Ranking the Top 20 Deals of the 2017 January Transfer Window
The January transfer window has finished; this is your lot until June 2017. If you're happy, great; if you're not, tough. There's nothing else top-level teams can do to alter the shape of their season now.
While deadline day was a little drab (predictably so, given the presence of a full slate of Premier League games on Tuesday evening), some good business was conducted throughout the month. Across Europe, astute deals were made that will significantly boost certain clubs' fortunes.
Here, Bleacher Report takes a look at the top 20 deals made over the course of the window.
Some ground rules:
- Deals are assessed from the buying club's perspective. Oscar to Shanghai SIPG was great for Chelsea, but it doesn't feature here.
- Loans are allowed. While temporary transfers wouldn't feature in a "best of" summer window list, January loans can be the ideal, cost-effective tonic for a team in need.
- Only Europe's top five leagues (Spain, Germany, England, Italy and France—as defined by UEFA.com) are considered.
Robert Snodgrass, Hull City to West Ham United
Fee: £10 million
West Ham lost their best player in Dimitri Payet this month, but they replaced him with Snodgrass and made a £15 million profit on the "transaction" (if you can call it that).
Paul-Georges Ntep, Rennes to Wolfsburg
Fee: £4 million
Wolfsburg needed to do something after Julian Draxler's exit, and signing Ntep for £4 million—in the process adding speed and directness to the attack—is a nice, under-the-radar, smart deal.
Dimitri Payet, West Ham to Marseille
Fee: £25 million
Payet's a great player, and it stands to reason he'll flourish now he's home again, but this is not a top-20 deal. Why? Because L'OM have just spent £25 million on a 29-year-old who has very little, if any, sell-on value.
Adalberto Penaranda, Watford to Malaga
Penaranda didn't play much at Udinese, so he's rightly been relocated by Watford. Back in Spain, where he flashed brilliance with Granada in 2015-16, he should flourish.
Alberto Bueno, FC Porto to Leganes
Bueno's had 18 forgettable months, but if he can rediscover the form he showed for Rayo Vallecano under Paco Jemez, he could transform Leganes' season. They need his goals; they've scored the fewest in La Liga (15 in 20 games).
20. Lazar Markovic, Liverpool to Hull City (loan)
It hasn't gone to plan for Lazar Markovic, who signed for Liverpool in 2014 for £20 million. He's managed only a smattering of appearances for the club, some of which came at left-wing-back, and has spent time on loan at Fenerbahce and Sporting CP.
This month, his stay with Sporting was cut short, but not with the goal of bolstering Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp's first-team squad. Instead, he's been sent to Hull City, who probably see him as a cost-effective, temporary solution to losing Snodgrass.
There's no doubt that from Markovic's perspective, the calibre of clubs he's turning out for is dipping dramatically; but for Hull, this is a fantastic acquisition, and if Marco Silva can coax the Serb into form, he's got a game-winner on his hands.
19. Dayot Upamecano, RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig
Fee: €10 million, per Goal
Dayot Upamecano has swapped Salzburg for Leipzig this winter, staying within the confines of the Red Bull family. It's a pretty safe move for him as the clubs are intrinsically linked, so the playing style is similar.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl now has the chance to slowly blood the 18-year-old ahead of a likely Champions League campaign in 2017-18. If you haven't seen him yet, he cuts quite the figure: a huge bulk with a surprisingly quick stride, he's a Kurt Zouma-esque centre-back with far superior close control.
18. Patrice Evra, Juventus to Marseille
Fee: Free Transfer
It was a nice move from Juventus to cut Patrice Evra's contract short and allow him to switch clubs. He's never been one to rest on his laurels, showing decisiveness in the transfer market when he feels it's right.
With just 247 Serie A minutes to his name this season entering the month, the time felt right for the Frenchman to leave. Marseille are the lucky souls who welcome him—he is 35 years of age, but it is only half a year since he played his country's entire Euro 2016 final campaign.
L'OM are building quite the team for 2017.
17. Jese, Paris Saint-Germain to Las Palmas (loan)
It hasn't turned out as intended for Jese at Paris Saint-Germain—a point underlined by the fact that, six months after his £21 million move to the French capital, he's now on loan in the Canary Islands.
Las Palmas won't mind one bit that the forward's stint under Unai Emery has been a failure (so far), as they were forced to find a replacement for Sergio Araujo this month—who had committed two drink-driving offences in the space of four months and was subsequently sent to Greece, per Reuters.
Jese, therefore, is something of a panacea. Las Palmas' strong season stays alive thanks to a refreshing striking option, while Araujo disappears for a while on loan at AEK Athens. The only question mark surrounds the forward's confidence levels.
16. Tomas Rincon, Genoa to Juventus
Fee: €9 million (incl. bonuses), per Juventus
On the surface, Tomas Rincon's move to Juventus early in January didn't appear to tick many boxes, but a deeper look proved otherwise.
Juventus' midfield has struggled badly with injury over the last several seasons, with Sami Khedira, in particular, proving physically unreliable. With Mario Lemina trotting off to Gabon early in January for the Africa Cup of Nations, they needed a durable body to step in and play a part. That's Rincon.
He can also deputise at right-back—we've already seen him do it late against Sassuolo—and that will come in handy given Dani Alves is sidelined. It also never hurts to sign a country's most popular player; in recruiting Rincon, Juve have welcomed the population of Venezuela as new fans. Bet they all love the new logo as well.
15. Memphis Depay, Manchester United to Lyon
Fee: £22 million (incl. bonuses), per the Mirror
Memphis Depay moved to Manchester United in 2015 for a hefty fee that could have risen to £31 million, but hardly any of the conditions for bonuses were met. His time in north-west England has been bitterly disappointing.
Lyon think they've spotted an opportunity to rebuild a potentially great young player in need of help, and we think they're correct. Per the aforementioned Mirror report, the initial fee for Memphis is around £17 million, and that's a gamble well worth taking.
Memphis was compared to Cristiano Ronaldo while playing for PSV Eindhoven in part thanks to his powerful runs and long-shot prowess. There's still time for him to realise his vast potential, and Lyon could well be the perfect place to do it.
14. Riechedly Bazoer, Ajax to Wolfsburg
Fee: €12 million, per DW Sports
Riechedly Bazoer's career has stalled quite badly—partly because Frank de Boer played some pretty stagnant football during his final year with Ajax, and partly because his replacement, Peter Bosz, didn't utilise him much.
A January move came as little surprise to those who'd followed his downward trajectory. Wolfsburg have put some of their Draxler money to good use here, securing a tank-like midfield presence who, at 20 years of age, still has a lot of time on his side.
There's plenty to work out with Bazoer—chiefly which position (No. 6? No. 8?) he will take up—but Die Wolfe were never going to attract a world-class central midfielder in January, so spending on Bazoer was the next best thing to do.
13. Stevan Jovetic, Inter Milan to Sevilla (loan)
Despite Wissam Ben Yedder and Luciano Vietto's strong form in front of goal this season, Jorge Sampaoli felt it necessary to find reinforcements for the front line this month. Stevan Jovetic, who had played just 59 minutes of Serie A football with Inter Milan this season and was not registered for the Europa League due to financial fair play constraints, was the surprise answer.
But the Montenegrin has wasted no time in proving Sampaoli wise; he's flying, with three goals to his name in Los Rojiblancos colours already. He's tactically aware and thrives when given an interpretative forward's role, making him a great fit at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
12. Morgan Sanson, Montpellier to Marseille
Fee: €12 million (incl. bonuses), per Get French Football News
Morgan Sanson traded south coast clubs this winter, joining Marseille from Montpellier. It's heartwarming to see him get a deserved big move, as an ACL tear in 2016 threatened to derail the young man's career at one stage.
He has immediately assumed a starting role for L'OM—not a difficult feat, admittedly, given the club's shocking depth in central midfield—and has been creating problems for opponents with his set-piece wizardry already.
A powerful runner from deep with an excellent weight of pass, Sanson's a relative bargain at €9 million up front.
11. M'Baye Niang, AC Milan to Watford (loan)
Something of a bolt out of the blue, Watford fans were largely as surprised and confused as the rest of us when the news broke that M'Baye Niang had joined the Hornets.
It's a loan with a permanent option, making this a genuine audition for a future role rather than a strange six-month holiday for the player, and it's fair to say that thanks to Niang, Walter Mazzarri's attack just got a whole lot quicker.
He can be frustrating at times; there are moments when he makes bad decisions and just runs in straight lines relentlessly until he loses the ball. But Watford are in a position where they can embrace that and celebrate his strong points, whereas Milan, perhaps, had reached their wits' end with the weaknesses.
10. Lee Grant, Derby County to Stoke City
Fee: £2 million (incl. bonuses), per Sky Sports
This is not a transfer that will get neutrals up off their feet, but smarter business than £1.5 million, rising to £2 million, for Lee Grant was tough to find this month.
He's been excellent for Stoke City so far in 2016-17, and with Jack Butland ruled out for the entire season, per the Guardian's Sachin Nakrani, it's crucial they settle on a solution between the sticks. The manager trusts Grant, the defenders trust him, and Stoke have secured a man who can fill in ably in the short-term then provide reliable back-up once Butland is finally fit.
Grant had been on loan at the bet365 Stadium, but he now calls it a permanent home.
9. Goncalo Guedes, Benfica to Paris Saint-Germain
Fee: €25 million, per ESPN FC
It was a surprise to see Benfica let Goncalo Guedes go for as little as €25 million. For a long time, he's been hailed as one of the finest young players, and over the last 18 months, he's played quite a lot of first-team football.
Perhaps it was the club's inability to sell Victor Lindelof? A team like Benfica survive off big sales, and the big Swede never left the Estadio da Luz for Old Trafford in the end. Whatever the reason, PSG won't care; all they care about is the fact they got a good player for a good price.
Guedes is lightning fast, great at surging from deep with the ball and has shown an ability to operate up front during the Eagles' striker crisis earlier this season. These are all traits Emery loves.
8. Morgan Schneiderlin, Manchester United to Everton
Fee: £24 million (incl. bonuses), per the Telegraph
There's a lot to like about this deal. Not only is Ronald Koeman getting a proven commodity in the Premier League who he's worked with before, but the player he's signing also happens to be an underrated gem.
Unused for some reason by Jose Mourinho? Don't worry, there have been plenty in that situation. Morgan Schneiderlin is still only 27 years of age and won't take long to get back up to speed. When he's there, he's one of the finest midfielders in the Premier League.
Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye are going to form a brilliant base, allowing Everton's front four to attack at will. United will have been happy to get almost all of their money back on the Frenchman, but it's still a great buy.
7. Mamadou Sakho, Liverpool to Crystal Palace (loan)
You can only imagine the grin that spread across Sam Allardyce's face when, having exited his post-match press conference at AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday night, he was informed the club had landed Mamadou Sakho on loan.
The Frenchman is probably Liverpool's second-best centre-back, but Jurgen Klopp has exiled him due to behavioural issues in pre-season. It's left him in the cold, without a single appearance this term to his name, and with the minutes ticking down, he finally got a move.
Crystal Palace were dead set on procuring a new centre-back this month, and although it is only a temporary stay, landing Sakho is huge.
6. Julian Draxler, Wolfsburg to Paris Saint-Germain
Fee: £40 million (incl. bonuses), per the Guardian
Draxler's already made quite the impression at Paris Saint-Germain, scoring twice in four games and winning a penalty in the 1-1 draw against Monaco in a top-of-the-table tussle.
It's interesting just how differently he plays when he's motivated and happy compared to when he's not. He didn't enjoy his tenure at Wolfsburg, and by the end, the club had to sell him as he wasn't performing—and he's immediately sparked into life in France. The same happened when Die Wolfe drew Real Madrid in the Champions League last year—he just turned it on.
An incredibly talented, versatile player, he'll serve PSG superbly for as long as he fancies it. The challenge for the manager is to keep his head screwed on the right way.
5. Thomas Delaney, FC Copenhagen to Werder Bremen
Fee: £1.5 million, per ESPN FC
Werder Bremen have had to wait a long time to see Thomas Delaney pull on a green-and-white shirt, as they secured the deal for him last summer but had to wait until winter for him to join. The reason? The player wanted to play Champions League group-stage football with his boyhood club FC Copenhagen.
He was so good in that six-month spell that Everton looked into buying him from Werder before he'd even played for them; Neil Moxley of the Sunday People (h/t the Mirror) credited them with an interest to the tune of £5 million in December. The catalyst for that, likely, was his superb showings in Europe's elite competition.
A leader and a commander, Delaney guided Copenhagen to a respectable nine points despite being drawn with Leicester City and FC Porto. His passing skills, tenacity and remarkable heading ability were all on show throughout.
4. Gabriel Jesus, Palmeiras to Manchester City
Fee: £27 million (not incl. bonuses), per BBC Sport
Gabriel Jesus' transfer to Manchester City was agreed during the summer of 2016, but he only arrived this month after completing the Brazilian season—and winning the Serie A title—with Palmeiras.
He's already the Selecao's No. 1 striker, spearheading a ludicrously talented forward line that also includes Neymar, and his record of five goals in six international senior starts is brilliant. He also played a pivotal role in securing the Rio 2016 Olympics title.
A dynamic, aggressive and physical striker with a brilliant finish, Gabriel is just the pick-me-up City boss Pep Guardiola needs as the Manchester side's season threatens to drift. The Brazilian has lifted the spirits at the Etihad considerably and looks set to start repaying his fee instantly.
3. Leon Bailey, Genk to Bayer Leverkusen
Fee: £12.8 million, per Sky Sports
Leon Bailey is an obscenely talented young winger, and the only reason he's ended up at Bayer Leverkusen rather than, say, a European superpower, is that his off-field issues have scared suitors off.
Sport Witness did an excellent job curating all of the problems the 19-year-old has faced so far, mostly involving his stepfather, Craig Butler.
Reportedly, Butler was once kidnapped and left in a Mexican desert, leaving a teenage Bailey alone in Belgium, and he also blocked Jamaica national-team call-ups so that Bailey can naturalise to a European nation and represent them instead.
But if the former Genk man can play football at Leverkusen and learn under Roger Schmidt, he could become a world-class player. He will need to learn how to play in Schmidt's custom pressing system, but after a short adjustment, Bailey will be ready to fly.
2. Timothee Kolodziejczak, Sevilla to Borussia Monchengladbach
Fee: £6 million, per Transfermarkt
Was this transfer simply a conspiratorial effort to move one of the most difficult player names to spell in football to one of the most difficult club names to spell in football? Perhaps, perhaps.
But most importantly—particularly in the context of this column—Timothee Kolodziejczak is a damn good player who, oddly, found himself to be the excess man in Sevilla's defensive corps. Their loss is Borussia Monchengladbach's opportunistic gain.
Gladbach have been far from solid this season, so a fresh face of this calibre is welcome—and for £6 million, Kolo is essentially a bargain.
At Sevilla this term, Jorge Sampaoli has preferred the likes of Nicolas Pareja, Gabriel Mercado and Sergio Escudero—likely because they suit his system better—and that's paved the way for Dieter Hecking to make one of the best deals of the window.
1. Alexander Isak, AIK to Borussia Dortmund
Fee: €10 million, per the Guardian
At 17 years of age, Alexander Isak has shown the type of skill, awareness and game-deciding ability many professionals still dream of late into their 20s. He's a special talent.
Fast, calm on the ball and ruthless in the finish, he reminds quite a lot of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang—so it's quite handy that he's off to Borussia Dortmund, where he can train with the man on a daily basis.
In the current climate, €10 million isn't that much for a player who has already managed what Isak has. He's heading to a place that nurtures and fosters young talent properly, allowing it room to breathe; it's the ideal destination, and he'll be working under a fantastic coach in Thomas Tuchel.
The transfer makes sense on every level, and the fee is modest. Isak to Dortmund was an easy selection for No. 1 in this list of best January deals.
All statistics via WhoScored.com unless noted otherwise.