in the loan market to retain a competitive squad.
Elsewhere, French club St Etienne have reported on their official website that they have agreed a fee with Leeds United for the transfer of the Yorkshire club’s prize asset Max Gradel. The Ivory Coast winger has been chased by West Ham for much of the summer but, with his contract running out at the end of this season, Leeds have been backed into a corner by a transfer request and Gradel should return to France where his family reside. Supporters of the Elland Road club would not be shocked if there is no immediate replacement given previous experience under the financially cautious stewardship of Ken Bates, although a record of 25 goals in 81 games from the wing shows that Gradel will be missed.
And after missing out on Gradel, West Ham will be spending the money they are about to receive from the sale of Scott Parker on someone else entirely. Or maybe they won’t even bother. Sam Baldock has recently joined Sam Allardyce’s East End revolution to offer pace up front and Papa Bouba Diop could add steel to the base of their well-stocked midfield. Perhaps the Parker money will be banked?
Another set of Clarets who are certainly in the market can be found at Turf Moor. Burnley lost one of their own star performers, new Bolton wide man Chris Eagles, to the Premier League a couple of weeks ago so a winger is high on Eddie Howe’s agenda. West Ham’s Junior Stanislas has been mentioned.
League One’s most impressive deadline day purchase could be Sheffield Wednesday’s potential capture of prolific Bury striker Ryan Lowe. In League Two, Gary Johnson’s masterplan at Northampton Town is currently failing miserably and the impending departure of proven goalscorer Shaun Harrad will do little to soothe the fears of Cobblers supporters.
So who will be the big winners on deadline day? And what does your club need to do before 11pm on Wednesday? Sky Sports may not be that bothered, but we are…