It seems an awful long time since Liverpool and Chelsea went Number Nine mad in the January transfer window of 2011, splashing more than a combined £100m to strengthen their striking departments.
Having already bagged Luis Suarez for a veritable snip at £23million, Liverpool saw Chelsea come calling for their star forward Fernando Torres. The general public baulked at the £50million asking price, but Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich didn’t – he paid up. And on a dramatic final day of the window, Torres headed to Stamford Bridge and Andy Carroll went from Newcastle to Anfield for an eye-popping £35million. It was the stuff of madness.
Some 12 years later, it seems that very little has changed. Manchester United are so desperate for a striker they’re willing to recruit one on loan from Burnley, in the shape of Wout Weghorst.
The 30-year-old Dutch beanpole has been loaned by Besiktas since the summer but is apparently confident of securing a move to Manchester, and good United sources have confirmed the wheels are indeed in motion. Weghorst might have bagged a couple of World Cup goals for the Netherlands but he’s hardly Cristiano Ronaldo replacement material. Time will tell whether Erik ten Hag is right to pursue yet another Dutch-flavoured signing. This one seems like a gamble.
Over at Chelsea, things are looking even stranger. As Graham Potter continues to labour having replaced the hastily-sacked Thomas Tuchel (Potter is 4/1 with some bookies to be the next Premier League manager unseated), new owner Todd Boehly is going gung-ho with his transfer policy regardless.
The American has already recruited Monaco centre-back Benoit Badiashile, Brazilian midfielder Andrey Santos and David Datro Fofana from Norway and has clinched a deal to bring Christopher Nkunku to Stamford Bridge from RB Leipzig in the summer. Not content with that, however, Chelsea are now set to pay an €11m loan fee to sign Joao Felix for the next six months. The Atletico Madrid forward (who isn’t really the Number Nine Chelsea need) was hitherto on United and Arsenal’s radar.
The good news for Potter is that he’s received the public backing of Boehly and the Chelsea board, despite recent back-to-back defeats to Manchester City. Well, maybe that’s good news. We all know what often comes after the dreaded vote of confidence.
Elsewhere, the gossip columns are backed to the brim with potential striker signings. From Newcastle’s reported pursuit of Moussa Diaby, to Southampton’s proposed move for Celtic’s Japanese star Daizen Maeda. And then there’s the host of names linked with United, just in case Weghorst doesn’t work out: Memphis Depay, Edin Dzeko, Goncalo Ramos and Vincent Aboubakar are all reportedly in the running.
It seems clubs, especially those with big budgets and a chequered recent transfer history, just cannot help themselves when it comes to January and the hasty addition of a new Number Nine.