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Scottish Premiership January transfer window: What does it mean for your club?

BY SKYSPORTS
01.01.2023
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The January transfer window is open and will close at midnight in Scotland on Tuesday January 31; follow all the latest news on our blog.

The January transfer window is open but where does your team need to strengthen for the second half of the season?

Celtic have been quick off the mark with three new additions with defenders Yuki Kobayashi and Alistair Johnson plus the versatile Tomoki Iwata joining.

Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent, Ryan Porteous of Hibs and Motherwell’s Stephen O’Donnell are some of the many players free to speak to other clubs as they enter the final six months of their contracts, so will they be sold in January?

Ross County and Dundee United remain in a relegation battle, but how much business will they be able to do at the midway stage of the season?

We have asked supporters from every Scottish Premiership club for their assessment of the season so far and who they would like to see join this month…

Aberdeen

Ryan Crombie – A Red Point of View

KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 28: Aberdeen's Matthew Kennedy scores a free kick to make it 2-1 during a cinch Premiership match between Kilmarnock and Aberdeen at Rugby Park, on December 28, 2022, in Kilmarnock, Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Aberdeen head into 2023 on the back of four straight defeats

On balance, Aberdeen’s start to this season hasn’t been all that different from last.

There’s no doubt the home form has been exciting, but scoring goals and taking maximum points at home should be a regular occurrence for any successful Aberdeen team.

Unfortunately, defensive frailties, lack of self-belief and away woes continue to plague this Dons side. Two wins on the road makes for grim reading, while recent performances against Celtic and Rangers have copped swathes of criticism, the majority directed at Goodwin.

There’s no evidence that this Aberdeen team can string a run of several wins together to have us sitting comfortably in the top half of the table.

A semi-final berth is an improvement upon last year, but there are major concerns over the mentality of this Dons side and if they’ll be able to capitalise on the position they find themselves in.

Aberdeen’s hopes of requalifying for European football this season will be reliant on the rest of the sides in the league being equally as inconsistent.

Key Player: Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes

January wishlist: At least two defensive signings

Celtic

Hamish Carton – 67 Hail Hail

It’s hard to be critical of a team who have won every game bar one almost halfway through an entire season. Yet the sense amongst the Celtic support is that this team can and will improve further. We’ve strolled some games this season, but the vast majority have been tight affairs won by only a goal or two.

Ange Postecoglou aims for his teams to peak at the end of the campaign. We saw that in the spring months of last season and I’d expect to see it again this time around.

While his recent form has led to criticism from some supporters, it’s hard to look beyond Kyogo Furuhashi’s contribution in the Scottish Premiership. He’s scored 14 times with many coming in narrow wins or early on in games. If he can stay injury free and find a way to take a higher percentage of his opportunities, he will be very likely to finish as the league’s top scorer.

Our recruitment is likely to centre around further increasing competition in the squad. Many fans would like to see another striker signed while a goalscoring midfielder would also be desirable. The early signing of Alistair Johnston will have eased a lot of nerves about Josip Juranovic moving on.

Key player: Kyogo Furuhashi

January wishlist: Striker and attacking midfielder

Dundee United

Ronny Costello – The Dode Fox Podcast

It’s hard to write positively when your team has struggled for much of the season, although finally off the bottom of the table.

I said in the summer I was really happy with the transfer business so far and that hasn’t really changed but my wish list of dig in midfield, a centre half for the right side and a pacey striker is still on that list. A keeper might be needed as well given neither of ours have made the number one spot their own, how long can it go on when silly mistakes are costing us points?

We’ve had five good wins this season, three of them in the league but the Alkmaar victory seems so long ago. We’ve also been on the end of two big defeats, but the less said about them the better.

There is no doubt that the squad has quality in it, but it’s just not clicking into gear consistently. Changes in goal, formations, players out of position… the list could go on.

There is no doubt the squad need strengthening in January, ideally with a right-sided defender, another striker to help Steven Fletcher and I would lean towards a number one ahead of another midfielder.

All four would be nice but hey, the silky Welshman Dylan Levitt is back in training so nothing to worry about, right?

Key player: Steven Fletcher

January wishlist: Defender, goalkeeper, midfielder and striker

Hearts

Scott Wilson – season ticket holder

Hearts’ season so far has been characterised by a new experience of fixtures coming thick and fast, and optimism for what is to come.

Injuries have plagued the team throughout the first half of the campaign too and injuries to some integral players in our team.

Craig Gordon’s season-ending leg-break is a big blow but Zander Clark has the experience to step up and fill the role left by our captain.

Craig Halkett and Kye Rowles, combined with Liam Boyce and Beni Baningime being long-term absentees left a void in the spine of our side, and we leaked more goals than would’ve been expected as a consequence.

That said, there is optimism heading into the second half of the season. Rowles is back to full fitness, buoyed by some solid performances in Qatar for the Socceroos, while Baningime and Stephen Kingsley should be back soon too.

The star man thus far would, in my opinion, be a toss-up between two but with an honourable mention to Andy Halliday. Those would be Alex Cochrane or Lawrence Shankland.

Cochrane has maintained his performance levels from last season, or even improved, and has been a stand-out performer so far. His surging run down the left, whilst down to 10-men at home to Motherwell, won the penalty which Shankland converted to turn one point into a hugely valuable three. “Shankland converted” is a phrase used regularly this season, hence his name being mentioned as being the key player.

His 13 goals so far are a good return, and he offers more than just predatory instinct. His hold-up play has been largely excellent, and hopes that he can break through the 20-goal barrier for the first time since John Robertson are high.

In terms of January, it’s going to be an interesting window. Since Joe Savage’s arrival, there’s been incremental growth and building and we’d hope for more of the same come January.

A reinforcement in the attacking areas is needed after Boyce’s injury, and that would be high on most fans’ shopping list.

That, combined with another wide player would strengthen massively and provide the platform to progress towards consecutive third-place finishes and another trip to Europe.

Key players: Alex Cochrane and Lawrence Shankland

January wishlist: Striker and winger

Hibernian

Valerie Chapman – season ticket holder

It has not been the season Hibs fans were hoping for so far, with plenty of room for improvement heading into 2023.

Hibs have recorded just two victories in our last 10 matches with the pressure increasing on manager Lee Johnson, although he insists we are on the cusp of finding our real form.

We have enjoyed plenty of possession in a lot of our matches but we continue to lack that killer instinct to turn the performances into points.

Having Kevin Nisbet back from injury has been a welcome boost with his showing his impact in his first game back, opening the scoring in our disappointing 3-2 defeat at Ibrox, while goalkeeper David Marshall has been my stand-out player of the season so far.

The return of Martin Boyle in August was a massive coup for us and his presence seemed to be felt across the squad, so losing him for the rest of the season is a massive blow as we strive to move into the top-six and hopefully a European place.

It also looks like Ryan Porteous will leave in the January window after rejecting a new deal and that void will need to be filled.

There is no doubt the squad needs to be strengthened and central defence is a key area for me too.

Key player: David Marshall

January wishlist: Midfielder and defender

Kilmarnock

It has been a mixed bag so far this season for Kilmarnock but Derek McInnes’ side are slowly finding their feet back at Premiership level.

Killie are currently ninth, however, you could argue that our performances have warranted a higher league position.

In September, we were given a major boost with Derek McInnes signing a three-and-a-half-year extension to his contract, giving us some much-needed stability.

We’ve also got our eyes on cup glory having reached the Viaplay Cup semi-final. This will be our first visit to the national stadium in almost 11 years. Killie are facing the holders Celtic; however, we did triumph against them in the 2012 League Cup final, our last game at Hampden.

This season’s star player has come as a bit of a surprise: Daniel Armstrong, a player who was on the fringes of last year’s Championship-winning squad.

The former Wolves youngster has taken on Chris Burke’s old role out wide and made it his own, with nine-goal contributions in the league to his name so far this season.

During the transfer window there are a couple of areas Killie need to strengthen. The most pressing concern is upfront where we need a reliable backup for Kyle Lafferty.

Even before the Northern Ireland international’s ban, it was clear that our striking options weren’t quite up to Scottish Premiership standard.

We also need more defensive cover, particularly at full-back. On either side, we have two excellent young players in Ryan Alebiosu and Ben Chrisene, on loan from Arsenal and Aston Villa respectively, but when either of them are not available we have had to fit square pegs in round holes with centre-backs often being forced to fill in.

Key player: Daniel Armstrong

January wishlist: Striker and full-back

Livingston

Calum Brown – LFC Live commentator & Talk Livi Podcast

Livingston have started the season brilliantly, however that positivity can still be twinged with a little bit of ‘what if’. The Lions have recorded impressive results over the likes of Rangers, Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen, however, have shipped a few late goals which would have added to an already superb start.

The key man so far this season has got to be Joel Nouble, although Cristian Montaño could feel harshly wronged after a splendid first half of the campaign. Nouble has it all in the forward line. He can hold the ball up – pinning defenders with ease if they get too close. Equally, he can use his excellent skill and pace to get in behind or dribble by defenders if they get too tight!

There are usually several transfer targets that fans will look at when the January window opens, however for Livingston I believe it is imperative that the club holds onto all its key assets until at least the summer – Nouble being one of the priorities to keep in the building. With the likes of Nicky Devlin, Jack Fitzwater and Jason Holt nearing the end of their contracts which expire in six months, The Lions faithful would welcome an extension to these consistent performers as much as a new signing!

As for new additions, I think another tricky wide man would be a positive addition to the club to challenge Nouble and Bahamboula for a starting berth.

Key player: Joel Nouble

January wishlist: Winger

Motherwell

Derek Watson – Director, The Well Society

For Motherwell fans it’s been an up-and-down first half of the season.

We’re only seven points from the European qualifying spot but three from the bottom of a very tight table.

The style of football Stevie Hammell has brought to Fir Park has been a real joy to watch at times. It’s been positive, progressive and a breath of fresh air. We’ve noticed vast improvements in some players, most notably Joe Efford before his unfortunate injury.

I’m not worrying just yet, I believe it will click for Stevie and the players, but the good performances haven’t always necessarily resulted in good results. We’ve lost a number of games by a single goal and it’s vital we hit the ground running after the break and start putting more points on the board.

In my opinion, we really need another centre-half with a bit of pace, potentially another creative wide player and a striker to compliment Van Veen is a must. The signing of Louis Moult really lifted the support, return of the King they said, but he’s not featured a great deal to date.

The stand-out player so far this season has to be Matt Penney. He’s quick, always looking to push forward and has a cracking delivery. I really hope we can extend his loan spell.

Key player: Matt Penney

January wishlist: Centre-half, winger and striker

Rangers

Elaine Macdonald – The Rangers Rabble

Rangers fans were understandably optimistic at the start of the season, given the limited upheaval there was in a transfer window that was expected to be more turbulent.

Five months on, I think that period goes down as a missed opportunity given the minimal success of those who came in, while injuries have depleted the squad and exposed a lack of strength and depth. Michael Beale has a huge task on his hands to salvage some sort of success from this season and January will be pivotal in setting the squad up for not only that, but next season too.

It says a lot that so few players have stood out and my pick for best performer so far is an easy selection in Antonio Colak. We’ve relied on his goals at a time when we’ve had so few options up front. A totally different striker to Alfredo Morelos, Colak’s link-up play has also improved and we wouldn’t have returned to the Champions League without him.

At times I’ve questioned our fitness and what happens next month will depend to an extent on how much the new management team can change that for the better. Beale isn’t helped by the ridiculous injury list he has inherited but I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes about trying to instil some much-needed confidence in the team. The return of players like Connor Goldson and eventually Tom Lawrence will be a boost too.

I’d like him to bring in a new goalkeeper – keeping Allan McGregor hasn’t worked and Jon McLaughlin isn’t the answer either, while I’d love a new winger and another striker – given Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos are both out of contract in the summer. For me, it might just be time for them both to move on as long as they are adequately replaced.

There’s a good argument for strengthening across the entire team and there’s not really one area where I feel we shouldn’t be looking to improve. The most important thing for me in January is to see Beale getting proper backing and to start the much-needed rebuild.

Key player: Antonio Colak

January wishlist: Goalkeeper, striker and winger

Ross County

Ross Morren – The County Corner

Up until this point, performances have been inconsistent, especially in the attacking areas of the pitch. After a full round of fixtures, County had only scored six goals in 11 games, compared to the 15 we had by that stage last season. Some of the summer signings were still adapting to the demands of Scottish Premiership football, and several different midfield and forward combinations had been tested to try and resolve this inconsistency.

The 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock in October has been defined as the “turning point” in our performances by Malky Mackay, where County looked the most dangerous going forward as they had done all season. Another improved performance came the following week against Hearts in Dingwall, but for the second time this season against the Edinburgh side, the Staggies undeservedly came out on the wrong side of the 2-1 scoreline. The performances were certainly improving, but we needed those performances to start earning points.

Since returning from the break, there have been positive signs from performances but defeat to Dundee United sees us head into 2023 bottom of the table.

Our key performer this season has been Yan Dhanda. Initially, he struggled to hold down a place in the starting 11, but after an injury to Ross Callachan away to Kilmarnock at the end of October, Dhanda has grabbed his opportunity with both hands. He’s thrived in the number 10 role, where his creativity adds something a bit special to the County midfield. With his eye for a pass, he can also help dictate the tempo of a game and, in my opinion, is undroppable.

In January I’d like to see us sign another striker to compete with or play alongside Jordan White. Secondly, I think we can improve in the wide areas and I’d love to see the return of Joseph Hungbo. He was a cult hero last season in Dingwall with his pace, trickery and goals. He’s been in and out of the Watford match-day squads, making a handful of appearances during the season so if an opportunity arose to bring him back to Dingwall, it would be a real statement signing.

Finally, I think we could do with some reinforcement at centre-back as cover for any potential injuries and/or suspensions as the season goes on.

Key player: Yan Dhanda

January wishlist: Striker, centre-back and the return of Joseph Hungbo

St Johnstone

Sam Miller – Dogger Saints Podcast

What a novelty it is to be in the festive period without being bottom of the table! Historically we don’t get going until January but the players that have come in have brought back the dogged spirit of Saint’s teams of the past. Seasoned pros like Andrew Considine and Ryan McGowan, along with Alex Mitchell have brought a battling edge at the back which was lacking last season.

The signing which has been the most inspired is that of Nicky Clark. Reminiscent of the role Steven Maclean played, he has freed up Stevie May who genuinely feels like a new signing and is back to his best.

Unlike last January when we signed every single player who was willing to come, the upcoming window should be a much quieter affair. The main target should be to hold onto Millwall loanee Mitchell who’d be much missed. The last time we lost a Millwall player in January (Danny Macnamara) allowed a certain Shaun Rooney to get into the first team and we all know how that worked out. It’s a funny ol’ game.

Key player: Nicky Clark

January wishlist: Hold onto loanee Alex Mitchell

St Mirren

Mark Jardine – Misery Hunters Podcast

In recent memory, most January windows have represented a bit of an oasis for St Mirren. A chance to arrest a poor run of form, overhaul an unbalanced squad or throw in a couple of wild cards to try and turn round the inevitable.

This season is a little different. Thanks, almost entirely, to irrepressible home performances, Stephen Robinson’s men have 25 points in the bag and a relatively short shopping list in the January sales. Competition for places in most areas of the pitch and a self-confessed stretching of the first team budget are likely to restrict the manager’s ambitions on that front.

Summer arrivals Mark O’Hara, Jonah Ayunga, Declan Gallagher and Argentine-hassling Keanu Baccus can all lay a claim for key performers up to this point. In my humble opinion, O’Hara may draw the least headlines of the group but has been the stand-out contributor in this so-far exceptional campaign.

While there are clear benefits of carrying a larger squad, several players may be looking towards the door in January. Club captain Joe Shaughnessy has been reduced to defensive cover, Ethan Erhahon is earning well-deserved plaudits as he enters the last six months of his current contract and most likely his Saints career, and Keanu Baccus’ ascension into starting international midfielder at the World Cup has earned him multiple suitors.

Should the Saints lose some of that defensive cover and two-thirds of their highly-regarded midfield – they will need to find replacements in order to maintain any realistic expectation of troubling the top six. I would expect to see an affordable, perhaps young, defender arrive to allow Shaughnessy his move for first-team football or to free up versatile Cypriot Alex Gogic from his defensive responsibilities and take a starting place in midfield.

While Greg Kiltie has grown in confidence in a deeper role in central midfield when called upon, an additional option in central midfield would also be prudent in the event that both Erhahon and Baccus do earn moves to bigger and better things.

Key player: Mark O’Hara

January wishlist: Defender and midfielder


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