It’s been a rather turbulent season for Hearts. One sacked manager, a new stand and…
The end is in sight. Only 24 hours (or fewer, depending on when you read this) of the January transfer window, the most maligned of all the transfer windows, is left. The rumour mill will take a break after midnight tonight, but for the time being it’s in overdrive.
Countless deals have already been completed by Scottish clubs this month, but there will be a few more before the window shuts. This is when things really get manic. This is when clubs panic. This is when a dramatic move can happen in the space of just a few hours, with every twist and turn live blogged and tweeted.
So what are the main transfer deadline day storylines you should be following in Scottish football? Where will your attention be drawn up until midnight? We examined some, using data to provide a little more insight.
Brendan Rodgers probably hoped that after the loan signing of Charly Musonda Celtic’s business for the January window would be complete. Then Efe Ambrose clattered into Craig Gordon at the weekend and sidelined the goalkeeper for 12 weeks. Now, the Hoops are scrambling to find a shot-stopper before window closes tonight.
They’ve made a bid for Motherwell’s Trevor Carson, with the Fir Park side rejecting the £200,000 offer with little hesitation. The Hoops have also been linked with a move for Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who could be signed on loan for the rest of the season. That would depend on whether Getafe, where Martinez is currently on loan, release the Spaniard.
Rather bizarrely, it’s even been speculated that Celtic could move for Scott Bain, who only just joined Hibernian on loan from Dundee two weeks ago. Technically, Bain could turn out for Rodgers’ side on the basis that he has yet to play a game for Hibs. There doesn’t seem to be much of a plan behind Celtic’s keeper search, but they are determined to sign one.
In what is a growing trend across the Scottish Premiership, Aberdeen are also looking for a goalkeeper on a short-term deal to replace their injured number one. In this case, Joe Lewis has been ruled out for three months with a leg injury, forcing Derek McInnes into the market when he probably hoped to have done all his business for the window.
“You have got to look at all options,” McInnes said upon news of Lewis’ injury. “We felt Danny [Rodgers] did well on Saturday, but we have two very young keepers behind Danny and we also have to make sure we have real competition in all areas in the squad. With Joe being out of commission we have to make sure we deliver competition in that area and bring the best keeper we can to the club.”
Many consider Lewis to be among the best shot-stoppers in the country, so his loss will be felt. However, the 30-year-old is a pure goalkeeper in the way Wes Foderingham and even Gordon aren’t. He isn’t required to play with the ball at his feet as frequently, and so that might make the Dons’ job of finding a replacement a little easier.
Neil Lennon had made no secret of his desire to see Anthony Stokes leave Hibernian before the close of the transfer window. There was only one problem with that plan – potential takers for the Republic of Ireland striker were few and far between. Ultimately, the Easter Road club decided to simply release Stokes, with the two parties mutually agreeing to part ways last night.
Despite the addition of Australian striker Jamie MacLaren on loan, this leaves Hibs rather light of options in attack. This is why they have targeted Florian Kamberi from Grasshopers, with Lennon hoping to add the 22-year-old to his squad on loan until the end of the season having spent the past two weeks in trial with the Leith club.
Kamberi is expected to be in the Hibs squad for tonight’s Scottish Premiership fixture against Motherwell, and so a deal could be completed early on in deadline day. However, we all know how these things can drag in the final hours of the window. Lennon will be keen to avoid this striker shake up becoming a drama.
One of the most unexpected yet intriguing transfer stories to pop up in the final few days of the January transfer window has been the future of Rangers strikers Alfredo Morelos. The Colombian has been linked with a move to an “unknown Chinese club” and his coach, Graeme Murty, has admitted that the club will have to “make a football decision.”
However, selling Morelos at this point in the season would be nothing short of disastrous for Rangers and their hopes of finishing second above Aberdeen. Not only is the 21-year old the Ibrox club’s top goalscorer but in many ways he’s their only consistent source of goals.
As we can see in the graph above, Morelos has contributed just under 25% of Rangers’ league goals this season, with Josh Windass, Graham Dorrans and James Tavernier trailing with around half that amount. Although Jason Cummings has been signed and should score plenty between now and May it would still be a risky move to ship off a player the club’s form is so strongly tied to.
Hearts have scored just 26 goals in 25 Scottish Premiership games this season, so naturally they’ve already sold one striker and may well be losing another before the window shuts. Kyle Lafferty has been linked to a number of clubs, including Sunderland, and could be on his way south if the right offer comes in.
Although Hearts have signed Steven Naismith on loan and could get a big offer for the Northern Irish international, it’s worth considering just how important the towering targetman has been for the Tynecastle side this season.
Although Lafferty has only scored seven goals in the Premiership at least three of them directly led to Hearts picking up all three points. And with the departure of Isma Goncalves and Jamie Walker that leaves winger Manuel Milinkovic and youngster Ross Callachan as Craig Levein’s second and third-best goalscorers in the league this season. Hearts need to keep a hold of their last, remaining No.9 in their squad.