Jurgen Klopp laid bare his frustrations with the January transfer window earlier this month. Signing players is difficult midway through the season, he said. Identifying transfer targets is the simple part, but convincing clubs to sell is the real task.
“Clubs are saying, ‘No, we have half a year to go. We prefer to take money in the summer than a few pounds more in the winter,'” explained Klopp.
In other words, doing good business in just a few weeks is an incredible feat – especially for the bigger clubs. Several still overpaid to get the players they wanted, and some, like Liverpool, chose not to spend any money at all.
theScore sifted through all of the January signings, or lack thereof, to see which teams made out pretty, and which ones failed miserably:
The past few weeks at West Ham have been all about squad management.
Allowing the disgruntled Dimitri Payet to leave the club was absolutely necessary, and a £25-million fee for a player turning 30 who caused distress in the dressing room is not a bad return at all.
Related: West Ham co-chairman reveals players wanted Payet gone
But selling was only half of the equation. Robert Snodgrass arrived as Payet’s replacement for a fair £10.2-million fee, bringing with him similar attacking and creative instincts. The addition of Jose Fonte also filled a vacancy in the middle of defence, with Angelo Ogbonna out for the remainder of the season.
There aren’t many players who can come to Juventus at the halfway point and immediately improve the five-time defending Serie A champion. So the Bianconeri decided to focus on depth – and the future.
The addition of Tomas Rincon from Genoa brings some steel to the midfield, which has been the weakest part of the Juventus formation. Though he’s not expected to start on a regular basis, the Venezuelan can offer relief off the bench and help close out matches.
The most intriguing moves, however, involved deals for 22-year-old defender Mattia Caldara and 20-year-old winger Riccardo Orsolini. Both were sent back on loan to Atalanta and Ascoli, respectively, where they will continue to get playing time. It’s the latest example of the Old Lady’s ability to snatch Itay’s highly-rated youngsters, ensuring there is a future beyond its current hegemony.
Everything happened at Lille on deadline day. New owner Gerard Lopez’s budget for the club was only approved Monday night, tying up any transfers until the last day of the January window.
In the space of just a few hours, the northern France outfit made five signings from five different leagues. Anwar El Ghazi came first for a frugal €7-million, according to L’Equipe, a forward-thinking signing that should boost the club’s struggling attack.
None of Lille’s signings is older than 23 years old, putting an emphasis back on youth. With Les Dogues in 11th place, the flurry of arrivals could well propel the 2010-11 Ligue 1 champion up the standings.
No one in the Bundesliga spent more than Wolfsburg’s €33 million, according to Agence France-Presse, and that is money well spent. In fact, the 2009 German champion still has money left over from the €40-million sale of Julian Draxler to Paris Saint-Germain.
Of the five players to arrive at the Volkswagen Arena, Ajax product Riechedly Bazoer is the most promising. The 20-year-old is a versatile midfielder who made his international debut with the Netherlands as a teenager.
Paul-Georges Ntep, who joined the Lower Saxons from Rennes, will also help one of the division’s lowest-scoring sides.
Keeping hold of enterprising fullback Ricardo Rodriguez is another success. The Switzerland international was linked with a host of top European clubs, from Chelsea to Inter, but his staying put is a massive boost for a team flirting with the relegation zone.
One thing manager Jorge Sampaoli does so well is integrate his players. It took little time before winter recruitments Stevan Jovetic and Clement Lenglet made their debuts for Sevilla, with the former making an instant impact.
Jovetic, who joined the Andalusian side on loan from Inter, has already scored three goals in his first four matches for his new club.
Considering Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were barred from making any midseason signings – and Barcelona refused to do any significant business at all – Sevilla managed to strengthen its options before a potential title run.
Klopp was open about his struggles on the transfer market, but Liverpool’s inactivity may have ruined what was turning out to be a promising campaign.
Depth has been an issue all season, and it remained unaddressed throughout the month. A temporary replacement for Sadio Mane, who spent the majority of January on Africa Cup of Nations duty, was not signed. And Liverpool’s results suffered in the meantime.
The Reds still have questions to answer on the defensive end, and they do not have an adequate replacement for Jordan Henderson. When the 26-year-old missed matches with injury, Liverpool looked a lot more vulnerable down the middle.
Spoiler alert: AC Milan has no money. Not until Chinese consortium Sino-Europe Sports completes a majority takeover of the club in March.
So supporters of the Italian giant did not expect much activity in the transfer window. Although Milan did complete loan deals for wingers Gerard Deulofeu and Lucas Ocampos, it still neglected to reinforce the midfield. Manuel Locatelli has logged a lot of minutes for a 19-year-old, and yet Milan cannot afford to play without him. It’s a lot of pressure to place on such a youngster.
The loss of Giacomo Bonaventura to a potential season-ending thigh injury created another hole in a vital left midfield position, but a deadline-day signing did not materialise. Likewise at the full-back position, with Mattia De Sciglio set for a spell on the sidelines.
Without immediate investments, the Rossoneri are now at risk of missing out on Europe for a fourth consecutive season.
The sheer number of injuries at Bayern Munich threaten to derail the club’s quest for silverware. Arturo Vidal, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thiago, and Mats Hummels all spent time on the treatment table at various points of the season. Thomas Muller’s scoring struggles are also a concern.
But Bayern neglected to bring in any stop-gaps in case the injury bug infects more players. It even allowed Holger Badstuber to go to Schalke on loan.
Depth could become an issue if manager Carlo Ancelotti loses another starter or two.
Stuck in the basement of the Premier League, Sunderland knew it didn’t have much of a budget heading into the January transfer window. Chief executive Martin Bain tightened the purse strings as a result of debt worth £140 million and a £73-million wage bill. A habit of panic-buying thrust Sunderland into a vicious cycle.
The few players who were signed do not exactly inspire. Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo, who joined on permanent deals from Everton, are not saving the Black Cats from the relegation zone, and Joleon Lescott is not an adequate solution for a leaky defence.
Failing to give Jermain Defoe a helping hand, however, could ultimately cost Sunderland a place in the Premier League next season. Several (sizable) bids for Leicester’s Leonardo Ulloa did not prove successful.
Manager David Moyes allowed Patrick van Aanholt to walk for £14 million, but that wasn’t properly reinvested.
Sunderland’s fellow relegation rival Middlesbrough is in a similar position. Boro missed out on targets Jese, Bojan, and Snodgrass, and only managed to add strikers Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford, who are, frankly speaking, Championship-level players.
Manager Aitor Karanka washed his hands of blame, telling reporters, “I tried my best.”
He added, “The club knew my thoughts a month-and-a-half ago.”
In 15th place, Boro could rue the deals that weren’t.