How January's EPL Transfers Have Fared so Far
The midseason transfer window can be a double-edged sword, giving teams both the opportunity to offload problematic players and bring in new talent. But there’s always a risk involved in trying to integrate new members of the roster midseason.
Since the end of the transfer period last month, Chelsea has managed to keep its hold on the top of the League, with Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool all continuing to crowd the top. Meanwhile, West Ham United have improved the most, winning their last four matches and jumping from No. 18 to No. 10 in the League.
On the whole, the acquisitions don’t appear to have made a particularly strong impression so far, as the status quo in the league has not changed dramatically. It will likely take more time for new players to make their presence felt both on their own squads and in the league.
Now a little less than a month from the end of the January transfer window, we check in on how some of the biggest targets have fared on their new teams.
Antonio Nocerino (Loan)
From: AC Milan
To: West Ham United
At 28, Nocerino has made 15 caps for Italy, but he was largely relegated to the bench this season in Milan. Notably, the Italian scored a penalty against England in the quarter-finals of the Euro 2012 competition.
Motivated by upcoming World Cup competition, Nocerino said he moved to West Ham in order to see more time on the field, per The Daily Star:
One of the reasons I came to West Ham and to the Premier League is to play on a regular basis. My first objective is to play for West Ham and help the club move up the table. From that, if I am playing well and I get picked to go to the World Cup in Brazil, that will be an added bonus.
Performance at West Ham: Limited. Nocerino made his West Ham debut as a substitute for Kevin Nolan with only 10 minutes left in the game against Chelsea on January 29 and has subsequently made only three other appearances as a substitute.
Ryan Bertrand (Loan)
To: Aston Villa
Bertrand made the move to Aston Villa early in the trade window, signing to a loan agreement for the rest of the 2013-14 season.
Once a regular on the field for Chelsea, the English defender had seen little action this season at Stamford Bridge, making only three appearances under Mourinho.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to come here,” Bertrand said of the move in January.
“Aston Villa is a fantastic club with a massive fanbase and a great history. To get this chance to come here and play some games will be a really good step for me.”
Performance at Aston Villa: Bertrand has started six games for the Villans and already supplanted Antonio Luna at the back left position.
The 24-year-old has made a strong impression on manager Paul Lambert, who spoke glowingly of Bertrand earlier this month, via Sky Sports:
He's been absolutely fantastic, he's a terrific guy and I'm delighted with him. Ryan's earned the right to have a value, whatever that may be, because of what he's done. Whatever Chelsea price him at, that's their prerogative but we're thankful they gave us that opportunity to let him come here.
Kostas Mitroglou (£12M Deal)
A heavily pursued player during the transfer window, Mitroglou signed with Fulham on the last day of January for a club-record £12M.
The 25-year-old forward scored an impressive 17 goals for Olympiacos this season and Mitroglou has made 28 caps for Greece, scoring eight goals in 2014 World Cup qualifiers and friendlies.
Performance at Fulham: Mitroglou hasn't exactly flown out of the gates in Fulham, making just one substitute appearance for the Cottagers in a 29-minute playing stint after a knee injury hampered him for the first few weeks in Craven Cottage.
But playing some of the best football of his career, Mitroglou could still prove to be a valuable acquisition for Fulham, though he has a large contract to live up to.
George Tsitsonis from Inside Futbol writes:
As he has shown in the last two seasons for Olympiacos and most recently the Greek national team, Mitroglou is a striker with great potential and many positive characteristics. The former Borussia Monchengladbach product is a good hold-up player, but more than merely that, Mitroglou is a skilled footballer and his combination play is strong.
Nemanja Matic (£21M Deal)
The Serbian midfielder signed a five-and-a-half year deal with Chelsea midway through the January transfer window, returning to Stamford Bridge after a three-year stint with Benfica.
The 25-year-old made 10 appearances for the Portuguese club this season, scoring just one goal. In his previous stint with the Blues, Matic made only three appearances.
Following Matic’s signing, BBC football analyst Andy Brassell wrote:
Matic is exactly what Chelsea have needed for some time; a specialist at breaking up play in front of the defence. We should not be too hard on Chelsea for letting him go in the first place, though. His improvement in the last 18 months has been breathtaking.
Performance at Chelsea: Matic has yet to score a goal for Chelsea, but the Serb has started eight games in the last month and has been a solid, if not overwhelmingly impressive presence on the field. He has completed 86 percent of his passes, per Squawka, and generally bolstered the Blues’ midfield.
Kim Kallstrom (Loan)
From: Spartak Moscow
At 31, Kallstrom is not one of the younger stars on the field, but the Swedish midfielder has a history as a strong attacking player with versatility on both sides and has made 106 caps for Sweden.
Kallstrom made nine appearances for Spartak Moscow this season, scoring just one goal in five starts. Arsenal signed the Swede as a replacement for injured midfielder Aaron Ramsey, arguably Arsenal’s most valuable player through the first half of the season.
Performance at Arsenal: Nonexistent. Before Arsenal signed Kallstrom, a scan revealed the Swede had a damaged vertebrae that would keep him off the pitch for six weeks.
Arsene Wenger ultimately decided to sign Kallstrom largely because the transfer window was hours from closing when Kallstrom’s injury was discovered, handcuffing the Arsenal manager. Still, Wenger remained hopeful about Kallstrom’s return. He said in a press conference earlier this month:
There is the possibility he might score a winning goal that might be vitally important. But at some stage in our job, you have to make a decision - are you wrong or right - and you will only know at the end of the season.
Mohamed Salah (£11M Deal)
From: FC Basel
A versatile attacking midfielder, the Egyptian winger signed a five-and-a-half year contract with Chelsea at the end of January. At 21, Salah has recorded 26 caps for Egypt, scoring 15 goals on the international stage.
In his time in Basel, Salah scored nine goals in 47 appearances. Salah has proven to be something of a nuisance for Chelsea in the past, scoring in each of his last three appearances against the Blues.
With Juan Mata leaving the club, Mourinho signed Salah to compensate for the Spaniard’s departure.
“We had to go for a young player, for a left-footed player and for a fast player. Salah is a kind of player that looks for the space and tries to get behind people so we think he was a good choice,” Mourinho told a press conference last month.
Performance at Chelsea: Salah has only made three appearances for the Blues, against Newcastle, West Brom and Manchester City.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, Salah is cup-tied in the Champions League, keeping the winger out of the Blues’ match against Galatasaray on Wednesday, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Juan Mata (£37.1M Deal)
To: Manchester United
One of the most talked about transfers in January, Mata moved to Manchester United after spending much of the 2013-14 season on the Chelsea bench. The Spanish midfielder agreed to a £37.1M deal that will run until the summer of 2018.
Mata was very vocal about his frustration with Mourinho and his lack of playing time under Chelsea’s new manager, making a move during January nearly inevitable.
Said Mata of the signing, via the club's official website:
I am thrilled to be joining United. I have enjoyed some very happy years at Chelsea but the time has come for a new challenge. United is the perfect place for me and I am excited at the chance I have to be part of the next phase in the club's history.
Performance at Manchester United: Mata came out with a bang in his debut as a Red Devil, providing an assist against Cardiff City on January 28. He also made more passes (52) than any other United player.
The midfielder has since made four further appearances for United, providing another assist in the Fulham match the following week.
Cup-tied in the Champions League, Mata did not make the trip to Athens with the Red Devils, who fell to Olympiacos 2-0 on Tuesday.
Wilfried Zaha (Loan)
From: Manchester United
To: Cardiff City
Since signing with Manchester United in January of 2013, Zaha has made just four appearances and two starts for the Red Devils. He continued playing for Crystal Palace on loan during the second half of the 2012-13 season.
A quick, controlled midfielder, the 21-year-old moved to Cardiff City on loan in January. He was hoping to see more playing time and help the Bluebirds improve on a dismal season.
Performance at Cardiff City: Cardiff, positioned firmly at the bottom of the Premier League, were in desperate need of a boost during the transfer window to keep them away from relegation. Unfortunately, not much has changed. Zaha has made five appearances for the Bluebirds, but he has yet to score a goal.
Most recently, Zaha was taken off at half-time after receiving a yellow card in Cardiff’s 0-4 shellacking at the hands of Hull City.
The Bluebirds are 1-1-4 in their last six matches and have only moved up one spot in the league since January.
Nikica Jelavic (£6.5M Deal)
To: Hull City
The Croatian striker was a strong presence at Everton during the last two seasons, scoring 21 goals in 69 appearances. The 28-year-old has also registered five goals in 31 international caps.
Jelavic signed on with Hull for a three-and-a-half year deal early in the transfer window, adding an experienced, if potentially rusty scorer to the Hull City frontline.
Performance at Hull City: Jelavic has gotten off to a flying start at Hull City, scoring three goals in six appearances for the Tigers.
Two of those goals came over the weekend, with Jelavic scoring a brace in Hull City’s match against Cardiff, further endangering the Bluebirds' chances of survival.
Manager Steve Bruce was highly complimentary of Jelavic after the match, telling Sky Sports:
It's good for (Jelavic) because he could have had six or eight since he's been here. Like every striker, you need a goal. Today, he took his goal fantastically well and led the line terrifically well. You have to be difficult to beat at this level and of course, rely on your strikers to get something away from home.
John Guidetti (Loan)
From: Manchester City
To: Stoke City
Swedish striker Guidetti joined Manchester City when he was just 16 but five years and two loans later, the 21-year-old has yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Blues, despite scoring 20 goals for Feyenoord in the 2011-12 season.
After he was sidelined with an injury earlier this season, Guidetti reached a loan agreement with Stoke City early in January for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.
Performance at Stoke City: Just a few weeks after he moved to the Britannia Stadium, Guidetti expressed frustration about his lack of playing time, telling Swedish newspaper Expressen (via The Guardian), “It's been two games and we haven't scored. What is the worst that can happen [if I came on], that I don't score, or … ? We have to see what it is like for the next game, otherwise we have a problem.”
Guidetti made his debut for the Potters against Crystal Palace on January 18 and has made three subsequent appearances as a substitute.