Revealed: Bristol Rovers missed out on two transfer targets from Premier League clubs

The Gas secured two deadline day signings but ‘hit the bar’ on a few Premier League loanees
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Bristol Rovers made attempts to sign players from top Premier League academy sides in the January transfer window it has emerged, but were unsuccessful in their attempts.

The Gas finished the January transfer window with five players in and five out, with four of the departures either sold, released or loaned out with a return unlikely. Bobby Thomas' recall to Burnley and his quick loan out to Barnsley was the only exit that Rovers did not plan for or anticipate.

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Thomas' departure caught Rovers at a bad time as they had just sold Alfie Kilgour to Mansfield Town, leaving them light at the back and they had to face Accrington Stanley with James Connolly their only recognised centre-back. The problem was later addressed however when Jarell Quansah joined on loan from Liverpool.

Quansah, a member of the England Under-19's team that won the UEFA Under-19's Championship last summer was the only centre back brought in last month, though Lamar Bogarde, predominantly a defensive midfielder can also fill in that position after signing from Aston Villa. Rovers were said to have 'hit the bar' on a few signings.

"Five I think, responded Barton when asked by BBC Radio Bristol's Geoff Twentyman to rate the transfer window out of 10. "We could have done a bit more that is for sure. We hit the bar on a few on Category One lads who decided to go abroad or into a Scottish Premier League side, and one to a Bundesliga 2 side.

"It’s tough, you do feel it is the best place for them but you understand there is a lot more at play, teams can offer a big salary or a bigger stage to play on than in division three in England.

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“I felt they would have really given us a bit of a boost into the second half of the season but, as it is, we got five in and five out and allows us to clear out a little of the, and it sounds horrible to say about footballers, deadwood; lads who are not pushing the first team.”

As for the identity of the targets they missed out on, Chelsea youngster Bashir Humphreys and Wolves winger Theo Corbeanu are the only two players that made the move from England to German football’s second tier. SC Paderborn 07 ended up winning the signature for centre-back Humphreys, with his move confirmed exactly seven days ago meanwhile Theo Corbeanu joined Arminia Bielefeld on January 20.

Humphreys started against Manchester City in the FA Cup last month, and had he joined would have come to the Memorial Stadium like Quansah with much hype surrounding his move. The 19-year-old had at least been exposed to senior football compared to Quansah, and he was in the first-team picture with Graham Potter, highlights the ambition Rovers showed in the last window.

He is one of two Chelsea players that could have been on the radar of Rovers, with a move for Harvey Vale revealed by Barton last week. Vale had been on a season-long loan at Hull City before being recalled, but because he had played in the EFL Trophy which is regarded as a senior competition, he had already played for two clubs in one season.

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As for the other player who opted to make the move to the Scottish Premiership from a Category One academy, which is mainly Premier League clubs, it could have been for James Hill of AFC Bournemouth. Bristol-born Hill was given his first start in football by Joey Barton, when he broke through at Fleetwood. He made 53 appearances for the Lancashire outfit before Bournemouth bought him for a club record fee received for Fleetwood.

Other players that made the move to Scotland last month were Luke Chambers who joined Kilmarnock on loan from Liverpool, , Motherwell signed James Furlong from Brighton & Hove Albion and left-back Thierry Small made the move to St Mirren.

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