Finally, a gap in the football calendar I can get on board with. I must admit, when I realised that the late-2020 cries of â€œwell, at least thereâ€™s not another international break untilâ€¦â€ were accurate but also kind of inaccurate I was a little downcast, crestfallen even.
With all the recent cancellations, it did feel a little strange that the Premier League went ahead with their â€˜winter breakâ€™ but it has served one useful purpose – itâ€™s allowed us to stay on top of all the late transfer tomfoolery that will occur even if almost everything I muse over here will be out-of-date by the time you actually get around to reading this.
Even with the transfer window madness, some players have had to jet off on actual international duty – whilst their club teammates sun it up on some kind of â€˜warm weather trainingâ€™ jolly somewhere outside of the UK.
Therefore, early credit has to go to Liverpool keeper, Alisson. The shot-stopper was so keen to cut his international duty short he managed to get sent off TWICE for Brazil against Ecuador – only for VAR to kill his cunning plan TWICE and rescind the red card.Â
But back to the important stuff – clubs wasting millions of pounds in late panic-mode football player shopping, forgetting almost entirely that they possibly have the solution tucked down the back of the sofa somewhere in the shape of the midfielder they cut from the first-team squad in August and made train with the Academy boys.
Of course, those of you reading this on Tuesday morning will note that almost everything written here is completely out-of-date but I promise you – on Sunday afternoon, some of this rubbish was hot off the press.
Firstly, Frank Lampard – heâ€™s finally found a job he deems worthy of having a crack at and it just so happens to be at Everton (which does beg the question, how badly run were the clubs he has allegedly turned down in the year since getting the Chelsea boot?)
Everton confirmed the Chelsea legend on Sunday, having seen enough that weird bloke from Portugal who thought appearing on Sky Sports News was part of the interview process, Wayne Rooney (who turned down the offer of an interview, correctly surmising Derby County was a much more stable gig) and Duncan Ferguson who is likely to forever be the Goodison Park bridesmaid.
Lampard has lots to sort out at the Ev and doesnâ€™t have the luxury of a Chelsea Academy production line to fall back on this time – or the kind of transfer bunce he was handed by Roman Abramovich. Still, his hands are not tied that much that he canâ€™t free Donny van der Beek from his Manchester United prison.
Everton won the race for the Dutch midfielder by offering to pay all his wages – Crystal Palace were willing to pay 85% of the several hundred thousands of pounds a week. Two years ago, Van der Beek was feeding the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Mathijs de Light for Ajax. Two days ago he was knocking about with Ronaldo and Rafa Varane. On Tuesday, it could well be Solomon Rondon and Michael Keane. Football, eh?
Lamps is already being linked to several things Chelsea – coaches Joe Edwards and Anthony Barry would be more than welcome on his staff and heâ€™d also happily take Ruben Loftus-Cheek whilst heâ€™s there.
The Toffees are not the only club on Merseyside squirrelling away at the end of the window. King Klopp has a new minion in the shape of Portoâ€™s Lucas Diaz who Liverpool successfully back-doored from Tottenham.Â
Antonio Conte believed he had got his hands on the goalscoring wideman only to find that he was off to Anfield – the second last-minute defeat faced by Spurs in the preceding few days after Adama Traore opted for the Spanish sunshine and Barcelona rather than being asked to play as a wing-back by the Italian taskmaster.
If things couldnâ€™t have got worse for Conte, Tottenham were also rejected by a non-league teenage winger. Ollie Tanner of sixth tier Lewes rejected a move to the greatest stadium in the world as he was unable to agree personal terms. Maybe he didnâ€™t fancy being a wingback either?
Itâ€™s not all bad news for Tottenham, however – despite missing out on their first choices they are having to slum it by scraping the bottom of the Juventus barrel by bringing in the exceptionally talented Kulusevski and Bentancur. Now, if they can just find someone to take Ndombele and Alli off their hands it has not been a complete disaster.
Liverpool are hoping to follow up their first-class bit of transfer gazumping with a move for Fulhamâ€™s wonderkid Fabio Carvalho – at least half of the reason Mitrovic is banging in goals for fun in the Championship.
We can also deal in some Newcastle facts – theyâ€™ve snaffled up Lyon star midfielder Bruno Guimaraes for the best part of 50m big ones. Heâ€™s actually quite good and is no doubt thrilled at the prospect of being Newcastleâ€™s first Brazilian since Mirandinha in the 80s. Well, that and hitting Chris Wood early.
Eddie Howe wanted a whole new defence by the time February arrived and has met with more resistance than his current back four is capable of showing – Diego Carlos didnâ€™t happen, Sven Botman didnâ€™t happen but it does look like Big Dan Burn will happen for around Â£13m. Brighton kept nudging the price up because, you know, Saudi Arabian prices. Jesse Lingard might have to blame Mason Greenwood for not being allowed to go to St Jamesâ€™ Park on loan rather than United demanding a Â£10m bonus if the Magpies stay up. News broke on Sunday that Dean Henderson might have finally badgered Ralf Rangnick enough to get a loan away from his place on the United bench – to Newcastle, of course, oddly a rare position they donâ€™t really need to fill.
Howe has accepted that wearing the same colour kit is not enough to persuade Aaron Ramsey to leave Turin and that Ashley Young would rather stay at home with the Villa – heâ€™s still hopeful that Eddie Nkietiah might be allowed to leave Arsenal, even if the imminent departure of Yo-Pierre could mean that Alex Lacazette ends up being the only real striker at the Emirates. After all, they wonâ€™t get their house in order well enough to actually sign a new one. And if Howe canâ€™t get Nkietiah, Palace might – meaning Newcastle might push ahead with a plan to sign Atalantaâ€™s Duvan Zapata. Keeping up? Sure? Well, if you can remember all that add the fact that Aston Villaâ€™s Matt Targett is also on the, er, target list.
West Ham are throwing bids around like paper aeroplanes – Leeds have turned down Â£50m each for Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips. The Hammers have also tried to get Armando Broja and Ben Brereton-Diaz in the last few days and met firm nos on both at the price suggested. One that could well happen/have happened/might have been a mere figment of my imagination is Duleta-Carr from Marseille. A defender, you know? The one who didnâ€™t fancy it a year ago but has possibly been tempted by the chance of linking up with Craig Dawson or a hefty payrise.
Wolves wonâ€™t be letting Ruben Neves go for a penny less than Â£40m, a statement designed to warn off the circling Manchester United and Arsenal. Jose Mourinho is hoping Arsenal sign Neves or even Villaâ€™s Douglas Luiz so it means he can finally get it on with Granit Xhaka.
Brentford are keeping fingers and toes crossed that Christian Eriksen passes his medical so they can get him through the door – news that will surely cheer up Ivan Toney.
Leeds have done us all a massive favour by inquiring about Chelseaâ€™s Kenedy – that massive favour being reminding us Kenedy is still technically on Chelseaâ€™s books.
Barcelona have clicked that they probably need to sell more players if they keep signing them at the rate they are doing, so problem child Ousmane Dembele is once again being touted around the Premier League for around Â£18m. Someone is bound to panic and buy him. Getting him out will allow them to bring in Aubemeyang on loan, which will mean that Arsenal try (and fail) to sign Alvaro Morata.
Man City, a club irritatingly not feeling the need to get caught up in any of this, are likely to sign River Plateâ€™s next-one-of-the-production-line in Julian Alvarez. Theyâ€™re not rushing though, they donâ€™t need to.
And, finally, Phil Jones seem to have found someone willing to give him a game – Bordeaux in France are discussing a deal to end a decadeâ€™s worth of service at Old Trafford.
How much of the above will have actually happened come Tuesday morning? As you should know by now, your guess is certainly going to be as informed as mine.