As the January transfer window draws to a close, it has been a mixed month for the 12 clubs in the Scottish Premiership.
Some clubs have been busy, some have been inactive and some have spent the past few weeks desperately trying to keep their players out of the clutches of other clubs.
But, however much has happened in January, it’s done nothing to alter Celtic’s position as long odds-on favourites with Betfair to win the title again, despite one of the more intriguing tussles at the top of the table.
Here, we take a look at how the top-flight clubs have performed in the transfer window and what sort of impact it will have on the rest of their season.
It’s been quiet up at Pittodrie, with a couple of youngsters heading out on loan and Jeffrey Monakana returning to Brighton. Monakana’s absence won’t be felt after just 10 substitute appearances for the Dons. Derek McInnes has managed to secure the future of David Goodwillie after he signed a new contract and agree a deal to bring in Graeme Shinnie from Inverness in the summer. McInnes is in the market for a defender following an injury to Ashton Taylor. But, even if he fails to add to his squad before the transfer deadline, McInnes has a settled bunch of players who are good enough to secure European qualification.
Celtic’s January business has had one eye on the summer after a deal was agreed to bring Dundee United’s Gary Mackay-Steven to Parkhead at the end of the season. Beram Kayal, who was once linked with Liverpool and Manchester United after an impressive start to his Celtic career, has joined Brighton. The £10million valuation on Virgil van Dijk appears to have deterred English clubs from making a January bid for the Dutch defender. The futures of Kris Commons and John Guidetti are still to be resolved, but that should not impact on the next few months. Instead, Ronny Deila will be happy to have retained his key men as Celtic look to reassert their dominance.
The early signs are that Dundee have enjoyed a positive January transfer window. Alex Morris arrived at Dens Park on loan from Hibs in a deal which saw Martin Boyle head in the opposite direction. Paul Hartley feels Morris will bring something different to the team and the young midfielder scored in the recent 4-1 win over Motherwell. Bulgarian defender Kostadin Gadzhalov earned a contract after an impressive trial and Dundee are unbeaten in his four appearances to date. A top-six finish is certainly within Dundee’s compass after their recent business.
The Terrors could have feared being the big losers in January at the start of the window, but that may not now be the case. Mackay-Steven is not leaving just yet and time is running out for Celtic or West Brom to conclude a deal for midfielder Stuart Armstrong. Mark Wilson has been allowed to leave, while there has been interest in Partick’s Stephen O’Donnell. Manager Jackie McNamara will hope Estonian striker Henri Anier can recapture the form he displayed when on loan at Motherwell. And, after beating Aberdeen to the signing of former Hearts defender Ryan McGowan, McNamara will have his sights set on second spot.
The biggest news in the transfer window for Hamilton was the departure of manager Alex Neil to Norwich, with Martin Canning tasked with replacing him. Last season’s play-off hero Jason Scotland has been released, while Lee Lynch officially completed his move from Limerick. Other than that, it has been a case of fielding interest in their full-backs. A £300,000 offer from Polish club Jagiellonia Bialystok for right-back Ziggy Gordon was rejected. Left-back Stephen Hendrie had appeared set for West Ham after a £2million fee was agreed, only for the deal to fall through. Crystal Palace were also interested in Hendrie, but even if he does go, it’s unlikely to have a major disruption on Hamilton’s season.
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE
So far, it has been a case of as you were for Inverness. Still in the race to catch Celtic at the top of the table, John Hughes has spent the month keeping his fingers crossed that no clubs will come in for several members of his squad who are out of contract in the summer. Billy McKay, Marley Watkins, Ryan Christie, Josh Meekings and Shinnie have all attracted interest, but have gone nowhere as yet. Shinnie is at least staying until the summer after agreeing a move to Aberdeen. If there are no late twists, then Inverness can maintain their push for European qualification.
Kilmarnock look to have at least avoided the drama of last season’s relegation battle. The man chiefly responsible for keeping Killie in the top flight last term – Kris Boyd – has been linked with a return to Rugby Park. Boyd has failed to set the world alight at Rangers this season, but there has been no recent progress on any prospective return to Killie. The lack of incomings and outgoings at least means manager Allan Johnston has a settled squad to tick over in the next few months.
It’s been a major slump from Motherwell this season and their January activity doesn’t inspire confidence that a dramatic revival is on the cards. Mark O’Brien has extended his loan from Derby and Stephen Pearson has returned to his first club after a spell in India. Motherwell boss Ian Baraclough took a look at Morecambe midfielder Ryan Williams at the start of the month, but decided against an immediate move. Motherwell may be saved by virtue of there being two worse teams in the top flight, rather than due to their January business.
Like some of their Scottish Premiership rivals, the focus at Partick has been on retaining their main players. Dundee United have been chasing O’Donnell, but Alan Archibald is not for selling now. Archibald has ruled out a move for United’s former full-back Wilson as his priority is to bring in a left-back. Jake Carroll has been allowed to return to Huddersfield and Aaron Muirhead has been released. Partick should have enough breathing space over the bottom two to render the lack of January movement irrelevant.
The busiest of the clubs in January and that’s usually the case when you’re bottom of the table. County have signed Craig Curran from Nuneaton, Marcus Fraser after he left Celtic and Cameron Burgess on loan from Fulham. Michael Gardyne’s loan from Dundee United has been extended, while Yoann Arquin was released before joining relegation rivals St Mirren. Curran is already off the mark after his goal earned a point at Dundee on his debut, while Fraser and Burgess should improve the defence. It’s going to be a tough ask for County to stay up, but they have at least given themselves a chance.
With a top-six finish the target for St Johnstone, and no relegation worries to deal with, it’s been a month for consolidation and building for the future. David Wotherspoon has signed a new contract until 2017 and teenage attacker George Hunter was signed from Spartans. Hunter was also a target for Hearts, Hibs and Rangers, and St Johnstone are happy to have secured the 18-year-old. With little pressure on at McDiarmid Park in the next few months, it could be an ideal time to blood Hunter at the top level.
The immediate impression is that it’s not been the best of January windows for the team second bottom in the table. Ross Caldwell joined Morton and James Marwood was released, while Adam Drury’s loan from Manchester City was extended. St Mirren also brought in Arquin after his departure from Ross County. Arquin was sent off on his debut against his former club before having the red card rescinded. He then marked his third appearance for St Mirren by being sent off for two bookable offences in the defeat by Dundee. If it carries on like this, then Arquin’s not going to be in a position to help St Mirren in their fight to avoid relegation.