The January transfer window is like an annual second chance for all football clubs – but more so for the clubs from the top leagues like the Premier League. The pressure in the top leagues is so intense that if a manager or a transfer committee blundered in the summer transfer window then by December all seems lost. Case in point, Manchester United this season. But the January window provides an opportunity to set the mistakes right and aim for a better finish to the season than what would have seemed possible in the hectic fixture congested December.
That could be one of the ways Premier League clubs look at the January window at least. In the past, we have seen several big-name signings happen in January. The most expensive defender in the world – Virgil van Djik signed for Liverpool last year in this window. That might have been an admission from Jurgen Klopp that not buying the defender in the summer of 2017 was a mistake and Liverpool were ready to remedy it, even for a premium. Alex Sanchez too moved to Manchester United last season in January. Chelsea re-signed Nemanja Matic in January of 2014 and Crystal Palace signed Wilfried Zaha in February (Feb 3, last day of the window) of 2015. Going a bit more in the past, Liverpool signed Daniel Sturridge in the January of 2013 and had previously signed the duo of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in the January of 2011, which was in turn funded by Torres’ January move to Chelsea.
The point is, the January window has generally been a period of increased transfer activity for Premier League clubs. It is generally not as hectic or as transformative for the clubs as the summer window is, but it almost always is far more active than it has been this January. So far, with half the window gone, Premier League clubs have signed a total of 7 players. They have in fact let go of many more redundant or youth players then they have brought in any new players.
The seven signings include Christian Pulisic whose transfer to Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund has been signed but he will join back the German team on loan for this season. So, as of now he is not a Chelsea player and cannot help Sarri’s bid for a top-four finish. One more such signing who is unlikely to have any immediate impact is the 18-year old winger David Wang, whom Wolves signed from the Spanish fourth-tier outfit Jumilla B (Estudiantes). Although Guardian has named him in the top 60 best young talents in the football world, he is unlikely to have any impact on Wolves’ attempt to finish in the top half. That leaves just five signings who will have any material impact on how their new clubs perform for the rest of the season. Let us take a look at them:
Nathaniel Clyne (Loaned from Liverpool to Bournemouth): Many Reds’ supporters are stumped by this move from Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool do not have adequate cover in the right-back position and yet Klopp has let his primary backup for that position leave on loan to a Premier League rival. With Trent’s latest injury, it indeed seems to be an ill-advised move. However, even if the loan move is adverse for Liverpool, it is likely to be good for the other two parties – Clyne and Bournemouth. Bournemouth get a top defender for half a season to help them improve their results, while Clyne who was starved for minutes under Klopp will surely get them under Eddie Howe.
Dominic Solanke (Permanent Move from Liverpool to Bournemouth): Liverpool’s generosity towards Bournemouth did not end with just the Clyne loan. They also sold Dominic Solanke to the Cherries. This deal, rumoured to fetch about £17 million for the Reds, is far more equitable for all parties. Liverpool can make better use of that money than they made of Solanke, whose chances of playing for Klopp were getting slimmer by the day. He is expected to get regular chances at Bournemouth and the Cherries, who have let Jermain Defoe leave on a loan to Rangers are beefed up in attack with the presence of a young U-20 world-cup player of the tournament in their ranks.
Jaden Brown (Permanent move from Tottenham to Huddersfield Town): The U-19 England international moved on a free transfer to Huddersfield, signing a 2.5-year contract with them. He is a promising left-back and if Huddersfield were not in the relegation scrap that they find themselves in, we could safely say that Jaden Brown was signed for the future. But, given their precarious condition, it is completely possible that Brown gets more senior experience in the remaining league matches than expected by him.
Jason Puncheon (Loaned from Crystal Palace to Huddersfield Town): This is a deal that David Wagner completed, almost certainly hoping that an experienced Premier League midfielder will be able to turn Huddersfield’s fortunes around. Puncheon was a regular for Palace till the 2016-17 season but has not featured as many times as he would have liked in the 2018-19 season and Huddersfield will definitely give him the minutes he needs. They will also hope that Puncheon can improve the passing and pressing in their midfield.
Samir Nasri (Permanent Move to West Ham): West Ham’s project to assemble Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City went one step ahead when the Hammers announced that Nasri will join them for an initial six-month period on a free transfer. Nasri has completed his 12-month doping-related ban from football and is back to prove a point as per his reunited manager Manuel Pellegrini. If the 31-year old can produce the kind of football he played at both the Etihad and the Emirates a few years back, West Ham should definitely be aiming for a top-half finish.
Just five transfers with the possibility of any immediate impact in 15 days definitely represents a slow transfer window. The top-six clubs have not brought in anyone (Pulisic back on loan to Dortmund), while the relegation-threatened teams have moved a bit faster in this transfer window, which is natural. It is also possible that in the second half of this transfer window the speed of transfers picks up and some of the transfer rumours surrounding the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, and United come true.