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January Transfer Window Is Set To Be Another Record Breaker

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Premier League

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January is a time of reflection; a time to change things. And the Premier League is no different.

Since it was introduced in 2003, the January transfer window has been responsible for some of UK football’s biggest deals, helping to send Premier League wages soaring through the roof – let alone the window. Robbie Fowler was one of the trailblazers, swapping Leeds United for Manchester City in a deal worth £3m upfront in the inaugural transfer window.

Unlike the summer when all 20 participating clubs are starting afresh with a clean slate, January roughly marks the halfway point of the season when it starts to become obvious what you’re playing for – the league title, a Europa Cup spot or battling to avoid relegation.

While some of the highest-profile moves during January have involved top-end clubs – Louis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool) and Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea), in 2011, for example – it is the clubs scrapping for their lives at the foot of the table that normally make the biggest statements.

Splashing the cash in January is seen as an investment, as a failure to strengthen then potentially puts a club’s Premier League status – and the riches associated with that –at risk. Hold on to your cash now and pay the price later seems to be the philosophy of most chairmen.

Remarkably, between 2013 and 2015 the same amount of money (£130m) each year was spent collectively on transfers but 12 months ago, that figure was raised to a five-year high of £175m.

The most noticeable activity came from Newcastle and Norwich as panic started to creep in. Steve McLaren landed a £12m double swoop for Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend, from Swansea and Spurs respectively, in a failed attempt to keep the Magpies in the top flight.

Norwich loosened the purse strings, parting company with £8.5m to bring Scottish striker Steven Naismith to East Anglia from Everton as well as forking out £7.6m to sign Tim Klose from Wolfsburg.

Between the two of them, Newcastle and Norwich spent the best part of £50m in January 2016, and for what?

Will their relegation prove to be a salutary lesson to clubs fighting at the wrong end of the Premier League table this time around? It’s unlikely.

West Ham arguably have the most to lose and the most to spend as they look to ensure their top-flight future.

Darren Randolph’s blunder for Liverpool’s second goal at Anfield on Sunday has probably persuaded Hammers manager Slaven Bilic that he needs to reinforce his goal-keeping stock, and a big-money move for England No.1 Joe Hart is reportedly on the cards, although several other Premier League clubs have been mentioned as suitors for the on-loan Torino player. Valued at around £20m by his club Manchester city, Hart could command one of the highest transfer fees in January.

Bilic looks set to bolster his options at the other end of the pitch, too, with £21m-rated Paris Saint-Germain’s Jese Rodriguez being linked with a move to Stratford.

Elsewhere, the Premier League wages of £80,000/week reportedly offered to Euro 2016 Jose Fonte don’t appear enough to keep him at selling club Southampton, with fellow Portuguese Jose Mourinho lining up a move to bring the defender to Old Trafford as soon as the window opens.

United are one of several clubs throughout Europe keen on signing Benfica duo, Swedish centre-half Victor Lindelof and fullback Nelson Semedo.

Out-of-favour midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin could be making the short move out of Old Trafford to Merseyside, to join Everton, if the Toffees can get the Red Devils to agree to a January sale of less than £25m.

Arsenal look light up front and they have long been linked with a January deal for Daniel Sturridge but they are traditionally very quiet at this time of year, much to the frustration of their fans.

If the Gunners do make a move, it is likely to be significant, and the record January spend of £225m set in 2011 could be under threat.