Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Premier League Transfer Window Edition: Aubameyang Leaves Arsenal For Barcelona; Second Chances at Everton; Newcastle Girds for Survival Challenge; Spurs Revamp Midfield; Liverpool Adds to Attack; Wout About Burnley ?; Christian Eriksen Returns

The standoff between Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is over. The Gabonese striker has joined Barcelona on a free transfer. Arsenal receives no transfer fee but is excited to be done with the messy situation and to be saving more than £25 million in wages over the balance of Aubameyang’s contract. Aubameyang for his part will take a reduction in wages to ply his trade in sunny Spain. The messy end to Aubameyang’s Arsenal career is the latest in a string of Arsenal contract disasters in recent years, following on similar bitter endings to the London careers of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Arsenal failed in their attempts to add a different striker this window, leaving just Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to lead the line. The Gunners, who didn’t have enough players to field a team versus Spurs weeks ago, have ushered out six players while adding no reinforcements for their current top four chase.

Reeling Everton made the headlines with some familiar names. Frank Lampard was named manager at Everton just in time to preside over a busy last day of the transfer window. The former Chelsea playing legend and short tenured manager gets a chance to helm a Premier League club for a second time and immediately added two other individuals seeking a second chance. Donny van de Beek, earlier rumored to be heading for Crystal Palace, is staying in the northwest as he joins Everton on loan. The former Ajax star will try to revive a career which stagnated on the bench at Manchester United. Dele Alli will join van de Beek in the Everton midfield picture after a prolonged period of decline at Tottenham Hotspur. Ali is still only 25 years old and if he can recapture the magic of his early years at Spurs, Everton will have struck gold. A third player added on the final day to the Everton roster squad is Anwar El Ghazi, on loan from Aston Villa. The Dutch winger’s goal scoring could be a factor in Lampard’s battle to keep the Toffees safe this season.

Tottenham Hotspur not only sold Dele Alli but further validated Antonio Conte’s poor assessment of his inherited squad by shipping out three other big money players on loan. Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, and Bryan Gil will all be playing elsewhere for the balance of this season, and thereafter if Spurs can find willing buyers. The London club brought in Rodrigo Betancur and Dejan Kulusevski (on loan) from Juventus to replenish their depleted midfield.

Newcastle ownership flexed its financial muscle to help keep the Magpies from relegation. Having added striker Chris Wood and defender Kieran Trippier earlier in the window, the club added three more key players in the window’s final 48 hours. Defenders Dan Burn and Matt Targett (on loan) joined from Brighton and Aston Villa, respectively. Most intriguing was the purchase of box-to-box midfielder Bruno Guimares from Lyon. The 24-year-old Brazilian international should help to protect the Magpies’ still fragile back line while adding excitement with his forays forward. Burn and Targett further reinforce a suspect Newcastle defense for the coming relegation battle.

Fellow relegation combatant Watford have added five largely anonymous players during the window to strengthen the squad of new manager Roy Hodgson. Burnley, having lost Chris Wood earlier in the window, secured a replacement striker on the window’s final day with the acquisition of 6’ 6” Wout Weghorst from Wolfsburg. Norwich, meanwhile, made no additions as the Canaries will rely on a roster that showed a bit of life with two wins before the break.

The top of the table clubs were selective in their dealings if making any moves of note. Liverpool opportunistically swooped in to grab Porto winger Luis Diaz after Tottenham Hotspur were thought to be closing in on the Columbian international. Diaz has 14 goals this season for Porto and adds another option up front for the loaded Reds.

Manchester City also signed a south American attacker in Argentine striker Julian Alvarez. The 22-year-old Argentina international will complete the season at River Plate and represents a speculative bet by the Citizens. City sold forward Ferran Torres earlier in the window to Barcelona.

Chelsea, West Ham, and Manchester United did nothing to improve their clubs in the current window. Manchester United trimmed a bloated roster by loaning out Anthony Marital, van de Beek and Ahmad Diallo. Jesse Lingard, object of several teams’ interest, remains a Red Devil for now. Chelsea had no blatant needs this window. West Ham, though, may rue taking no action to seize a rare top four opportunity.

While not a top four or even yet a top six contender, Aston Villa showed ambition this window in backing new manager Steven Gerrard. Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne have both experienced past success in the league and the final day acquisition of Callum Chambers gives Gerrard additional roster flexibility. The Villans also added goalkeeper Robin Olsen to support starter Emi Martinez.

Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton experienced quiet windows while taking opportunity to make permanent the status of currently rostered loan players. Wolves inked South Korean forward Hwang Hee-Chan while the Eagles firmed up their association with young French striker Jean Philippe Mateta. Adama Traore left Wolves for Barcelona but had been having negligible impact for manager Bruno Lage. Palace were close to making a splash for Donny Van de Beek before being spurned by the Dutchman in favor of Everton.

Other mid table clubs Brighton, Leicester, Leeds, and Southampton made no major additions this window. Brentford, however, delivered one of the best stories of the window by signing Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen. Ericksen returns to the Premier League after suffering a cardiac event during this past summer’s European championship. The former Spurs and Juventus midfielder will try to come back from the life and career threatening event by helping the Bees stay safe in England’s top division. 


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