Which Premier League club has had the perfect winter window? Who have taken a backward step?
Phil McNulty has his say.
Everton’s new manager Frank Lampard was barely through the door on his first day before he started reshaping a squad dropping into a relegation fight.
And the 43-year-old immediately turned to two fallen talents who have been marginalised at their clubs in recent times, namely Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek and Tottenham outcast Dele Alli.
Manchester United signed Van de Beek from Ajax for £40m in September 2020 but the Netherlands international has failed to convince either sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or successor Ralph Rangnick of his worth, starting only four Premier League games.
There are those who question whether Van de Beek struggles with the physicality of Premier League football but Lampard showed his intent by stealing from under the noses of Crystal Palace and manager Patrick Vieira.
It’s a big chance for Van de Beek, still only 24, to show what he can do and Lampard will hope it pays off to put some goals and creativity into his midfield.
|Season||Starts||Total minutes played||Goals||Assists||Minutes per goal/assist|
|2020-21 (Man Utd)||4||513||1||1||257|
|2021-22 (Man Utd)||0||69||1||0||69|
The deal to sign Alli is arguably the most intriguing of this January transfer window.
It is another Lampard-driven deal for a player who was regarded as one of European football’s great young talents in the past and a key member of England’s 2018 World Cup squad that reached the semi-final.
Since then his career has come to a mystifying standstill.
Still only 25, he has been pushed aside at Spurs, playing only six games under manager Antonio Conte.
Lampard clearly feels he can re-ignite what was once a special ability with the deal structured to reflect the nature of his career. The first £10m is payable after 20 games then, depending on many factors, it could end up at £40m.
There is an element of a gamble – will the player ever regain his stellar form of the past? – but Lampard feels it is a risk worth taking in Everton’s current reduced condition. It’s a very bold early move.
The Toon Army were waiting for the transfer window to kick in so their new mega-rich Saudi owners could flex their financial muscles.
The need was urgent but the stakes were raised by the fact that Eddie Howe’s reign has been a slow burner so far and Newcastle are mired in the relegation zone.
Newcastle’s power brokers have certainly been busy and there is no question they have added strength in depth with a collection of signings – but the big question is whether they are actually good enough to keep The Magpies up?
They have to be, otherwise it would be a catastrophe for the grand ambitions put forward by those in charge of Newcastle.
A win at Leeds United last time out was huge but what a game in store at St. James’ Park next Tuesday when new manager Frank Lampard brings Everton to town.
England right-back Kieran Trippier brings experience. Chris Wood, at £25m from Burnley, brings physicality and a focal point up front in the absence of injured Callum Wilson.
Dan Burn adds height and defensive strength from Brighton while manager Howe will hope Bruno Guimaraes, a £35m capture from Lyon, can add midfield quality. Matt Targett, signed on loan from Aston Villa, is an experienced left-back.
There was disappointment in the lengthy pursuit of Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard but Newcastle’s squad had certainly been invigorated.
It will take time to bed so many new signings in, but time is something Newcastle do not have.
Newcastle and Howe must hope this expensive roll of the dice mixes swiftly and brings the reward of Premier League safety.
Antonio Conte – and this is not a criticism – is hugely demanding because he knows what success requires.
It is highly unlikely his mood would have been sunny after long-negotiated deals for Wolves forward Adama Traore and Porto’s Luis Diaz were hijacked by Barcelona and Liverpool respectively.
Spurs needed to react so managing director Fabio Paratici returned to familiar territory and former club Juventus to sign Uruguay midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur for an initial £15.9m and Sweden winger Dejan Kulusevski on an 18-month loan.
Whether they will be enough to perform the trick Conte wants remains to be seen.
Conte has certainly been sending a few through the exit door with Alli’s move to Everton while record £53.8m signing Tanguy Ndombele has joined Lyon on loan. Summer signing Bryan Gil is also off to Valencia on a similar basis while Giovani Lo Celso joined Villarreal for the remainder on the season.
The Spurs manager is notoriously tough to please so the club’s hierarchy will hope the late flurry of activity will at least keep him happy until the summer. Will it? The jury is out.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late free transfer move from Arsenal to Barcelona had an air of inevitability about it given the obvious fracture in his relationship with manager Mikel Arteta.
Losing a player that you feel has run his race at Arsenal is one thing. Not replacing the 32-year-old’s goals is another.
Arsenal are in a dogfight for a top-four place. This is their only hope of anything resembling success this season after the shock exit at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round and the EFL Cup semi-final elimination to Liverpool.
The Gunners have Alexandre Lacazette and the brilliant talent of Gabriel Martinelli. Arsenal have kept Eddie Nketiah amid interest from Newcastle United but there is a strong case to suggest they are taking a serious risk by not bringing in attacking reinforcements.
These are a crucial few months for Arsenal and Arteta. They will hope this failure to act will not be one to regret, especially as the dangers have been flagged up by only one goal in five games in a disappointing January.
West Ham United have had a superb first half of the season and are within striking distance of the Champions League spots.
And yet the window has passed without any squad strengthening.
Manager David Moyes would have been hopeful for re-enforcements but the right deals clearly could not be struck so he must go with what he has for the rest of the season.
It means it’s “as you were” for West Ham and Moyes. It must be hoped the inability to bring in new faces does not come back to haunt them. If it does, you can be sure Hammers’ fans will make their feelings clear to the club’s hierarchy.
Transfer deadline day started with a deal to put a smile on people’s faces.
It was the confirmation that Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen had signed for Brentford until the end of the season.
The sight of the 29-year-old fit and healthy after suffering a cardiac arrest in the opening game of Euro 2020 against Iceland in Copenhagen last June is warming enough. The news he is well enough to resume a Premier League career he left behind when he moved from Spurs to Inter Milan in January 2020 is a glorious bonus.
This is a wonderful feelgood story over and above the traditional rivalries of football.
Eriksen will be guaranteed a wonderful reception wherever he goes and Brentford, with their Danish manager Thomas Frank, will have a real game-changer if he can recover anything like his best form.