As we reach the last week of the January transfer window, things are looking very different from 12 months ago.
We haven’t hit double digits yet for top flight newcomers – by the end of last year’s winter period, there were 50 new arrivals.
Of course, anything can happen before the window closes at 11pm on February 1. But still…
So far, Premier League managers have done little transfer activity this month
In January 2020, Manchester United injected £ 68 million to sign playmaker Bruno Fernandes
The coronavirus pandemic has played a role, as we all know. Last year, more than £ 233.5 million was spent on shop window signings. So far we are around £ 40 million on closed deals.
In January 2020, Manchester United’s most expensive addition came in the form of Bruno Fernandes’ £ 68 million transfer from Sporting Lisbon. Twelve months later, the Red Devils are the biggest publisher this time after Amad Diallo joined a £ 37 million deal from Atalanta.
The winger was highly sought after and is tipped to become a star in the future. The rampant Red Devils are firmly in the title race right now, and any sighting of Diallo is likely to come in the Europa League.
However, the Old Trafford team have been clamoring for a right winger for nearly a decade, and the 19-year-old was finally able to solve that problem. There will be no pressure on the left-footed miracle to make an immediate impact, but if he somehow does, it’s an early victory for United in their long-term investment.
The Red Devils also invested in the January window – in the form of teenage Amad Diallo
United are at the top of the Premier League, two points ahead of their bitter rivals Man City and 2016 champions Leicester.
For Liverpool, they are left behind in two competitions after being dumped from the FA Cup by United, but as the games progressed more and more questions are being asked about them, especially in the middle.
Jürgen Klopp’s men have been plagued by a crippling injury crisis this season with lengthy layoffs at center-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while Joe Matip played his first game of the year last week but missed Sunday’s defeat to United.
This has left Klopp midfielder Fabinho behind as a center-back, alongside young Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips. Williams faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the cup and had a day to forget. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, a central midfielder, also played there.
Drawing a senior center-back to fill the void would no doubt strengthen Liverpool. However, the question is who can they realistically sign?
Central defensive duo Joe Gomez (left) and Virgil van Dijk are two big misses for Liverpool
Serious questions from Arsenal remain in this window from the traditional ‘Big Six’ due to their predicament on and off the field.
The Gunners only qualified for European football thanks to their FA Cup victory – after finishing eighth in the Premier League. And right now, the only chance of continental football next semester looks like winning the Europa League. They are currently in 11th place with 27 points – 13 behind United.
Mikel Arteta has made two additions to the Emirates so far this window with the loan from Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan of Brighton and the £ 540,000 recruit of young Hertha Berlin defender Omar Rekik. However, like Diallo at United, Rekik is seen as someone for the future and has joined Arsenal’s Under 23s.
Martin Odegaard is nearing a move to the Emirates from Real Madrid as Mesut Ozil has left and the young Norwegian could give the club a boost if he can reclaim the form of a previous loan with Real Sociedad.
Saed Kolasinac’s departure to Schalke on loan and the termination of Sokratis’ contract have helped the Gunners shed their surplus defenders, while Özil finally ended his £ 350,000 a week nightmare by joining Fenerbahce.
Taking his pay off the books before becoming a free agent this summer is a big win for the Gunners, who still lack creativity and this issue needs to be addressed if they are to climb higher on the table. They’ll hope Odegaard is the answer.
In their recent goalless Premier League home draw against Crystal Palace, no Arsenal player had more shots (two) or created more chances (two) than Rob Holding. Yes, that’s right, central half Rob Holding. They saw Newcastle off in the next game – not much to brag about given the form of the Magpies – but were then dumped from the FA Cup 1-0 by Southampton.
William Saliba (left) has yet to play for Arsenal, but is loaned out again – this time in Nice
Arsenal have been defensively poor this season and supporters are unhappy that William Saliba has been loaned out to Nice. The talented 19-year-old has yet to play for the club and fans are scratching their heads about why he still hasn’t had a chance, despite joining in June 2019.
West Ham United have a better season than Arsenal, but they had to admit they were beaten by their club record.
It had only been 18 months since the East London club splashed £ 45m on Sebastien Haller from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in July 2019. However, the striker fell short of expectations and West Ham took a big hit on him by allowing him to join Ajax in a £ 22 million deal.
Mesut Özil eventually left Arsenal and joined boys’ club Fenerbahce in Turkish top flight
David Moyes has put Michail Antonio back in shape and he has scored two in his last two, but the manager will be happy to bolster his attacking options. But as things stand, the Hammers are reluctant to increase their £ 22 million bid for Youssef En-Nesyri in Seville. Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard has now been linked with a move to London Stadium.
The same can be said for Wolves, who are a shadow of the side that has performed brilliantly in recent Premier League seasons. Raul Jimenez’s loss to a skull fracture drastically dampened their attack – though he’s on the road to recovery.
In his absence, Molineux’s outfit had to turn to Fabio Silva. The 18-year-old came over from Porto last September in a £ 35 million club record, but is struggling to adjust to English football. He scored his first goal at home in the 3-2 defeat to rivals West Bromwich Albion just over a week ago and manager Nuno Espirito Santo hopes he can start from there.
West Ham has brought back the defeat by putting on club record Sebastien Haller – who is now at Ajax
Fabio Silva (left) has so far failed to fill the void for injured Raul Jimenez for Wolves
The Baggies’ win was January’s Robert Snodgrass kick-off – with his quality and experience proving essential to their win. He’s already impressed manager Sam Allardyce and the West Brom fans, but the deal that meant he couldn’t take on his old club raised more than a few eyebrows. The 33-year-old has signed an 18-month contract for an undisclosed amount from West Ham, and his new club hopes that the duration of that period will be in the top flight.
While there is a ray of hope for West Brom, despite taking second place in the rankings, the same cannot be said for Sheffield United.
The Blades are six points behind West Brom – accumulating just five points from their 19 games. Chris Wilder’s side are leaking goals and struggling to score them – despite heavy investments in the summer in the form of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and striker Rhian Brewster.
Quality is absolutely necessary if they want to avoid degradation in some way. They only took their first win of the season in any league less than two weeks ago in the FA Cup. They then replicated that with a 1-0 win over 10-man Newcastle in the Premier League and continued their cup run by beating Plymouth. But no new faces yet.
Robert Snodgrass (right) made an immediate impression at West Brom since joining this month
Chris Wilder, manager of Sheffield United, needs quality by his side if they are to stay