Friday, February 3, 2023

Premier League Returns As Transfer Window Closes

The January transfer window closed on Tuesday as Premier League teams prepare to resume league play this weekend. Chelsea was by far the freest spending of the Premier League clubs as it frantically looked for ways to improve on its currently 10th place position in the table. The London club spent more than the combined total spent in January by the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A. The check writing peaked with Tuesday’s procurement of Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez for the highest fee in Premier League history, surpassing the record signing by Manchester City of Jack Grealish. Fernandez represents a massive gamble as the 22-year-old Argentine World Cup winner was in only his second season at Benfica and provides more potential than proven production. Chelsea earlier in the window splurged on another speculative investment for Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix. Chelsea acquired eight players in total, including promising Ukrainian midfielder Mykhailo Mudryk who was reportedly stolen from the grasp of Arsenal which had been closing in on the former Shakhtar Donetsk player. The Blues face Fulham Friday in a London derby.

Everton has a new manager but no new players as Sean Dyche takes the reins at Goodison Park Saturday when Everton hosts league leading Arsenal. Everton’s failure to acquire even one player despite its desperate position in the league table is just the latest example of ownership and director malpractice at the club. Arsenal, meanwhile, moved to bolster their title hopes with the acquisition of midfielder Jorginho from Chelsea.

Manchester United, relatively quiet during much of the window, moved quickly in the closing stages to address the void created by Christian Eriksen’s injury in last week’s Carabao Cup victory. The Red Devils signed Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich on Monday and will hope to have him cleared to play when they host Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Eagles frustrated their supporters and manager Patrick Vieira by spending little in January as there appears disagreement among a fractured ownership group over the appropriate level of player investment.

Brighton lost midfielder Leandro Trossard to Arsenal earlier in the window but were able to thwart efforts by the Gunners and other clubs to acquire the Eagles’ Moises Caicedo. The Ecuadoran went public with his desire to move on and only time will tell whether that will impact his attitude and performance going forward. The Seagulls are home to Bournemouth Saturday.

Liverpool is hoping to see some near-term return from the January acquisition of Cody Gakpo from PSV. Gakpo, despite his potential, is unlikely to change the script on the Reds disappointing season. Gakpo was the only incoming player for Jurgen Klopp’s squad which visits Wolverhampton on Saturday. Wolves signed six players to help new manager Julen Lopetegui avoid relegation in his first Premier League season. One of those signings, 21 year old Joao Gomes from Flamengo, has had his style of play compared with fellow Brazilian and current Manchester United player Casemiro.

West Ham tried to address its goalscoring problem by acquiring the oft injured Danny Ings from Aston Villa. Unfortunately, the striker went down with yet another injury in his first appearance for the Toffees last week. The Hammers continue what appears to be a cursed season when they travel to Newcastle Saturday. The Magpies are third in the table and this week advanced to the final of the Carabao Cup where the club will face Manchester United. The Magpies’ headline transfer addition was Anthony Gordon from Everton in a transaction many felt was overpriced for the 24-year-old who has not really lived up to billing for the Toffees.

Nottingham Forest raised eyebrows on deadline day by acquiring PSG and former Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas. The Costa Rican goalkeeper is clearly past his prime and had not started in the French league this season. A few critical saves however, could mean all the difference for a Forest club which is scrapping to survive in its first season back in the Premier League after a 23 year absence. Forest is home to Leeds on Sunday. Leeds landed United States international Weston McKinnie on loan from Juventus during the window and fought off a challenge by Leicester to retain winger Jack Harrison. Leicester ultimately had a quiet window and, along with Leeds, faces a relegation fight with or without Jack Harrison.

Leicester, Leeds and West Ham are all just a point above the relegation zone. The Foxes face Aston Villa Saturday. The Villans’ only notable dealing in the window was the sale of Ings to West Ham but Unai Emery’s 11th place club is in a far more comfortable position in the table, a full ten points ahead of Leicester.

Southampton, bottom of the Premier League table, reinforced their roster with six signings to help new manger Nathan Jones try to save the club form relegation. The Saints will try to begin their ascent Saturday at Brentford. The Bees added former Freiburg winger Kevin Schade to their senior squad but made more news with the loan signing for their “B” team of Romeo Beckham, son of Manchester United legend David Beckham.

Tottenham Hotspur completed a deadline day deal for Sporting Lisbon’s Pedro Porro. The former Manchester City property should slide right into the right back position in Spurs’ starting lineup. Spurs host Manchester City Sunday in a matchup of clubs currently fifth and second, respectively, in the Premier League table. The Citizens surprisingly loaned fullback Joao Cancelo to Bayern Munich on deadline day amid a reputed rift between the player and Manager Pep Guardiola. 

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