THE January transfer window dealings for Yorkshire’s clubs continue to gather pace as Sheffield Wednesday made clear their Premier League ambitions with the club’s biggest outlay in almost a generation.
Gary Hooper’s arrival for a little over £3m from Norwich represents a major boost to the Owls’ burgeoning hopes of winning a return to the top flight.
It came on a day when another White Rose club harbouring genuine promotion aspirations, Middlesbrough, saw target Ross McCormack pull out of today’s game with Hull City because of illness.
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic insists the former Leeds United striker, the subject of an £8m bid from the Teesside club this week that included Kike moving to Craven Cottage, is not going to leave during the current window.
Boro, however, still retain hope of signing the Scot this month.
For Wednesday’s head coach Carlos Carvalhal, Hooper’s arrival on a three-and-a-half year deal comes in the wake of his side finally breaking into the top six last week.
The fee is the largest paid by Wednesday since the late Nineties, as chairman Dejphon Chansiri once again underlined his determination to bring top-flight football back to S6 after a 16-year absence.
The 27-year-old is likely to lead the attack again today at Reading after taking his goalscoring account to six from his last six games with a double against Leeds United a week ago.
Since that derby defeat, Leeds have also been busy in the transfer market with Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga on the verge of sealing a move to Elland Road.
The Bees’ Player of the Year in 2014-15, the 28-year-old midfielder was also the subject of serious interest from Rangers.
United head coach Steve Evans said: “We have got a boy who is 6ft 2ins; we have got a Patrick Vieira-type player. He brings real quality to our midfield – and he has signed for a giant in English football.
“I think it was a big decision for the kid. I was obviously aware of Rangers’ interest and it meant the boy had a big decision to make.
“It has taken a little while to get there, but I am delighted we’ve got there. I’m grateful to the owner Mr (Massimo) Cellino who’s made this happen.
“I wanted to build. I thought we wouldn’t get there so I was pleased to get it over the line. He was up there with my top targets.”
Diagouraga was at Elland Road yesterday finalising terms over a two-and-a-half year deal with Leeds, who sold Sam Byram to West Ham United for £3.7m on Thursday.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Rotherham United were also active in the market as the capture of Luciano Becchio 24 hours earlier was followed by Chris Burke’s arrival on loan from Nottingham Forest until the end of the season.
The Scotland international, strongly linked with Leeds in the past under a succession of different managers, brings proven Championship pedigree to the Millers’ squad. His arrival came as Jordan Bowery, who recently had a loan spell at Bradford City, had his contract at the New York Stadium cancelled by mutual consent to join Oxford United.
League One also brought transfer activity to the White Rose county with Bradford City agreeing to sell Devante Cole to Fleetwood Town, as Jamie Proctor made the move to Valley Parade in the opposite direction on a month’s loan.
The departure of 20-year-old Cole, son of Manchester United legend Andy, came as something of a surprise, even allowing for Cole’s appearance in Tuesday’s FA Cup exit at home to Bury being only his third start in a little over two months. Cole netted six goals for the Bantams, making him the club’s joint top scorer with James Hanson.
With loanee Luke James also set to depart amid interest from League Two, Phil Parkinson was pleased to bring in Proctor from Highbury on loan. The 6ft 2ins striker, who has four goals to his name this term, has gone straight into the squad to face Port Vale today. Alan Sheehan has left Valley Parade to join Luton Town on loan, while Carlisle remain keen on Gary Liddle despite having a bid rejected earlier this week.
In the basement division, Jackie McNamara’s remodelling of York City continued with Anthony Straker and Marvin McCoy both leaving Bootham Crescent ahead of today’s trip to Carlisle United. It is the first time the Cumbrian side have played on home soil since the Christmas floods.
Match previews: Pages 2-5.