English Premiership

Waiting for a late flourish as transfer window prepares to shut

2019-01-31 16:05
Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The January transfer window closes on Thursday with a late splurge from the Premier League's biggest clubs unlikely after a month in which the biggest movers have been on the continent, from Barcelona to AC Milan.

Of England's 'Big Six', the busiest club has been Chelsea, who signed Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus after buying USA winger Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for €58 million ($74m) and loaning him back for the rest of the season.

Chelsea's rivals towards the top of the Premier League have kept their cheque books closed ahead of the window shutting on Thursday at 2300 GMT, although Arsenal did sign Denis Suarez from Barcelona on loan.

"It's a tough situation because people tell you 'here's a player, there's a player', and you buy him, but it's helpful for three weeks, and after that you have a problem because the other boys come back," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told the BBC, confirming he does not want short-term fixes to defensive injury problems.

"During one month I said we are not going to do anything in the transfer market," insisted Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Beyond Pulisic, the biggest January transfer in England has been Dominic Solanke's move from Liverpool to Bournemouth for a reported €19 million ($24m), while Wolves completed a joint club-record €18 million deal to sign Jonny Castro on a permanent contract from Atletico Madrid on deadline day.

Newcastle look set to break their record transfer fee for Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron, following the Magpies' loan signing of Monaco full-back Antonio Barreca.

Brexit factor?

The possible elephant in the room in a low-key window is Brexit, given the uncertainty caused by the issue currently dominating British politics.

The resulting impact on sterling's value against the euro and the dollar might not help, but are clubs genuinely holding back on transfer deals because of the United Kingdom's impending departure from the European Union?

One British-based agent told AFP there is "great uncertainty" among some foreign players, but added that he had not "seen a change in behaviour from clubs at this point".

Barcelona lead the way

While the window has been quiet in England, some of Europe's biggest names have made moves, with Barcelona leading the way.

The Spanish champions have agreed to pay Ajax €75 million -- plus €11 million in bonuses -- to take 21-year-old Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong for next season.

They have also signed the veteran Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan from Sassuolo as a back-up in attack, following the loan signing of Valencia defender Jeison Murillo and a deal to take promising French centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo of Toulouse from next season.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid have taken former Real striker Alvaro Morata on loan from Chelsea, while their city rivals have brought in young midfielder Brahim Diaz from Manchester City for €17 million.

"We have a marvellous squad and we will fight on all fronts," said Real coach Santiago Solari on Wednesday, indicating there will be no more business at the Bernabeu.

PSG strengthen in midfield 

In France, Paris Saint-Germain have lost Neymar for 10 weeks with a metatarsal injury, but it is in midfield that they needed to strengthen.

Having completed a deal to sign Argentina's Leandro Paredes, 24, from Zenit Saint Petersburg for a reported €47 million.

Marseille have signed Mario Balotelli from Nice, while struggling Monaco have made several signings, headed by Spain star Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea.

In Germany much of the focus has been on Bayern Munich, who have signed Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Bavarians also completed a deal to take France defender Benjamin Pavard from Stuttgart from July 1 for a reported €35 million.

RB Leipzig appear set to continue the trend of British teenagers moving to the Bundesliga, with German media reporting that Arsenal youngster Emile Smith-Rowe will join on loan.

Piatek, Paqueta to Milan

In Italy, Juventus allowed Mehdi Benatia to leave for Qatar and replaced him with the Uruguayan Martin Caceres, but Milan have splashed the most cash.

The seven-time European champions cut short Higuain's loan from Juventus and replaced him with Genoa's Polish hotshot Krzysztof Piatek for a reported €35 million.

Brazilian international midfielder Lucas Paqueta, 21, joined from Flamengo for a similar fee.

Beyond western Europe's leading leagues, Russian clubs have until February 22 to make signings, while the Chinese transfer window is open until February 28, and Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini could be the latest high-profile player to move there from Europe.

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