January marks the midpoint of the season, allowing clubs to strengthen and consolidate accordingly with their aspirations for not only the current campaign but for the future too.
One week on from a frantic deadline day, we take a look at five Championship outfits that performed the strongest across the month regarding their transfer activity.
As far as incomings go, Coventry honed in on quality over quantity, bringing two additions to the CBS Arena.
Since the departure of Gustavo Hamer in August, the Sky Blue Army have missed the tenacity, hard work and attacking influence that the Dutchman possesses. However, Mark Robins will be delighted with the permanent acquisition of 24-year-old Victor Torp. A versatile midfielder, the Dane arrived in the Midlands from Sarpsborg 08 and has already impressed, grabbing an assist on his full debut against Norwich City.
The second addition, and arguably one of the signings of the entirety of the division, is Ephron Mason-Clark switching the shade of blue from Peterborough United’s to Coventry’s.
Although the 24-year-old returns to Cambridgeshire for the duration of the season, with hopes of helping the Posh to promotion, the exciting wide-man is certainly one to watch, returning 15 goal contributions in League One this campaign.
As a result of playing in non-league over an extended period with Barnet, Mason-Clark can be viewed as still very raw with a lot of potential, and under the right guidance, something which Mark Robins is more than capable of providing, he can excel into an excellent player.
Recently, Bristol City have adopted a unique approach to talent identification. Once again, they have tapped into the market of young, yet established lower-league players.
Notable recent examples include; Anis Mehmeti, Jason Knight, Sammie Szmodics, Mohamed Eisa, Mark Sykes and George Tanner. In truth, it hasn’t always worked out, but it is becoming a more fruitful method.
Not to mention Alex Scott, arriving at Ashton Gate in 2020 from Guernsey FC, blossoming into one of England’s top prospects, and ultimately being sold for £25 million three years later to Bournemouth.
Therefore, attention turned to League One once again, and more specifically, Derby County. After singing Jason Knight from the Rams in the summer, the Robins returned to prize away Max Bird. With over 100 appearances already in the second tier, the 23-year-old returns to Pride Park until the end of the campaign. A ball-playing midfielder, Bird offers security and a calm touch.
Sticking to the theme of scouting promising youngsters from the lower levels of the pyramid, highly-rated midfielder Josh Stokes has also joined City, although he will remain in the National League with Aldershot for the rest of the season.
The 19-year-old has attracted plenty of EFL interest after consistent performances for The Shots and has all the makings of following in the footsteps of Alex Scott.
In addition, Taylor Gardner-Hickman has been sensational since his temporary switch from West Bromwich Albion, prompting the deal to be made permanent with Andreas Weimann heading the other way, albeit on loan.
A key performer for Liam Manning in his time at Milton Keynes Dons was Scott Twine. The 24-year-old has reunited with his former boss, joining until the end of the season from Burnley, despite spending the first half of the season at Hull City.
It is clear to see that Bristol City are building for not only now, but the future, with hopes of developing young players into elite talents who can not only be sold for profit but also fire them to the top-flight.
One of the surprise packages this season has been Ipswich Town, who currently find themselves not only chasing the playoffs but also automatic promotion. With that, it’s clear to see that Kieran McKenna’s focus was on attacking impetus, bringing in three forwards.
Kieffer Moore, who’s had recent success in the Championship, earning promotion with AFC Bournemouth, has joined the Tractor Boys on loan. The 31-year-old offers something completely different up top as opposed to the pacy Kayden Jackson.
A big part of Ipswich’s success has been the formation, including three attackers sitting behind the lone striker. Jeremy Sarmiento, who featured at the World Cup with Ecuador and spent time with West Brom earlier this season, offers depth across the frontline.
The 21-year-old combines quick feet with outstanding technical ability, causing headaches for opposing defenders. On the books at Brighton & Hove Albion, the East Anglian side will be hopeful he can supply his fellow teammates in their effort at returning to the top-flight.
The only permanent addition at Portman Road is Iraqi international forward Ali Al-Hamadi switching from London to Suffolk. Finding the back of the net 23 times and providing seven assists across 12 months at AFC Wimbledon in League Two was enough to alert the attention of Ipswich who spent over £1 million on the 21-year-old.
However, McKenna has also assembled a combative midfield, bringing in Lewis Travis on loan from Blackburn Rovers to offer depth and quality. The 26-year-old has plenty of experience playing in the second tier, featuring 224 times for the Lancashire outfit.
After their ongoing transfer embargo was lifted for January, Cardiff City grasped the opportunity to splash the cash. In total, the Bluebirds brought in six new faces. Three of these were permanent signings; David Turnbull, Ethan Horvath and Ryotaro Tsunoda.
Five-time-capped Scottish international Turnball joined from Celtic as a marquee signing. The 24-year-old appeared 136 times for the Hoops suggesting real quality.
USMNT international shot-stopper Ethan Horvath arrived in Wales from Nottingham Forest, despite spending the previous campaign on loan at Luton Town where he helped The Hatters to secure a historic promotion.
As for Japanese defender Tsunoda, the 24-year-old will see out the season with Belgian club Kortrijk after joining from Yokohama F.Marinos.
Sitting just five points behind sixth-place Hull City, Cardiff will have aspirations of making the playoffs and the arrivals of Nathaniel Phillips, Josh Wilson-Esbrand and Famara Dièdhiou, all of whom have previous Championship experience, will be crucial in their attempts.
Dièdhiou, who netted 51 times across 169 games for Bristol City, joins temporarily from Granada, whereas Phillips recently enjoyed success in the division with Bournemouth.
Wilson-Esbrand featured for Coventry City in the previous campaign, falling just short of promotion success after defeat at Wembley.
Currently occupying sixth place and the final playoff position, Hull City will be desperate to finish the season strong with Premier League football on the horizon. Their transfer business reflects an all-or-nothing approach, similar to Nottingham Forest in 2022, relying on impressive loans.
Despite losing Ruben Vinagre and Scott Twine due to being recalled from their respective loan spells, Hull have strengthened astronomically. The Tigers answer to losing Twine… Fabio Carvalho. The 21-year-old has appeared in the Champions League, Premier League and Bundesliga in the past 12 months and returned 18 goal contributions in his previous Championship campaign with Fulham.
An equally impressive replacement for Vinagre is the arrival of Ryan Giles on loan, with an option to buy from Luton Town, who provided 21 assists across his past two Championship campaigns with Middlesbrough and Cardiff.
As well as adding promising Croatian keeper Ivor Pandur, talented forward Noah Ohio and veteran bagsman Billy Sharp, Anass Zaroury and Abdülkadir Ömür have also headed to the MKM Stadium.
23-year-old winger Zaroury was a crucial figure in Vincent Kompany’s Burnley side who claimed an astonishing 101 points last season. The Morocco international contributed to 12 goals. Lacking regular minutes at Turf Moor this time around, Liam Rosenior will be hopeful his new playmaker can rediscover his red-hot form.
Featuring 211 times for Trabzonspor, including appearances in the Europa League and Conference League, Hull appear to have a real gem on their hands in Ömür. A versatile midfielder who can also play on the right, the 12-cap Turkish international suggests that Hull City will be optimistic about achieving success this campaign.
Only time will tell how integral the business completed across January will become. As for this current moment, it appears all the above mentioned clubs performed exceptionally, off the pitch.