After making ones for the side this season, it seems the Real Madrid portion of Esteban Granero’s career is set to end sooner rather than later.
The attacking midfielder may have had his hopes of making it back into the squad’s plans revitalized when they brought him back to the Santiago Bernabeu following a brief spell at Getafe, but to no avail.
Since joining back up with the Spanish giants’ first team in 2009, the 24 year-old has made only 53 La Liga appearances, most of which have been from the bench.
One party who won’t be unhappy with the news of his ensuing sale however is Arsenal, who are said to be readying a bid for the playmaker.
Although Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun have made admirable efforts in their roles, neither midfielder has succeeded in filling the boots of the departed Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song are two other central players who have contributed largely to Robin van Persie’s fantastic goal-scoring run of 2011, but one would find it hard to argue that something is still lacking creatively.
The host of missed chances in the loss to Fulham was just the latest example of the lacking in clinicity the Gunners have showcased this season; a problem Granero may seek to ease.
The Spaniard will inevitably be on the move in 2012 and while he has failed to fit in the star-studded side of Real Madrid could be a snap purchase for Arsene Wenger at a valuation of £5m.
14. Kevin de Bruyne
At Number 14 on our list is a transfer that many thought was set to come about during the summer transfer window but failed to materialize due to some financial disputes.
Despite the summer collapse however, Chelsea’s interest in Genk starlet Kevin de Bruyne isn’t suspected to have waned one bit and a January transfer is still a firm possibility.
The Belgian youngster was subject to much European interest over the last transfer window, but the Blues were always in pole position to succeed in landing his signature.
De Bruyne was a key component in the Genk side that were crowned 2010-11 Jupiler Pro League champions in a season that saw him contribute 16 assists in 32 appearances.
The 20 year-old then played a role in the Belgian outfit’s Champions League run, doing nothing to detract sides from going after him once more in 2012.
Andre Villas Boas has already shown his penchant for youth after signing Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata in August as he looks to build a legacy for the future at Stamford Bridge.
While he may not beat the likes of Mata and fellow youngster Daniel Sturridge into the starting line-up, de Bruyne can take comfort in knowing that his chance may come soon if he were to move to the Premier League side, with Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou both seemingly heading for the exit.
If Chelsea are to renew their hunt for the Belgian international in January, they’ll have to edge closer to matching the £8m valuation of the player that they supposedly fell short of last summer.
13. Cheick Tioté
Despite the player personally stating that he isn’t going anywhere in January, Cheick Tioté is one player that continues to pop up in the transfer speculation.
The 25 year-old moved to St. James’ Park in the summer of 2010 and made a massive impact in his debut season, penning a five-and-a-half year contract extension barely six months after signing for the club.
Since then, the Ivorian has become a favourite with the Magpies and is considered to be one of the Premier League’s most consistent central midfielders.
Although goalscoring doesn’t appear to be one of his traits, Tioté is a genuine force to be reckoned with when utilized in a defensive role, leading the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to be interested in acquiring his signature.
Eighteen months ago, Tioté completed a switch from Dutch side FC Twente to the significantly taller heights of the Premier League and has slotted in perfectly with the tough-tackling pace of the English top flight.
In that time, the anchorman’s value has skyrocketed from the £3.5m he move to Tyneside for, and is now reported to be four times that at an estimated £14m.
One can see why Manchester United may be interested in signing the African star with a host of injuries currently plaguing his midfield which sees that Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley in particular are out of commission for the foreseeable future.
Tioté will be out of play after January 8th when he will travel to join his Ivory Coast teammates in the 2012 African Cup of Nations.
However depending on how long his side stay in the competition, the midfielder will return to his domestic duties in early February when the player could be in the colours of a Premier League side other than Newcastle United.
12. Christopher Samba
Number 12 on our countdown is, like de Bruyne, a player that nobody expected to be playing for the same club at the end of the summer transfer window as the one he had started it with.
The culprit in question is of course the Congolese powerhouse himself: Christopher Samba.
Over the past two transfer windows, there hasn’t been a Premier League club who haven’t been linked with a move for the 27 year-old and that doesn’t look likely to change in 2012 with interest more abundant than ever.
Among the league’s more elite sides, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle have all been associated with the defender, while lower in the table, QPR, Sunderland and Stoke City also pop up when his name is mentioned.
Samba sticks out in a flailing Blackburn side that just can’t seem to string two results together. One minute, Steve Kean has earned his Rovers three points at Old Trafford and supporters are singing his jubilations and the next, they surrender at home to Stoke City.
The resulting factor is that the side’s biggest superstars continue to be associated with mid-season transfers to avoid going down with Venkys’ sinking ship.
Arsenal’s chances of going in for Samba once more have been increased after it was revealed that injury-prone Thomas Vermaelen would be out of the side until mid-January leaving the Gunners short-handed at the back after Johan Djourou picked up a red card against Fulham.
Spurs and Liverpool could also switch their attention to Samba in the New Year if they lose out on the signature of Gary Cahill, who is currently thrashing out personal terms with Chelsea after Bolton accepted a bid for their talisman.
With all these top-five clubs circling, it’s hard to imagine a club like Sunderland or QPR signing the centre-back, however Tony Fernandes and Ellis Short have both shown enthusiasm to commit funds to transfers and may very well choose to donate to either side’s January cause.
11. David ‘Junior’ Hoilett
Continuing with the possible Blackburn January firesale, Junior Hoilett is another Rovers talisman who could very much be on his way to a club near you this month.
Like Samba, Hoilett sticks out as a big performer in Steve Kean’s squad and one would have to admit that if there was any time the youngster was likely to leave, it could well be now.
The Lancashire club currently find themselves fighting an uphill struggle from 19th place in the Premier League table and need something drastic to turn their season around.
Owners Venky’s seem adamant that they will stick with manager Steve Kean for the remainder of his contract, angering a large portion of the club’s supporters in the process.
Hoilett has been in fine form for the side despite their slump and rumours continue to fly that the winger could soon be on his way to Manchester United, Liverpool or Stoke City.
Whenever a Premier League player performs well, the likes of Liverpool and United are always going to pop up, however Stoke seem genuine in their hunt for the player after supposedly proposing a player-plus-cash deal.
The swap would see the high-flying Potters pay around £5m for Hoilett with Jermaine Pennant heading in the opposite direction.
January is always a time when morale can be low if a season is not going the way you’d like, and the 21 year-old may be tempted by a move to a bigger side.
Rovers fans would be hit hard if the Canadian international were to leave, but in their current predicament, Steve Kean may find minds hard to change if transfer requests begin to fly in his direction.
Part Three to follow..