Is there anything more nauseating that Transfer Deadline day, particularly on Sky? Well, now that the window has “slammed shut” we can have a few months off inane and baseless transfer gossip and get back to real football. The yellow “breaking news” ticker on Sky Sports News can go back in its box until July, as can Jim White’s tie of the same colour.
January is usually the preserve of the desperate. Teams with an injury crisis, teams looking for inspiration to avoid the drop or to make that final push towards the European places. Very rarely do teams firing on all cyclinders and happy with their lot delve into the mixed bag of the January transfer window. Most work is left until the summer when a manager can sign a player and work with him during a pre-season.
Manchester United signed the relatively unknown pair of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic in the January of 2006 for a combined £14m, who didn’t turn out to be bad players. Liverpool signed Luis Suarez in the window of 2011. For every Suarez, Evra and Vidic, however, there are the Andy Carroll’s (£35m to Liverpool), Afonso Alves’, Fernando Torres’ (£50m to Chelsea) and Kim Kallstrom’s. It must be noted that the summer transfer window is no utopia. Buying players is not an exact science and mistakes will be made whatever time of year a transfer takes place.
Saying that, although it is a far from perfect system, I’m actually a fan of transfer windows. The theory is that now we have transfer windows, clubs will be more prudent with their planning, more stable financially, and in the result of an injury crisis will give young players a chance as opposed to splashing the cash in a fit of desperation. Whether that is the case is debatable although the logic behind it is sound. At least it keeps the “in the know” idiots quiet for the 9 months of the year when the window is closed, and that can’t be a bad thing.
So what happened in January 2016? Spending was at a five-year high, with £175m changing hands. In the Premier League, Norwich City signed seven players as they look to avoid the drop. Perhaps the most high-profile of these was all round good guy Steven Naismith from Everton. He immediately endeared himself to his new fans with a debut goal against Liverpool, although it was to be in vain as the Canaries lost a thrilling match 5-4 at Carrow Road. He should prove to be a hit in the fight against relegation.
Everton used some of that Naismith money to sign well-travelled Senegalese forward Baye Oumar Niasse from Lokomotiv Moscow for £13.5m. The 25-year-old will be plying his trade in his fifth different country and has four caps for Senegal.
With little time to spare Stoke made the most expensive acquisition of the window, signing Giannelli Imbula from Porto for £18.3m. The Frenchman with an Italian-sounding name, born in Belgium to Congolese parents, was one of the standout players against Chelsea in the Champions League earlier this season, and will help with the evolution of Mark Hughes’ side from long-ball cloggers to actual footballers.
Brazilian forward Pato signed for Chelsea on loan from Corinthians. Once a promising youngster, his lifestyle and injuries hampered his progress and his career floundered. This will surely be his last chance saloon as far as European football is concerned.
Newcastle United had perhaps the most successful January window of all of the Premier League teams, signing four players that will surely enhance their match day squad. Jonjo Shelvey, despite having a name straight from Deliverance, will no doubt prove to be a good signing for Newcastle as they look to battle relegation. Despite a questionable attitude and a short temper, he can play and has a great range of passing. His involvement in two goals on his debut for the Magpies immediate proof of this. You do have to wonder why Swansea were happy to sell him to a direct rival. However, for Newcastle, £12m in this day and age, sadly, is peanuts by Premier League standards so it may prove to be a bargain. The Magpies also signed Henri Saivet from Bordeaux, Seydou Doumbia on loan from Roma as well as Andros Townsend from Spurs. If the latter can recreate the form he showed when he first burst onto the scene he will, like Shelvey, prove a decent signing.
Bournemouth surprised many by bringing in Juan Iturbe on loan from Roma. The Argentine striker was at the centre of an expensive tug-of-war between the Rome giants and Juventus only 18 months ago. If that is anything to go by he’ll prove an astute signing. The south coast club bolstered their forward ranks further with the capture of Benik Afobe from Wolves, who promptly scored twice in his first two appearances.
Arsenal, somewhat appeasing fans who think that only signing one of the best goalkeepers of the Premier League era in Petr Cech, captured the Egyptian Mohamed Elneny from Basle. The midfielder may provide them with the extra dynamism needed in midfield if they are to finally push for the league title. Adding one player to the squad in each of the last two windows may not satisfy the “Deadline Day” crowd, but it is a sensible way to gradually improve the squad without major disruption. Come May we’ll see if it was the correct way to go for the Gunners.
Charlie Austin was signed by Southampton for what appeared to be a bargain £4m. An injury record and alleged astronomical wages may have put off other suitors, but the Saints immediately reaped the rewards of signing Austin as he came off the bench to net the winner against Louis Van Gaal’s hapless Manchester United.
In the Championship, Middlesbrough may have cemented their promotion push with the capture of prolific striker Jordan Rhodes from Blackburn Rovers. If he can get them over the finishing line he will provide an immediate return on the investment, even better if he can translate that form to the Premier League next season.
In more bizarre transfer news, Liverpool signed centre-back Steven Caulker on loan from QPR, only for Klopp to deploy him as an emergency striker late in games. Not since Stuart Pearce decided to trial David James as a striker at Manchester City has there been a weirder chain of events. Crystal Palace defied common sense when they signed perennial half-arsed striker Emmanuel Adebayor on a free transfer until the end of the season. The Eagle’s recent form has been poor, but given that they are comfortably in mid-table and unlikely to be dragged into the fight against relegation, or for the European spots, it seems strange that they’d throw the divisive Togolese into the mix. Ramires decided to leave one rich club, from West London, to join another, in China. Doing so at the peak of his powers surprised many, but I’m sure he is being handsomely remunerated.
Follow Dan on Twitter @winkveron