One of the biggest talking points about the January transfer window has been the apparent lack of value in the market mid-season, particularly this year with many teams battling against financial fair play restrictions.
However, despite the constraints plaguing clubs big and small and a record low amount being spent in the top leagues, some teams have managed to bring in young talent for potentially bargain prices.
With a continuing conveyer belt of talent making big money moves to major European teams, lots of younger players are being signed by ‘smaller’ teams in anticipation of being sold on for significant profit.
FootballTransfers takes a look at five players whose transfers may have gone under the radar yet could end up doubling their price tags in the near future.
Marcos Leonardo – Santos to Benfica (€18m)
The 20-year-old played more than 150 games for Santos, scoring 54 times, and has been prolific for Brazil’s under-20 team, winning the silver boot at the World Cup last year.
While Benfica did beat some Premier League sides to his signature, Leonardo’s cost at €18 million will almost certainly appear a bargain very quickly, especially with the wonderkid netting two goals in just 47 minutes of action already.
Gift Orban – Gent to Lyon (€12m)
Another young striker who made the step up to a bigger side was Gent’s Gift Orban, who joined Lyon for €12m on the back of a fruitful 12 months in Belgium, where he scored 18 times in 33 league games.
The 21-year-old only joined Gent from Norweigen side Stabaek last January and he has scored nine times in ten Europa Conference League games this season.
Orban had been linked to Tottenham in the summer, indicating he was on the radar of some major sides and the Nigerian will relish the opportunity to develop in France before potentially making another step up.
Arthur Vermeeren – Antwerp to Atletico Madrid (€25m)
Atletico Madrid will feel as though they have pulled off a coup by beating a host of Europe’s major sides to the signing of Arthur Vermeeren, the 18-year-old who has starred in the Champions League this season for Antwerp.
A technical player who plays beyond his years, it seems inevitable that teams will be linked with big money moves for Vermeeren for many years to come but Atletico’s proactive business has secured them an incredible talent for a bargain fee, meaning his sale won’t come easily.
Valentin Barco – Boca to Brighton (€9m)
Valentin Barco’s name perhaps won’t be a new one for some fans, with the 19-year-old already establishing himself as one of the brightest prospects to come out of Argentina in recent years.
The left-sided player had been heavily linked to Manchester City so it was perhaps a surprise when Brighton secured his signature this month for €9m but Barco was clearly prioritising game time at a club known for its development.
Brighton’s club profile means it will only be a matter of time before bigger teams come calling to exponentially enhance the outlay on Barco and he could well follow the path of players such as Ben White, Marc Cucurella and Moises Caicedo to command a huge fee to a top Premier League side.
Alfie Harrison – Manchester City to Newcastle (fee unknown)
🚨 EXCL: Newcastle reach agreement with Man City to sign midfield talent Alfie Harrison for undisclosed fee. 18yo to undergo medical in coming days before signing long-term contract. #NUFC pursuit centred on clear path towards 1st team @TheAthleticFC #MCFC https://t.co/2jqjZZwbb9
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) January 23, 2024
While this deal has yet to be formally confirmed, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe confirmed that Manchester City youngster Alfie Harrison would be joining the club this month.
The midfielder was highly-rated at City, grabbing eight goals and four assists in eight games in the under-18 Premier League, and it is believed he was keen to join Newcastle as he felt he has a better chance of first-team football there.
With Harrison out of contract in the summer, the move is only expected to cost Newcastle around €1m but the technical 18-year-old could easily become an important figure for the Magpies capable of a much bigger valuation if he does indeed figure for Howe’s first team.