As with every winter transfer window, the rumours were many, equally so the sensational headlines, albeit, the transfers that actually materialised were far fewer.
As per the norm for any winter transfer window, there was a plethora of rumours and sensational headlines. However, the number of transfers that actually materialised paled by comparison. As for the particularly stunning deals, well, only time will tell their true impact.
This year, it must be noted, the headlines in sports newspapers were more restrained. They were far from the outrageous reports that ignited dreams even as they seemed improbably far-fetched. The key reason for this restraint was down to the actual movers of the transfer world, working with a more moderate spending potential.
This said, three other factors also dominated much of the media coverage. Firstly, the Scudetto title race. The riveting duel between Inter and Juventus is of primary interest for all. Furthermore, the emergence of Yildiz, Inter’s Supercoppa triumph with a new multiple day format, and the shocking dismissal of Mourinho, these events have understandably taken precedence. The media coverage is deserving as these intriguing events are far more exciting than some comparatively minor transactions.
Secondly, the sombre passing and subsequent reminiscing of football greats Franz Beckenbauer and Gigi Riva in January. Their unavoidable memorial features occupied worthy column inches. As stalwarts of footballing history, readers of print media, who lived through their iconic era, understandably sought to know more.
Thirdly, the sensational rise of Jannik Sinner, following his Australian Open triumph. His victory made headlines not just during the tournament, but also in the days leading up to it and after. It’s entirely possible that the young Sinner has already established himself as one of the standout characters of 2024.
Now, as for the speculated transfers that gained credence but eventually fell through, here are the top four. Firstly, Djalò’s move to Inter. At the beginning of January, it appeared that Marotta had secured Buchanan and was almost certain to get Zielinski and Taremi for the summer. It was presumed Djalò was also on his way to Inter, but in the end, he ended up moving to Juventus.
Secondly, the ‘Champions Insurance’. This headline appeared in the Corriere dello Sport on Epiphany, referring to three signings Napoli were reportedly making to secure the fourth spot. In reality, none of the players – Dragusin, Samardzic and Soumarè – made the move. In Soumaré’s case, he left Serie A for Tottenham.
Thirdly, the Samardzic affair. The Udinese player’s demands were so high he ended up staying put. At one point, Juventus and Napoli appeared to be competing for his signature, but this was a fleeting rumour which faded as time passed.
Finally, Kean’s journey. He was expected to go on loan to Atletico, and did indeed go to Madrid. However, the result of his medical examination caused Simeone to send him back. In this instance, no behind-the-scenes transfer manoeuvre, just a choice, bringing the forward potentially permanently closer to Juventus and further away from a call-up to the Italian Euro set-up.