It’s well and truly January.  How can you tell?  Well everyone has gone transfers mad.  Fans that have been moaning about the depth of the squad for the last four months are now advocating an almost total transfusion of the playing staff.  Of course the club is fairly quiet on the subject other than comments from the manager that he is looking to do some shopping but the papers and internet are buzzing with a combination of genuine links and wild speculation.

First up is Nathan Levi Fontaine Ellington and this time around it seems that the return of the Duke may be on.  West Brom and Latics have yet to agree a fee but the deal seems to be around the £3 million mark, but may be a joint deal involving Zoltan Gera for a further couple of million.  There’s already been lots of discussion around this transfer already, some people like the idea but others are dead against and would prefer a move for Preston’s David Nugent. 

Nugent is likely to cost any potential suitors getting on for the £7.5 million that West Ham paid for Dean Ashton last January.  Whilst he looks a good player his goal scoring record in the Championship and lack of Premier League experience let him down.  In comparison Ellington would come at half the price, with a season’s experience at the top flight as well as an almost 1 in 2 record in his last spell at Latics.

Nugent may bring potential, but Jewell knows Nathan inside out and thought him capable of scoring at this level last season, so why not this?

Word is that Jewell is hoping to sew the deal up in time for the Duke to play in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Portsmouth.  Ellington’s agent has the clubs are locked in talks and something should happen, one way or the other within 48 hours.
Gera is another matter; Jewell tried to sign him in the summer and obviously fancies him.  A talented player, the Hungarian missed most of West Brom’s relegation season through injury.  Gera’s season so far has been blighted by poor form but he has picked up two goals in 4 international appearances.

Thus far those two deals seem most likely but that doesn’t stop people talking.  The most surprising link so far has been the mention of Matthew Upson.  Latics may be an outside bet, with the Birmingham link to Benson and Heskey breaker, but with Champions’ League clubs sniffing around the centre half it seems that he’ll be going elsewhere.  The more optimistic amongst us will no doubt be pointing to the ex-Arsenal man moving to the midlands a couple of years ago, rather than wait for a bigger club to step in, as reason for hope.

One story certain to get the blood of the west stand boiling is today’s reports that Latics are in the queue of clubs hoping to lure James Beattie away from Goodison Park.  If ever there was the player with the potential to be the ‘next Simon Haworth’ here he is.  That said he’s had his moments in the past but how well the Everton man could play alongside Heskey would be the key.

Finally, on the in front, for the day is one to file alongside Scott Parker in the “Oh Yeah?” category.  There’s been nothing from what you’d call a “believable source” but having seen how these things work expect at least one newspaper to link us with a move for Barry Ferguson in the morning.  At the same time, expect the closest to a deal with Wigan to be his biography being reduced in the Asda January sale.

The only rumour on the selling front relates to Andy Webster, stories will not go away that the ex-Hearts defender will be returning north of the border at some point in January.  Whilst the conspiracy theorists will drag you down a line involving shirt deals and FIFA regulations usually starting with someone’s mate who works at JJB, back in the real world, the Scots international has been taken aback by the pace of the Premiership and has struggled to settle in, preferring a move back home than staying to fight for his place. 

Even more realistically he’ll be here until at least the summer, with the player stating a desire to stay and the manager claiming that he wants him to stick around and prove himself.  Whatever the rumours are, it seems unlikely that FIFA will sanction any deal until Hearts compensation fee has been fixed.  Everyone has been waiting long enough for that, but expect to wait until at least February before anything happens, avoiding any controversy or difficult decisions.

Four players in and one out, with some mindless speculation for afters, isn’t a bad day on the rumour mill, chances are it’ll get busier before the week’s out.  Come back soon, you can’t expect us to be first with the stories, but we’ll have plenty to say on the subject.

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