The financial problems facing Portsmouth are common knowledge and it is almost certain that manager Avram Grant will have to offload some of his highest valued players in January to get some money in the bank, with Tottenham, Fulham and Blackburn all ready to profit. Administration is still a real possibility, so Pompey will be forced to make a high quantity of quick sales and that means that some bargains may be available for the rest of the Premier League. One team’s loss is another team’s gain, and there will be much interest for players such as Nadir Belhadj, Younes Kaboul and David James. But which Premiership clubs will pounce in the transfer window?
Tottenham appear to be frontrunners for a couple of Portsmouth’s star players, with Harry Redknapp taking a fancy to both Nadir Belhadj and David James. Belhadj has been one of Pompey’s stand out performers this season and the quick full back is said to be unsettled at Fratton Park. The Algerian is looking for a move ahead of the World Cup, but Spurs may not be the ideal destination for him as he is only likely to be a backup to first choice left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto. This has left the door for Blackburn to step in and sign Belhadj when he returns from the African Cup of Nations.
A move for James is also only 50-50 at best, despite James himself saying in The Guardian that “it would be good for my England chances to join an upwardly mobile club.” The exit of an ageing James wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Pompey either, as Asmir Begovic has deputised with distinction. However, Redknapp doesn’t want to unsettle Heurelho Gomes who has been in excellent form this season, and therefore James would similarly only be a number two at White Hart Lane.
The connection with Tottenham doesn’t end there either, as Jamie O’Hara’s loan deal with Pompey is looking like it isn’t going to be extended, so a loan move to another Premier League club may be in the offing. O’Hara would attract much attention in England as he is a talented player and almost half the Premiership have been linked with O’Hara, but it is Roy Hodgson’s Fulham who have emerged as the frontrunners for the versatile midfielder.
Another Portsmouth loan deal that may end in January is that of striker Frederic Piquionne. Everton are eyeing the French international up as a replacement for Jo, but once again there are plenty of interested Premier League parties. Piquionne himself is happy in England, saying that “I am on loan but I really hope to stay in England. Now the idea is to impress, attract an English club,” so a stay in England might be on the cards. Recent news from his agent is that he will stay at Fratton Park until the end of the season, as will Kevin-Prince Boateng who has been stopped by FIFA from playing for a third club in one season and was regarded as too pricey by Blackburn anyway.
Finally former Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul has also been linked with a January exit from Fratton Park, with Manchester City’s new manager Roberto Mancini rumoured to have taken an interest. City are looking to strengthen their defence in January and Kaboul has been identified as a possible acquisition. But Lyon now appear to be in pole position to sign Kaboul, whilst fellow Ligue 1 club Souchaux are looking to pick up John Utaka on the cheap.
Portsmouth fans will be fearing the worst this month, but needs must and they have to offload players to keep the club afloat as their players continue to play without being paid. So who can Portsmouth hang on to, and which players will be poached by their fellow Premier League rivals?