So the January Transfer Window has slammed shut, all the madness is now over. I am going to talk you through some of the biggest deals that have gone through this window. While there was huge attention on the high-profile Alexis Sanchez – Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal, there were also vast sums spent by – and received by – Premier League Clubs. Here we pick out the top 10 most expensive transfers…
1. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona – £146m
After three failed bids last summer, Barcelona finally got their man in January, paying £146m to sign Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The transfer fee made the Brazilian the world’s second most expensive player ever, behind his compatriot Neymar. Coutinho is probably the final piece of the jigsaw in replacing Neymar, and they must be pleased to have got their man after Liverpool held firm in the summer, and told Barcelona he’s going no where. Barcelona add Coutinho to the £96.8m signing of Ousmane Dembele who signed in the summer, but since joining has had a lot of injury problems, and hasn’t managed to really get a run of games in the side, and has been sidelined for much of the season. I think he’s only played four or five games so far. Coutinho has featured for Barcelona mainly on the right of a front three for Barcelona in the wins against Espanyol and Alaves, but he is a player who Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says “performs well in several positions, as a play-maker, left, right, he can help us in the attack, he can play inside too”. So ask yourself this, if Barcelona have a fully fit team, where is it likely that Coutinho will play? In my opinion he has been signed as a like for like replacement for Neymar, and eventually he will be playing regularly on the left hand side of Barca’s front three with Suarez middle and Messi right. Does that mean then that Barca have paid £96.8m for someone to sit on the bench? Seems crazy doesn’t it. Also, why haven’t Liverpool dipped into the transfer market to try and replace Coutinho? Surely there was a plan in mind? I think this plan revolved around the possibility of Naby Keita joining Anfield six months earlier than anticipated, and they did make efforts to strike a deal with RB Leipzig, but it became clear that wouldn’t happen, and there was no real back-up plan. Initial interest in Thomas Lemar was shelved until the summer, and claims of a desire to bring Riyad Mahrez to the club was swiftly dismissed. Obviously a large sum of this transfer fee was spent on Virgil van Dijk which leads me on to..
2. Virgil van Dijk – Southampton to Liverpool – £75m
Liverpool signed Virgil van Dijk in a bid to boost their defensive strength, but the fee paid for VVD made the Dutchman the most expensive defender ever. I personally think they have spent far too much on him, and its not a case of looking and thinking this is a defender, why have they paid so much. Because historically defenders don’t usually demand such high fee’s like maybe wingers or strikers, I just think that Liverpool really wanted there man, and Southampton knew that Liverpool weren’t going to walk away and so they just stuck a massive price tag on him to see whether Liverpool would match it and they did. VVD said “Obviously there is a lot of money being paid but I can’t do anything about that – nobody can. Its only the market, the only thing I can do is work hard, do good things and be 100% every day – that’s what I am going to do”. He becomes the sixth signing that Liverpool have made from Southampton, increasing the total amount paid to Southmapton since 2014 to £171.5m, with Sadio Mane (£34m) Adam Lallana (£25m) Dejan Lovren (£20m) Nathaniel Clyne (£12.5m) and Rickie Lambert (£5m).
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal – £60m
The Gabonese striker has headed to the Emirates following Alexis Sanchez move to Manchester United, and after a bit of a transfer merry go round involving, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi. This is probably one of the signings, as a football fan, I’m most excited about. I think he is a very talented footballer, who can score and create goals, and I for one really enjoy watching him play. It is rumoured that Real Madrid had the chance to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang earlier this month for £8.75m cheaper than the £60m fee paid when he eventually signed for Arsenal. The Gabon international had caused problems at Dortmund in the weeks leading up to his transfer to the Emirates. He was suspended for missing a team meeting prior to the game against Wolfsburg, and was left out of the squad to face Hertha Berlin a week later, although he did play the full 90 minutes against Freiburg. He was subjected to loud jeers from the Dortmund fans throughout the match. And it is claimed that Aubameyang’s long standing history of disciplinary issues, is what led to Real Madrid retracting their interest in the striker. Aubameyang took to social media to apologise to Dortmund fans saying “First of all I am sorry for everything that happened in the last month, I wanted to change last summer but it wasn’t meant to be, maybe its not the best way I chose, but everyone knows that Auba is crazy – and yes I’m a crazy kid.” Aubameyang joined Dortmund in 2013, and made 144 appearances for the club scoring 98 goals, but will he be able to adapt to the Premier League, as we have already seen Alexandre Lacazette struggle since his move from France. Only time will tell.
4. Aymeric Laporte – Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City – £57m
Having turned down City in the summer of 2016, Pep Guardiola finally got his man by breaking the club record transfer fee to sign Aymeric Laporte. This transfer really baffled me, as Pep Guardiola had released a statement, only two days prior to this transfer being announced and after they’d pulled out of the Alexis Sanchez deal, which was all but agreed in the Summer, only to fall through due to Arsenal’s failure to sign Thomas Lemar. He said “There are salaries we cannot pay, there are parts of the transfer we cannot pay. Maybe in the future it is going to happen, but we have not paid more than £80m. We cannot pay that right now, they told me. And the salaries and some things. We cannot pay. That is the truth.” City spent £201m last summer, bringing in the likes of Bernado Silva (£43m) Danilo (£26.5m) Ederson (£35m) Benjamin Mendy (£52m) and Kyle Walker (£45m). Taking the total spend now after the Laporte deal, just on defenders and a goalkeeper to £215.5m. Guardiola said “I understand the criticism, but we have spent £300m on six players, others have done that on two. We had a lot of older players running out of contract, to compete we needed to spend. A club can decide to spend on two players. We did it in a different way”. Add this to the fact he spent £334m at Barcelona and £170m at Bayern Munich. Makes you think, would he be able to cope at a club who didn’t have such a large budget? Laporte is obviously a good signing, but there are question marks about his physical side of his game, which is the main reason France coach Didier Deschamps hasn’t given him his first cap yet. He has only ever been called up by France once and he is even considering switching allegiance to Spain, for whom he qualifies through residency. With the World Cup in six months, he needs to adapt very quickly to the Premier League, which is renowned for being physical, as he’s going to be facing different types of strikers than in Spain. So was this really a good career move for him?
5. Cenk Tosun – Besiktas to Everton – £27m
Everton have been busy in the past two transfer windows and moved to strengthen their attacking options with the £27m purchase of Turkish international Tosun. When Sam Allardyce arrived at the club, he said for weeks that he needed a striker. That was his main job after he arrived, fill the gap Everton had. They didn’t have a 20-25 goal a season player anymore, Romelu Lukaku had gone to pastures new, and they hadn’t really replaced a player of his quality upfront. Sam Allardyce described him as “good value for money”. Tosun spent four years at Besiktas scoring 41 goals in 96 appearances. He made his debut in an Everton shirt against Spurs at Wembley and it was not a dream start for the Turkish international. He assisted Rooney from a corner in the first half, only to find out the goal had been disallowed, and was perhaps harshly subbed off in the 61st minute, with his side 3-0 down in a lifeless display by the Toffee’s. However many Everton fans were still impressed with what he had showed in his brief debut, one fan on twitter even likened him to club legend Duncan Ferguson.
6. Lucas Moura – Paris St-Germain to Tottenham Hotspur – £23m
This transfer seems to me to be the bargain of the window. I am a big fan of Lucas Moura, but he hasn’t had a fair crack of the whip at PSG, and maybe this is the move he needs to really kick on and become the quality player which we can all see. The 25 year old Brazilian, who has signed a contract until 2023, joined PSG for £33.5m from Sao Paulo in 2013, but he has only made six appearances this season, all from the subs bench. Lucas – who will wear the number 27 shirt for Spurs – scored 46 goals and contributed with 50 assists in 229 appearances for the French club, and he has not featured in the Champions League at all this season, and is therefore available in the knockout stage for Spurs. Tottenham are getting a player who has promised so much but has lost his way in the new Neymar/Mbappe era at PSG. Impressive pace, dribbling and the flexibility to play centrally or out wide. Quick feet and skills which will get fans off their seats, and on his day he is exceptional. Lucas was a big part of Laurent Blanc’s successful PSG side, and last season under Unai Emery he scored 19 goals and assisted 11, including a run of 7 goals in 12 matches. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino could be the man to get the best out of him on a regular basis, he certainly adds a brilliant option to the squad.
7. Adrien Silva – Sporting Lisbon to Leicester City – £22m
Midfielder Adrien Silva, finally made his move to Leicester on January 1st, after they had missed out on the deadline in the August 2017 by 14 seconds. He made his debut on New Year’s Day, fittingly wearing the number 14 shirt. FIFA rejected the 28 year old’s move from Sporting in the summer as the paperwork arrived too late. Silva was not allowed to train with his new team-mates as Leicester tried to get FIFA to change their mind, and claimed to have forensic evidence to prove they actually made the deadline. FIFA refused, and were also unwilling to fast track an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Speaking about the four-month wait for the move to be approved, Silva said “When you have a period like this, it’s very up and down. You have to keep a positive mentality, and that’s really what I have tried to do. I’ve kept my mind focused on my job, and what I love to do”. Silva was born in France, but has won 20 international caps for Portugal, and was part of the Euro 2016 winning squad. After the season that Leicester is having, do you think maybe he regrets making this decision?
8. Theo Walcott – Arsenal to Everton – £20m
Theo Walcott was after first team football, Sam Allardyce wanted to strengthen his attacking options, this was the perfect deal for both parties. Doesn’t seem that long ago Walcott was just 17, having not made a single appearance yet for Arsenal, and then Sven Goran Eriksson named him in his World Cup squad. Theo was sitting his theory section of his driving test when he got the news. His family couldn’t even afford to stay in the same hotel as all the other England footballer’s relatives. Walcott did not make a single appearance, and basically just went to make a video diary of the whole event. He went on to be a terrific player, taking him only 370 games to get to 100 Arsenal goals, thats only 74 more games than it took Dennis Bergkamp. Walcott’s best season came in 2012/13 when he netted 21 times in 43 appearances. Now he is an Everton player, and by his own admission, Wayne Rooney played a big part in him joining the Toffee’s. Walcott helped Everton claim there first win of 2018, bagging a brace against Leicester, and he seems to be fitting in just fine.
9. Guido Carrillo – Monaco to Southampton – £19m
Guido Carrillo joins Southampton, they wanted to add to their strike force in this window, and they swooped for the 6ft3 frontman when he was deemed surplus to requirements at Monaco. Carrillo, who played under fellow countryman Mauricio Pellegrino at Estundiantes in their native Argentina as a teenager, had made only two starts for Monaco this season. Although when he signed for Monaco in 2015 he scored 20 goals, and he helped them to the league title last season. Signing a striker was priority for the Saints Boss, with Charlie Austin injured and Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini struggling for goals, they needed an injection of something fresh and new, someone to come in and make the players pick up their game. A new signing will always make your players think, ‘oh he’s signing him to replace me’ and that’s the sort of healthy competition they need at Southampton.
10. Emerson Palmieri – Roma to Chelsea – £17.6m
Chelsea were looking for a left back to provide competition for Marcos Alonso after they had allowed Baba Rahman move on loan to Schalke to help with his development. The 23 year old Brazilian – who switched his international allegiance to Italy – is a very accomplished left sided player who can play virtually anywhere down the left hand side of the pitch. His development was halted when he picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury in May 2017, and he’s only played a single game for Roma this season. It would have been the 2016/17 season that would have attracted Antonio Conte to him, when he featured 36 times for Roma. Not bad for a player who was originally signed to be back up to Lucas Digne. He’s signed a four and a half year contract at Chelsea, costing the club £17.6m and a further £7m in add on’s.