AFC Wimbledon’s January transfer window: Devastating departures countered by a wave of loan additions

4 min

Three new arrivals and two departures on deadline day summed up what was a chaotic January transfer window for AFC Wimbledon

No sooner had the window opened, the Dons suffered a series of set-backs with the surprise recalling of loan players Ryley Towler and Paris Maghoma, by Bristol City and Brentford respectively.

Towler’s exceptional performances had quickly seen him become one of the best defenders in League Two, so it was unsurprising clubs higher up the football pyramid were interested in his services. 

Bristol City recalled Towler in order to sell to League One Portsmouth with the 20-year-old joining on a three-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Meanwhile, Maghoma was recalled after picking up an injury in the build-up to the Stevenage game in mid-December and to pour salt into the wound, was loaned to rivals MK near the end of the window.

Reflecting on the situation after the draw with Bradford in mid-January, Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson said: “The recalls came as a shock, but sometimes you become a victim of your own success.”

However, the biggest story of the window was whether the club could keep hold of star player Ayoub Assal and his absence from the squad for the game at Sutton on New Year’s Day was an indication of what was to come.

The 21-year-old didn’t play a single minute in January before his club-record transfer fee move to Qatari club Al-Wakrah, with Jackson continually citing ‘illness’ for Assal’s absence in squads before the move.

It was a disappointing way for a player, who came through the club’s youth ranks, to depart and would have left a sour taste had it not been for the fact Wimbledon netted north of £1m from the deal.

Other notable outgoings saw loan recalls for Brentford’s Nathan Young-Coombes and Huddersfield’s Kyle Hudlin while Courtney Senior’s contract expired and Paul Osew had his mutually terminated after seven years with the club.

READ MORE: Fans constantly left out in the cold as EFL & National League postponements continue to bite

Both Senior and Osew departed on deadline day while the club were simultaneously attempting to resist the advances of Championship side Bristol City for promising young full-back Jack Currie.

With the Assal money and the squad already on the thin-side, the Dons may not have been in any rush to cash-in on their latest prized asset but it is certainly a situation that will likely be re-evaluated in the summer. 

In terms of incomings, Dons boss Jackson has made no secret of his admiration for the loan system with Sam Pearson the first notable signing, arriving until the end of the season from Bristol City. 

Pacey winger Diallang Jaiyesimi, familiar with Jackson from his Charlton days, was a deadline day loanee to compete for a starting berth but nevertheless an underwhelming acquisition considering the loss of Assal.

Saikou Janneh was another addition to the forward line, yet with only one goal in 18 appearances this season for Cambridge United, similarly failed to excite many Dons fans.

That can’t be said for 20-year-old forward Ali Al-Hamadi though, arriving on a permanent deal from Wycombe to add versatility, physicality and an extra dimension to Wimbledon’s frontline.

Elsewhere, midfielder Armani Little was signed from Forest Green on loan and has looked assured in his opening few appearances, while further midfield depth was added in the final hours of the window with the loan signing Kasey McAteer from Leicester.

READ MORE: Empty stadiums, reserve sides and general apathy – welcome to a typical EFL Trophy match night

The final of the three deadline day arrivals, Sutton United’s Aaron Pierre, was largely met with negative reaction from the fanbase. 

Although a low-risk deal as opposed to a glamorous signing, Pierre will bring experience and potentially invaluable cover to a backline that has had its injury problems this season.

Overall, it was a busy window for Jackson and co and one they will be happy is over. The perils of relying on the loan system is that parent clubs care little about the effects of the loss of a loan signing for a club like Wimbledon.

A thin squad may have been bulked up, but the loss of Assal, Towler and Maghoma means a lot of pressure will be on the young shoulders of new additions as the Dons push for the Play-Offs.

Hire Us

Like what we do? Get in touch and see what we can do for you!

Support Us on Patreon

Find out more about us here and if you like our articles please check out our Patreon page.