Now that the wackiest January window in recent history has slammed shut, it’s time for reflection. Which moves made the biggest headlines? And which ones fell apart in the 11th hour? Here’s a look back at the best of Wednesday’s madness:
Aubameyang gets his wish
Arsenal‘s identity crisis coincided perfectly with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s own restlessness. Talk of a move away from Borussia Dortmund persisted for months, and as the season went on, Aubameyang’s relationship with club officials continued to deteriorate. Dropped for disciplinary reasons on two occasions over the past few months, the 28-year-old was again available for purchase in January.
The Gunners just happened to be looking for a player of Aubameyang’s calibre to re-energize a disenfranchised fan base. Their new head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, brought Aubameyang to Dortmund in 2013 as Robert Lewandowski‘s substitute, and in a similar vein, Mislintat has helped Arsenal move on from Alexis Sanchez.
It’s the perfect marriage of convenience.
Ozil spreads joy
The deal means Ozil will spend the remainder of his prime years at the Emirates, but more importantly, it signals a willingness on Arsenal’s part to pay top players what they’re worth. One of the Premier League’s greatest chance-creators will now pocket a pre-tax weekly wage of £350,000, according to BBC Sport’s David Ornstein, making Ozil one of the highest earners in the English top flight.
Batshuayi gets 2nd chance
Dortmund only sanctioned Aubameyang’s departure once it secured Michy Batshuayi on loan for the remainder of the season. Olivier Giroud initially seemed destined to join Peter Stoger’s side, but the Frenchman instead supplanted Batshuayi at Stamford Bridge.
The merry-go-round should satisfy all parties involved, with Arsenal in need of a big name, Dortmund in need of a replacement, and Chelsea on the lookout for a traditional No. 9.
Batshuayi, previously Marseille‘s primary poacher, now has several months to prove he can once again lead the line on his own. He never gained enough of Antonio Conte’s trust during his first year-and-a-half at Chelsea, often settling for spare minutes in domestic cup competitions. Such was Conte’s reluctance to start Batshuayi in the Premier League that the Italian used Eden Hazard as a false nine in lieu of the Belgian.
Giroud crosses London divide
Priorities changed in January when it became apparent that Arsene Wenger no longer regarded Giroud as an option up front. The 31-year-old made just a single Premier League start before the arrivals of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang. Signs indicated that he’d see even less time in the second half of the campaign.
Ultimately, he never had to leave London to find a solution. Giroud joined Chelsea for a reported £17.5-million fee – a relatively low amount for a player who’s scored 11 or more goals in each of the last five Premier League seasons.
City balks at Mahrez’s price tag
Upon learning of the Midland outfit’s £95-million asking price for Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City, as it did with Sanchez, decided to walk away from the negotiating table. Guardiola has long insisted that City won’t pay any price to land players – and Wednesday’s development only backed up that assertion.
Critics lambasted City for merely entertaining a deal for Mahrez, pointing out that Bernardo Silva and Brahim Diaz are more than capable stand-ins for the injured Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane. Apologists of Guardiola’s lot countered with the argument that Diaz, 18, is too inexperienced to play on all fronts.
It’s now left to Leicester manager Claude Puel to re-integrate Mahrez into a squad that’s reportedly upset with him.
Moura seeks refuge at Spurs
Paris Saint-Germain‘s bloodletting has begun.
It was a tough divorce for the Brazilian international, who arrived in Paris in 2013 as one of PSG’s first big-money purchases. Moura admitted he was left “gutted” by the decision to sell him on, while Neymar called the move “unfair.”
But a transfer is exactly what Moura needed – especially in a World Cup year. The tricky right-winger logged just 72 minutes in the first half of the Ligue 1 season, with Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria, and Kylian Mbappe all ahead of him.
Ayew returns to Swansea
The lowest-scoring side in the Premier League is about to get some help.
Andre Ayew re-signed with Swansea City on Wednesday, nearly 18 months after leaving the Welsh club for West Ham in a club-record deal. The Swans eclipsed their own record to bring Ayew back, and considering his brother Jordan is leading the team in scoring with a paltry five tallies, they’ll hope the reported £18 million is money well spent.
Mitrovic ends up at Fulham after confusion
At the start of the day, Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic was slated for a medical at Anderlecht. Midway through, the Belgian side reportedly killed the deal because it couldn’t raise the funds. Word then spread that Mitrovic was on his way to cash-strapped Bordeaux.
But just before Wednesday’s deadline passed, Mitrovic found a taker in Fulham. He had to hurry down to London to complete a medical, but there were apparently enough minutes in this busy day to rubber-stamp the season-long loan deal.
A penalty-box poacher who’s lost his way, Slimani will look to re-invigorate his slumping career at St. James’ Park. And the Magpies, just one point above the relegation zone, will need him to find his feet rather quickly.
Other transfers that didn’t happen
- Ibrahim Amadou to Crystal Palace
- Davy Klaassen to Napoli
- Leander Dendoncker to West Ham
- Jonny Evans to Arsenal
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
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