The winter transfer market has just wrapped up and let’s be honest, there were some possible gems but a lot more of just talking and not much doing. There could always be the next Evra or Vidic, so here is a breakdown of a few (series of) impactful transfers.
I liked this Chelsea team to start off the season. I’ve loved Sarriball and its aesthetic beauty. However, there will always be the problem of tactical matchup in a more rigid system and Chelsea was heavily exploited lately, so bad that Sarri might be sacked. Their problem lies on Jorginho being harassed, but also an incompetent frontline. Pulisic is the marquee signing of the winter, but he will not be on the squad yet. The pair of loans Chelsea was on, Morata out and Higuaín in, is a sign of Sarri’s distrust on some players and him looking for some familiarity amidst struggles. Atletico Madrid is a good place for strikers to find their form, and Morata’s familiarity with the league helps. Higuaín was disappointing at Milan, so the hope of Sarri retuning him like he did the first time round would be huge. Plus, Hazard as a false-nine should not be the norm.
AC Milan going young
Milan dodged some FFP allegations in recent history, and they dove in once it was all cleared up. Lucas Paquetá (21) and Krzysztof Piatek (23) joined the team on a 35-million euro price tag and the latter has a debut brace. It is definitely the right direction to go, considering they already have a number of young prospects on the team like Calabria and Cutrone.
Almirón testing himself
Miguel Almirón has been a crucial piece of Atlanta United’s success since its establishment alongside players like Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba, but the Paraguayan decided to take the inevitable move to test himself in a higher stage of soccer. With a 24-million price tag, he became the record signing of Newcastle after… wait for it… Michael Owen. The magpies do need a player like him to be a creative lynchpin so let’s see how he fares in the Premier League.
The HQ section has been fun this window. Michy Batshuayi on loan to Crystal Palace was a shocker, as more established clubs like Spurs rejected his 160,000 pounds per week wage demands. Balotelli went for free to Marseille because of a rift with Patrick Vieira. Solanke, who barely played in the league, commanded a 21-million fee from Bournemouth. Benatia departing to Qatar for 8 million euros. And of course, the robot – Peter Crouch – to Burnley. Monaco is a story on its own with hiring back Leonardo Jardim, loaning out youth prospects (the type of player who are instrumental to Jardim’s success) like Antonio Barreca and Youri Tielemans and bringing in sparsely-played mercenaries (Naldo, Fabregas, Nkoulou, Gelson) to save the season.
The Chinese clubs did flex their muscle in the window, but mostly just to secure official transfers after loans. Paulinho sealed his return to Guangzhou Evergrande for 42 million from Barcelona; Anderson Talisca did the same with Evergrande for 19 million. Mousa Dembélé to Guangzhou R&F for 12 million and of course, the man, the myth, the legend Marouane Fellaini to Shandong Luneng. The main departure would be Ricardo Goulart, a Brazilian Chinese legend now, going back to Palmeiras.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING???
Swansea gets the worst reputation of all teams. The only significant moves are Jefferson Montero to fourth-place West Bromwich and finally dumping off Wilfried Bony, but it was the deep talks that annoyed fans. The team is undefeated in 2019 and six points within a promotion playoff spot, but decided to try and give out players to competitors. Montero was an example, with their best prospect in talks to join top of the table Leeds before the club pulling the plug in the closing minutes of the window being another one. However, the most infuriating one would probably be trying to sell Leroy Fer to Aston Villa, the team that is one point above them in the league. It is the American owners taking the money and not investing all over again.