With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang due to depart Arsenal FC, let the transfer rumors fly.(Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Soccer Stars to Watch in the 2022 January Transfer Window

There are few New Year’s traditions quite like transfer rumors as the January window opens up. From A to Z (and from Aubameyang to “Zlatan 2.0”), Boardroom names the top stars who could be on the move.

As the calendar flips to 2022, the bi-annual tradition in global soccer is upon us: Transfer rumors szn! Though the summer transfer window generates the most buzz and transactions — both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo changed teams over the summer 2021 window — there’s still a good amount of important business to be done in January.

Why are these months are so important? The two transfer windows are the only periods of the year in which players under contract can permanently switch clubs. Purchasing teams negotiate a transfer fee with the selling team (along with player approval, quite frequently) for the right to take on that player under the terms of their active contract. Loan deals are permitted as well — in those cases, teams permit other clubs to borrow a player for a set period of time, with the recipient team agreeing to pick up some or all of the player’s salary over that stretch.

Though the biggest names on the planet may not switch teams in January, there’s still a tremendous amount of impactful moves to be made. As we hack and slash through a mountain of transfer rumors, here are some key players Boardroom is looking out for.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Age: 32
Position: Center forward / winger
Current club: Arsenal (England, Premier League)
National team: Gabon
Estimated market value: $16.5 million (via Transfermarkt)
Previous transfer fee: $70.13 million, Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal, Jan. 31, 2018.
Reported interested clubs: Juventus, Barcelona

Auba arrived in North London as one of the most prolific goal-scorers in world football. His imminent departure now confirmed by Arsenal gaffer Mikel Arteta, he leaves as a major question mark nearing the end of his athletic prime amid a wave of disciplinary issues.

Clubs looking to buy low on one of the game’s proven names would do well to keep tabs on the Gabon international.

Anthony Martial

Age: 26
Position: Center forward / winger
Current club: Manchester United (England, Premier League)
National team: France
Estimated market value: $36.2 million
Previous transfer fee: $67.9 million, Monaco to Manchester United, Sept. 1, 2015
Reported interested clubs: Sevilla, Arsenal

He arrived at Man United as a 19-year-old phenom. Today, Anthony Martial is 26 and is still without a Premier League title. As the Red Devils continue to search for their long-term identity, the France international is a January loan candidate, but an expensive one — an initial offer from Spanish outfit Sevilla was reportedly rejected.

Dusan Vlahovic

Age: 21
Position: Center forward
Current club: Fiorentina (Italy, Serie A)
National team: Serbia
Estimated market value: $79.3 million
Previous transfer fee: $2.2 million, Partizan Belgrade to Fiorentina, July 1, 2018
Reported interested clubs: Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal

More than a few clubs have the big striker increasingly ballyhooed as the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic on their radar. Hype is a dangerous thing, but Vlahovic’s 18 goals in 22 games between Serie A and the Coppa Italia speak for themselves.

Ousmane Dembele

Age: 24
Position: Winger
Current club: FC Barcelona (Spain, La Liga)
National team: France
Estimated market value: $33 million
Previous transfer fee: $160.6 million, Borussia Dortmund to FC Barcelona, Aug. 25, 2017
Reported interested clubs: Newcastle United

The Barcelona sell-off continues. As the Catalan club continues to cut its wage bill as it deals with crippling debt obligations, Dembele could be the latest casualty. Through eight games in all competitions this season, the Frenchman hasn’t scored a goal.

Ricardo Pepi

Age: 18
Position: Center forward / winger
Current club: FC Dallas (United States, MLS)
National team: United States
Estimated market value: $8.8 million
Previous transfer fee: N/A
Reported interested clubs: VfL Wolfsburg

One of the breakout stars of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying cycle so far, homegrown FC Dallas product Ricardo Pepi could be primed for his first big move. But is January a bit too soon for the El Paso-born teen to flee the MLS nest for a big-time league like Germany’s Bundesliga?

UPDATE: Pepi is headed to the Bundesliga, but to lesser-known side FC Augsburg for a club-record $20 million. It’s the highest base price for a player in MLS history, beating out Canadian star Alphonso Davies’ 2019 transfer from the Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern Munich. Only Miguel Almiron’s 2019 transfer from Atlanta United to Newcastle tops it in terms of overall money, at $27 million.

Edinson Cavani

Age: 34
Position: Center forward
Current club: Manchester United
National team: Uruguay
Estimated market value: $4.5 million
Previous transfer fee: Free, Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester United, Oct. 15, 2020(previously $84.8 million, Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain, July 16, 2013)
Reported interested clubs: Corinthians

Uruguayan legend Edinson Cavani’s next move might be his last. He arrived at United on a free transfer from Paris-Saint Germain in October 2020, but has recently had difficulty staying fully fit. The current transfer buzz has him relocating back to South America for the twilight of his career.

Sergiño Dest

Age: 21
Position: Fullback
Current club: FC Barcelona
National team: United States
Estimated market value: $19.8 million
Previous transfer fee: $24.7 million, Ajax to Barcelona, Oct. 1, 2020
Reported interested clubs: Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich

One of a small, elite group of USMNT players already plying his trade for a global juggernaut club, Sergiño Dest has some intriguing options in front of him — ride it out with cash-strapped Barça and stake his claim among the club’s rising generation of stars, or seek his fortune elsewhere and compete for trophies right here, right now.

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