January 2018 is going to be supremely interesting for football fans. Not only is the mid-season transfer window an annual source of high drama rumour mongering, but this particular year sees an unprecedented number of high-profile players across the continent enter the final six months of their deals, marking the point at which they are allowed to sign pre-contracts with new clubs, with permanent moves taking place free of charge in the summer.
Liverpool have taken advantage of the Bosman system two summers in a row, signing both James Milner and Joël Matip for nothing, and the manager should be salivating at the names that look likely to be available for negotiations in seven weeks time. Lionel Messi’s contract expiry is likely only going to be used as leverage for the Argentinian to surpass Cristiano Ronaldo’s earnings as his career winds down, Mesut Özil doesn’t fit Klopp’s philosophy and Alexis Sánchez is unlikely to be interested in a second bite at the Anfield apple, but. But!
Central defenders José Giménez and Stefan de Vrij are proven high quality prospects at a position of need, and while Emre Can looks set to use the system to exit the club, a ready-made replacement awaits in Schalke’s Leon Goretzka. The Reds have been linked with the 22-year old before, and now, despite reports that Barcelona had beaten out English and German teams for the midfielder’s signature, Oliver Bierhoff has let slip that those reports were likely inaccurate.
“We feel that England, because of the amount of money you have with TV rights,” said the German national team’s general manager “young talented players like Leroy Sané and [Schalke’s] Leon Goretzka are moving to England and this is not good for our league but also for the quality of our game. We have to pay attention and invest again and again in the education of our coaches.”
Now, exactly why Bierhoff would have the inside track on Goretzka’s future plans is unclear, but the former AC Milan striker seems convinced that the midfielder is headed to the British isles. Which begs the question which of the top six sides wins the race for his signature. Certainly Liverpool can offer Jürgen Klopp and starting minutes, but Mauricio Pochettino is looking for a long-term replacement for Moussa Dembélé, José Mourinho would love another 6’3” body alongside Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matić, and Arsène Wenger has never not needed a central midfielder ever since Patrick Vieira left in 2005.
Strap up, people, it’s gonna be an exciting window!