Kevin Doyle on the Reading’s start to the season, Championship talent and his January transfer window experience
We’ve been chatting with our football ambassador Kevin Doyle to discuss all things January transfer window, from the importance of the window for Championship clubs, to his experience in the window during his professional career.
For more, check out Doyle’s thoughts on the January transfer window, Wolves’ striker pursuit and Dele Alli’s future, plus the importance of this January window for the Premier League’s top clubs including Liverpool and Manchester United.
Looking at another of your former sides, Reading, they’re playing some excellent football in the Championship this season. Will it be more important for them to hold on to their star names in January, or will they rely on the window to keep their promotion push going?
I think it’s more a case of keeping those players. They’re in the play-off places at the moment, probably fourth or fifth, but they were in the top two for a long while after a fantastic start, but that dropped off a bit and they’re coming back to form now.
A friend of mine, John O’Shea’s there, and I think they’re a young and positive group which they need to keep together. They’ve got a couple out of contract in the summer, Omar Richards is one of them and he’s a very good player that’s been linked with a few clubs but they won’t want to lose him. I’d say for them, it’s more a case of trying to tie them down to new deals.
Reading aren’t a club that are full of money, and it’s going to be difficult for them to sign players as well as keeping them, but I think they’ll be looking to keep in and around where they are and sneak into the play-offs at the end of the season. They’d have taken that before the season started, and I can’t see them signing anyone.
Michael Olise as well, he’s excellent so they’ll hope to keep hold of him until the end of the season at least so they can try and get into the playoffs, but I don’t see them making huge signings. They might be able to get someone out of contract or someone on a free, but I don’t see them signing players. If they keep what they have, then they’ll be happy.
The talent in the Championship is becoming increasingly popular with sides in the top flight, with the likes of Eberechi Eze, Said Benrahma and Jamal Lewis moving in the summer. Are there are Championship players you think could benefit with a move to the Premier League?
Emi Buendia is the one that I think could do, and he can cut it in the Premier League. He’s a really good player, but if you’re Norwich, are you going to let him go in this transfer window?
I’ve been in that sort of situation, doing well in the Championship, scoring goals as a centre forward, and then come January, a few teams want you. But your own team wants you as well, it’s January and it’s harder than in the summer, so I just don’t see any of these players moving in January.
I’d say, more than ever, there will be Premier League teams looking at the Championship for players because of Brexit and the new rules with work permits situations. It’s going to become a lot more attractive to sign someone from the Championship, which is good because it’s a really competitive league.
We’re talking about players coming across in the Covid situation and being unsettled in a new country with all of the restrictions, but why would you go to that hassle if you can sign someone who has already acclimatised to the country from the Championship?
There’s another good player at Huddersfield, Josh Koroma. I’ve seen him a few times and noticed him, I think he’s excellent and would do very well in the Premier League, but Buendia at Norwich, to me, just stands out. He scores goals and assists a few too, but he’s in a team who want to get back into the Premier League and are competing pretty strongly, so it’s hard to see Norwich letting him go but you never know the finances, that’s the only reason he might leave but you’d imagine they’ll all be hanging on to all of these players until the summer at least to give themselves the best chance.
What’s your experience of the January transfer window throughout your career? You only moved once in January, on loan to QPR in 2014, but were you ever close to a big money January move in your career?
The closest I would have been would have been when Aston Villa bid a lot of money for me in the January transfer window. I don’t know if it was actually that close because I was at Reading at the time, and just said ‘No, you’re not going’ and that was it so I wouldn’t even say it was that close.
I nearly went to Celtic in the January transfer window from Wolves, but then Wolves changed their mind at the last minute while Celtic were waiting for me to fly up there, so it didn’t happen.
It’s such a difficult window. If you’re any good, your own club doesn’t want to let you go unless they’re desperate for money or your contract is coming to an end in the summer, because they’ll look to cash in there.
If the club you’re at are letting you go pretty easily, then the club buying should have a few questions for you, like why could you come so easily in January? Why don’t they want to hold on to you?
In that Aston Villa example, I was happy at Reading and I wasn’t looking, plus you’d prefer to get to the end of the season to sort a move. In my case, I’d have been moving up to Villa but you’d prefer to do all of that side to it when you’ve got a couple of months off to get that side of your personal life sorted out.
When I moved to QPR on loan, I must say I really enjoyed it, I loved it in fact, so there are positives to it as well. There have obviously been some good signings, Van Dijk and Bruno Fernandes are the two standouts in recent years.
It’s unsettling as a player, not knowing whether you’re coming or going at that point in the season. You know teams might be interested in you, and for your family in the background, not being able to tell them if you’re going to be staying or moving elsewhere, it can be tough but ideally, there’d only be one transfer window a year but you understand because of all of the injuries clubs go through in a season, they do need to sign players.
Some transfers do work out though, probably more so from a foreign club like Fernandes. You could get someone like him, coming from Sporting Lisbon, probably more in need of the finances than English clubs. Going back to it, why would Norwich sell their best player in January? Unless it’s stupid money and they know a team is desperate and they get an offer they know they might not get in the summer, but again, that’s not good business for the buying club.
Clubs can pay over the odds in January, like Van Dijk seemed over the odds at the time but luckily for Liverpool, he’s done the business and it doesn’t look expensive now and it’s worked out. It’s what January brings.
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