Now that another transfer window has come and gone, it’s time to analyze what exactly transpired. Many of Europe’s top outfits decided not to splash the cash, while others went all-in. Here, theScore picks out the winners and losers from the winter market.
Winner: Borussia Dortmund
Few clubs can generate a profit like Borussia Dortmund, whose belief in young players continues to pay off. The sale of Christian Pulisic to Chelsea is the latest example of Dortmund’s business acumen – and not only because of the massive €64-million fee. Dortmund convinced Chelsea to leave the player on loan at his soon-to-be-former club, giving manager Lucien Favre the necessary manpower to chase the Bundesliga title. BVB director Michael Zorc said repeatedly that the club wouldn’t allow Pulisic to leave in January, and it won in every sense, scoring a big payday for a player who’d lost his place in the starting XI.
Loser: Callum Hudson-Odoi
Without any guarantee of playing time, Callum Hudson-Odoi is stuck at Chelsea for the next six months. The Blues were determined not to lose the talented winger, especially not to Bayern Munich, whose repeated attempts for Hudson-Odoi angered executives and manager Maurizio Sarri. The 18-year-old reportedly submitted a transfer request to expedite the process, but Chelsea didn’t budge, believing they’d still have a chance of convincing the player to stay long term. It remains to be seen whether that strategy works. If nothing else, Chelsea showed they won’t cow to players’ demands.
Loser: Mauricio Pochettino
It’s now been 12 months since Tottenham signed a first-team player. With a new stadium on the way, Spurs remain a frugal enterprise, unable to loosen the purse strings even in the most dire situations. Manager Mauricio Pochettino would’ve appreciated a couple of signings to mitigate the losses of Harry Kane and Dele Alli to long-term injuries. Instead, Spurs sanctioned the departures of Mousa Dembele and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou without anyone coming in. Pochettino admitted the club has to operate “differently” if it wants to close the gap to its rivals, but nothing has changed.
Winner: Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain finally reunited with Maurizio Sarri in January, ending a brief spell at AC Milan to work under his mentor once again. While together at Napoli, Sarri molded Higuain into the roaming No. 9 he is today, and they hope to recapture that magic at Stamford Bridge. Higuain is clearly happier in west London – his Instagram posts show a more positive version of the 31-year-old – but he doesn’t have a lot of time to make an impact. Chelsea only signed Higuain on loan and could ship the player back to Juventus at the end of the season. But this is the move he always wanted.
Winner: Alphonso Davies
Though the $22-million deal was announced last summer, Alphonso Davies officially made the move to Bayern Munich in the winter and realized a childhood dream when he made his debut against Stuttgart on Jan. 27. Considering Bayern’s problems on the wings – both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are expected to leave at the end of the season – Davies has a very good chance of breaking through. It’s already a success story for the 19-year-old, who lived as a refugee before earning his Canadian citizenship, and it could be the start of something special for the Canadian national team.
Loser: Marko Arnautovic
Marko Arnautovic caused a bit of ruckus when West Ham refused to negotiate his exit. Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande approached the 29-year-old with a lucrative offer, but the Hammers wouldn’t let him go. Manager Manuel Pellegrini dropped Arnautovic for two consecutive matches, and his teammates appeared to grow sick of his behavior. The Austrian ended up signing a contract extension, presumably with an increase in wages, but it’s unlikely he received anything like the four-year, £40-million deal Guangzhou were reportedly prepared to give him.
Loser: Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain missed out on the majority of their transfer targets in the winter window, not least Frenkie De Jong, who snubbed PSG to sign with Barcelona. PSG had the inside track on De Jong, who admitted he was on the verge of a move to the Ligue 1 giants, but Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu convinced the 21-year-old to join them instead. PSG also failed to strike deals for Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye and Napoli’s Allan, and they allowed midfield rebel Adrien Rabiot to enter the final few months of his contract. Sporting director Antero Henrique is now expected to be fired.
Genoa turned an instant profit on Krzysztof Piatek, who arrived in the summer for a reported €4 million and departed six months later for an incredible €35 million. Not only that, Milan reportedly agreed to pay the fee in one lump sum, giving Genoa immediate funds to use in the transfer window. With the likes of Real Madrid sniffing around, Genoa could’ve waited for a bigger offer, but played it safe by selling the 23-year-old while he was hot.
Winner: Kevin Prince-Boateng
Sassuolo bet on Kevin-Prince Boateng when few others would – and it paid off. Barcelona came calling with a sufficient loan-to-buy offer, and neither the Neroverdi nor Boateng hesitated to accept. He was packing his bags in quick order and unveiled a few short days later at the Camp Nou. Boateng rebuilt his career at Sassuolo after wandering around Europe, a journeyman voyage that threatened to turn the 31-year-old into an afterthought. Barcelona, however, needed a substitute for Luis Suarez, and the former Ghanaian international fit the bill.
Loser: Real Madrid
With Brahim Diaz arriving and Vinicius Junior starting regularly, Madrid have demonstrated a refreshing commitment to youth, but they’re still lagging behind their competitors in the transfer market. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Juventus are all transforming themselves while Madrid stand pat. Los Blancos president Florentino Perez hasn’t signed a big-name outfield player in years, and considering their less-than-stellar scoring figures, that’ll have to change sometime soon.