Rating Ipswich Town's January transfer window business

(L-R) Dominic Thompson, Macauley Bonne, Tyreeq Bakinson, Christian Walton and Scott Fraser

(L-R) Dominic Thompson, Macauley Bonne, Tyreeq Bakinson and Christian Walton have all either moved to Ipswich Town in January or committed themselves to the Blues for longer. Scott Fraser, far right, is among the departures - Credit: Archant

The January transfer window has now closed. Mark Heath grades Ipswich Town's business in the last month...

ARRIVALS

Christian Walton at Hillsborough.

Christian Walton applauds Ipswich Town's travelling fans following last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Christian Walton (Brighton, two-and-a-half year deal)

Securing the big keeper's services on a long-term deal was huge for two reasons.

Firstly, he's the best stopper at the club and losing him would have meant either a downgrade to Vaclav Hladky or a scramble to find another starting keeper, probably on loan, as Town try to stay in the promotion mix.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, it's a massive statement about the club. Ipswich Town have signed a Premier League goalkeeper to play in League One. He wants to be here, too - he's bought into Project Gamechanger.

The days where the Blues had no hope of signing their Premier League loan stars are officially a thing of the past. And that's very exciting.

Grade: A+

Macauley Bonne celebrates scoring the third goal at Gillingham.

Macauley Bonne has scored 12 goals for Town this season - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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Macauley Bonne (QPR, loan)

Like Walton, striker Bonne was already a Blue - but confirming he'll be at Portman Road until at least the end of the season, on loan from QPR, was also a big move.

The big man himself revealed 'it's not been easy keeping me here', surely a nod to the fact that there were others interested, given he's bagged 12 goals in 31 games so far this season.

Yes, he's been in a bit of a dry spell of late - just one strike in his last 15 games - but having Bonne in blue for the rest of the campaign is a real boost.

Grade: A

New signing Dominic Thompson at Hillsborough.

New Brentford loanee Dominic Thompson made his debut in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Dominic Thompson (Brentford, loan)

Going into this window, the glaring need for the Blues was a left-sided defender.

They've duly filled that hole with Thompson, a 21-year-old with serious pedigree who's played in the Premier League for Brentford this season.

He'll likely spend most of his time as a left wing-back, but is also capable of dropping into the back three if needed.

Made his debut in the disappointing defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and didn't rip up any trees - but whichever way you look at it, this has to be seen as an upgrade for Town.

Grade: B+

Tyreeq Bakinson celebrates Towns victory over Accrington Stanley.

Tyreeq Bakinson celebrates Towns victory over Accrington Stanley. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Tyreeq Bakinson (Bristol City, loan)

Back on January 1, central midfield looked to be an area where Town were well-stocked - but the Blues have added 6ft 3ins Bakinson anyway, on loan from Bristol City.

And as it turns out, it's a good thing they did, with the 23-year-old pressed into immediate service following Sam Morsy's controversial suspension and an injury to Lee Evans.

The long and languid Bakinson has made three appearances already and shown glimpses of his quality on the ball - but he's also been a little more lightweight than you'd hope for someone of his stature.

Grade: C

Tyreece Simpson made his debut in the Ipswich Town v Tottenham Hotspur U21 match. Picture: Steve

Kieron Dyer believes Tyreece Simpson should have been on the bench for Ipswich Town's first team since returning from a loan spell at Swindon. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Tyreece Simpson (recalled from Swindon loan)

An odd one, this. Young striker Simpson was having a brilliant time on loan in League Two, bagging 11 goals in 30 games as the Robins mount a promotion push.

Then, out of the blue, he was recalled by the Blues - not to play, but to resolve a contract issue. Town apparently want him to sign a new deal.

While wanting to secure Simpson's services is understandable, the decision deprives him of a valuable and successful loan experience, and he's very unlikely to feature for the Town side going forward, given the strikers ahead of him.

Not a good look - you would have hoped the club would tackle this in a different way.

Grade: D-

DEPARTURES

Louie Barry in action at Burton Albion.

Louie Barry in action at Burton Albion. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Louie Barry (Aston Villa, loan terminated)

A no-brainer. The perhaps surprise arrival of Bersant Celina pushed the young Aston Villa talent down the depth chart and in the end he barely featured.

The right move for both parties to end the loan. Barry has since headed out to League Two Swindon Town.

Grade: A+

Bailey Clements applauds fans after the 0-0 draw against Oxford United.

Bailey Clements hasn't featured since Paul Cook was sacked in December. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Bailey Clements (Stevenage, loan)

Young left back had an unlikely run in the side under Paul Cook earlier in the season, but is clearly down the depth chart now.

A League Two loan makes perfect sense for him - go out and play men's football, get a few scars and come back to the Blues a better player. 

Grade: A+

Smiling Tomas Holy applauds the travelling fans after the win and a clean sheet at Gillingham

Tomas Holy has been restricted to just three cup appearances this season. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Tomas Holy (Port Vale, loan)

The popular keeper is now third choice at Portman Road and clearly wants to play games.

With his contract running out in the summer, he's set to head for pastures new - let's hope it works out for him at Vale.

Grade: A+

Myles Kenlock back in the starting eleven at Gillingham

Myles Kenlock was back in the Ipswich Town team at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Myles Kenlock (Colchester United, loan)

Left back isn't in the official Town squad, although he has played a couple of times for Town in the EFL Trophy this season.

While he's played more than 100 times for the Blues in the six years he's been at Portman Road, you'd think he's another who will depart for good in due course.

And joining the Ipswich Town veterans' side down the A12 makes perfect sense - he even scored on his debut!

Grade: A+

Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough, loan terminated)

The left-sider seemed perfect to fill one of the flying full-back roles in Paul Cook's 4-2-3-1, but it just never happened for him at Portman Road, with injuries meaning he played just six times.

Made the last of those appearances at Wycombe back in November. A fresh start suits all parties.

Grade: A+

Jon Nolan (Contract terminated)

The midfielder was brought to Town by former boss Paul Hurst as part of a £2m deal with another man on this list, Toto Nsiala.

And like Nsiala, he's had a very up and down time at Portman Road, scoring 10 goals in 59 starts and 11 sub appearances over a stop-start three-and-a-half seasons in Suffolk.

Having not played for more than a year, the 29-year-old is nearing a return and wanted to test the free agent waters.

It's probably a sensible move for both parties, although you do wonder if he could have provided valuable depth in midfield for the remainder of the season.

Grade: B+

Scott Fraser (Sold to Charlton for an undisclosed fee)

The move that has split opinion the most among Town fans, Fraser departs after just 20 games for Town following his arrival in the summer as one of League One's best playmakers.

Never found a home in the starting XI though, only featuring in his favoured No.10 role a few times and mainly being used wide left.

Town have made a small profit in the £500,000 sale to Charlton, which for me represents good business for a player who just doesn't seem to fit into their plans.

But there's certainly a worry this could come back to bite the Blues - it will be very interesting to see how he fares at a League One rival.

You also wonder about depth in Town's midfield with Fraser, Harper and Nolan gone, Morsy banned and Evans injured.

Grade: B

Toto Nsiala has departed Ipswich Town, signing for fellow League One side Fleetwood. Photo: Fleetwood Town FC

Toto Nsiala has departed Ipswich Town, signing for fellow League One side Fleetwood. Photo: Fleetwood Town FC - Credit: Fleetwood Town FC

Toto Nsiala (Sold to Fleetwood for an undisclosed fee)

I know most fans seemed to be pleased when Nsiala departed for Fleetwood earlier in the window, with the final nail probably being those unpleasant scenes as he confronted his own supporters after that dreadful defeat at Charlton.

But I always liked Toto. A big, strong, physical defender who can do a job at League One level, even if he does provide heart in mouth moments at times!

Certainly a decent back-up to have around, with Town really only having Cameron Burgess to call upon now.

Grade: B

Rekeem Harper on the ball.

The early signing of Rekeem Harper was an important one for Ipswich Town. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Rekeem Harper (Crewe, loan)

If you'd have told me back in July, as Harper started alongside Evans at Dartford in Town's first friendly, that he'd be going on loan into a League One relegation fight in January, I'd have told you to jog on.

Yet here we are. Harper hasn't played at all since December 1 and, like Fraser, has never really found a place to call his own in the side, having started as Evans' partner in the midfield two and been replaced by Morsy.

As a loan move, I can see the value in terms of Harper playing and scrapping for points in Town's division - but again, I worry about the depth of Town's suddenly not so well-stocked midfield.

Grade: B

Overall transfer window grade: B+

If you'd have said at the start of January that Town would sign Walton permanently, plus secure Bonne for the rest of the season, that would have been a solid window on its own.

Bringing in a player with the pedigree of Thompson to fill the left-sided weakness is good work too, with most of the departures also making perfect sense.

The big doubt has to be moving a player as talented as Fraser on - to a League One rival as well - but for me that represents good business as it stands.

There are, though, now questions about midfield depth to answer, with Fraser, Harper and Nolan all departing. Another central defender might have been nice too.

Are Town stronger or weaker after this window? Only time will tell.