The European winter transfer window finally closed yesterday, and there was the usual transfer deadline day rush that is usually characterized by panic-buying, near misses, and loss of important players by the smaller teams to the stronger ones. As the deadline was drawing closer, Arsenal completed the loan signing of Cedric Soares, Manchester United got Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo while the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, and Athletico failed to get their targeted players.
In this piece, TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at the winners and losers from the just concluded window.
WINNERS: INTER MILAN & ANTONIO CONTE
Inter’s objective this season is to challenge Juventus’ dominance of the Serie A. This prompted the Nerrazurri to appoint Antonio Conte as manager. So far, the Italian is doing a great job in battling Juve at the top. But several injuries depleted the squad towards the end of last year, and in order to prevent it from affecting their title ambitions, the club have swiftly moved in bringing in players suited to Conte’s style of play, the manager will surely be happy with their activities in the transfer market. The club brought in Victor Moses, Ashley Young, and most excitingly, Christian Eriksen —who was brought in amidst interest from other top clubs.
The new manager, Quique Setien, was brought in to replace the sacked Ernesto Valverde. The new coach will have expected the club to bring in at least a replacement for the injured Luis Suarez — who is the only natural striker in the team—but Setien will be disappointed that not only did the club failed to make any signing, they also allowed the exit of youngsters Jean-Clair Todibo, Moussa Wague, and Carlos Perez.
Barca missed out on the signings of Rodrigo Moreno, Bruno Fernandes, supposedly Richarlison, among others.
Although Mikel Arteta wasn’t given the necessary support, he needed in the transfer market, and he still managed to cover the weak link in the team— which is the defence— with the loan signing of Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares.
LOSERS: MANCHESTER UNITED
United are going through a torrid season, and the fans are not satisfied with the efforts of the board ( this is best illustrated by the attack on the house of executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward). Coming into the January transfer window, the board were under intense pressure to salvage the club’s season with appropriate signings but failed miserably to get their targets (the likes of James Maddison, Jack Grealish, Mario Mandzukic, Christian and most embarrassingly, Erling Haaland). Bruno Fernandes was signed for an astronomical fee while the signing of Odion Ighalo is outrightly shocking.
WINNERS: NEWCASTLE UNITED
The January transfer window is usually a dreaded moment for lower teams as they struggle to prevent their star players from being poached by bigger teams. Only a few of the lower clubs could boast of attracting players from the top teams, and in this concluded window, Newcastle could regard themselves as one of those few teams, as they pulled off some fantastic deals with the signing of Danny Rose, Valentin Lorenzo and Nabil Bentaleb from Tottenham, Inter Milan and Schalke 04 respectively.
LOSERS: CHELSEA & GIROUD
Having failed to make new signings in the summer due to a transfer ban, Chelsea were expected to splash the cash in January when the transfer ban was lifted. The club went into the transfer window to identify new signings, especially to help them in attack where they are struggling. The likes of Edinson Cavani, Wilfred Zaha, Timo Werner, Krzysztof Piątek and Dries Mertens were linked to the Blues, but none materialised. Chelsea’s inability to sign a new striker in January will also come as a blow to Oliver Giroud, who was seeking to leave for more game time elsewhere in order to be in contention for France’s Euro 2020 squad.
WINNER: JOSE MOURINHO
Ever since Mourinho was appointed as Tottenham manager, he has been faced with a lot of problems in the squad, ranging from injuries to contract disputes. Injuries to the likes of Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, and Tanguy Ndombele have depleted the squad while the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Christian Eriksen had their contracts expiring at the end of the current season. Mourinho and the board did pretty well to arrest this situation in the transfer window. Although they were unable to prevent Eriksen from joining Inter Milan, they convinced Alderweireld to sign a new contract (in December) and also brought in youngsters Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes while also making Giovanni Lo Celso’s move permanent in the January transfer window. Mourinho— obviously pleased with how the window ended— praised Tottenham’s chairman Dany Levy, as “fantastic Levy.”
LOSERS: ATHLETICO MADRID
After having lost several of their stars in the summer, Diego Simeone’s side subsequently replaced them, but the new signings are still taking time to gel, thus making Athletico perform underwhelmingly and also frustrating to watch. The most disappointing area of the squad is the attack, with record signing Joao Felix lacking end-product while the other attackers are alarmingly inconsistent. Athleti fans were looking forward to seeing additions being made to the frontline during the 2020 January transfer window but were left disappointed as the club failed to acquire their desired targets —most especially Edinson Cavani— and instead brought back Yannick Carrasco on loan from China. ( Carrasco fell-out with Diego Simeone before his departure in 2018)
Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola