The dust has settled on what was largely considered a very quiet January transfer window, well unless you are a fan of Chinese football. There were some big movers out there, El Shaarawy to Roma was eye-catching and the Italian outfit also finalised the move for Brazilian sensation Gerson. In England Imbula, Iturbe, Niasse and Elneny came in for big money, Pato went to Chelsea on loan and over in Spain Cheryshev, Immobile and Giuseppe Rossi all made moves. But for most the window was pretty quiet, over hyped and under whelming, but under the radar some interesting transfers went through involving some promising young talents.
So today I’m going to highlight twelve players who moved during the window, who may have gone unnoticed.
MALCOM Corinthians to FC Girondins Bordeaux
Brazilian wonder kid and Under 20 international regular, Malcom made the rather surprising move from Corinthians to Ligue 1 side Bordeaux. The wide forward had been linked in the past with the likes of Barcelona so for the French team to acquire his talents on a permanent deal is quite the capture, especially for the fee which has been reported around £3.75 million. With over 50 league appearance for Corinthians, a club he joined at youth level, Malcom boasted a very healthy scoring rate with 10 goals in that time. Already the youngster has netted for his new club in the Coupe de France, and many at Bordeaux will be excited at what the Brazilian can go on to achieve with them.
Small of stature but lightning fast, Malcom uses his skills and quick feet to beat his opponent and has a keen eye for the target. Able to play on either wing or as a striker when necessary, he has the potential to become a global star. Although the move to France seemed a strange one, the opportunity to play regularly in Europe could result in fast progression for Malcom and a stepping stone to bigger things.
JULIEN DE SART Standard Liège to Middlesbrough FC
Belgian Under 21 star Julien de Sart made the move to Championship side Middlesbrough on a three-and-a-half-year deal. A product of the Standard Liège youth system, the midfielder made over 60 league appearances for the Belgian side. Seen as one bright young hopes for his nation, de Sart could prove to be a real coup for Middlesbrough if he can adapt quickly to the change of environment. A regular at all youth levels for the National side, de Sart looks certain to progress into the senior Belgian side in time.
Yet to make his debut for the Teesside club since his move, he could prove a classy addition to the squad as the side push for promotion. Once in the Premier League de Sart could establish himself as a quality midfielder with a big future ahead of him.
KENNETH ZOHORE Odense BK to KV Kortrijk to Cardiff City (Loan)
Another young European talent to make his way to the English Championship is Danish forward Kenneth Zohore, although his move was rather more complex. Beginning the window at Superligaen side Odense, Zohore was sold to Belgian side Kortrijk and then immediately loaned to Welsh side Cardiff City. Zohore has the ideal game for English football (obviously Cardiff are a Welsh side playing in England), and although he has only appeared from the bench thus far he could really go on to impress. A fine left foot, strong of stature and a keen eye for goal, Zohore has some great attributes and as long as he continues his work rate that he put in towards the end of his time at Odense he could soon force his way into the Danish national team.
Young holding midfielder Soualiho Meïté began his playing career at Auxerre after graduating through the youth ranks, and his early performances showed real potential. A regular at youth level for France he graduated to the French Under 19 team that finished as runners up in the 2012/13 UEFA European Championship tournament. Because of his displays in the competition, and his promise at Auxerre, Ligue 1 side LOSC Lille signed the young midfielder in 2013 for just over £1 million. However, playing time at Lille has been hard to come by, with many appearances coming for the Lille B team so the chance for regular first team football at Zulte Waregem will be vital as Meïté looks to establish himself in the professional game.
Already Meïté has gone straight into the starting eleven in Belgium, and he’ll hope to put in some good displays in the Jupiler Pro League in the remainder of the season so as to start the next campaign on a strong footing. Much was expected from the young holding midfielder when his career began, now with game time ahead of him Soualiho Meïté has the chance to fulfil that early promise.
LUCAS ROMERO CA Vélez Sársfield to Cruzeiro
One of the most exciting moves of the window was that of Argentine midfielder Lucas Romero to Brazilian side Cruzeiro. The team from Belo Horizonte already have a number of quality players in their squad and it seems the ideal place for the young Argentine to progress his career. Physically strong, tough in the tackle, Lucas Romero has been compared to the great Javier Mascherano in the past. But he is much more than a defensive stopper, when on the ball Romero has great passing ability and can operate as a powerful box to box force. Short and strong, good on the ball, there is an air of the Arturo Vidal about his game and Romero will hope to go on to have a similar career to the Chilean.
Already a representative of Argentina at Under 20 level, and with over one hundred appearances in a Vélez shirt to his name, Lucas Romero will hope to progress to the senior national team with some good performances in Brazil. Expected to have a big future, the career of Lucas Romero at Cruzeiro will be an interesting watch.
ROBERT Fluminense to FC Barcelona B (Loan)
When he broke through into the Fluminense first team in 2013, Robert Goncalves was seen as one of the brightest hopes for Brazilian football. However, a number of major setbacks have stalled his progression over the last two years, a major car crash, a fractured foot, a bout of hepatitis and an ongoing issue with muscle problems had limited his appearances for the Brazilian club.
As a young player he was a skilful, magician of an attacking midfielder, technically outstanding, confident and able to manipulate the ball in tight spaces. He has developed a tendency to be over confident and try too much on his own, maybe not always to the pleasure of his team mates, and at times his work rate and fitness have been called into question. But with the opportunity to join Barcelona and play in their B team there is the hope that these issues in his game can be eradicated and his many positives will shine through. Although the move is originally only on loan, Barcelona have the option to make the move permanent. It could be a dream transfer for Robert, he is a long way off being Barcelona standard, but he does have the natural ability and skillset, a lot of hard work and quick learning is required to make the grade in Spain. Definitely a young player to keep an eye on over the coming months.
VICTOR ANDRADE Benfica B to Vitória Guimarães SC (Loan)
Another young Brazilian on the move was young forward Victor Andrade, one of many to have been dubbed the ‘next Neymar’ in recent years. A player who first joined Vitória’s youth setup before a trial period with Benfica, Andrade returned to Brazil to sign his first professional contract with Santos and his quality quickly had him marked as a superstar of the future. More of a Robinho than a Neymar, Victor Andrade is quick and skilful though does seem to lack a clinical edge in front of goal. Despite his huge early potential, Andrade never really progressed enough at Santos and when his contract ran down he agreed a move back to Benfica where he has been playing in the second tier team.
Some strong performances for the Benfica B team have earnt the youngster a handful of first team appearances and he has now been afforded the opportunity for regular first team action at fellow Portuguese side Vitória Guimarães, although he is yet to make his first appearance for the club. Sometimes criticised for his work rate, and his use of social media platforms, if Victor Andrade can focus fully on his game he has the quality to go a very long way. Maybe not to be the next Neymar, but certainly a star and a potential Brazilian international in the future.
IVAN SAPONJIC FK Partizan to Benfica B
A player making his way into the Benfica B setup is young Serbian striker Ivan Saponjic, who completed a permanent transfer from FK Partizan for an estimated £1 million. A natural finisher, with great movement and a striker’s instinct, Saponjic is seen as one of the golden boys of Serbian football. Part of the side that were victorious in the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in 2015 and a regular performer for Partizan, Benfica will hope that the young striker can go on to be a star for them in Portugal.
Strong, with a good first touch, Saponjic plays well with his back to goal and can create attacking plays from the front line. Already a goal scorer for Benfica B where he has featured heavily upon his arrival, it won’t be long until the striker is representing the senior team in the top flight. At international level he is expected to progress quickly into the Serbian national team, alongside another young striker who also made the move to Portugal this window.
Luka Jovic swapped Belgrade for Lisbon
LUKA JOVIC Red Star to Benfica B
Luka Jovic has been touted as one of the hottest prospects in World football, with a phenomenal goal scoring record at youth level he has even been compared to the great Darko Pancev. A striker who was playing professional football at the age of only 16, Jovic is expected to become of the greatest strikers of a generation although it is a long road ahead of him.
Like Saponjic, Jovic was a key member of the Serbian Under 20 side that won the 2015 World Cup, lightning fast, two footed and with a great eye for goal, Jovic has everything it takes to be a superstar. His move to Benfica B for just over £1.5 million was one that really went under the radar, a real coup for the Lisbon club and they will be desperate for him to fulfil his enormous potential. Jovic is a name we will be hearing a lot more of in the next few years, how he adapts to life in Portugal will be key in just how far he can go in the game.
PATRICK ROBERTS Manchester City to Celtic FC (Loan)
The 18-month loan deal that has taken Patrick Roberts on loan to Scottish giants Celtic could be a key moment in the next few years of English football. Young winger Patrick Roberts is the best of his national generation and was beginning to stagnate in Manchester with the lack of playing time, now in Glasgow he has the opportunity, and 18 months to shine and hone his skills in a physically demanding league.
A player who made headlines in 2015 with a reported £12 transfer from Fulham to Manchester City, after only 22 senior appearances for the London club to his name, Roberts is seen as a future superstar of English football. Dubbed the ‘English Messi’ because of his quick dribbling, ability to beat numerous opponents and his low centre of gravity, the left footed wide man has been a sensation at national youth levels. Now with the chance of regular first team football in Scotland, the expectation is that the youngster can kick on into the England Under 21 setup and grow into the player he has the potential to be. Roberts could really light up Scottish football over the next 18 months, whether he can then return to feature in the Manchester City first team is another matter.
Belgian Under 21 star Charly Musonda is another of Chelsea’s vast number of talented youngsters who have been sent on loan to gain experience, and he has made an immediate impact. Joining La Liga side Real Betis, pacey wide man Musonda has gone straight into the first team and was even names as ‘man of the match’ on his debut against Valencia. His second appearance featured his first professional goal and the Seville based club will feel they have a real superstar on their books.
Originally a product of the talented Anderlecht academy, Musonda moved to Chelsea in 2012 with his two elder brothers. Pacey, skilful and a great passer of the ball, Musonda is able to play across midfield but is mostly seen as a wide man. A representative for Belgium at all youth levels, he will hope that continued first team football will push his name into senior recognition. The next few months at Betis will highlight Musonda’s ability but perhaps his biggest transfer will arrive in the summer, there is a need for him to continue gaining game time and the likelihood is this will be away from Stamford Bridge.
FEDERICO BONAZZOLI Sampdoria to SS Virtus Lanciano (Loan)
Teenage Italian target man Federico Bonazzoli has made the necessary move to Serie B side Virtus Lanciano. Playing time for the forward was hard to come by at Sampdoria and a move to a lower level will be good for confidence and a chance to develop. Bonazzoli was a recent signing by Sampdoria after they secured his big money move from Inter Milan where he had progressed through the youth system.
His early form had seen him labelled as the next ‘Christian Vieri’ and a real striking hope for the Italian national team in the future, but lack of game time had stalled his progression a little and the move to Lanciano has already seen him net from the bench. With a great eye for goal, strong movement and a powerful composed finish, Bonazzoli has the tools and the time to achieve big things, the next few months in Serie B are going to be vital in his progression.
These were twelve moves that we felt were of interest as 2016 ticks along, all are young talented players and these transfers will be key in their careers. Who are you most excited about? Who made the best transfer in your eyes? Let us know in the comments section below.