The January transfer window typically doesn’t move the needle much for the domestic league standings. This period is used to offload contracts and re-focus rosters based on the current league standings and usually doesn’t feature blockbuster deals. That doesn’t mean teams didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to make moves. Here are the winners and losers of the January transfer window.
Barcelona is +3500 to win La Liga per DraftKings Sportsbook, so it looks like this will be an underwhelming season overall for the Catalan club. However, landing Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang for free and adding Adama Traore on a loan gives Barca two dynamic attackers for the back end of the season. A motivated Aubameyang, if fit, could wreak havoc in La Liga. Ferran Torres was a slightly expensive move at €55m but provides great play in the middle of the field. Unloading Philippe Coutinho’s contract was also important for Barcelona, who is finally starting to get its finances in order.
The Italian club managed to get rid of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur while adding Serie A’s top scorer Dusan Vlahovic and talented defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria. Juventus is in a similar position as Barcelona, sitting fifth in the domestic league but just a few results away from vaulting into Champions League qualification. Adding a dynamic forward and a strong midfielder while offloading excess players leads to a good window.
Loser: Manchester United
Surely Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t sign up for this. The Premier League powerhouse has managed to stay in Champions League contention despite turmoil from the front office to the pitch. Cutting bait on Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial isn’t bad on its own, but don’t make much sense with Mason Greenwood’s clouded legal situation hovering over the club. Man United is -500 to finish Top 6 and +175 to finish Top 4 per DraftKings Sportsbook so not everything is lost, but sacrificing depth could come back to bite this team.
Consider the context of the club, which typically doesn’t make big money moves or add game-changing talents. Sevilla has been consistent in La Liga, but adding Jesus Corona and Anthony Martial gives the team two talented attackers. The latter will be motivated after essentially being ousted from Manchester United and could be one of the best adds of the window if he clicks. Sevilla sits four points behind Real Madrid with 17 games left in the season. The club is +900 to win La Liga and could be a value play for bettors who believe these two forwards can make a difference for a side that typically struggles to score goals.
Under the microscope: Mikel Arteta
The Arsenal manager has now sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari, Sead Kolasinac and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang away without getting anything in return. These are all players he believed in and backed, especially Aubameyang. The forward was once considered the center of Arteta’s rebuild and signed an extension as the face of the club. The Gunners still have talented players but now the margin for error has shrunk significantly. However this season ends, it’ll be a reflection of Arteta’s player evaluation for bettor or worse.
It’s great to see Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams in leagues outside MLS, which is tremendous for their development and will help U.S. soccer in international competitions. When that trickles down to players like Ricardo Pepi and Daryl Dike getting deals in top domestic leagues, that means the federation is doing something right to help these players get noticed. Auston Trusty and Matt Turner are heading to Arsenal, where they’ll get a development boost even if they don’t play matches. It’s a tremendous spot for U.S. soccer to be in where players across the spectrum are getting new domestic experiences.
Loser: Ousmane Dembele
Can this guy catch a break? The striker was unable to get a swap deal with Arsenal as part of the Aubameyang move, and he continues to be irrelevant at Camp Nou. Barcelona has tried to get rid of him and Dembele wants out, but no other club will take on his wage bill. The crazy thing is Dembele is only 24, so he’s still got a few years of growth left in him. If someone is able to tap into that young Rennes striker, this is one player who can change an entire club. For now, he’ll have to sit out the rest of the season in hopes of a summer move.
Winner: Christian Eriksen and Brentford
The soccer world held its collective breath at Euro 2020 when the Denmark midfielder collapsed on the field. Eriksen’s return to playing has been spectacular, and he now returns to the Premier League at a small club looking to rebuild his value. As for Brentford, they get a player they’d never have a chance of landing otherwise to help them in the midfield. The club is +700 to be relegated per DraftKings Sportsbook.