Let’s get one thing straight: this transfer window was unlike any other as the spread of COVID-19 allows for limited travel and the economic impact of the pandemic has hit football clubs hard.
In January 2020 according to the transfer tracking website Transfer marketThe Premier League clubs spent a little over € 242 million on 88 arrivals. In January 2021, the difference is clear: the expenses for 46 arrivals are only 85 million euros.
The situation is similar in Europe with Bundesliga clubs (EUR 196 million in 2020 compared to EUR 48 million in 2021), La Liga clubs (EUR 152 million compared to EUR 36 million), Serie A (EUR 215 million compared to EUR 77 million) and Ligue 1 clubs (EUR 124 million) EUR 29 million) all do the same.
It may seem tough to judge someone in these times, but now clubs are fully aware of the parameters in which they must operate. This assessment is less about who spent the most money or made the biggest names, but more about who could do the best under the circumstances.
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Getting a center-back was the only clear goal for the injured Liverpool. Rather than opting for a big marquee signing – which would have been difficult anyway – they opted for two players who will prove to be good options for Jürgen Klopp.
The arrival of Preston defender Ben Davies came as a shock, but the strong positional skills, ability to play with a high level of focus and the fine left foot should prove to be a valuable addition, while Sepp van den Berg will be valuable Credit experience as a substitute. A loan agreement for Ozan Kabak from Schalke also came out of the blue with a possible 30 million euro option in the summer. Liverpool have been watching the 20-year-old for some time but it’s a low-risk move with Joel Matip out for the season. If Kabak can take on the challenge of mentally resetting himself from a lost environment at Schalke, the aggressive defender has the potential to become a good Premier League center-back. Allowing Takumi Minamino to loan out much-needed playing time in Southampton was also a wise decision. – TKK
The club has done well to diverge from a multitude of players who made no contribution and consumed resources on high wages. Mesut Ozil has given a lot to Arsenal over the years and it was sad to see his career fall like this but his £ 350,000 weekly salary was too high and a free transfer to Fenerbahce was good for everyone. Likewise, Shkodran Mustafi’s move to Schalke and Sokratis’ exit for Olympiakos enabled a clean break for everyone. However, the trio were fired from their contracts for free, which isn’t the best deal.
The Gunners have been more frugal this time around, adding the creativity they needed in a loan move for Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, while also landing an accomplished substitute goalkeeper at Brighton’s Mat Ryan. They also loaned Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, and William Saliba to gain more experience. With Sead Kolasinac joining Schalke and not landing a substitute defender before the deadline expires, the club are just one injury from Kieran Tierney or Cedric Soares away from a possible defensive crisis, but manager Mikel Arteta is building something and now has players calling who is for his culture will be central. – JMC
Mark Ogden believes Amad Diallo will be Manchester United’s first team this season after an impressive U-23 debut.
When you’ve only had 24 minutes of soccer for the first team behind you, it’s hard to imagine moving to one of the greatest clubs in the world. But Manchester United clearly liked what they saw in Atalanta winger Diallo, and they agreed on a possible € 41m move for the 18-year-old in October.
After getting a work permit, which is no easy task under the current Brexit regulations in Great Britain, he made his debut for the U23 team at the weekend and promptly scored two goals in the 6-3 win over Liverpool. Much more is expected of the exciting striker and it won’t be long before he becomes concerned about the Premier League defenders. However, if he’s really on the right track, then perhaps United could rethink their € 120million pursuit of Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho. – JMC
– Karlsen: What does the scout world do with Diallo?
Usually known for producing up-and-coming talent, Sevilla broke that pattern by signing 32-year-old Alejandro “Papu” Gomez from Atalanta for around € 5m as his contract went into the last six months. The Argentine midfielder, who was out of the squad two months ago during a Champions League game at halftime with coach Giampiero Gasperini and was subsequently frozen, could prove valuable to Julen Lopetegui’s team. With his creativity, intelligence and ability to score goals from a distance, Gomez has been one of the most effective Serie A playmakers in recent years, and the addition of such a high profile mid-season player is a real boost for Sevilla. Pound for pound, Gomez is the best player to move in this January transfer window.
Another plus for the 2020 Europa League winners was their ability to hold on to the mercurial yet prolific striker Youssef En-Nesyri. The 23-year-old was linked with a move from Sevilla for a long time but now has the added benefit of being taken care of by one of the game’s best attacking midfielders. – TKK
In a time of caution, AC Milan has deepened its strength. The top runners in Serie A followed a slightly different transfer strategy this month: While the focus in the summer was on young people with sales value, in January it was all about consolidation and (relative) experience. Defender Fikayo Tomori has moved on loan from Chelsea while Soualiho Meite – originally on loan from Turin – has already shown signs of adding more graft and strength to the center of his midfield and covering an area where the team has been looking thin .
Mario Mandzukic may not have played much football since leaving Juventus in May 2019 (he only recorded five games for Al-Duhail in Qatar before terminating his contract) and the 34-year-old is still far from his highest fitness away. As can be seen from his first two substitute appearances – but his arrival, both in terms of style of play and personality on the pitch, could have an impact similar to that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. – TKK
The rise of young American players like Weston McKennie and Giovanni Reyna was a real issue last year, and the January deal showed how important the country is in the market. There are now 54 US stars Bryan Reynolds, 19, Dallas FC right-back, Jan. became the second most expensive player in the MLS academy to leave the league (behind Bayern’s Alphonso Davies) when he moved to Roma for € 6.75m, plus another € 5.65m in add-ons.
Swansea grabbed Paul Arriola of D.C. United after also loaning Jordan Morris from the Seattle Sounders. FC Bayern’s Chris Richards, who will have more chances at Hoffenheim, has signed a loan deal while Orlando striker Daryl Dike made his USMNT debut on Sunday by sealing a late loan to Barnsley. The Turkish league also saw two moves as DeAndre Yedlin moved from Newcastle to Galatasaray and Tyler Boyd Besiktas traded for Sivasspor to get more playing time.
Even 19-year-old Schalke striker Matthew Hoppe can’t stay out of the news as he was rewarded for his breakthrough in the first team by winning his first professional contract. And watch out for 17-year-old Caden Clark of the New York Red Bulls, who is moving to RB Leipzig in 2021 to become the next big Bundesliga star. – JMC
Gab Marcotti says Lionel Messi’s leaked contract looks like a ploy to get his desire to leave the club going again.
The Manchester City defender couldn’t have done much more to show that he wanted to leave the club. Refusing to extend the contract term, which expires in the summer, Garcia made it clear that he wanted to return to former club Barcelona. The problem? Barca are in an uproar, with € 1.2 billion in debt, no president or board to make decisions, and a complete inability to get anything done this month.
Garcia reportedly even offered to play for free to get his move, but that didn’t work either. He’ll be moving to Camp Nou on a free transfer this summer, provided Barca’s new president signs the deal, but it’s going to be an uncomfortable few months at Etihad for the 20-year-old.
Barca’s only business was to attract two players – Jean-Clair Todibo to Nice and Carles Alena to Getafe. The leak of Lionel Messi’s four-year deal, which was signed in 2017, which gave a complicated breakdown of the € 555 million he would receive if all the add-ons were met, only added to the PR nightmare that engulfed the club and the relationship to them could damage the best gamer ever who is irreparable. – JMC
The transfer of Bayern defender David Alaba would have changed that view, but Real Madrid will have to wait until the summer for a new signing and even then there are many other clubs that will try to land the Austrian international after his contract expires.
For a club the size of Madrid, it seems incredible that they haven’t taken a step – especially as they are 10 points behind city rivals Atletico in the league and recently embarrassedly eliminated from the Copa del Rey. Tier Side Alcoyano – if only to refresh the roster. Obviously, no one would be in favor of a desperate last-minute signing and their financial situation is almost as bad as Barcelona’s, but Madrid could have improved their squad without breaking the bank.
While it made sense to loan Odegaard to Arsenal (assuming he’ll pick up minutes for his new club at some point), letting Luka Jovic return to Eintracht Frankfurt without adequate support for Karim Benzema seems like a big gamble. There have never been any major spending in this transfer window as they plan to relocate Kylian Mbappe, Eduardo Camavinga and Erling Haaland this summer, but it seems Madrid have decided to lose this season and are already planning to rebuild this summer. They also failed to get captain and club legend Sergio Ramos to sign a new deal and could lose it for free in six months. – TKK
The awkward Tottenham midfielder faces a long way back in Jose Mourinho’s good books after missing a move to PSG. Alli, who has only started one league game this season and had a meager half an hour against Minnows Marine in the FA Cup, was heavily linked to a move to Paris in January after former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino took over the French giants.
The financial crisis in French football, which even perennial independent financiers forced PSG to think about austerity first, as well as their inability to bring out their unwanted midfielders to free up space, prevented that move from taking place. Sources also told ESPN that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was unwilling to let him go without replacement. The 24-year-old has three years to complete his contract and now has no choice but to focus fully on getting back on Mourinho’s plans to revive his stalled career. – TKK
Steve Nicol believes Thomas Tuchel will see some positive results after Chelsea beat Burnley 2-0.
Starting a new job as a football manager is never easy, but starting one when your predecessor spent more than £ 220 million on six players makes it even harder. Save a thought for Tuchel who, having arrived on January 26 with a week in the window, had to watch the January transfer window slip by without a second thought as Chelsea would never give him money to operate in one a small period of time.
The German coach has to work with what he has inherited and while that is not terrible given the quality of the players available to him, he must have longed to have his own influence on the team. On the plus side, Chelsea moved to the Danny Drinkwater and Lucas Piazon flops, but they also left him short of a defender by allowing Tomori to move to Milan on loan. – JMC
The window itself
As explained above, clubs across Europe have not been able to spend money as usual due to the effects of COVID-19. These times, more careful money management is required (even within football’s financial bubble) and there have been few deals to get excited about. Of course, there are far more important things in the world right now, but soccer transfer gossip and deadline intrigue provide a mental escape for many year-round. 2020 trends haven’t been promising, and after January it seems that 2021 isn’t going to get much better on the transfer front. – JMC