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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 19 October, 2018

One last big China move and more talking points ahead of Transfer Deadline Day

Plus, will there be any further deals involving Republic of Ireland internationals?

Ashley Young has been linked with a move to China.
Ashley Young has been linked with a move to China.
Image: Mike Egerton

1. Will there be another big-money move to China?

THERE HAVE BEEN some notable transfers involving Chinese clubs in recent weeks.

Shanghai Shenua made Carlos Tevez the highest paid athlete in the world, while Axel Witsel and Oscar joined Tianjin Quanjian and Shanghai SIPG respectively.

Such is the growing power of Chinese football that four of the world’s top 10 highest-paid footballers now ply their trade in the country.

However, recent reports that the Chinese Football Association are set to limit the number of Super League foreign players could now put a curb on excessive spending by teams.

Yet that’s not to say there won’t be at least one more high-profile transfer before the window closes tomorrow.

Ashley Young is the latest name being mentioned in connection with a move to Asia, and Man United boss Jose Mourinho has done little to quell speculation that a transfer could happen between now and Tuesday night.

2. Which Irish players are set to move?

At the moment it seems relatively quiet in terms of Irish players on the move.

So far, Conor Hourihane going to Aston Villa from Barnsley and Darron Gibson from Everton to Sunderland have been the only relatively high-profile moves involving Irish players this January.

However, at least two more notable names are expected to be involved in deals before the window closes.

Robbie Brady’s future has been the subject of much speculation for a while now, and it seems as if Burnley are now odds-on to sign the Irish star.

Crystal Palace’s capture of Patrick van Aarnholt appears to have ruled them out of the running, while Burnley missing out on Robert Snodgrass to West Ham — another club linked with Brady — means they have now turned their full attention to the Irish international.

Norwich are currently close to the loan signing of Ajax left-back Mitchell Dijks — widely regarded as a replacement for Brady — and once that deal is official, the Dubliner should be free to link up with Ireland teammates Stephen Ward and Jeff Hendrick at Turf Moor.

In addition, Sunderland today completed a deal for Gibson, after they failed in their attempts to sign the midfielder’s Ireland teammate James McCarthy.

The 29-year-old, who underwent a medical this afternoon at the Stadium of Light, appeared just once for the Toffees this season, in their 4-0 EFL Cup defeat of Yeovil last August.

Gibson started off his Everton career promisingly, but appeared only sporadically for the Toffees since suffering a serious knee injury in Ireland’s win over Kazakhstan back in October 2013.

The bookmakers have also mischievously slashed odds on Seamus Coleman joining Manchester United, though a transfer involving the Donegal native at this late stage seems highly improbable — it wouldn’t be the first time a transfer rumour involving the Irish captain has come to nothing.

And finally, West Ham remain close to a deal involving €17m-rated Irish-qualified striker Scott Hogan.

3. Will there be one big surprise?

Britain Soccer Premier League David Luiz re-signing for Chelsea raised plenty of eyebrows last August. Source: Rui Vieira

On Deadline Day, there is often one big transfer deal that comes out of nowhere.

Man United are specialists at pulling this type of under-the-radar transfer off.

In September 2014, they signed Radamel Falcao in a £6m season-long loan deal from Monaco

A year later, the £36m capture of Anthony Martial from the same club was another bolt from the blue.

Last August, David Luiz’s return to Chelsea transpired without any prior speculation that it was likely to happen.

The January window is traditionally quiet compared with the summer, but more optimistic fans of underperforming clubs will nevertheless keep an eye on Sky Sports News tomorrow in the faint hope that their club can pull off a big last-minute deal.

4. Can Southampton get their man and what will it mean for Shane Long’s future?

Southampton are reportedly closing in on the £17m signing of Manolo Gabbiadini from Napoli.

The 25-year-old, who can play on the wing or up front, has scored 16 goals in 56 appearances for the Serie A side.

And should the Saints complete a deal for the Italy international, who previously played with Juventus and Sampdoria, it could spell trouble for the club’s League Cup semi-final hero Shane Long.

Despite a superbly taken goal against Liverpool last week, Long has not been a regular starter for Southampton this season.

The 30-year-old has made 30 appearances for the Saints this season — many of which have been from the bench.

After reaching double figures for the first time in the Premier League last season, he has scored just three goals since the start of this season in all competitions, albeit playing out wide rather than up front at times.

These problems led to speculation that Long could be set for a move to West Ham, though his impressive performance in the recent defeat of Liverpool quite possibly put Claude Puel off the idea of letting him leave.

But whether or not Gabbiadini comes in, it’s clear the Tipperary native still has plenty of work to do to convince his manager that he is worthy of a regular first-team spot.

5. Quietest Deadline Day ever?

Let’s be honest: the prospect of Deadline Day is no longer as exciting as it once was.

Unless you count Stoke making Porto’s Giannelli Imbula their record signing or Oumar Niasse joining Everton for £13.5 million as big news, last year’s January Deadline Day was very quiet – a far cry from the days involving big money moves for Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll within the same window.

This year’s Deadline Day looks set to be similarly uneventful to the 2016 equivalent. The fact that it clashes with seven Premier League matches further complicates matters, with managers and players likely to be more focused on winning football matches than getting deals over the line.

Consequently, barring a big surprise, it seems unlikely that there’ll be too much of interest to talk about come 11pm tomorrow.

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Paul Fennessy

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