January Transfer Window: Club-by-Club Grades for January Deals

Dan Fitch@@DJFitchFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

January Transfer Window: Club-by-Club Grades for January Deals

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    So the January transfer window is finally shut and we can all take a collective breath and relax.

    With the dust starting to settle on Europe's biggest deals, it's time to take a look at a few clubs who were active in the transfer window and evaluate who did the best and who did not as well.

    Here are our club-by-club grades for January deals.

Liverpool: B

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    Who's In?

    Daniel Sturridge (£12m), Phillipe Coutinho (£8.5m)

    Who's Out?

    Joe Cole (free transfer), Nuri Sahin (cancelled loan), Dani Pacheco (loan), Alexander Doni (free transfer)

    The Verdict

     With Brendan Rodgers' side beginning to show signs of progression, it was evolution rather than revolution that was required at Anfield. 

    The biggest are that needed addressing was in attack, with the side looking too reliant on Luis Suarez for goals and, with Fabio Borini injured, lacking any recognised striker as backup.

    Liverpool swooped early in the window to bring in Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea. Sturridge is a player with undoubted talent, but he still represents a gamble at the price. The young striker has found himself at two clubs in the shape of Manchester City and Chelsea, where he struggled to find opportunities amongst his superstar colleagues. Now is the time for Sturridge to prove his worth and, with three goals so far for the club, it looks as though he just might.

    Later on in the window, Liverpool bought Phillipe Coutinho from Inter Milan. The young Brazilian playmaker was particularly impressive on loan for Espanyol last season, scoring some spectacular goals. 

    Like Sturridge, he is a player with a lot of pace. Along with the likes of Suarez and Raheem Sterling, Liverpool look to have a very exciting, skilful and fast attack. 

AC Milan: C+

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    Who's In?

    Cristian Zaccarado (undisclosed/swap), Bartosz Salomon (undisclosed), Mario Balotelli (€22m)

    Who's Out?

    Alexandre Pato (€15m), Djamel Mesbah (undisclosed), Francesco Acerbi (undisclosed), Ferdinando Coppola (undisclosed), Riccardo Saponara (loan), Mattia Valoti (loan), Rodney Strasser, Urby Emanuelson (loan), Adrià Carmona (loan)

    The Verdict

    It has been a busy window for Milan, especially in terms of outgoings. The key sale was that of Alexandre Pato to Corinthians. The Brazilian never really fulfilled his potential at the San Siro, so it was probably the right time to cut their losses.

    Milan left their incomings till late. Cristian Zaccarado arrived just over a week ago and the experienced Italy international will be expected to make an immediate impact at right-back.

    Then on deadline day came the young Polish defender Bartosz Salomon—who looks like one for the future—along with the far more heralded arrival of Mario Balotelli.

    Time will tell as to whether Balotelli's fee will be justified. It's almost a cliche now to cite his performance for Italy against Germany in Euro 2012, but that game demonstrated that he can be a world-class talent on his day. 

    Such performances come few and far between for the controversial character, who is never far from trouble. If he fulfils his potential (and he's at an age now where no one should be talking about his potential), then that C+ should have been an A.

    Yet there's also the potential that Balotelli will cause Milan nothing but problems, just as he did at Inter and Manchester City. There can be no excuses now. It is time for Super Mario to prove himself.

Galatasaray: A

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    Who's In?

    Wesley Sneijder (€7.5m), Didier Drogba (free), Aykut Ercetin (free)

    Who's Out?

    Cristiano Marques Gomes (free), Furkan Özçal (loan), Ceyhun Gülselam (loan), Sercan Yıldırım (loan), Mertan Caner Öztürk (loan)

    The Verdict

    Galatasaray have pulled off two deals that have shocked Europe and elevated the profile, not just of the club, but Turkish football as a whole.

    There was much scoffing when Galatasaray bid for Sneijder, especially as the Dutchman appeared to be dragging his heels over signing, as he waited for Premier League clubs to swoop

    Yet Gala got their man, which no doubt made it much easier for them to persuade Didier Drogba to sign on a free.

    It will take time for both men to get back to the pace required for the rigours of Turkish football and the Champions League, but if one or both can get back to anywhere near their previous form, then Galatasaray will be much stronger as a result.

    The wage bill will be a concern, but having completed the signing for relatively little outlay, it seems like a gamble worth taking.

Tottenham Hotspur: C-

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    Who's In?

    Zeki Fryers (£3m), Lewis Holtby (£1.5m)

    Who's Out?

    Heurelho Gomes (loan), Alex Pritchard (loan), Jermaine Jenas (undisclosed), Andros Townsend (loan), Tomislav Gomelt (loan), Simon Dawkins (loan), Ryan Mason (loan)

    The Verdict

    The window started very well for Spurs as they signed the promisingly left-back Fryers and agreed a deal to sign Lewis Holtby on a free transfer from Schalke in the summer.

    Then injuries complicated things. Sandro was ruled out for the rest of the season, forcing Tottenham to make a move to bring Holtby to England in January.

    Though Holtby looks set to improve Spurs from a creative perspective, it remains to be seen as to how they cope without Sandro, having decided not to pursue a direct replacement for the defensive midfielder.

    It is perhaps in attack where Tottenham will have the biggest problems though. With Emmanuel Adebayor at the African Cup of Nations and Jermain Defoe having picked up a calf injury, Spurs were left with no other option than to play the midfielder Clint Dempsey as a striker.

    They were once again linked with Internacional's Leandro Damiao, but failed with a deadline-day move.

    The squad has been left looking bare in some positions and Tottenham could regret not snapping up a striker if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Juventus: B+

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    Who's In?

    Federico Peluso (loan), Nicolas Anelka (loan), Fernando Llorente (free - summer)

    Who's Out?

    Lucio (free)

    The Verdict

    Juventus spent most of this window trying to solve their injury problems. 

    Giorgio Chiellini and Nicklas Bendtner both picked up lengthy injuries, leaving holes in the defence and attack.

    Defender Federico Peluso was brought in on loan from Atalanta and looks a good short-term solution. 

    In attack Juventus pulled off another loan deal to bring in Nicolas Anelka. It might take time for Anelka to recover his sharpness, having been first in the wilderness at Chelsea and then played in the somewhat-lacklustre Chinese league.

    Juve looked to bring in other attackers, such as Lisandro Lopez, but failed to pull off a deal.

    Yet by far the best bit of business that Juventus made this window was the signing of Fernando Llorente on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao.

    The Spanish international won't arrive until the summer, but in terms of getting a proven talent for a good financial deal, this could well be the best bit of business of any club this January.

Real Madrid: B

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    Who's In?

    Diego Lopez (€4m)

    Who's Out?

    Nuri Sahin (loan)

    The Verdict

    It was a quiet transfer window for Real Madrid, but the one signing they made could be a very significant one. 

    When Iker Casillas picked up an injury that would keep him out of upcoming El Clasico matches and the Champions League games against Manchester United, Madrid had a decision to make.

    Did they trust the inexperienced Antonio Adan to fill in? If not, what type of keeper should they sign? 

    They had the choice of a short-term solution, possibly on a loan deal, or being bolder and actually buying someone that could give Casillas some competition in the long term.

    Real went for the latter option, with the signing of Diego Lopez from Sevilla. A former understudy to Casillas, Lopez had gone on to prove himself as one of La Liga's best goalkeepers during his time at Villarreal. 

    While Casillas is injured, Madrid can now go into games with confidence in their goalkeeper, and with Mourinho having already dropped the Spain captain from his side this season, there's every chance that Lopez could keep his place this season.

Newcastle: A-

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    Who's In?

    Mathieu Debuchy (£5.5m), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (£6.7m), Yoan Gouffran (£1.4m), Massadio Haïdara (£2m), Moussa Sissoko (£2.1m), Kevin Mbabu (undisclosed)

    Who's Out?

    Demba Ba (£7m), Xisco (free)

    The Verdict

    The January transfer window got off to a poor start for Newcastle when they lost Demba Ba to Chelsea, for the lowly buyout fee of £7m. 

    Alan Pardew's squad looked threadbare, and with the loss of their leading scorer in Ba, injuries and the potential walkout of the captain Fabricio Coloccini, the club looked headed for disaster.

    No one can say that Newcastle didn't respond positively. Perhaps more than any other club on this list, it is the Magpies that have most improved their squad.

    They signed four defenders, including the French internationals Debucy and Yanga-Mbiwa, with the latter looking like a ready-made replacement for Coloccini if he does leave the club in the summer.

    Another France player, in the form of Moussa Sissoko, has already had an energetic impact on Newcastle's midfield. In attack, Yoan Gouffran adds to Pardew's options on the flanks.

    It would have been a perfect transfer window, except for the fact that Newcastle failed to bring in a replacement for Ba. They already have Papiss Cisse, of course, but if he gets injured, they might struggle to score goals.

Inter Milan: B-

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    Who's In?

    Tommaso Rocchi (€500,000), Mateo Kovačić (€11m), Zdravko Kuzmanović (€1.2m), Ezequiel Schelotto (€5.3m), Juan Pablo Carrizo (€250,000)

    Who's Out?

    Wesley Sneijder (€7.5m), Alfred Duncan (loan), Matteo Bianchetti (loan), Andrea Romanò (loan), Philippe Coutinho (€10.2m), MacDonald Mariga (loan)

    The Verdict

    Inter Milan succeeded in reducing their wage bill when they sold Wesley Sneijder to Galatasaray, but it can hardly be considered a great bit of business when the likes of Manchester United and City were willing to pay over £30m for him only 18 months ago.

    Inter at least made a profit on the sale of Philippe Coutinho, though they may have been hasty in moving the player so soon.

    Of the incoming transfers, the likes of Kuzmanovic and Schelotto have promise, but also a lot to prove as to whether they can cut it at a club like Inter.

    So why such a positive grade? The answer is Mateo Kovacic.

    The 18-year-old Croatian is one of the hottest prospects in Europe and has been dubbed the "Croatian Messi."

    If he lives up to his potential, then the signing of Kovacic by Inter will one day look like a bargain.

Arsenal: D+

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    Who's In?

    Nacho Monreal (£10m)

    Who's Out?

    Johan Djorou (loan), Marouane Chamakh (loan), Chuks Aneke (loan), Emmanuel Frimpong (loan)

    The Verdict

    First the good news. With the injury to Kieran Gibbs leaving Arsenal with the calamitous Andre Santos as their only left-back, the club went out and signed Nacho Monreal from Malaga, who has seven caps for Spain.

    Now the bad news. Nacho has already played in the Champions League for Malaga this season, which leaves Arsenal in the position of having to play Santos against Arjen Robben when they face Bayern Munich in the knockout stages.

    The further bad news is that Arsenal did nothing to address their weakness in central defence, the defensive side of their midfield or sign a proven goal scorer.

    It's a big gamble by the club and Arsene Wenger. They need to be in the Champions League positions at the end of the season. It's arguable that they haven't done enough this window to achieve that aim.

Paris St-Germain: B-

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    Who's In?

    Lucas Moura (€45m), David Beckham (free)

    Who's Out?

    Péguy Luyindula (free), Guillaume Hoarau (free), Nenê (free), Diego Lugano (loan)

    The Verdict

    PSG pulled off two huge but very different deals this January.

    First came Lucas Moura from Sao Paolo, for an eye-watering fee of €45m. Moura is now an established member of the Brazil national team with 22 caps and is a breathtaking talent. 

    Only time will tell though, as to whether he can prove himself worthy of such an investment. For every Ronaldinho that came to Europe and succeeded, there has been a Denilson who failed to live up to his price tag.

    The signs are that Moura will succeed, but again it's a case where the investment is such that it's impossible to award PSG an "A" for bringing in such a major talent. 

    It's possible that the signing of David Beckham will actually make it easier for Moura to go about his business without such scrutiny. 

    Lucas will obviously bring more to the team, but all eyes will still be on Beckham. PSG have signed the former England captain for his marketability more than anything else, but there's still a chance that he can contribute on the field. 

    Beckham will be the impact sub. Sometimes he will be expected to merely help the team see a game out, when they need to keep possession. Sometimes he will be expected to create a goal with his set-piece ability.

    PSG have bought two contrasting talents this winter, but they will be equally fascinating to watch.