In the end, the January transfer window proved underwhelming.
This year’s winter period pales in comparison to 2018 when the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were involved in lucrative deals.
Aside from a few notable exceptions, such as Frenkie de Jong and Leandro Paredes, this year’s transfer window was a mixture of panic buys and baffling loan deals for aging stars.
Here’s a look at the worst signings of the January transfer window.
10. Denis Suarez
Barcelona to Arsenal on season-long loan with option to buy
Unai Emery reunited with a familiar face after Arsenal signed Denis Suarez – whom the Spaniard managed at Sevilla – on loan from Barcelona for the rest of the season. But Arsenal failed to address their most glaring need this winter, signing a midfielder rather than adding to a defensive unit that’s been depleted by injuries. Although first-team opportunities likely won’t be hard to come by as Suarez begins his Arsenal career, there will be plenty of pressure on his shoulders; he’s projected to become the permanent replacement for Aaron Ramsey, who will reportedly leave the Gunners at the end of the season.
9. Alvaro Morata
Chelsea to Atletico Madrid on season-long loan with option to buy
Alvaro Morata has some familiarity in his life again after ending his disappointing spell at Chelsea with a return to Spain. But the pressure might prove too great for the forward as he joins an Atletico Madrid squad bursting with offensive talents such as Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa.
8. Jeison Murillo
Valencia to Barcelona on season-long loan with option to buy
Jeison Murillo’s Barcelona career got off to a rocky start with a loss to Levante, during which he was booked while regularly looking out of place. Brought in as a defensive replacement for the injured Samuel Umtiti, he later admitted the prospect of joining Barcelona was inspired by a joke with his agent.
“I found out about Umtiti’s injury, and as a joke, I said to my agent, ‘How about you take me to Barca?’ But it was nothing more than that, a joke,” he said. “After 20 days, my agent called me and he told me that there was a possibility of signing for Barca.”
7. Peter Crouch
Stoke City to Burnley
Peter Crouch isn’t the answer to anyone’s attacking woes, let alone a club in the Premier League. But Burnley felt the need to employ the former England international, giving him one last crack at the top flight by pulling off a deadline-day deal to sign the aging forward from Stoke City in a swap for Sam Vokes.
6. Vicente Iborra
Leicester City to Villarreal
Villarreal’s abysmal season is looking less salvageable by the week as the Spanish side toils in a relegation battle. They’ve bolstered their attack, but the addition of Vicente Iborra – an aging defensive midfielder who flopped at Leicester City – likely won’t justify the reported £9-million fee if they can’t stop their current slide toward relegation.
5. Brahim Diaz
Manchester City to Real Madrid
Manchester City may very well regret selling Brahim Diaz one day. He’s projected to develop into a quality football player, but there are some doubts as to whether Real Madrid is the right place to nurture that talent given the demanding nature of the club and fans’ expectations for new players to make an immediate, positive impact. The £22-million price tag also makes this a risky purchase for a player that’s been given hardly any first-team opportunities en route to the Santiago Bernabeu.
4. Cesc Fabregas
Chelsea to AS Monaco
Cesc Fabregas brings the type of quality that could be invaluable for a young squad such as AS Monaco, especially if afforded the time to bestow his wisdom. But time isn’t on the Spaniard’s side. He now finds himself in a relegation battle as part of a floundering team that no longer employs his former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry, who was sacked shortly after Fabregas’ arrival. While players around him can still benefit from his veteran presence, Fabregas seems out of place with a team that looks destined to go down a division.
3. Kevin-Prince Boateng
Sassuolo to Barcelona on season-long loan with option to buy
Barcelona have a habit of pulling off bizarre transfers. They continued the trend earlier this month with the surprising addition of Kevin-Prince Boateng, who seemingly joins a new club every transfer window. It was a partnership hardly anyone saw coming and one that left us thinking: was he really the best player available to reinforce the club’s attacking unit?
2. Ryan Babel
Besiktas to Fulham
It took a move to Turkey for Ryan Babel to find his comfort zone on the pitch; he played an influential role in Besiktas’ attack to help the club win back-to-back Super Lig titles. But Fulham’s gamble that the 32-year-old can replicate his form in the Premier League is somewhat baffling considering they’ll be leaning on the unreliable Liverpool flop during their fight to stay in England’s top flight.
1. Dominic Solanke
Liverpool to Bournemouth
Liverpool must have Bournemouth on speed dial when they’re looking for a club willing to overpay for mediocre talent. Over two years after signing Jordon Ibe from Liverpool for a whopping £16 million – a club record at the time – Bournemouth appear to have set themselves up for more disappointment with the £19-million arrival of Dominic Solanke. Before the shock of the reported price could set in, it was discovered the new Cherries player arrived on the south coast with an injury that continues to delay his debut.
Honorable mentions: Naldo (FC Schalke 04 to AS Monaco for reported €1.2 million fee), Martin Caceres (Lazio to Juventus on loan)