IT can be difficult to get deals done in the January transfer window – but that does not stop the rumours flying around.

Several players had been linked with moves to and from Oxford United even before 2022 was upon us, so it can be tough to keep track.

To help with that, we have revived our list of the rumours involving the U’s. It will be updated as and when new links emerge.

CAMERON BRANNAGAN AND JORDAN THORNILEY

Arguably the least surprising transfer story this January has been Blackpool’s bid for the influential midfielder.

The Seasiders targeted Brannagan last summer, with United rejecting a six-figure offer late in the window.

After news of this month’s approach emerged, different sources quoted a range of bids from £300,000 upwards - but the Oxford Mail understands the offer was north of £500,000.

This was well short of the seven-figure buyout clause in Brannagan’s contract, agreed when he signed a three-year deal in summer 2020.

The Sky Bet Championship outfit then offered Jordan Thorniley, on a season-long loan at United, in a player plus cash deal.

But the U's refused to budge, with the two clubs' valuations of the centre back said to be different.

Thorniley is collateral in this saga, with Blackpool now set to recall the 25-year-old from his loan spell as a result. 

JERMAIN DEFOE

A former England striker coming to the Kassam Stadium for one last hurrah? It might not be as far-fetched as you might think.

The U's are one of several clubs linked with a move for Defoe until the end of the season and the Oxford Mail understands they are in the race.

The 39-year-old left Rangers this month and has played just twice this season, but has a reputation as one of English football's most-feared strikers of the 21st century.

With more than 300 senior goals to his name, most of them at the top level, signing Defoe would give United a huge lift.

It is worth noting that the veteran reportedly has coaching offers and is yet to decide if he will definitely continue playing.

Defore would need to take a significant pay cut if he opts against hanging up his boots, but the U's may be able to work around that given the short-term nature of the deal.

A bigger hurdle may be the emotional attachment the striker has to Sunderland, who regard him as a cult hero, and Charlton Athletic, where he started his career.

Karl Robinson played a straight bat when asked about Defoe, adding: “Sometimes I say things for effect to hide situations, but in this situation I don’t think it’s right that we comment on what we’re trying to do.”

MARCUS BROWNE

It would not be a transfer window without United being linked with Marcus Browne.

The two-time loanee has been given the green light to leave Middlesbrough, with boss Chris Wilder - an ex-U's manager, of course - revealing he is in talks with 'a couple of clubs' over a permanent move.

Football League World reports United have joined Sheffield United in the race to sign the 24-year-old - but the Oxford Mail understands a firm interest is nothing new.

Browne's spells with the Us came in 2018/19 and the second half of 2019/20, when he scored 14 goals in 60 games.

During his second loan, the former West Ham United man was mainly used as a winger but can fill in anywhere across the front line.

This could make him an option through the middle, where United are looking for back-up to Matty Taylor.

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Marcus Browne during his second spell at Oxford United Picture: David Fleming

Last weekend marked a year since Browne last played, having suffered an ACL injury at Brentford in January 2021.

JORDAN SHIPLEY

The midfielder was an ever-present when Coventry City won promotion from Sky Bet League One in 2019/20, but has not played a Championship match this season.

United, Bolton Wanderers and Shrewsbury Town have now been linked with the 24-year-old, who is said to be frustrated at his lack of game-time.

Football League World reports that all three clubs would prefer a loan deal, but would not rule out a permanent move.

Shipley is out of contract this summer, although the Sky Blues – who are tenth in the second tier – have an option to extend his deal by a year.

Karl Robinson was tight-lipped when asked about the rumour, telling us: “He’s a good player, but we’re not going to speculate on other players in this window.

“I don’t think it’s that type of window, players are very few and far between for the first time in a long time.”

MARK SYKES

The in-form midfielder’s future has already been up for discussion in January, having entered the final six months of his contract.

Now, Football Insider claims Huddersfield Town are one of several clubs monitoring Sykes’ situation and are preparing to ‘firm up’ their interest.

The Terriers, who signed Josh Ruffels from the U’s last summer, have reportedly sent scouts to watch the 24-year-old multiple times.

Sykes has been one of United’s top performers this season, securing a regular place in the starting XI and scoring eight goals.

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Mark Sykes Picture: David Fleming

The U’s would get a fee if the Irishman left this month, but if they cannot agree a new deal then he would be free to leave for nothing at the end of the season.

Karl Robinson said earlier in January: “We believe people like him need to be part of the football club moving forward.

“We want Mark Sykes to stay here for a long time.”

STUART FINDLAY

This rumour caught the eye as it is not the first time United have been linked with the Scotland centre back.

Findlay was a transfer target in summer 2019, but the U’s stepped away from the deal when a reported asking price of £500,000 was raised even higher.

Now, Football Insider is reporting that United are one of nine clubs across the Championship, Sky Bet League One and the Scottish Premiership interested in the 26-year-old.

Findlay, who has eight caps for his country, moved to MLS side Philadelphia Union last February but has struggled for match-time.

He previously impressed for Kilmarnock, where he attracted interest from the U's, after spells at Newcastle United and Celtic.

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Stuart Findlay in his Kilmarnock days Picture: Steve Welsh/PA Wire

Interestingly, United signed Elliott Moore after pulling out of the Findlay deal two-and-a-half years ago.

The 24-year-old is now in the final six months of his contract at the Kassam Stadium, while fellow centre back Jordan Thorniley is due to return to parent club Blackpool at the end of the season – although the U’s have made positive noises about holding on to both players.

If either were to leave, though, United would be in the market for a centre back.

DARRAGH BURNS

United have been linked with the 19-year-old winger since the end of last year.

According to the Irish Independent, the U’s are one of several English clubs tracking St Patrick’s Athletic star Burns.

United have recent history with the League of Ireland Premier Division side, signing Luke McNally from St Pat’s for an undisclosed fee this time last year.

Like the centre back, Burns starred for the Dublin club’s Under 19s before graduating to the first team, making his debut in 2020.

The teenager has played for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at age-group level, but is currently switching allegiance to the latter.

United have regularly looked across the Irish Sea in the last four years, signing Gavin Whyte, Mark Sykes, Joel Cooper and McNally.

JAMES NORWOOD

At the start of December, Football League World suggested the U’s were one of several League One clubs interested in the Ipswich Town striker.

A follow-up article from Hampshire Live soon emerged suggesting Portsmouth, one of the other teams mentioned, were not in the race for Norwood.

Regardless, the chances of a move may well have been scuppered by Ipswich’s decision to sack Paul Cook last month.

Norwood was out of favour under the former Tractor Boys boss and had made just five appearances all season, with only two of those in the league.

Since Cook’s departure, the 31-year-old has scored three goals in four matches and started both games under new boss Kieran McKenna.

Karl Robinson has not spoken about Norwood directly, but suggested he was the type of player United could go for this month.

The U's head coach said: “That is the calibre. If you’re going to do anything in January, it cannot be to fill a gap, it’s to make this team stronger.”

RYAN WILLIAMS

The Australian winger was linked with a move closer to home back in November.

Reports Down Under suggested Williams was a target for New Zealand-based side Wellington Phoenix, who he had recently started following on Instagram.

The capital club play in Australia’s A-League, a competition the 28-year-old has never appeared in having moved to England as a teenager.

Williams played a straight bat when asked about the rumours, explaining: “It’s just standard. Being an Aussie, I get interest from Australia all the time, so it’s part and parcel.

“Every window is similar, sometimes it comes out and sometimes it doesn’t.”

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Ryan Williams Picture: David Fleming

The move seems less likely now than it did a few weeks ago, due to developments at United and Phoenix.

Wellington have since signed another winger, Mexican Gael Sandoval, while Williams has started three U’s games in a row for the first time since August.

After scoring against Wigan Athletic last month he appeared to commit to United, adding: “I want to be here and be part of this team.”