Grading the marquee signings of the January transfer window so far

The transfer window is still open, though it’s never too early to judge the transactions thus far. Here’s a glance at the biggest moves of the January period to this point, including grades for each transaction.

Erling Haaland

Alexandre Simoes / Borussia Dortmund / Getty

Red Bull Salzburg ➡️ Borussia Dortmund

Transfer Fee Grade
€22.5M + €10M in add-ons A+

For Norwegian prodigy Haaland, joining Borussia Dortmund to replace wantaway Paco Alcacer was the ideal move. Manchester United is a mess, RB Leipzig wouldn’t meet Haaland’s wage demands, and the eventual CR7 succession plan at Juventus understandably didn’t appeal to the 19-year-old.

Dortmund are elated, especially after Haaland recorded a 20-minute hat-trick in his debut versus Augsburg. Even including the additional €10 million that Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola pocketed, the fee is a pittance of what the Bundesliga side could generate with a sale somewhere down the road.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic


Free agent ➡️ AC Milan

Transfer Fee Grade
Free A

Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan following a spell in MLS is a move that makes sense for both parties. The egoist Swede has a chance to prove that he’s still better than the MLS standard – something the 38-year-old often maligned – and Stefano Pioli’s lot could use a player with a winning mentality.

Patrick Cutrone’s move to Wolves then Fiorentina, and Krzysztof Piatek’s fall from grace necessitated Ibrahimovic’s addition. Even while admittedly rusty, the former Rossoneri star looked fine, scoring in a 2-0 win over Cagliari to guide Milan to their first win in four. Read more about that performance here.

Dejan Kulusevski

Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC / Juventus FC / Getty

Atalanta ➡️ Juventus

Transfer Fee Grade
€35M A

Juventus’ transfer policy is flawless: buy an emerging talent from one of the sides with distant hopes of threatening your eight-year Scudetto dominance, hence denting their narrow chances. The OId Lady did exactly that in prying versatile 19-year-old Swedish international Kulusevski from Atalanta.

Kulusevski, who’s on loan at Parma, is currently second in Serie A with seven assists. He can play as a box-to-box midfielder or as a wide player on the right side where he prefers to cut in on his dangerous left foot. Kulusevski is also deceivingly quick, burning opponents with a swift change of pace.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez

Quality Sport Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Sevilla ➡️ LA Galaxy

Transfer Fee Grade
€8.5M A-

The LA Galaxy have found their Ibrahimovic replacement. Thus ends MLS’ enduring pursuit of Chicharito, and for the 31-year-old, it’s a chance to shine in a market with strong Mexican support. Set to become the league’s highest-paid player (€5.5M), Chicharito will depend heavily on service.

In selling Chicharito, Sevilla recoup part of the €20 million they spent luring 22-year-old Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri from Leganes. It’s not like the Mexican international was lighting up Spain’s top-tier, either. He had just one goal in nine La Liga outings playing back-up to Luuk de Jong.

Julian Weigl

Gualter Fatia / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Borussia Dortmund ➡️ Benfica

Transfer Fee Grade
€20M A-

With Thomas Delaney, Axel Witsel, and Mahmoud Dahoud all capable in a deep-lying midfield role, Weigl’s Borussia Dortmund departure was only a matter of time. The move to Benfica should mark a necessary change of scenery for a player once-linked with Barcelona and part of Germany’s plans.

Weigl, 24, becomes just the third German to play for Portugal’s most-decorated side and is an upgrade on Bruno Lage’s current defensive midfielders, Andreas Samaris and injury-prone Ljubomir Fejsa. His signing would also provide cover if Benfica sell highly coveted 20-year-old Florentino.

Takumi Minamino

Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC / Liverpool FC / Getty

Red Bull Salzburg ➡️ Liverpool

Transfer Fee Grade
€10M B+

A near-infallible Liverpool got their business done early, securing a player on the cheap before most English sides dusted off their checkbooks. Reds newcomer Minamino represents an exciting addition for Liverpool, though it’s unlikely he’ll play an influential role this season barring an injury crisis.

Jurgen Klopp will know all about the Japanese international from two group-stage matches against RB Salzburg where the 24-year-old dazzled. Able to ply his trade as a winger or attacking midfielder, Minamino is a tireless worker adept at making menacing runs between lines. The prototypical Klopp player.

Gedson Fernandes

Tottenham Hotspur FC / Tottenham Hotspur FC / Getty

Benfica ➡️ Tottenham

Transfer Fee Grade
18-month loan + €65M option B

Tottenham have completed the first recruitment of the Jose Mourinho era, luring Portuguese international Fernandes to north London on a team-friendly loan spell with a comically lavish buyout clause. From a Spurs perspective, the 21-year-old’s versatility will provide much-needed cover.

During last season’s first-team bow at Benfica, Fernandes logged 1,044 minutes on either side of central midfield, meaning he can fill in for the injured Moussa Sissoko and the hobbled Tanguy Ndombele. This year, Fernandes has only appeared in seven league matches, albeit with a few coming on the wing.

Alexander Nubel

Soccrates Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Schalke ➡️ Bayern Munich

Transfer Fee Grade
Free B-

When 23-year-old Nubel isn’t earning four-match bans for nearly killing opponents with brutish tackles, the shot-stopper has been one of the Bundesliga’s best at his position this year. With his contract set to lapse in the summer, Nubel is off to Bayern Munich on a free transfer in the summer.

Like Joel Matip, Leon Goretzka, Sead Kolasinac, and countless others, Nubel leaves Schalke without garnering a profit. That’s another matter altogether, but the choice to deputize for fellow former Die Knappen star Manuel Neuer, who’s been quite good this year, is just as perplexing.

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