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Date: August 07, 2020, 05:15:31 AM


TRANSFERS: The winners and losers of the January transfer window: Sports : - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum


TRANSFERS: The winners and losers of the January transfer window

By: Ramjoe (M) |Time : February 01, 2020, 10:53:28 AM
The deadline has passed, leaving some players, coaches, directors and fans celebrating shrewd moves - and others facing up to an uncertain future

The winter window has slammed shut.

Some clubs, coaches, directors and fans are basking in the warm glow of some shrewd moves.

Others, though, were left on the outside looking in, and are now facing an uncertain future after becoming the latest victims of an infamously difficult market in which to do good business.

Below, Goal runs through the winners and losers of a dramatic January transfer window...

Losers: Manchester United
After Manchester United's dismal 2-0 defeat at home to Burnley on January 22, former midfielder Darren Fletcher described the atmosphere at Old Trafford as "toxic".

It's only become even more poisonous since then, with the home of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward attacked by fans armed with flares on Tuesday night.

The entire football community has been quick to castigate those responsible but this is where the modern game is at now: disgruntled supporters aren't just singing vile songs, they're now willing to carry out criminal acts against those they perceive to be hurting their team.

As a United statement read, "Fans expressing opinion is one thing; criminal damage and intent to endanger life is another. There is simply no excuse for this."

And there isn't. When we now have players, managers, directors and their families being targeted by thugs, something has gone badly wrong with the game. "This is not football," as the wife of Napoli midfielder Allan said after their home had been broken into earlier this season.

Unfortunately, while United have promised to issue lifetime bans to anyone found guilty of a criminal offence in connection with the attack on Woodward's home, the unrest at Old Trafford won't end there.

While the vast majority of fans appreciate that the few idiots responsible stepped way over the line, many are nonetheless planning further demonstrations against the executive vice-chairman and the club's owners, the Glazer family.

Indeed, there is likely to be a mass walk-out at this weekend's Premier League clash with Wolves.

The Old Trafford faithful had hoped that Woodward & Co. would take advantage of the transfer window to strengthen an already weak squad struggling to cope with injuries to Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.

Indeed, the plan was to bring in at least two new players, one in midfield and one up front and, in fairness, they have achieved that goal.

Portugal attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes has belatedly arrived for an exorbitant fee and he should, at least, restrict the use of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira – two symbols of United's slide into mediocrity following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.

However, that United ended up signing Odion Ighalo, who has spent the past three years plying his trade in China, will come as a massive let-down to the fans.

After all, when the window opened, the Red Devils were so confident of landing RB Salzburg's Erling Braut Haaland that they passed on the chance to sign former target Mario Mandzukic, who left Juventus for Al-Duhail. There was widespread embarrassment, then, when the Norwegian striking sensation instead joined Borussia Dortmund.

United briefed the press that they were unwilling to meet the demands of Mino Raiola, with even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer publicly stating that they were unwilling to hand over control of "buyout clauses and stuff" to Haaland's agent.

That is undeniably an admirable stance in the modern era but the fact of the matter is that a strong window could have lessened the tension around the club; instead, their desperate deadline day move for former Watford striker Ighalo has only exacerbated it.

Just like the first team's form, this already toxic situation looks like it is going to get worse before it gets better.

Winner: Antonio Conte

Inter coach Antonio Conte often comes across like a man that is never satisfied with his employers' transfer dealings.

Despite seeing Ashley Young, Victor Moses and Christian Eriksen added to his squad during the January window, Conte dismissed the idea that the Nerazzurri now suddenly boast the same strength in depth as Serie A title rivals Juventus.

"You in the media seem to act as if we just signed half of Real Madrid, but that’s not the right message," the former Italy boss told reporters last week.

In fairness, he has a point. At times, it feels more like he's signed half of Manchester United – given Young has just joined Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez at San Siro – and that is hardly anything to boast about.

It's also worth noting that Inter haven't just brought players in either; two left on loan this month, with Valentino Lazaro and Matteo Politano departing for Newcastle and Napoli, respectively, before Gabigol sealed his permanent switch to Flamengo.

However, while one could question the quality of some of Inter's more recent arrivals, there is no doubt that Beppe Marotta is pulling out all of the stops for their coach.

The Nerazzurri CEO made it clear that there would not be much money to spend in January but Conte wanted experienced Premier League players to add a winning mentality to his squad – and now he's got some.

The addition of Eriksen, of course, is the real coup. Unlike Young and Moses, the Dane is a world-class talent and, at 27, should be at the peak of his many powers.

Inter have lacked creativity in the middle of the park this season – five draws from their past seven Serie A games says it all – so a motivated Eriksen could well prove the difference between Champions League qualification and actually pipping Juventus to the Scudetto.

Given Inter's financial restrictions this month, transfer market master Marotta has done another excellent job. Not that Conte will be 100 per cent satisfied, of course...

Losers: Quique Setien's Barcelona

Quique Setien is understandably just happy to be at Barcelona.

As the man without a single major honour to his name said upon his shock appointment as Ernesto Valverde's successor on January 13, "Yesterday, I was walking around my home town with cows around me and now I’m here managing the best players in the world."

So, Setien was never going to rock up at Camp Nou and start publicly demanding new players.

However, while the new Barca coach was at pains to express his satisfaction with his squad ahead of deadline day, he did admit, "It would be nice if a new striker arrived."

That Barcelona will go into the second half of the season without a fit No. 9 is a disgrace for a club that generated a record-breaking €840.8m (£721m/$936m) in revenue in 2018-19.

It has been clear for more than 18 months that the Catalans needed an understudy for the ageing Luis Suarez. His injury was an accident waiting to happen.

Last January, they made the desperate decision to sign Kevin-Prince Boateng on a six-month loan from Sassuolo. This January, they failed to sign anyone, underlining that while Barca may be a colossus in the commercial world, they are clueless in the transfer market.

There was a report during the week that Barca offered Everton £85m ($112m) for Richarlison, which was nonsensical given they weren't willing to meet Valencia's €60m (£50m/$66m) asking price for another middling attacker in Rodrigo.

However, what was truly more ludicrous – that Everton rejected such a bid, or that Barcelona made it?

Would it really have been that much of a surprise given the Blaugrana have proven time and time again in recent years that they have no coherent, long-term transfer strategy?

After all, they signed Antoine Griezmann last year only for it then to dawn on them that they didn't have sufficient funds remaining to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Worse still, they failed to once again address their obvious shortage at centre-forward, leaving them scrambling around for a stop-gap striker in January for the second year in a row.

Griezmann has already declared himself ready, willing and able to fill in at No. 9 but it's hard to escape the feeling that Setien will pay the price for Barca's total lack of foresight.

Reintroducing the principles of Johan Cruyff's footballing philosophy would have been a difficult job anyway. It's just been made even more difficult by the club's failure to provide him with a Suarez replacement for a key period of the season.

Given the total lack of accountability at board level at Barcelona, don't be surprised if Setien is made a scapegoat in the event of an unsuccessful conclusion to the campaign, and ends up back among those cows sooner than he expected.

Winners: Borussia Dortmund & Erling Braut Haaland

Manchester United weren't the only club devastated to see Haaland join Dortmund this month.

When Borussia Monchengladbach director of sport Max Eberl heard that his club's Bundesliga title rivals had signed the 19-year-old striker, his first thought was, "Sh*t!"

In Eberl's eyes, "It's the piece of the puzzle that they were missing."

Lucien Favre is unsurprisingly doing his best to play down such talk but even the Dortmund coach has admitted that Haaland has made an "incredible" impact at Signal Iduna Park.

BVB picked up just one point from their final two games before the winter break. They have claimed six points from their two games since, scoring 10 times in the process.

Haaland accounts for half of those goals, with all five coming in just 57 minutes of football.

Sustaining such a ridiculous goalscoring ratio is obviously impossible, and while the motives behind Haaland's decision to move to Dortmund over Manchester have been the subject of much debate, this seems like a beneficial deal for all of the parties involved.

Dortmund are likely to make a massive profit on the €20m (£17m/$22m) they have invested in the free-scoring forward – irrespective of the size of the reported buyout clause – and until then, they should reap the benefits of adding a lethal finisher to a team blessed with an abundance of creativity.

As Haaland himself said, "I just felt that me and Dortmund were a good match."

And that spells bad news for Eberl and everyone else in the Bundesliga.

Losers: Lampard, Giroud & Cavani

Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League and through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

Frank Lampard's first season at Stamford Bridge as manager, then, is going as well as could be expected, particularly as the legendary midfielder was unable to sign a single new player last summer because of the club's transfer ban.

However, Chelsea's shortcomings, particularly in attack, were exposed long before the winter break. It was patently obvious that they struggled to break down deep-lying opposition and were nowhere near clinical enough in front of goal.

So, it was expected that the Blues would at least sign a new striker in January. However, not a single player has arrived. To make matters worse, they also lost Tariq Lamptey and Clinton Mola, two academy players they were desperate to retain.

Lampard's frustration was obvious on deadline day, with the manager arguing that Chelsea are now "underdogs" in the battle for fourth despite having a six-point cushion over United, Tottenham and Wolves.

"It's clear that we wanted to bring players in," he acknowledged. "I certainly wanted to bring players in. I think I’ve made that pretty clear over the last few weeks and it hasn’t happened."

Lampard isn't the only one bitterly disappointed by Chelsea's inability to sign either Dries Mertens, who only has six months left on his Napoli contract, or wantaway Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani.

Olivier Giroud was desperate to leave Stamford Bridge and his hopes of representing France at Euro 2020 are now in serious jeopardy, given he has rarely featured under Lampard.

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was hoping to be reunited with Giroud at Inter but the Blues refused to let the 33-year-old leave without having signed a replacement.

Cavani would have made for an excellent addition and would have been open to a transfer after seeing his preferred move to Atletico Madrid collapse.

In the end, though, this transfer merry-go-round never got going. A knock-on effect that would have suited everyone involved has left nobody happy.

Losers: Red Bull Salzburg

Red Bull Salzburg fans have got used to the fact that their club is viewed as a feeder club for the sharks of European football.

What they will find more difficult to accept, though, is that they have lost two valuable assets for pittance this month.

Seeing Takumi Minamino leave for Liverpool for just £7.25m ($9.5m) would have been bad enough but the sale of Erling Braut Haaland for just €20m must have come as a hammer blow to Salzburg supporters.

After all, while they got five seasons of service out of Japan international Minamino, who has joined two other former Salzburg players Sadio Mane and Naby Keita at Anfield, Haaland had only arrived at the Red Bull Arena last summer.

What's more, in that short space of time, the 19-year-old had established himself as one of the most exciting young players in the world by netting a staggering 29 goals in just 27 appearances in all competitions, including eight in the Champions League.

There will be few tears shed among neutrals for Salzburg, as they are one of the most well-backed teams in Europe, and one of their main purposes is clearly providing players for sister club RB Leipzig.

However, a side that pushed Napoli and Liverpool all the way in the Champions League this season looked set to do serious damage in the Europa League.

Now, their wings have been clipped by the January exit of two of their superstars.


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