Malta Premier League: January transfer window roundup

The first month of the year is a busy time for football clubs around the world as they will be looking to strengthen their squads for the second half of the season.

John Arne Riise is Birkirkara's new sports director
John Arne Riise is Birkirkara's new sports director

Many clubs wait eagerly for January in order to make amendments to their squads so that they will reach the ambitions for the current season. Some clubs doing well will think twice about signing more players in order to make sure that they will not disturb the harmony in their teams. However, struggling clubs will wait eagerly for January as they hope to turn things around.

This is also the case in Malta as a number of clubs were already active in the market despite it is just the first week.

The first club which immediately became active was Birkirkara. The Stripes started by securing the services of Muamer Svraka who is a midfielder from Bosnia Herzagovina.

A high profile local player that also signed for Birkirkara is Clayton Failla. Failla is a well-known personality in Maltese football and will now play for Birkirkara following a short spell at Floriana.

As part of the negotiations with Floriana, defender Edward Herrera decided to sign for Floriana and thus will spend the second part of the campaign playing for the Greens.

Birkirkara also terminated the contract of Uchenna Umeh. The Nigerian player found little space so far and thus his contract was terminated on a mutual consent.

The most prolific individual that Birkirkara signed is not a player, but their sporting director. This is John Arne Riise who is no stranger to football. The Norwegian player managed to win the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool in 2005. In addition, he also had spells at Monaco, Roma and Fulham. It was reported that Riise will be working directly with the club’s technical director, Michael Valenzia and senior team manager, Jeffrey Farrugia.

Meanwhile, Balzan lost Alex Da Paixao Alves who was a key member of their squad. It is understood that the Brazilian forward decided to continue his career in Saudi Arabia.

Balzan also looked to add another foreigner in their books and signed Bosnian player, Aleksandar Kosoric.

Floriana are a side that definitely need to turn things round if they are to finish the campaign in a respectable position. This is also reflected in the transfer market. Apart from Herrera, Guido Ugolotti’s side signed two Argentinian players. These are Gaston Ezequuiel Casani and Ulisses Arias.

Gzira also decided to make some alterations to their squad. Conscious that there is still some time before Amadou Samb will return from his injury, the Maroons signed Justin Junior Mengolo who is a Cameroonian striker.

There were no other local transfers reported so far, but it is still early and thus other clubs might consider adding more players to their squads prior to the end of this month.

On an international context, speculation surrounds a number of top European clubs.

There are reports that Chelsea could swap Morata with Higuain as Sarri is eager to reunite with his former striker at Napoli who is experiencing a difficult season at AC Milan. Despite this, Juventus will need to give their go ahead as Higuain is still on their books.

Barcelona also secured the services of Adrien Rabiot. The midfielder will join them in summer on a free transfer.

Inter are also interested to sign Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid on a free transfer. The Uruguayan defender will be out of contract in the summer and it is reported that Inter are monitoring the situation closely.

There are also clubs who are not expecting any new signings. Tottenham’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino already indicated that he is not anticipating any January arrivals at Tottenham.

In what many can consider it as a surprise, Manchester United are also not expecting any January signings. Mourinho complained a lot about his players and the need to strengthen the squad. However, Solskjaer made it clear that unlike his predecessor, his is very happy with his squad.

Other major clubs such as Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are also following the situation of other players who they can sign in order to make sure that they remain competitive throughout the rest of the campaign on a domestic level as well as on an international level. For the time being, supporters need to wait and see as there is still time to complete more transfers.

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