We’ll likely remember the past month as much for the moves that didn’t happen as the signings that actually came to fruition.
But while the January window, which will close today at 6 p.m. Eastern for the EPL and La Liga, didn’t give us a summer-like slew of bombshell moves, it wasn’t exactly devoid of activity, either.
Though the top two teams in the EPL (Liverpool and, about 100 points back, Manchester City) and La Liga (Real Madrid and Barcelona – despite the Catalans’ best efforts, I guess??) essentially stood pat, at least by their standards, at least one title contender in both the Bundesliga (Borussia Dortmund) and Serie A (Inter Milan) were busy.
Borussia Dortmund lands a scoring machine
As it turns out, Erling Braut Haaland can score regardless of the league he’s playing in. As if he didn’t make it clear during his time with Red Bull Salzburg, the 19-year-old is an absolute weapon, no matter the competition.
Even those intimately familiar with his ridiculous production at Red Bull Salzburg have to be pleasantly surprised by his Dortmund debut, though.
Hat trick after coming off the bench in the first match for his new team vs. Augsburg? Check.
Two more goals after coming on as a sub in game two in yellow and black, this time against Cologne? Check.
It will be interesting to see what he can do against the Bundesliga’s top teams – 12th-place Augsburg and 14th-place Cologne are not exactly elite – but there’s no denying that BVB hit the home run of the season by landing the Swede for €20m. Dortmund still seems like a long shot to make a ton of noise in the UCL, especially considering they meet PSG in the round of 16. Considering his new team is just four points out of first place domestically, Haaland could absolutely change the title race in Germany, though.
The loser in the Haaland move? Manchester United, which needed him badly and came up with a huge whiff in their pursuit of a player many expected to join them.
Also, BVB landed Emre Can. The German can still play. He just got squeezed at Juventus. Dortmund did well.
Christian Eriksen gets a much-needed change of scenery
This is a win-win for both Eriksen and his new team, which is just three points off perennial Serie A champ Juventus. So far this year, it’s been all about new Manager Antonio Conte and strikers Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, who have to be thrilled with Eriksen’s arrival.
The midfielder ought to create a ton of good looks for two players already in the midst of strong seasons. It was not that long ago that Eriksen was one of the first people you mentioned when discussing Europe’s top attacking midfielders. It’s easy to see him returning to that conversation after his time with Spurs dragged on longer than he seemed to want it to.
Inter has some work to do to unseat Juventus atop Italian soccer, but have a much better chance at pulling that off after signing Eriksen, Ashley Young (Manchester United) and Victor Moses (loan from Chelsea).
A rare bit of good news for Liverpool
The Reds just can’t stop winning. Their on-field success over the last year is staggering, and they made another shrewd signing this winter, paying just under $10m for one of the sport’s most promising young stars in Japanese attacking midfielder Takumi Minamino. We’ll be brief here to spare any Liverpool haters from more gushing over Jurgen Klopp’s juggernaut, but this couldn’t be ignored.
(Editor’s Note: I’m going to add one here because dammit, I’m impressed)
Sheffield United doing smart business
The Blades are here to stay. They’re like Wolves2.0. Smart organization. Smart coach. Solid players. They added rumored Liverpool target (so he must be good) Sander Berge from Genk. They added low cost depth with Jack Rodwell and Jack Robinson. They won’t challenge for a top 4 spot, but Europa League football is in their sights. Well done.
Barcelona is in chaos
First, the mishandled coaching transition that led to Quique Setién replacing Ernesto Valverde, which we outlined here.
Then, the Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia) saga. With Luis Suárez out until May, there’s no denying this club’s need for someone to fill the Uruguayan’s shoes, at least for the next few months. A deal appeared to be imminent for a week, with one report after another claiming it was going through. In the end, though, we found out from the Spanish press that Barcelona was unable to reach an agreement with their La Liga rivals.
Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are as good as they get, but the lack of a third dependable forward is an issue that Barcelona failed to resolve. The way it played out only made matters worse. This one hurts less if Ousmane Dembele comes back in form and stays there – is there a bigger if in soccer? Regardless, it’s hard to call this winter anything other than a disappointment for the Catalans.
Atletico Madrid gets Edinson Cavani, but not until this summer
No one needs a jolt of offense worse than Los Rojiblancos, who appeared to land Cavani back in December. It’s still a positive development that he will, by all accounts, move to the Spanish capital this summer, but they need him right now, and couldn’t make it happen.
The difference between Cavani filling a massive need for Atleti and staying glued to the Parisians’ bench was apparently about €2M. It’s a shame, as the lack of scoring means this team should be more focused on finishing high enough to qualify for next year’s Champions League than beating Liverpool in February’s round of 16 battle, which would take a miracle.
(Editor’s Note: Adding this key one that Tyler left out)
Manchester United lol
They overpaid for Bruno Fernandes. Who were they bidding against? They missed out on ERLING BRAUT HAALAND. And then they solved their glaring need for a striker with this 30 year-old nobody was pursuing and was on exactly zero peoples’ radar. Too funny.
Listen to “High Press Soccer Podcast Episode 48: Transfer Talk!” on Spreaker.