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January transfer window: Firstpost writers deliver their verdict on how top-six Premier League clubs fared

A frantic January transfer window saw the Premier League clubs spend a record £430 million ($611 million, 492 million euros) -- nearly double the previous record of £225 million. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's arrival headlines major changes at Arsenal, Manchester United beat local rivals Manchester City to the signing of Alexis Sanchez and Virgil van Dijk and Aymeric Laporte became the two most expensive defenders in history after joining Liverpool and City.

Firstpost writers analyse the transfer business of each of the top-six clubs and grade their transactions. Take a look at the final verdict.

Manchester City

Players in: Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao), £57m, Jack Harrison (New York City), undisclosed

Players out: Eliaquim Mangala (Everton) loan; Marlos Moreno (Flamengo) loan; Shay Facey (Northampton), undisclosed; Chidi Nwakali (Aberdeen), loan; Isaac Buckley (Oxford United), loan; Ashley Smith-Brown (Oxford United), loan; Kean Bryan (Oldham Athletic), loan; Jack Harrison (Middlesbrough), loan; Jacob Davenport (Burton Albion), loan

Net spend: £61.2 million

Manchester City signed 23-year-old French centre-half Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ManCity

Manchester City signed 23-year-old French centre-half Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ManCity

Manchester City have had it all going their way this season with Pep Guardiola's men establishing a 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League table after 25 games. The January transfer window, though, may be the only disappointment in their campaign so far, which has the potential to become the greatest in the club's history.

City have been peerless in the transfer market and acquired almost every target in the summer. However, in January they ended up second best to Liverpool and neighbours Manchester United in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk and Alexis Sanchez respectively. The league leaders decided against matching the transfer fees for the Van Djik and Sanchez, allowing Liverpool and United to pounce.

However, failure to land their targets is hardly a disaster for City as their squad already looks pretty well-rounded to mount a serious challenge in the Champions League and complete the job domestically. The addition of defender Aymeric Laporte adds depth to the only area of concern for City — central defence.

With Vincent Kompany struggling to overcome injuries, Laporte could be a long-term replacement for City's club captain.

So considering City's position of strength in the league, the acquisition of Laporte looks a good one. Even though the Frenchman may not have a very big role to play this season, his age of 23 means he will have a lot to offer to the club in years to come.

Rating: 7 Sergio Aguero goals out of 10

- Kaushal Shukla

Manchester United

Players in: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), swap; Matej Kovar (FC Slovacko), undisclosed

Players out: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal), swap; James Wilson loan (Sheffield United); Demi Mitchell loan (Hearts); Axel Tuanzebe (Aston Villa), loan; Matty Willock (St Johnstone), loan; Charlie Scott (Hamilton Academical), loan

Net spend: £0

Manchester United signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan head to the Emirates. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ManUtd

Manchester United signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan head to the Emirates. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ManUtd

Manchester United had a quiet Deadline Day, but overall, the club will be quite happy with their January transfer window deals. Jose Mourinho pulled off a coup of sorts, by signing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal. This was one of the most stunning deals of the month, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan leaving the club in a swap deal that cost nothing.

The 29-year-old Chilean forward will strengthen the club’s attacking options. In a season where United have been forced to play second fiddle to their noisy, more attacking neighbours, this move is a rare victory for Mourinho over Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City were interested in Sanchez over the summer but a deal never materialised. They continued to chase him over the winter transfer window, only for Mourinho to swoop in and for Guardiola to back off.

Sanchez has been playing in the Premier League since 2014 and won't require massive tactical adjustments to fit into the United team. His aggressive goal-scoring abilities are exactly what the Manchester club need at the moment to strike a genuine challenge in the Champions League and to secure their second spot in the Premier League. They are also fighting in the FA Cup, and Sanchez will add to their squad depth.

Apart from Paul Pogba and David de Gea, United lacked world-class players in their ranks. Sanchez’s transfer proves that United are still a lucrative option for heavyweights in world football. Add to it the fact that no money was exchanged for the deal and that United got rid of Mkhitaryan, and it’s a win-win for Manchester United.

United also confirmed the signing of teenage goalkeeper Matej Kovar from FC Slovacko. The 17-year-old Czech player has signed a professional contract with the club and will soon join their academy.

The club also allowed five players to go out on loan, including defender Axel Tuanzebe to Aston Villa for the rest of the season.

Rating: 8 million Paul Pogba hairstyles out of 10 million

- Nikhila Makker

Liverpool

Players in: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton), £75m; Tony Gallacher (Falkirk), £200,000

Players out: Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), £106m; Daniel Sturridge (West Bromwich Albion), loan; Cameron Brannagan (Oxford United), undisclosed; Ovie Ejaria (Sunderland), loan; Lazar Markovic (Anderlecht), loan; Harry Wilson (Hull City), loan; Jon Flanagan (Bolton Wanderers), loan; Corey Whelan (Yeovil), loan; Matty Virtue (Notts County), loan; Ryan Kent (Bristol City), loan; Marko Grujic (Cardiff City), loan; Lloyd Jones (Luton Town), undisclosed

Net spend: £31 million profit

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Virgil van Dijk. Reuters

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Virgil van Dijk. Reuters

For all the flak Jurgen Klopp received for not signing a centre-back in the summer, Liverpool started the January transfer window with a bang. Virgil van Dijk became the costliest defender when he signed for Liverpool for £75m from Southampton. Although Van Dijk’s transfer fees came under a lot of criticism, from the club's point of view the amount looks justified. Van Dijk is a quality defender, and in the current market, class players do not come cheap. Especially if they have a proven record in the Premier League.

It’s a different matter that since Van Dijk has featured in Klopp’s team, he has scored one goal but is yet to feature in a clean sheet.

With regard to Philippe Coutinho, there was not much the club could do when the player was so adamant to leave. Barcelona were paying good money to acquire Coutinho’s services. So Liverpool, after trying their best to keep the player, finally agreed to let him go.

So far, the team has not really missed Coutinho, which is why there hasn't been much backlash about his replacement. It’s pretty clear that Klopp is not one to indulge in panic buys just to please fans. He knows his players well and he trusts his club to finish in the top-four despite selling Coutinho.

Also, Daniel Sturridge’s loan deal to West Brom was not all about successful business but it was good to see the club releasing the player to enjoy some game time. However, Sturridge might not come back to the club in the summer.

Rating: 712 Jurgen Klopp expressions out of 1,000

- Anish Anand

Chelsea

Players in: Ross Barkley (Everton), £15m; Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), £18m; Emerson Palmieri (Roma), £17m

Players out: Charly Musonda Jr (Celtic), 18-month loan; Baba Rahman (Schalke), 18-month loan; Ike Ugbo (MK Dons), loan; Nathan Belenenses, loan; Kenedy Newcastle, loan; Miro Muheim (St Gallen), undisclosed; Kasey Palmer (Derby), loan; Todd Kane (Oxford), loan; Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund), loan; Jake Clarke-Salter (Sunderland), loan; Josimar Quintero (Real Betis), loan

Net spend: £50 million

Olivier Giroud, 31, joined Chelsea in an £18m deal on the closing day of the winter transfer window. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Chelsea

Olivier Giroud, 31, joined Chelsea in an £18m deal on the closing day of the winter transfer window. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Chelsea

Chelsea's free-spending days are strictly in the past. If anyone had doubts about it, the recently-concluded January transfer window would have surely erased them. Starting the window with a wish list of Virgil van Dijk, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Sandro, Chelsea ended it by acquiring Ross Barkley, Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmieri. That, after, flirting with the likes of Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch and Ashley Barnes.

Acquiring the trio for £50 million is great piece of business in the current market dynamics, but those players would struggle to get into Chelsea's starting XI and hence won't greatly improve their team. With a tie against Barcelona in the offing, the Chelsea board needed to bring in players that would get into the XI straight away and give the Blues a realistic chance of overturning the La Liga leaders.

But Chelsea's reluctance to meet the demands both in terms of transfer fees and wages has left them slightly behind their rivals. The decision to not meet Edin Dzeko's wage demands could come back to bite the Blues as the Bosnian would have been the perfect man to provide competition for the under-fire Alvaro Morata. For all his fine scoring record, Giroud may struggle to do so with the Frenchman lacking minutes under his belt in recent times.

Chelsea's may have added depth to their squad in terms of numbers, but in terms of quality, the January transfer window was a missed opportunity for Chelsea to close the gap on Manchester City, especially with the likes of Sanchez, Riyad Mahrez available.

Rating: Cinq Eden Hazard bold statements out of dix

- Kaushal Shukla

Tottenham Hotspur

Players in: Lucas Moura (Paris St-Germain), £25m

Players out: Georges-Kévin N’Koudou (Burnley), loan; Marcus Edwards (Norwich), loan; Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town), loan; Ryan Loft (Exeter City), loan; Shayon Harrison (Southend United), loan

Net spend: £25 million

Tottenham signed the Paris Saint-Germain winger Lucas Moura for £25m on a five-and-a-half- year deal. Image ocurtesy: Twitter/@SpursOfficial

Tottenham signed the Paris Saint-Germain winger Lucas Moura for £25m on a five-and-a-half- year deal. Image ocurtesy: Twitter/@SpursOfficial

The biggest challenge for Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur has been building a world-class squad on a limited budget. The January transfer window was no different for the Spurs as they tightened their purse strings while other clubs in the 'Big Six' bracket splashed cash.

But Pochettino knew that the team needed a spark as they battle to finish in the top-four of the league and sail over unchartered waters in the Champions League Round of 16. The astute signing of winger Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain for £25 million could turn out to be the move that catalyses the rest of their season.

The Spurs unit is quite well-balanced and has the capability to produce slick football. However, despite all their firepower, they have struggled to strike consistency over the past few months and have dropped down to fifth in the table.

Moura is a natural winger that brings pace and creativity to the Tottenham team. He is great at set pieces as well, and provides a much-needed attacking option. The 25-year-old Brazilian had failed to start a game for PSG this season due to the big-name signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe but Moura has shown in the past that he can produce exceptional football.

His dribbling skills as well as his versatility to play centrally or out wide make him a fantastic budget signing for the Spurs. Perhaps the biggest win for the London club in this transfer window was that they have managed to not lose any of their other high-profile players.

Rating: 73 Harry Kane right feet out of 100

- Nikhila Makker

Arsenal

Players in: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund), £56m; Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United), swap; Konstantinos Mavropanos (PAS Giannina), £1.9m

Players out: Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United), swap; Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), £18m; Theo Walcott (Everton), £20m; Francis Coquelin (Valencia), £12m; Mathieu Debuchy (St-Etienne), free; Marcus McGuane (Barcelona), compensation; Chuba Akpom (Saint-Truiden), loan; Krystian Bielik (Walsall), loan; Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Angers), loan

Net spend: £7.9 million

Arsenal broke their transfer record for the second window in succession with the £56m signing of the striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Arsenal

Arsenal broke their transfer record for the second window in succession with the £56m signing of the striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Arsenal

To look at Arsenal’s performance in the January transfer window purely in terms of business would be futile. It’s a statement of intent from the club that they are willing to adapt to the changing dynamics in the Premier League. It appears as if Arsenal have pressed the reset button to turn around things. Maybe it’s the management, who thought it’s high time to take control of the club from Arsene Wenger, or maybe it’s the manager himself who’s fearing a dismissal.

They let go an unhappy Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United in a straight swap deal and welcomed the talented Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Then when Chelsea were interested in signing Olivier Giroud, Arsenal wasted no time in bringing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. On paper, the two transfer deals look perfect. Both players have come into North London with some reputation and with things heating up for the top-four spots, Arsenal now need results to go their way considering that they have the right players at their disposal.

Also impressive was the job they did in selling players. Once they got good offers for Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin, Arsenal made sure they offloaded them.

But it could’ve been a dream transfer window had Arsenal signed a new defender. There aren't many good defenders in the market but Arsenal’s defence is a surely a problematic area. A solid centre-back would’ve been an excellent addition to the team.

Rating: 0.85 Arsene Wengers out of 1

- Anish Anand


Published Date: Feb 02, 2018 18:21 PM | Updated Date: Feb 02, 2018 18:25 PM

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