Thanks to the snow I spent most of Monday at home checking the Internet and sports news to see if we'd signed anyone exciting. Inevitably, despite being quite busy regarding the movement of fringe players on loan deals, we didn't make a late bid to purchase Kaka from AC Milan or steal Arshavin from under the noses of Arsenal. I'm coping with the whole transfer window shenanigans much better these days, and generally trying very hard to ignore it, but I have to admit I wasted an awful lot of time yesterday tapping the F5 key.
Giles Barnes (Derby County) LOAN with OTB*
Olivier Dacourt (Inter Milan) LOAN
Elliot Omozusi (Norwich City) LOAN RETURN
Jimmy Bullard (Hull City) £5Million
Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough United) £undisclosed
Lee Cook (QPR) £undisclosed
TJ Moncur (Wycombe Wanderers) FREE
Hameur Bouazza (Birmingham City) LOAN
Seol Ki Hyeon (Al Hilal Al Saudi) LOAN
Leon Andreasen (Hannover 96) LOAN with OTB*
Andranik (Barnsley) LOAN
Adrian Leijer (Norwich City) LOAN
The club sensibly kept it's cheque book under lock and key and made best use of the loan system. Giles Barnes could prove to be a very good signing. He's going to need a fair bit of time to improve match fitness and get up to Premier League speed but it's a decent gamble and with a £2Million option to buy a reasonable price should we decide he's up to scratch. Olivier Dacourt has an impressive record, he did feature significantly for Inter last season but has been unable to break into a first team that is currently topping Serie A. I'm quite excited about Dacourt but felt similarly about Jari Litmanen this time last year so we'll have to wait and see what happens (I'm hoping Dacourt's ears are in better condition than Jari's!). No great loss if he's not up to it and a great chance for Dacourt to prove his worth ahead of next season.
Most of the outward movement is not unexpected though letting both Andreasen and Andranik go doesn't help our midfield options. We've still got eight players in that position and maybe Barnes and Dacourt can improve our reserve quality. It's up front I have the greatest concerns. Just three fit strikers leaves us vulnerable to injury and with limited options from the bench. That said Kamara is nearing fitness again and compared with Everton (who've been making do with Tim Cahill for over a month before bringing in Jo on loan yesterday) we have a multitude of riches. We might have improved this by signing 19 year old Ben Wright from Hampton & Richmond but, as Roy Hodgson explains, stepped aside to let him join Peterborough United instead.
In other news we've turned Julian Gray's loan into a permanent deal (though only until June), which doesn't mean a great deal other than freeing up one of our domestic loan slots. This probably suggests that we were close to bringing in another player on loan but missed out (the hot rumour is we may have got Caicedo from Man City if they'd got Roque Santa Cruz). Club Captain Danny Murphy signed the option to extend his contract through to June 2010 which is good news, and of course we kept Brede Hangeland. A lean squad of 23 players is no bad thing and may even give valuable opportunities to some of our academy graduates.
* OTB = Option to buy.
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