As we hit the final week of the January transfer window, things are looking very different to this time 12 months ago.
We haven’t even reached double figures for new arrivals in the top flight – by the end of last year’s winter window there were 50 new signings.
Of course, anything could happen before the window shuts on February 1 at 11pm. But still…
There has been little transfer activity done by Premier League managers so far this month
In January 2020, Manchester United splashed £68million to sign playmaker Bruno Fernandes
The coronavirus pandemic has played its part, as we all know. Last year more than £233.5million was spent on signings in the window. So far we’re around the £40m mark for deals done.
In January 2020, Manchester United had the most expensive signing in the shape of Bruno Fernandes’ £68m transfer from Sporting Lisbon. Twelve months on and the Red Devils are the biggest spenders this time around after Amad Diallo joined in a £37m deal from Atalanta.
The winger was highly sought after and is tipped to be a star in the future. The rampant Red Devils are firmly in the title race at the moment and any sighting of Diallo is likely to come in the Europa League.
However, the Old Trafford outfit have been crying out for a right winger for almost a decade now and the 19-year-old could finally solve that problem. There will be no pressure on the left-footed wonder to make an instant impact but if he somehow does, then it’s an early win for United in their long-term investment.
The Red Devils have invested in this January’s window too – in the shape of teen Amad Diallo
United top the Premier League, two points ahead of their bitter rivals Man City and the 2016 champions Leicester.
For Liverpool, they are left in two competitions after being dumped out of the FA Cup by United but as the games go by, more and more questions are being asked about them, especially at centre-back.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have been plagued by a crippling injury crisis this season with long-term lay-offs to central defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while Joe Matip played his first game of the year last week but missed Sunday’s defeat by United.
This has left Klopp playing midfielder Fabinho at centre-back alongside either youngsters Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips. Williams faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the cup and had a day to forget. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, a central midfielder, has also played there too.
Signing a senior centre-half to help fill the void would undoubtedly strengthen Liverpool. The question is though who could they realistically sign?
Central-defensive duo Joe Gomez (left) and Virgil van Dijk are two huge misses for Liverpool
Of the traditional ‘Big Six’ serious questions remain of Arsenal this window due to their predicament on and off the pitch.
The Gunners only qualified for European football courtesy of their FA Cup win – after finishing eighth in the Premier League. And at present the only chance of continental football next term looks like winning the Europa League. They currently sit in 11th place on 27 points – 13 behind United.
Mikel Arteta has made two signings at the Emirates so far this window with the loan capture of Brighton’s Australian keeper Mat Ryan and the £540,000 recruit of young defender Omar Rekik from Hertha Berlin. Like Diallo at United though, Rekik is seen as one for the future and has joined Arsenal’s Under 23s.
Martin Odegaard is closing in on a move to the Emirates from Real Madrid now Mesut Ozil has gone and the young Norwegian would give the club a lift if he can recapture the form of a previous loan spell at Real Sociedad.
Saed Kolasinac’s departure to Schalke on loan and the termination of Sokratis’ contract has helped the Gunners shed their surplus of defenders while £350,000-a-week Ozil finally ended his nightmare by joining Fenerbahce.
Getting his wages off the books before he became a free agent this summer is a big win for the Gunners, who are still lacking creativity and this problem needs to be addressed if they are to climb higher up the table. They will hope Odegaard is the answer.
During their recent goalless Premier League draw at home to Crystal Palace no Arsenal player had more shots (two) or created more chances (two) than Rob Holding. Yes, that’s right, centre-half Rob Holding. They saw off Newcastle in the following game – not much to brag about there given the Magpies’ form – but then were dumped out of the FA Cup 1-0 by Southampton.
William Saliba (left) is yet to play for Arsenal but is once again out on loan – this time at Nice
Arsenal have been defensively poor this season and supporters are unhappy that William Saliba has gone out on loan to Nice. The talented 19-year-old is yet to play for the club and fans are left scratching their head as to why he still hasn’t been given a chance, despite joining in June 2019.
West Ham United are having a better season that Arsenal but they had to admit to defeat with their club-record signing.
It was only 18 months ago when the east London club splashed £45m on Sebastien Haller from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in July 2019. However, the striker failed to live up to expectation and West Ham have taken a major hit on him by allowing him to join Ajax in a £22m deal.
Mesut Ozil finally left Arsenal and joined boyhood club Fenerbahce in the Turkish top flight
David Moyes has Michail Antonio fit again, and he has scored two in his last two, but the manager will be keen to bolster his attacking options. But as it stands, the Hammers are reluctant to raise their £22m offer for Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri. Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard is now being linked with a move to the London Stadium.
The same can be said for Wolves who are a shadow of the side that have performed brilliantly in recent Premier League seasons. The loss of Raul Jimenez to a fractured skull has blunted their attack drastically – although he is on the road to recovery.
In his absence, the Molineux outfit have had to turn to Fabio Silva. The 18-year-old joined from Porto in a club-record £35m deal last September but has struggled to adapt to English football. He scored his first goal at home during the 3-2 defeat by rivals West Bromwich Albion just over a week ago and manager Nuno Espirito Santo will hope he can kick on from there.
West Ham have cut their losses with club-record signing Sebastien Haller – who is now at Ajax
Fabio Silva (left) has failed to fill the void for the injured Raul Jimenez up front for Wolves so far
The Baggies’ win saw January signing Robert Snodgrass start – with his quality and experience proving vital in their victory. He has already impressed manager Sam Allardyce and the West Brom fans but the agreement which meant he couldn’t face his old club raised more than a few eyebrows. The 33-year-old penned an 18-month contract, for an undisclosed fee from West Ham, and his new club will hope the duration of that period will be in the top flight.
While there is a glimmer of hope for West Brom, despite sitting second bottom in the table, the same can’t be said for Sheffield United.
The Blades are six points behind West Brom – having collected just five points from their 19 games. Chris Wilder’s side are leaking goals and struggling to score them – despite heavy investment in the summer in the shape of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and striker Rhian Brewster.
Quality is definitely needed if they are to somehow avoid relegation. They only achieved their first win of the season in any competition less than a fortnight ago in the FA Cup. They then replicated that with a 1-0 win over 10-man Newcastle in the Premier League and continuted their cup run by beating Plymouth. But as yet, no new faces.
Robert Snodgrass (right) made an instant impact at West Brom since joining this month
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder needs quality throughout his side if they are to stay up