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Five shock January moves you didn’t expect

Squawka News

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There were some eye-catching signings in January, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic perhaps the most high-profile, while Hull broke their club record twice in one month, snaring Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long respectively.

Here, however, Squawka takes a look at the surprise signings of the January transfer window and, as I’m sure you’ll all agree, there were a fair few to choose from.

Kim Källström – Spartak Moscow to Arsenal (season-long loan):

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Perhaps the most bizarre of the lot was the Swedish international’s loan move from Russian outfit Spartak Moscow to Arsenal.

The deal was deemed odd for various reasons. Firstly, Arsenal’s need for a striker had not gotten past anyone during the previous window apart from, it would seem, Arsene Wenger, who could not seal a deal for the forward which would surely see the Gunners keep up with the pace set by Manchester City are setting in the title race.

The need for a midfielder – despite the feeling Wenger merely seized the opportunity to stock up an overflowing collection – was heightened following injuries and suspensions sustained by key midfield personnel and the Frenchman acted swiftly to avoid an injury crisis.

But Källström who, let us not forget will bring experience to an Arsenal team still fighting on three fronts, is not match fit with Spartak in the midst of a Russian league close season and at 31, is most probably lacking the pace required to get to grips with the unforgiving tempo of the Premier League.

It would be unfair to castigate Källström and make him the scapegoat of Arsenal’s January failings and if a striker had been added, his acquisition would have been regarded largely as a sensible one. However, when you consider his passing accuracy comes in at a measly 69%…

Kallstrom Pass AccuracyKallstrom Pass Accuracy – RPL 2013/14

For a midfielder, that is simply not good enough. In fact, only Olivier Giroud, Wojciech Szczesny and Yaya Sanogo have fared worse from the Gunners squad while only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, who have both been sidelined for long periods this term, have a worst average duels won percentage, with Källström coming out on top 39% of the time.

Kallstrom Duel SuccessKallstrom Duel Success – RPL 2013/14

The news of a back injury – which will keep him sidelined for the club’s next six matches - that emerged during the medical procedure of his move, though, makes this move one of the most mysterious of recent transfer windows.

Konstantinos Mitroglou – Olympiakos to Fulham (£12.5m)

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The Greek striker has been a revelation in his homeland this season, plundering 17 goals overall, with three in the Champions League to help his side to a last-16 tie against Manchester United.

He has created an impressive six chances, with one assist to his name in Europe too, and his performance score of 137 is surpassed only by the promising defender Kostas Manolas (182).

Mitroglou Chances Created Mitroglou Chances Created

His move to Craven Cottage, then, has created more questions than it has answers with Mitroglou effectively sacrificing the chance to fire his side to a first European quarter-final in 15 years – and just a second ever – for a scrap to the very finish to preserve the Cottagers’ Premier League status.

That would appear a monumental task on Saturday’s evidence, with Rene Meulensteen’s side rolling over with a whimper as Southampton steamrollered their way past a feeble-looking outfit who now find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table.

The surprise is not so much on Fulham’s part with Meulensteen earmarking a striker of proven quality on the biggest stage and rightly pursuing a deal. Full marks to him for getting it over the line on deadline day amid late interest from West Ham United but the move on Mitroglou’s part and the Greek club’s appears miscalculated.

The striker has ultimately taken a sideways, if not downwards step, tasked with a nigh-on impossible job of rescuing his new employers while the Greek giants’ chances of an upset against United have diminished as a result, having had next to no time to draft in a replacement.

For Fulham, though, it will take more than the goalscoring output of their new prized possession to save them, they need a miracle.

Pablo Armero – Napoli to West Ham United (season-long loan)

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Little surprise from a West Ham perspective, inheriting a versatile individual who bolstered the club’s options at left back after a dislocated shoulder to Joey O’Brien and the termination of Razvan Rat’s contract after just six months with the club.

But if Hammers fans did not know this already, Armero is highly thought-of in both a defensive and an offensive capacity and has been one of the star performers as a left-wing-back in Napoli’s cavalier version of the popular 4-2-3-1.

Three average defensive actions per game, the lowest from Napoli’s roster of defenders, supports the view that his best work is done further upfield. Perhaps so because, conversely, the Colombia international has created 12 chances so far this season.

Armero Chances CreatedArmero Chances Created – Serie A 2013/14

Sam Allardyce immediately sought to remedy a potential crisis after O’Brien sustained a shoulder injury during the 0-0 draw at Chelsea in midweek and could not have landed a more astute signing so close to the closure of the window.

Armero brings pace, strength and a relatively impressive eye for a pass which is sure to have captured the imagination of Allardyce given his side’s struggles in front of goal this season and inability to link play between midfield and attack on a consistent basis.

The return to fitness of Andy Carroll and tying up a deal for Roma forward Marco Borriello will certainly help combat any threat of the goals drying up as the battle survival approaches its crux and Armero’s addition offers the Hammers boss qualities going forward which O’Brien can’t without passing over his primary job at the back.

Grant Holt – Wigan Athletic to Aston Villa (season-long loan)

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Aston Villa’s goalscoring problems in the first half of the season – at least until Christian Benteke awoke from a slumber stretching back to September – were well documented, with the rangy Belgian, Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor have netted just 13 between them in the league.

Factor in the broken leg injury which halted Libor Kozak’s maiden campaign in English football and the need for a frontman becomes all the more pressing for a Villa side who are neither here nor there in the Premier League standings, sitting with some degree of comfort away from the danger zone but not posing any real threat to what has become a nine-team hegemony in the top flight.

The answer, according to Lambert, was a loan move for Grant Holt. The same Grant Holt who had struggled to break into a Wigan Athletic side who found themselves in the lower echelons of the Championship as they struggled to juggle Europa League football with their domestic campaign.

Holt has scored on just two occasions since his move to the DW Stadium and must now navigate a way through to the Villa team to rediscover any kind of touch in front of goal, one that has sadly deserted him for large spells of this term.

Holt Pass AccuracyHolt Pass Accuracy (Wigan) – Championship 2013/14

A shot accuracy of 47% is trumped by both Benteke (57%) and Agbonlahor (48%) but is ahead of Weimann’s 39%. Despite this, each of the forward triumvirate are in credit compared to Holt’s 13 chances created, with the Cumbrian-born striker also the worst passer by some way with 56%.

Benteke hardly excels at just 59%, whereas Weimann and Agonlahor come into their own in this category given the wide positions they take up.

It must be stressed that Holt was brought in solely as cover, a role Kozak often found himself playing before sustaining injury but the jury is most certainly out on whether Holt is an upgrade on the young striker Nicklas Helenius who has not had a look-in so far in the league despite scoring in the FA Cup third-round defeat to Sheffield United.

The personal ties between Lambert and Holt from their spell together at Norwich City goes partially towards vindicating the decision to bring in the 32-year-old but it looks a strange fit for a club aiming upwards. For Holt personally, there must have been a fair sense of incredulity on his behalf when hearing the news. He certainly owes his agent one.

Antonio Nocerino – AC Milan to West Ham United (season-long loan)

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The Italian has barely featured for the Rossoneri, appearing in exactly half of his parent club’s 22 matches this season, but represents a bargain on the Hammers’ behalf. He may be out of favour but there can be no doubting the pedigree of the fully-fledged Italy international.

Nocerino arrives with experience in abundance and will add a bite to the midfield which has been sorely lacking from a side who have displayed very few hallmarks of a traditional Allardyce side at times this season. 56% fouls committed to 44% suffered offers an early insight into the Italian’s style.

Nocerino Duel SuccessNocerino Duel Success (Milan) – Serie A 2013/14

He is clearly the type of player who relishes the proverbial midfield battle and this type of combative quality is exactly what is required when you are embroiled in a fight for survival.

West Ham’s soft centre has often been their undoing in the absence of Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll, so Nocerino’s presence will immediately offer a boost.

But this isn’t to say the midfielder’s only skill is to get in the faces of opposition. Far from it, in fact, though his six chances created does suggest a lack of creativity.Although that figure could not compete with the Hammers’ current creators ,the likes of Mark Noble (39) and Stewart Downing (33), it is difficult to gauge from the small amount of games Nocerino has played.

Nevertheless, an impressive passing accuracy of 83% is bettered only by Noble’s 84% and Ravel Morrison on 86%.

Nocerino Pass AccuracyNocerino Pass Accuracy (Milan) – Serie A 2013/14

It comes as a surprise, mainly because it looked as though his absence would weaken the midfield of an AC Milan side who trail runaway Serie A leaders Juventus by some 27 points even at this stage.

His exit was belatedly compensated for by the arrival of Michael Essien at the San Siro but either way Milan’s loss – albeit a temporary one – can most certainly be West Ham’s gain.

Edited by Staff Editor

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