Another transfer deadline day is in the books. Below, we provide quick-hit analysis of the biggest deals – and rumors – from the January window’s frantic final day.
Auba still expected to join Barcelona
This on-again, off-again, on-again deal provided the drama we’ve come to expect from deadline day.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang landed in Catalonia on Monday morning hoping to complete a loan move to Barcelona, but the switch seemingly collapsed due to issues with his gargantuan salary; the Gabonese forward earns £350,000 per week in north London, a figure that cash-strapped Barca shouldn’t be able to handle given their crushing debt.
And yet, with some (more) magic accounting, the Blaugrana are about to seal another marquee move in the January window.
“It seems we will do it,” club president Joan Laporta said of the signing, according to Agence France-Presse correspondent Tom Allnutt. An agreement is reportedly in place for the 32-year-old to move on a free transfer, thus abruptly ending his tumultuous Arsenal tenure.
An official announcement is expected Tuesday morning.
Barca, who chased Alvaro Morata earlier in the window, have scored only 32 goals in 21 La Liga matches this season. Adding scoring punch was paramount. Whether Aubameyang can deliver that after being forcibly sidelined since early December remains to be seen.
DONE DEAL: Eriksen returns to Premier League ?
- Details: Short-term contract until end of the season (Read more)
The feel-good story of transfer deadline day.
Almost eight months after going into cardiac arrest during Euro 2020 – one of the most harrowing scenes in recent memory – Christian Eriksen is set to return to the pitch after signing a short-term contract with Premier League side Brentford until the end of the season.
The Dane mutually agreed to terminate his Inter Milan contract in December after Italian health authorities ruled that he was unable to play in the country due to the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that was fitted in his chest. With no such rule in England, though, he was free to return to the league in which he previously spent seven seasons with Tottenham Hotspur.
The 29-year-old had been training with former club Ajax to regain fitness.
“He is fit but we will need to get him match-fit and I am looking forward to seeing him work with the players and staff to get back towards his highest level,” said Brentford boss Thomas Frank, who worked with Eriksen earlier in his coaching career with Denmark’s U-17 team.
“At his best, Christian has the ability to dictate games of football. He can find the right passes and is a goal threat. … I expect him to have an impact in the dressing room and at the training ground.”
DONE DEAL: Manchester City sign Alvarez ?
- Details: Striker joins for reported €17M initial fee (Read more)
Sound the alarm: Manchester City signed a striker.
Pep Guardiola’s team beat a host of suitors to the coveted signature of 22-year-old River Plate phenom Julian Alvarez. The Argentine, who already has five caps for his country, will remain on loan at River Plate for at least the rest of the campaign.
The arrival of Alvarez, one of the most exciting young forwards in South America, doesn’t necessarily take the Citizens out of the running for the likes of Erling Haaland and Harry Kane, either. Don’t be surprised if Guardiola is suddenly flush with strikers next season.
Money, obviously, is no issue at the Etihad Stadium.
DONE DEALS: Busy day for Tottenham ?
After missing out on Adama Traore and Luis Diaz earlier in the window, Spurs finally sealed a pair of deals, with director Fabio Paratici tapping into his Juventus connections to sign Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski from the Italian side.
Bentancur’s arrival coincided with the departure of Tanguy Ndombele, whose difficult spell in north London mercifully ended with a loan move back to Lyon. Giovani Lo Celso was also shipped out on loan to Villarreal.
Bentancur, a 24-year-old Uruguayan international, will add an energetic presence to the Tottenham midfield. If given license by Antonio Conte, he could add a spark that’s been missing in the center of the pitch this season. Bentancur played primarily in front of the defense at Juventus, and he often anchors the Uruguayan midfield at the international level. However, he’s at his best when he’s covering ground and hunting the ball down, and not necessarily when he’s tasked with making the first pass to launch an attack.
Meanwhile, Kulusevski showed as a teenager at Parma that he has all the tools necessary to become a thrilling attacking star. At his best, the Swede is quick and powerful, and combines that athleticism with excellent ball skills.
He stagnated after joining Juventus and has looked particularly off the pace this season, but his talent is undeniable. Conte, then, might be the perfect manager to harness it. His loan comes with a €35-million option to buy that becomes an obligation if certain conditions are met, giving Tottenham time to examine whether they believe Kulusevski can rediscover his best form.
DONE DEAL: Juventus win race for Zakaria ?
- Details: Midfielder joins for €8.6M from Monchengladbach (Read more)
Speaking of Juventus …
The Bianconeri arguably own the clubhouse lead as “winners” of the January transfer window after snapping up Denis Zakaria, adding the in-demand Swiss midfielder just days after nabbing Dusan Vlahovic.
Zakaria, 25, was poised to become a free agent this summer.
The Italian giants had desperately tried to address their subpar midfield for several years, largely to no avail. But Zakaria brings much-needed athletic ability and ball-winning prowess in front of the backline and, together with Manuel Locatelli, could be the foundation of a functional positional group.
That foundation doesn’t include Aaron Ramsey, however, as the Welshman was shipped out on loan to Rangers just before the deadline.
DONE DEALS: Everton’s midfield rebuild ?
It’s no great surprise that Frank Lampard, the highest-scoring midfielder in Premier League history, has quickly set to work on the center of Everton’s lineup following his appointment as manager.
Van de Beek is still an unknown quantity to many supporters in England due to his year-and-a-half residency on Manchester United’s bench. He’s only started four Premier League matches – none this season – so he has yet to fully showcase his intelligent, all-round game that pushed him to the fore at Ajax. The 24-year-old agreed to a short-term loan with the club, which is an arrangement that looks good for all parties.
Alli, 25, presents the biggest gamble despite his arrival on Merseyside reportedly being on a free transfer until appearances and add-ons begin incremental payments to Tottenham. His most productive period as an attacking threat from midfield was during the 2016-17 Premier League campaign when he logged 18 goals and seven assists, but the spark from his game has long been extinguished.
Amazon’s “All Or Nothing” docuseries, which tracked Tottenham’s 2019-20 season, famously included then-manager Jose Mourinho branding Alli “a f—— lazy guy in training.” Alli usually responded to Mourinho’s criticism with the smirk of a naughty schoolboy.
Nouveau-riche Newcastle United tried to gate-crash the deal on deadline day, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, but the Toffees eventually announced Alli’s transfer around 80 minutes after the deadline.
Everton – languishing in 16th place and with just four points between them and the relegation zone – need Alli to revive his old, exciting, and ultimately effective form. You suspect this switch could correct or kibosh the career of a player who was named PFA Young Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.
Quick hits: The ones that got away
Ousmane Dembele: Barcelona face the prospect of losing Dembele on a free transfer at the end of the season after no clubs brokered a deal for the Frenchman in January. Dembele cost Barca an initial €105 million to sign from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.
Fabio Carvalho: Liverpool had an agreement in place for around £8 million to sign Carvalho from Fulham and then let the teenage forward remain at Craven Cottage for the rest of the season. But the Reds ultimately left it too late, and the requisite paperwork was not submitted in time to complete the deal. Carvalho is out of contract at the end of the season.
Dean Henderson: The goalkeeper, who’s faded into the background since David De Gea rediscovered his form at Manchester United, was on several clubs’ radar. Watford were among those who inquired about his availability, but United decided to retain Henderson’s services.
Jesse Lingard: United were also unmoved on the Lingard saga despite the versatile Englishman’s wish to move on loan for regular first-team football. Newcastle and West Ham United were interested.