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When does the 2021 January transfer window open and close & who are the top targets?

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All details about the upcoming transfer window, when it opens and closes, as well as the high profile players being courted 

The intrigue and excitement of transfers remains one of the most engaging aspects of football, with rumours of big-money moves fuelled all year round.

Naturally, transfer talk intensifies the closer we get to the opening of the window, often reaching a crescendo in the moments just before it “slams shut”, as the saying goes.

Ahead of the new year, Xpooze brings you the all details about the upcoming January transfer window, when it opens and closes, as well as taking a look at the top targets.

When does the 2021 January transfer window open & close?

The 2021 January transfer window opened on Saturday January 2 for Premier League and English Football League clubs.

It will remain open for a period of around four weeks before closing on Monday February 1.

Of course, the transfer window varies from country to country, with some leagues adhering to different opening and closing dates.

In Spain, for example, La Liga clubs were able to engage in transfer business from Monday January 4 – two days after the window opened in England – until February 1.

Italy follows the same window dates, meaning Serie A clubs are harmonised with their Spanish counterparts.

The transfer window period for German and French clubs is the same as in England – open from January 2 and closed on February 1.

LeagueTransfer window opensTransfer window closes
Premier LeagueJanuary 2, 2021February 1, 2021
BundesligaJanuary 2, 2021February 1, 2021
Ligue 1January 2, 2021February 1, 2021
La LigaJanuary 4, 2021February 1, 2021
Serie AJanuary 4, 2021February 1, 2021

Since 2020-21 seasons have effectively reverted to their normal schedules, the dates for the January transfer window are unaffected by Covid-19-related delays.

The summer transfer window in 2020 was pushed further into the year after lockdown measures played havoc with the customary competition calendars of the world’s football leagues.

It was pushed back a month, opening at the end July and closing at the beginning of October, meaning it was more of a summer-autumn transfer window.

Who are the top January transfer window targets?

So, who are the top transfer targets in the upcoming January window?

A number of high profile stars are out of contract this coming summer, but deals could well be wrapped up early, while others find themselves out of favour at their clubs.

Lionel Messi | Barcelona

Uncertainty continues to swirl around the future of six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, whose contract with Barcelona expires in the summer of 2021.

He has been strongly linked with Manchester City in particular, though the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have also been touted as potential destinations.

The Argentine pushed for an early Camp Nou exit in August, but ultimately relented in his efforts, though he outlined his reasons for wanting to leave in an exclusive interview with Goal.

One of the issues was Messi’s relationship with Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barca’s erstwhile president, who stood down in October and the club will soon elect a new president in January.

It is felt that Messi will wait to see the outcome of the presidential elections, which conclude on January 24, before making the final call on his future.

Declan Rice | West Ham

Chelsea are believed to be keen on signing Declan Rice from West Ham – a move which, if it happens, would see the defensive midfielder return to the club where he kicked off his journey as a professional.

Rice, now an England international, has been playing as a midfielder for the Hammers, but it is understood that Frank Lampard envisages the player as a viable defensive option.

Mesut Ozil | Arsenal

Once regarded as one of the best footballers in the world, Mesut Ozil’s star has faded considerably over the course of his last two seasons at Arsenal and he now finds himself excluded from the squad list.

The Gunners hierarchy appear keen to move the lucratively remunerated World Cup winner off their roster, but it remains unclear where exactly he could end up.

Ozil has expressed a desire to see out his contract with the north London club, but he is also eager to play games and he will probably have to move in order to do that.

His agent has confirmed that Fenerbahce are interested, while also revealing that the playmaker has had offers “from all over the world”. 

David Alaba | Bayern Munich

David Alaba is one of the stalwarts of Bayern Munich and has collected nine Bundesliga titles as well as two Champions League winner’s medals during his time in Bavaria.

However, it looks like his time there is set to end, with Oliver Kahn hinting that the Austria international is intent on leaving despite having the proverbial “red carpet” rolled out for him in contract talks.

Manchester United have been spoken of as a potential destination for Alaba, while Chelsea are also reportedly keen to lure him to Stamford Bridge.

Houssem Aouar | Lyon

Lyon playmaker Houssem Aouar is on the radar of Arsenal and embattled Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is in need of some fresh impetus in order to turn the club’s fortunes around.

The Premier League side attempted to bring Aouar to the club last summer and he is understood to have a transfer tag of £45 million ($61m).

Georginio Wijnaldum | Liverpool

Netherlands international Georginio Wijnaldum will be free to leave Liverpool this summer and it is thought that he has a number of suitors across Europe.

Barcelona have been most heavily linked with the midfielder, while Inter are also reportedly interested in securing his services as they seek to bolster their squad after a disappointing Champions League display.

It is possible that the Dutchman could remain with the Premier League club, but as January 1 approaches, it is looking increasingly likely that he will leave.

Christian Eriksen | Inter

One of the most highly regarded playmakers in Europe, Christian Eriksen’s move to Milan looks set to become a disappointing sojourn after Inter confirmed he is on the market in January.

Nerazzurri CEO Giuseppe Marotta noted that Eriksen has struggled at San Siro, describing him as “not functional” to Antonio Conte’s squad.

“That is not any insult towards his professionalism,” Marotta told Sky Sports Italy after confirming the Dane had been place on the transfer list. 

“There is no punishment, it’s just a situation that has developed and it’s only fair to give him the chance to go where he can play more regularly.”

Interestingly, Arsenal have been linked to the former Tottenham star, while he has previously attracted attention from Real Madrid.

Isco | Real Madrid

Mikel Arteta has been given some grace to turn things around at Arsenal after leading the Gunners to their worst-ever Premier League start and things are beginning to look a bit better.

However, it is obvious that there is something lacking and that, according to club technical director, is creativity in the midfield.

Real Madrid star Isco, a four-time Champions League winner with the Spanish giants, is reportedly under consideration, but transfer chiefs are still considering the pros and cons, with a number of young talents growing in stature.

Hakan Calhanoglu | AC Milan

It took him a while to get going at AC Milan, but Hakan Calhanoglu has really blossomed at San Siro this season and his form has not gone unnoticed.

The Turkey international is believed to be on the radar of Juventus, while Manchester United transfer chiefs have reportedly been monitoring his availability.

With 29 goals to his name and a further 45 provided for his team-mates across his 149 games for the club, he will have plenty of admirers.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli is hopeful that he can keep hold of the Turkey international, telling DAZN: “I don’t think there are problems. Calha is with us and with the club. I’m sure that his will is to stay, there is a negotiation.

“The club, technical area, the player and I want the same thing, he has reached important levels and can still grow. He’s a player to bet on.”

Olivier Giroud | Chelsea

World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud is one of France‘s most prolific scorers, yet he probably doesn’t get the respect his numbers deserve.

Nevertheless, he has some admirers, most notably back in his native country, with a number Ligue 1 clubs being linked over the past few years.

Interestingly, Juventus have emerged as a possible destination, with Andrea Pirlo admitting the 34-year-old frontman would be a “handy” player to have at his disposal.