Nobody has their finger on the pulse in the football transfer world quite like Fabrizio Romano. With the January transfer window open and many Premier League clubs needing to strengthen, he’s given us five transfers that we should expect to happen this month. Here we go…
Radu Dragusin to Tottenham
The data says: Dragusin is playing for a newly promoted Serie A side that naturally aren’t able to dominate the ball like his prospective new employers do under Ange Postecoglou, but having helped Genoa out of Serie B last season, he has experience playing in a possession-dominant team, too. The 21-year-old ranked third in Serie B in 2022-23 for successful passes (1,641) and fifth for carries of more than five metres that he followed with a pass (370). Right-footed but deployed on the left side of a back three, Dragusin is a technically competent defender who is comfortable and effective bringing the ball out of defence.
This season, with Genoa having adapted to life in the top tier by playing a more reactive style of football – they rank 19th of 20 teams for average possession share (42.1%) – Dragusin hasn’t been able to show off his passing ability anything like as much. He has, however, still completed at least 57 more passes (568) than any other Genoa player, showing that when they do play out, they tend to go through him.
He has had to do more defending in the top flight, and he has responded well. In 2023-24, he ranks second in Serie A for clearances made (87) and top of all defenders – and third overall – for aerial duels won (59). He has also only been dribbled past once despite playing every single available minute of league football so far this season. Spurs need reinforcements at centre-back and Dragusin looks like he could be a very good addition.
Valentín Barco to Brighton
The data says: Still only 19 years old, there’s no doubt that Barco is talented, but he’s also versatile. Across the Argentina Primera División last season, he split his minutes between left-back (29% of minutes), left midfield (25%), left wing (27%) and even played 18% of his minutes in either a central midfield or defensive midfield role at Boca Juniors.
Overall, only 12 players played more minutes as a teenager in the Argentinian top flight last season than Barco (1,432) while he was the second youngest outfielder in Argentina’s squad at the 2023 Under-20 World Cup, where he played in all four of their games. In league competition for Boca in 2023, his average of 1.3 chances created per 90 minutes was the third highest at the club, as was his expected assists average of 0.14.
Whilst Pervis Estupiñán has the left-back position at Brighton locked down after an impressive 18 months at the Seagulls, Barco is a perfect player to eventually force his way into the side and an ideal option if the Ecuadorian spends more time out injured in 2024.
Kalvin Phillips to Newcastle
The data says: Things haven’t worked out for Phillips at Man City. Since signing from Leeds United in the summer of 2022, the midfielder has played in just 31 of his sides’ 92 competitive matches, while he’s been on the pitch for just 913 minutes overall – an average of 29 minutes per appearance.
Even manager Pep Guardiola admitted that he felt sorry for the predicament that Phillips had found himself in, saying that “the only thing I can say about him is I am asking for good personalities and characters and he is a perfect example. And after that I have to give him something and I didn’t do that”. With Newcastle’s downturn in form coupled with a long injury list, Eddie Howe will need a character of Phillip’s ilk to help bond his squad.
A great ball-winner, Phillips recovered possession 10.2 times per 90 minutes on average in his final Premier League season at Leeds in 2021-22, which was higher than any other player in the competition with at least 900 minutes of playing time. Newcastle’s leading possession-winner in midfield within the Premier League this season is Bruno Guimarães, who’s averaged 6.3/90, so Phillips’ could provide the team with more solid foundations in central areas.
Steven Bergwijn to West Ham
The data says: Bergwijn’s previous foray as a Premier League footballer didn’t really live up to expectations, but it would be stupid to write him off ahead of a potential move back to London with West Ham United this month.
In two and a half seasons as a Tottenham player, the Dutch forward scored just eight times in 3,560 competitive minutes, with seven more assists to his name. Of course, he’s fondly remembered at Spurs for two goals deep into injury time away at Leicester City in January 2022 to seal one of the most dramatic turnaround wins in Premier League history, but he’ll need to show more of the form he’s displayed in the last 18 months at Ajax to impress the naysayers.
Since rejoining the Dutch giants in July 2022, Bergwijn has had a hand in 33 goals in 65 competitive appearances (24 goals, nine assists), with only Dusan Tadic and Brian Brobbey (both 34) been involved in more goals for Ajax since the start of 2022-23. His 16 goals across all competitions last season was a career-best campaign, while he’s scored seven goals and assisted two more in 13 Eredivisie matches this season in what has been a miserable one for his club.
Despite his better goal tally, Bergwijn converted a higher proportion of chances in the Premier League with Spurs (16.3%) than he has in the Eredivisie at Ajax since (15.1%), so that suggests that if he’s given playing time at the Hammers, it could be a great deal for Moyes’ side.
Timo Werner to Tottenham
The data says: Werner is known in England as a striker who misses too many chances for good reason. During his two seasons at Chelsea – 2020-21 and 2021-22 – Werner underperformed in front of goal to a greater extent than any other Premier League player. He scored 10 goals from chances worth 18.3 expected goals (xG), with his underperformance of 8.3 the worst record in the top flight in that time.
A lack of confidence appeared to play a big part in Werner’s struggles in England, so it will be interesting to see how he contends with a move back to the Premier League and the scrutiny that will come with that. His numbers from his 18 months back in Germany with RB Leipzig aren’t exactly groundbreaking but his finishing at least looked to have improved to around an average level, with Werner scoring 11 goals from 11.4 xG. Wherever he has gone, the German has got into good goalscoring positions – during his two years in England, he averaged 0.42 non-penalty xG per 90, which was the 10th-highest total among Premier League players to play at least 2,500 minutes. Back in Germany, he has continued to work good opportunities, generating chances worth 0.44 xG per 90 – the seventh-highest such rate (min. 2,000 minutes played).
The question, then, is whether he can replicate his Bundesliga numbers in England, or if he just isn’t suited or cut out to play in the Premier League. Much of that will boil down to the work of Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou, and how well he can build his new forward’s confidence.