Transfer news: View from the window - transfer time is over, but who came out on top?
Sunday 02 February 2014
Most obvious signings: Any of Cardiff City's
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first moves as Cardiff City manager were three signings from his last club, Modle, and two from the team where he spent the majority of his playing career, Manchester United. It is not that the full-back Fabio and attacking midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem are unexciting additions but Cardiff need greater durability.
Honourable mentions Aiden McGeady (Everton), Roger Johnson (West Ham United)
Most revealing figure: 22
This is not a fee, but the difference between the number of signings the top seven made and those made by the bottom seven. The elite clubs brought in just six senior players, the struggling teams 28. It shows what the January window is most about: desperation.
Club feeling negative: West Bromwich
With so much movement all around them near the bottom, there is a danger West Bromwich could be left standing still. It was not just that they failed to strengthen, it was that they lost one of the few forwards they possessed. That Shane Long was sold to a notional rival in Hull City made it all the worse.
Honourable mentions Newcastle United
Move likely to have biggest impact on the title race: Nemanja Matic
Chelsea were the only club in the top four to fill a position that they so clearly needed to fill. That alone lifts their level relative to their rivals, even leaving aside the obvious quality of Matic.
Club feeling positive: Fulham
This is a toss-up between five sides near the bottom. Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Sunderland, Hull City and Fulham all addressed virtually every issue in their squads. Tony Pulis added Premier League-standard players to a solid Palace base; Sam Allardyce added a striker in Marco Borriello; Hull got two fine forwards in Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long; and Gus Poyet bolstered Sunderland. But Fulham's signings will likely have far-reaching effects.
Honourable mentions Crystal Palace, West Ham United
Move likely to have biggest impact on the Champions League chase: Juan Mata
As well as the lasting midfield flaws, United's other main issue has been the flatness of their play and mood. Mata will change both.
Move likely to have biggest impact on the relegation battle: Kostas Mitroglou
Not only have Fulham introduced the forceful scoring of a Champions League forward, but they beat teams around them to sign the Greek.
Most frustrated club: Liverpool
For a long time it seemed as if this would be West Ham United, but Sam Allardyce eventually managed to make five signings. Liverpool couldn't manage one, despite very public attempts. The nature of the attempts also exposed a few problems with their approach. In one move, they were outbid by a wealthier club in Chelsea, despite trailing Mohamed Salah for far longer. In the other, for Yevhen Konoplyanka, it was not that they failed, more that they became so dependent on such a difficult deal. The wider issue is that one of the top-scoring teams in Europe spent too long working on the attack, rather than the second worst defence in the top half of the Premier League.
Honourable mentions Arsenal, Manchester United
Biggest question: Why didn't Arsenal sign a striker?
With Olivier Giroud's scoring rate falling and Theo Walcott injured, it remains surprising Arsène Wenger didn't push harder to get an extra goalscorer.
Most surprising move: Juan Mata
It may be a week old but the questions remain fresh, particularly in light of how the window ended. Why did Jose Mourinho surrender an elite player to a struggling rival? Why did Manchester United's only purchase come in a position they didn't need in pure football terms? There's no disputing Mata has provided a lift at Old Trafford, or that he will improve the team. The main issue remains: will they get the best out of him given the problems in midfield? That is why there is still a doubt about an otherwise dazzling purchase. For Chelsea, was the sale a wise decision?
Honourable mentions Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), David Ngog (Swansea City)
Best deal: Lewis Holtby
The difficulty most clubs had was solving an obvious problem in their squad. Many failed, especially at the top end. Fulham, however, seemed to fix a few issues in one signing. Going into January, Rene Meulensteen required younger players, more pace, greater industry in midfield and greater guile to take pressure off the worst defence in the division. Lewis Holtby provides of all that, plus higher quality. The fact a Champions League-chasing player was prepared to drop down to the relegation battle makes it even more of a coup.
Honourable mentions Nemanja Matic (Chelsea), Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)
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