January transfer window winners: Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, and more
The January transfer window of the 2020/21 campaign will go down as the quietest in history, with only a handful of clubs conducting a high level of business.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit clubs hard financially, which has meant that most will have to make do with the squad they have for the second half of the season.
In the Premier League, there were only six transfers completed which saw a club sign a player for a significant transfer fee which wasn’t on loan or a free transfer.
Some clubs around Europe, however, can consider themselves to be in a stronger position heading into February than they were at the start of the window.
One of the main priorities for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was to trim his bloated squad and get certain players off the wage bill by any means necessary in order to free up funds and squad space for new recruits.
Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who cost the club a combined £94.5 million [€106m], saw their contracts terminated this January, with the Gunners receiving no transfer fee for the moves to Fenerbahce, Schalke, and Olympiacos respectively.
Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were allowed to leave and gain first-team football at Newcastle and West Brom, with their futures at the club to be assessed again this summer depending on how they have developed away from the Emirates.
The most interesting piece of business conducted in the transfer window in the Premier League was probably Arsenal’s acquisition of Real Madrid wonderkid Martin Odegaard on loan until the end of the season.
Despite starting the first two games of the season under Zinedine Zidane, the Norwegian fell out of favour at the Santiago Bernabeu and has been allowed to leave on a temporary basis, with Arsenal reportedly interested in a permanent transfer should a deal be worked out with Los Blancos.
West Brom actually managed to sign some players in the winter window which is more than most managed.
Though Maitland-Niles would have preferred to leave Arsenal on loan to Leicester, the Gunners were unwilling to allow him to go to a club they viewed as a rival for the European qualification positions within the league, which allowed West Brom to swoop in on deadline day to land his services.
It is no secret that Sam Allardyce likes a centre-forward who can ruffle some feathers up top, and he got his man in the form of Galatasaray’s Mbaye Diagne who arrived on loan.
Robert Snodgrass arrived on a free transfer, while midfielder Okay Yokuslu joined on loan from Celta.
Atletico didn’t actually need major surgery done to their squad in the transfer window as they are currently riding high at the top of La Liga, 10 points clear of Barcelona and Real Madrid with a game in hand.
However, when Diego Costa made it clear he wanted to leave, the club agreed to the mutual termination of his contract, which left a space open for a new striker.
Lyon’s Moussa Dembele, a wanted man by many clubs the season previous, was identified as his replacement and was acquired on loan with the option to buy this summer.
They are looking in a good state to go on and win the league in Spain.
One of the lower profile entries on our list comes again from Spain, as capital club Getafe completed two of the shrewder signings of the window, both on loan.
Takefusa Kubo was on loan at Villarreal for the first half of the season, but after failing to get enough game time to satisfy parent club Real Madrid, he was brought back home and subsequently sent out on loan again, this time to city neighbours Getafe.
Alongside him was Carles Alena of Barcelona on another loan deal, with the young Spaniard falling down the pecking order at Barcelona due to the competition in their central midfield ranks.
A few days ago, Ben Davies thought he would be plying his trade in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic next season after agreeing a pre-contract with the Hoops.
Unfortunately for them, Liverpool soon swooped in and signed him on a permanent deal in January as a solution to their current defensive crisis.
With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip all long-term absentees, the Reds were in desperate need of defensive recruits and so turned to the Preston defender, who was available for just £500k up front.
Davies, surely, can’t believe his luck.