Transfer window review: Best signing? Worst signing? Biggest surprise? Who should be happiest?

Christian Eriksen returned to the Premier League to join Brentford on a short-term deal and Philippe Coutinho was reunited with his old Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa.

Elsewhere, Newcastle signed one of Ligue 1’s rising stars in Bruno Guimaraes and Liverpool gazumped Tottenham to bring in Luis Diaz from Porto.

Arsenal didn’t add to their senior squad but did allow Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to join Barcelona.

We asked four of our writers to give their thoughts on the January transfer window and what impact it might have on the Premier League season…

 

DOM FIFIELD

Best signing

Wolves’ decision to exercise the option to sign Hwang Hee-chan on a permanent basis from RB Leipzig, a deal that will kick in over the summer, feels like smart business. There is intrigue to Coutinho working in tandem with Gerrard again. And is there still a hungry, ambitious player in Dele Alli, and will a change of scenery reinvigorate his career? If so, Everton will benefit considerably.

 

Worst signing?

What a brutal question. Surely it’s far too early to tell. What this January has exposed is some clubs’ failed signings of previous windows. Lyon must be pinching themselves to have been able to re-sign Tanguy Ndombele, even only on loan, after selling him to Spurs for £53.8 million in 2019. Everton will hope to tap more into Donny van de Beek’s talents than Manchester United ever did.

 

Who should be happiest?

Newcastle were building from the lowest block and, by instigating a chaotic £100 million trolley dash, they have at least given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. But Aston Villa’s business seems shrewd, injecting further quality into the squad and allowing Gerrard to make the team more his own. Their pursuit of a defensive central midfielder will be prolonged into the summer, but that is hardly a cause for panic.

 

Who should be unhappiest?

Inevitably, given the number of players Newcastle had targeted, there will still be a level of frustration that more of their first-choice selections could not be prised away. They have had to bring in older players with the short-term in mind, given their predicament in the relegation zone, and often at eye-watering prices. That “Newcastle Tax” theory is very real. Not that the owners will mind. Elsewhere, Antonio Conte will never be happy — possibly with good reason, this time — and Burnley probably needed to do more.

 

Signing that surprised you

Christian Eriksen was probably the most surprising, and certainly the most heart-warming. It is rare a transfer unites all-comers in a desire for the player to thrive.

 

Who’s finishing in the top four?

It is Manchester City’s title, with Liverpool and Chelsea completing the top three. The last Champions League place feels like a scrap, with none of the contenders really injecting eye-catching new pedigree into their ranks mid-season. With that in mind, it is probably likeliest that Manchester United find some consistency to secure fourth unless Conte whips Spurs properly into shape.

 

Who’s going down?

The schedule may catch up with Burnley, and Norwich’s burst of form could just as easily fizzle out. Yet a few clubs in lower-mid-table will be glancing anxiously over their shoulders to gauge what effect Newcastle’s new signings and Roy Hodgson’s ability to organise Watford have on the race to avoid the drop.

 

Should the January transfer window be scrapped?

Why would it be scrapped? There is precious little else to look forward to in the new year other than the possibility of elite clubs desperately trying to shift their deadwood, or fringe players eagerly accepting previously unthinkable loan moves in the hope they can revive their careers. It’s the drama we all need in our lives.

 

NICK MILLER

Best signing

You’ll forgive me for eschewing the undoubtedly exciting prospects of Diaz and Guimaraes doing their things in the Premier League and instead fall back on sentiment. It would be absolutely wonderful to see Eriksen play anywhere, but joining Brentford is glorious. Hopefully, he thrives.

 

Worst signing

Can I have “worst sale”? If that’s allowed, then there can hardly be a better encapsulation of how a football club is being run than Everton siding with a manager everyone hated, Rafa Benitez, in an argument with one of their best players, Lucas Digne, selling that player then five days — FIVE DAYS! — later sacking the manager. It’s almost art.

 

Who should be happiest?

Aston Villa. Whether this is a consequence of Gerrard’s stellar name or them just being smart and taking advantage of other club’s mistakes, adding Digne, Coutinho and Calum Chambers improves their team and beefs up the squad. Also a reappearance of Liverpool’s no-fuss approach to recruitment, firmly gazumping Spurs for Diaz, was enjoyable.

Author: Lucy Green