Rating the transfer window

ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden sheds light on the lack of movement in this January transfer window, and its history of poor decisions.

The transfer window is now closed until the summer. How did your club get on and what plans should be made for the summer?

ESPN FC’s club bloggers rate their business and discuss what happened this month.


What was required? Priorities were for reinforcements at centre-back and wing-back and to keep hold of key players on the periphery, especially Willian and Cesc Fabregas. With Asmir Begovic being offered first-team football by Bournemouth, another reserve goalkeeper was also on the shopping list.

What happened? Oscar left for an enormous fee and was joined in China by John Obi Mikel. Patrick Bamford signed permanently for Middlesbrough while Nathan Ake returned from his successful loan spell at Bournemouth to provide cover at the back and midfield. The final days saw the club linked with Celtic’s Moussa Dembele and Craig Gordon, Schalke’s Sead Kolasinac and Inter Milan’s Jonathan Biabiany. In the end, the only business saw club stalwart and legend Branislav Ivanovic depart for Zenit St Petersburg — though that has yet to be fully confirmed.

Summer transfer target: Bayern Munich’s versatile but under-used Joshua Kimmich. Can play in central midfield and right-back/wing-back. Plus a top level striker if Diego Costa cuts his ties with the club. — Phil Lythell


What was required? For the first time in what feels like forever, Arsenal didn’t really need to sign anyone. Any issues lie in Arsene Wenger getting the best out of a squad he has described as his strongest in years. Maybe Jack Wilshere’s loan to Bournemouth should have included a release clause as he might have been useful with Santi Cazorla injured and Granit Xhaka about to start another suspension, but apart from that …

What happened? Despite doing very little, Arsenal were still responsible for one of the best stories of the January window as non-league left-back Cohen Bramall was signed for £40,000 just weeks after being made redundant from his day job. An incredible tale. Otherwise, Wenger didn’t look to have much of an interest in entering the market. Tying key players down to new contracts is rather more the club’s priority right now.

Summer transfer target: At this distance it is hard to say: the club’s transfer activities will likely be conditioned by whether Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have signed new contracts or not. Assuming one looks in danger of going, Arsenal could do worse than trying to sign a player like Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele to add some star quality. — Tom Adams


What was required? Not a lot and Mauricio Pochettino always said he expected a quiet window. Spurs’ reserve defenders have looked unconvincing at times and back-up striker Vincent Janssen’s only goals have come from the penalty spot. However, Pochettino has made it clear that he prefers not to make changes midway through the season, and Son Heung-Min can deputise for Harry Kane if necessary.

What happened? Tom Carroll made his much-needed departure, having only had three outings in the first half of the campaign. That always seemed the most likely move of the January window, and Spurs banked £4.5 million for another academy graduate after selling him to Swansea. Otherwise it was predictably quiet, given Tottenham’s form and position in the table

Summer transfer target: Pochettino has shown his ruthless side before — Benjamin Stambouli and Clinton Njie both left Tottenham after only one season at the club. If Janssen does not show signs of improvement then Spurs may need to look at their striking options again in the summer, and 21-year-old winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou also has work to do to secure a long-term future at White Hart Lane. While Spurs have a formidable first XI, Saturday’s FA Cup scare against Wycombe Wanderers showed again that strength in depth remains an issue, and a number of squad men have points to prove between now and the summer. — Ben Pearce

Liverpool’s major piece of business was to get Philippe Coutinho to sign a contract extension.


What was required? Just general improved quality in the second-level players. At a time when Liverpool’s fixtures per week doubled, the original idea that they already had enough players has proven to be erroneous.

What happened? The new contract for Philippe Coutinho seemed a rather clumsy distraction from the fact Liverpool did not act during the window. Problems with fitness have certainly exacerbated the situation but plenty were predicting the Reds would stumble in January. To do nothing but let Mamadou Sakho join Crystal Palace on loan seems almost negligent.

Summer transfer target: Based on how well Chelsea are doing with a quality goalkeeper and a prolific striker who works hard, they would appear to be Liverpool’s main problems — especially the goalkeeper. — Dave Usher

MAN CITY: 8/10

What was required? Needed and still need full-backs on either side, who can play to the manager’s strict requirements, plus a centre-half that does not spend all his time horizontal in mid air, plus back-up for Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho up front.

What happened? City acquired Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras, the signing of whom knocks the transfer window score up to eight by itself. Still lacking in all defensive areas, but a new and invigorating impetus has been given to the attack and young Yangel Herrera from Atletico Venezuela will also give a boost in the coming years.

Summer transfer target: City require up to three defenders in the Walker, Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand, Alex Grimaldo mould, plus a commandeering centre-half to add steel and reliability to John Stones’ elegance — a Leonardo Bonucci, Toby Alderweireld-type figure. — Simon Curtis


What was required? Not so much, in truth. Jose Mourinho has shored up the defence since the 4-0 thrashing away at Chelsea in the Premier League, and so there was not a desperate need for immediate reinforcements. United lost a little fluidity in midfield with the rotation of Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick, but nothing that has seriously interrupted their momentum.

What happened? Morgan Schneiderlin, surprisingly out of favour, was sold to Everton and Memphis Depay left for Lyon.

Summer transfer target: United’s primary need is in midfield, where Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko has been identified as a long-term replacement for Carrick — if, indeed, such a player can be replaced. Victor Lindelof has been earmarked as an excellent defensive option, and may arrive from Benfica, while United are also pursuing someone who would be possibly the biggest catch of the summer — Antoine Griezmann, from Atletico Madrid. — Musa Okwonga

Morgan Schneiderlin left Manchester United for Everton after an underwhelming spell at Old Trafford.


What was required? The remit for this window was to continue reshaping an unbalanced squad, lower the average age and ship out some of those on the fringes.

What happened? Schneiderlin adds proven quality in a key position and a much-needed long-term option as Gareth Barry cannot go on forever, while Ademola Lookman already looks a promising addition further forward. Of those to leave, Gerard Deulofeu is the only one who will be missed, though he rarely featured under Ronald Koeman as ability alone is not enough.

Summer transfer target: Creative options should be at the top of the list but some long-term defensive options warrant consideration as this overhaul is ongoing. — Luke O’Farrell


What was required? West Brom needed some more energy and quality in the centre of midfield, while there was also a desperate need for some depth up front and at centre back.

What happened? Jake Livermore is certainly not as an exciting addition as No.1 target Schneiderlin but he does bring a bit of energy and ability on the ball to the squad. Marc Wilson arrived late and the Baggies also managed to trim some of the deadwood from the squad, with Saido Berahino finally leaving The Hawthorns.

Summer transfer target: A pair of natural full-backs would add some real balance to the side. Trippier and Charlie Taylor would be ideal additions. — Matthew Evans

Saido Berahino’s future was finally resolved, with the striker leaving West Brom for Stoke.

STOKE: 7/10

What was required? The headline priorities for this window — and arguably many before it — were a goal scorer and bona fide midfield destroyer to complement the abundance of flair elsewhere in the squad.

What happened? Hopes are high that in Berahino, Mark Hughes has finally got the man to bring consistency and goals to a misfiring and ever-changing frontline. Sadly, it looks like it will be at least the summer before a new defensive midfielder is sought which, with hindsight, is perhaps sensible given the importance of getting the right man in and not rushing a decision midseason.

Summer transfer target: To sign that elusive defensive midfielder. Having tried and failed to accommodate any number of combinations there, it is now abundantly clear that at least one serious upgrade is needed to sit in front of the back four, break up play and quickly link defence to attack. The importance of such a role is not to be underestimated and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if the Potters break their transfer record to finally bring the right man in. — James Whittaker

WEST HAM: 4/10

What was required? A striker, a right-back, cover in central defence and, out of the blue, a replacement for Dimitri Payet.

What happened? Sadly, the whole transfer window has resolved around Payet refusing to pay for the club. With the midfielder eventually returning to Marseille for £25m, the club have covered the earlier acquisition of Jose Fonte from Southampton and Hull’s Robert Snodgrass in one swoop. Oddly, so toxic was the Payet situation, the club actually looks stronger for his absence. The £8m signing of Portuguese defender Fonte looks good, if expensive, business while the arrival of Snodgrass has added an extra dimension in midfield. A hard-working, natural left-footed player who can score goals and create will go some way — although not all — in plugging the gap left by Payet.

Summer transfer target: The inevitable striker and right-back and now a creative midfield player. Big names will surely be sought, but the club might do better to eat a little humble pie and lower their sights to avoid another disappointing window. — Peter Thorne

Dimitri Payet’s turmoil at West Ham dominated the window; the Frenchman eventually returning to Marseille.


What was required? A proven striker to solve their scoring issues and fill the void left by injured Charlie Austin and defensive cover following the sale of captain Jose Fonte.

What happened? After lengthy negotiations with Napoli, Southampton finally landed Italy striker Manolo Gabbiadini for a fee rising to £17m. Claude Puel also raided old club Nice for goalkeeper Mouez Hassen on loan, but a move for Spartak Moscow defender Serdar Tasci fell through late in the window.

Summer transfer target: Puel remains an admirer of Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho and may well see him as a replacement for £50m-rated Van Dijk. — Alex Crook


What was required? A new central defender to partner Steve Cook was and still is urgently required. Another striker wouldn’t have gone amiss either as Callum Wilson and Benik Afobe are still yet to hit decent form.

What happened? Eddie Howe didn’t address any of his side’s issues during the transfer window and only brought in young keeper Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United, despite going back for Ake late on. Letting Lewis Grabban, Emerson Hyndman and Jordan Lee leave on a loan were correct decisions but the Cherries started the transfer window with far bigger issues than the future of two 20-year-old’s.

Summer transfer target: Ake’s return to Chelsea and Simon Francis’ unpredictable nature mean Bournemouth are crying out for a new centre-back. — Will Kent


What was required? Extra midfield cover following a serious knee injury for Dean Marney, a new winger to add quality in the final third and a fourth striker to replace Patrick Bamford.

What happened? The return of Joey Barton got the month off to a flying start and they crucially kept hold of key defender Michael Keane despite Ronald Koeman going public with Everton’s interest. No striker arrived in the end, but a deadline day double deal for Ashley Westwood and Robbie Brady added quality to the squad. Brady’s arrival broke the club’s transfer record for the third time this season as he prepares to link up with old pal Jeff Hendrick. Bizarrely, Burnley were the top spenders in the Premier League on deadline day, while safety is surely now assured.

Summer transfer target: More quality in attack will be needed to stave off “second season syndrome,” with a powerful striker to partner top goalscorer Andre Gray surely at the top of the list. — Jamie Smith


What was required? With Roberto Pereyra out for the season, Watford needed a creative midfielder to take his place along with a goal threat to replace the misfiring (and now departed) Odion Ighalo.

What happened? Tom Cleverley arrived from Everton and has immediately given the previously laboured midfield some much needed purpose. Mauro Zarate was bought in to fill the vacant No. 10 role and after several failed attempts in England, he surely has a point to prove. M’Baye Niang was the most eye-catching capture, arriving on loan from AC Milan, and the Frenchman made a dramatic impact, starring on his debut as Watford stunned Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates. The early signs indicate that the Hornets have done some shrewd business this January.

Summer transfer target: With the jury out on Zarate, most would agree a consistent creative midfielder and a reliable centre-forward should remain top of the summer shopping list. After failing with a reported bid for Asmir Begovic, it would also come as no surprise if Watford entered the market for a new goalkeeper. — Mike Parkin


What was required? Leicester desperately needed a centre-back to compete with out of sorts captain Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. The Foxes could also have used an extra striker and even a right winger. Riyad Mahrez’s departure to the African Nations Cup proved City don’t have much cover in this area with inconsistent Demarai Gray failing to fill the Algerian’s shoes.

What happened? Virtually nothing. Leicester only managed to bring in promising defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi from Genk for around £15m and Mali international Molla Wague on loan. The Ghanaian’s transfer was a done deal long before the window opened, with Ndidi personally confirming it last December, while his African colleague was snapped up before the deadline.

Summer transfer target: It is difficult for Leicester to plan for the summer, since their targets over the past two windows have been of a different calibre due to the lure of Champions League football. As City plan for next season they can’t yet be sure if they are recruiting for the Premier League or Championship. Wantaway Middlesbrough playmaker Gaston Ramirez would be a welcome addition. Sassuolo centre-back Francesco Acerbi could also be a success in England. But it’s so tough to plan until safety is guaranteed. — Ben Jacobs

Robert Snodgrass slipped through Middlesbrough’s grasp and left Hull for West Ham instead.


What was required? It’s plainly obvious Boro’s key area for concern is their lack of goals, something that needs to be remedied quickly if Premier League survival is to be achieved. Solo frontman Alvaro Negredo has not had the rub of the green so boss Aitor Karanka needed to source at least one new striker in the January window.

What happened? Karanka surprised everyone by finally managing to lure back former loan star Bamford. Given his past refusal to play Jordan Rhodes over Negredo, it’ll be interesting to see if Bamford, or indeed other forward signing Rudy Gestede, get a chance to make their mark. Boro also missed the boat on other attacking targets, including Paris Saint-Germain’s Jese and Hull’s Snodgrass but did pick up Watford’s Adlene Guedioura.

Summer transfer target: Depending on the success of his new acquisitions, another new striker may need to be drafted in; so long as the current rumblings of Karanka’s discontent have settled by the end of the season. — Catherine Wilson


What was required? A centre-back to fill the Ashley Williams void, although Federico Fernandez’s rebirth under Paul Clement might provide an in-house solution. Depth was needed across every other position, except in goal.

What happened? Swansea beefed up with decent additions in a number of areas, including left-back Martin Olsson, midfielder Tom Carroll, winger Luciano Narsingh and forward Jordan Ayew — all for relatively little money.

Summer transfer target: Swansea’s midfield needs a summer reshape. If a couple of underwhelming squad players could make way for one relatively high-calibre defensive midfielder, the Swans’ goal difference might start showing a plus instead of a minus. — Max Hicks


What was required? Crystal Palace could arguably have signed players in every position going into January. The focus however was on Palace’s defence, the left flank and midfield, areas that were all reinforced.

What happened? Palace signed two left-footers with pace, attacking intent and defensive nous in Jeffrey Schlupp and Patrick van Aanholt. The signing of Luka Milivojevic, a mobile defensive midfielder with an eye for a pass, reinforces a position that was weakened during the summer. Meanwhile the late loan signing of Mamadou Sakho from Liverpool is a great reinforcement of a defensive unit that has started to find its feet again.

Summer transfer target: It all depends on where Palace find themselves at the end of the season. It’s crucial that squad’s central defence is reinforced with a permanent signing or two, and with the age of the midfield still an issue, a creative midfielder would also be required. — Rob Sutherland


What was required? Primarily goals, or at least a greater attacking edge. A new right-back was also imperative in a month that cried out for depth in a badly stretched squad. Holding on to the star men was also vital to survival aspirations.

What happened? Hull City were the busiest club in all of the Premier League, with seven new faces in and five out. Oumar Niasse, Evandro and Lazar Markovic all arrived with the promise of bringing a greater potency, while Omar Elabdellaoui became the much-needed addition at right-back. The sour note was losing the consistency of Jake Livermore to West Brom and Robert Snodgrass to West Ham, even if Andrea Ranocchia, Kamil Grosicki and Alfred N’Diaye all helped to plug several gaps on deadline day.

Summer transfer target: City are all about short-term thinking in 2017. Marco Silva and his coaching staff are only contracted until the end of the season and all planning for the summer will be put on hold until it becomes clear what division they’ll be in. — Phil Buckingham


What was required? Lacking quality and depth in all positions, there was a crying need to bolster a shaky defence, inject guile and muscle-power into midfield and relieve pressure on Jermain Defoe as the only regular goalscorer.

What happened? Joleon Lescott was signed on a Bosman and as supporters’ hearts sank, manager David Moyes bleated about having sorely limited funds at his disposal. Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson also left Everton to rejoin their former manager on Wearside.  A rare and very welcome profit was made as Patrick van Aanholt left for Crystal Palace. 

Summer transfer target: Sunderland will probably be planning how to make a quick return to the Premier League and should target a seasoned playmaker with proven Championship experience. — Colin Randall

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