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Five ex-Premier League players who could return in January

The January transfer window is nearly upon us and Premier League clubs will soon be able to splash the cash on new faces.

January is set to be a period of endless transfer speculation and excitement over mid-season signings, but not every arrival might be a new face to the Premier League. As the transfer rumour mill prepares to hit overdrive, we’ve looked at five ex-Premier League players linked with a January return to English football.

Five ex-Premier League players who could return in January:

David de Gea

David de Gea has been without a club since leaving Manchester United in the summer, with the Spanish shot-stopper’s contract not renewed at Old Trafford.

The 33-year-old will no doubt have taken some satisfaction from Andre Onana’s unconvincing start as his replacement, after being ousted for the Cameroonian after 12 years of service.

De Gea has taken a patient approach to deciding his next career venture, with rumours of a move to The Saudi Pro League having failed to evolve into a switch. Newcastle has now emerged as a potential destination for De Gea, following the news that Nick Pope will miss much of the remainder of the season with a shoulder problem.

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Available to sign as a free agent when the January transfer window opens, he could be an astute addition for the Magpies on a short-term deal.


Raphinha has been linked with a return to the Premier League after struggling for regular first-team football at Barcelona this season.

The ex-Leeds winger has started just six league games for the Spanish champions, who are reportedly open to his exit if suitable offers arrive.

The Brazil international scored 17 goals and provided 12 assists across two Premier League campaigns at Leeds, with Arsenal and Chelsea making bids to sign the 27-year-old before his switch to Spain.


Barcelona will want to recoup their £55m investment at least to sanction a permanent sale, though Manchester United are said to be considering a swap-deal proposal involving Jadon Sancho. Given the floundering form of Erik ten Hag’s forward line this season, Raphinha could offer a welcome injection of quality in wide areas.

He’s averaged a goal or assist every 130 minutes in La Liga since joining Barcelona in 2022.

Ruben Neves

Newcastle’s links to Saudi Arabia prompted a vote last month on banning loan deals between associated clubs for the January transfer window. A failure to find a 14-team majority means no rules are in place, freeing the Magpies to sign players from the Saudi Pro League teams also under part-ownership from the nation’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), who hold an 80% stake in Newcastle.

Among them, Ruben Neves. The former Wolves captain caused surprise after leaving the Premier League for Saudi Arabia last summer, with the Portugal international candid in his explanation that the lucrative contract – alongside ambitious project – were the driving factors behind that decision.

However, rumours have since surfaced over an unhappiness with life in the division and the 26-year-old has been linked with both Newcastle and Arsenal. The former saw summer recruit Sandro Tonali suspended for eight months for breaching betting rules earlier this season and Neves would be a superb replacement for the Italian in midfield. Should a loan deal materialise however, it’s unlikely to be greeted positively elsewhere in the division.

Viktor Gyokeres

Viktor Gyokeres was never given a chance during his time as a Premier League player, failing to make a senior appearance after joining Brighton in 2017. His four seasons with the Seagulls saw the Swede sent out on a trio of loans, before starring after a permanent switch to Coventry City.

The 25-year-old scored 38 goals in 91 league games across the last two Championship seasons, form which earned him a £20m move to Sporting Lisbon. Gyokeres has hit the ground running in the Portuguese capital, with 17 goals and eight assists in 20 appearances in all competitions.

That form has placed Premier League clubs on red-alert, having overlooked the Swedish centre-forward when he was right on their doorstep. Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham and West Ham have all been linked, though Sporting will reportedly demand his €100m (£86m) release clause is met in full.

Jeremie Frimpong

Jeremie Frimpong is another name who needed to leave the Premier League for regular game-time, but his performances since have promoted talk of a big-money move back to English football.

The Manchester City academy graduate won a Scottish treble at Celtic during the 2019/20 campaign, before joining Bayer Leverkusen for an undisclosed fee in January 2021. Since then, Frimpong has evolved into one of the most effective wing-backs in European football, earning inclusion in the Bundesliga Team of the Season in 2022/23.

This season, he made his international debut for the Netherlands in October, and has formed one-half of a superb full-back pairing with Alejandro Grimaldo for the unbeaten Bundesliga league leaders.

Frimpong has five goals and five assists in 15 league appearances for Leverkusen, with Manchester United among the clubs considering a bid. He has a €40m (£34.4m) release clause, though it only becomes active in the summer.

Read – The Premier League substitutes with the most goal involvements this season

See more – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 17

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