The coronavirus pandemic has left the world in a pretty terrible shape economically, with sports and football especially suffering a severe impact from the situation. Usually, a busy time for transfers in European football, January offers teams and managers the opportunity to bring in players that will help them finish in their desired league positions. But this January has seen a 50% drop in player transfers as clubs try to stay afloat amid the pandemic. Despite the situation however, over 100 deals were struck in Europe top five leagues this January with most of them being player-exchanges and loan deals, and a lot of managers were able to secure some top players in the window. With some of these players settled down and already making an impact good or bad, we access the top 20 transfers in Europe top five leagues this January.
Jesse Lingard—West Ham United
Jesse Lingard’s Manchester United career may have floundered in recent seasons, but the 24-capped England International remains a highly rated player for Manchester United who could only sanction a loan move for the player. West Ham appears to be the perfect move for him to recover his drive and enjoy his football under his former manager, as well as help The Hammers push for a European spot. He scored twice in his debut, reminding us all that he still had the goals in him.
Just a few days ago, Kabak was in a relegation battle with Schalke 04, but by the end of the January transfer window, he had emerged as the solution to Liverpool’s defensive crises. The Turk isn’t just in this Liverpool side because of their injury crises, as he is highly thought of around Anfield. The tough-tackling defender possesses a tenacity and talent that is undoubted, and at 20 years still has plenty of room for improvement.
Martin Ødegaard has had it tough on his return to Real Madrid’s first-team setup after an impressive loan spell in Real Sociedad, where he scored seven goals in 36 appearances. The Norwegian is now looking to recover his spark and confidence under the tutelage of Mikel Arteta in the Premier League. At just 22 years, the attacking-midfielder has gathered so much experience that he can be considered a senior player. Certainly, one to watch for Arsenal in the coming days.
Saïd Benrahma—Westham United
Another West Ham player to look out for this season and beyond is Algerian winger Saïd Benrahma. The 25-years-old was signed from Brentford after an impressive 2019/20 seasons where he scored 17 goals and laid on a further 9 in 46 Championship appearances. At £20m, the winger does not come cheap considering the present financial circumstances of clubs. However, he comes in with a lot of promise and is tipped to light up the Premier League with his trickery and eye for the goal. The Algerian had more shots on target, attempted the most dribbles, and also completed the most final-third passes in the Championship last season.
Amad Diallo—Manchester United
Manchester United paid £37.2m Atalanta for the services of an 18-year-old Amad Diallo—the most any side paid for a player in this January transfer window. Although the deal to bring in the Ivorian was struck in the previous window, the transfer was completed this January with the player joining the Red Devils under-23 side. The teenager has impressed his employees in his two appearances for the U23s since his transfer, scoring three goals and assisting three more. That form has seen growing calls for him to be fast-tracked into the first-team set-up. He has since been included in the first-team squad for his side’s first-leg Europa League clash against AC Milan where he scored his first senior goal.
Alejandro Dario Gomez—Sevilla
The fact that Sevilla paid €6.25m to bring 32-year-old Argentine international Papu Gomez to Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán speaks volumes of the player that Gomez is. Despite being in his later years and slowing down a bit in recent seasons, Gomez still remains a force to be reckoned with in midfield and is certainly among the top transfers of La Liga this January. Since the 2014/2015 season, no player had more assists than the 58 he managed in the Serie A.
Moussa Dembele—Atletico Madrid
Not everyone was convinced that Atletico Madrid were serious about Moussa Dembele until a picture emerged of him wearing the Atletico jersey. The French striker has been one of Europe’s most sought players in recent seasons, and his transfer to Atletico Madrid has certainly sent signals to the rest of the league that Diego Simeone’s side mean business this season. Signed on-loan primarily as a cover for Luis Suarez and a replacement for the now-departed Diego Costa, the 24-year-old offers goals and a presence up front that will certainly make him a success at Atletico Madrid.
Carlos Fernández — Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad’s title quest may have floundered with time, but their taste for good players remains. The Royals spent the most in this transfer window for any Spanish club by bringing in former Sevilla striker Fernández for €9.1 million. The 24-year-old is highly rated in Spain despite his recent struggles at Atletico. He showed his quality two seasons back when he scored 10 goals in 34 games on-loan at Grenada. The promise still remains for the player and he joins Alguacil Imanol’s side, looking to form a part of a devastating attack alongside Isak Alexander and Muguruza Ander.
Exciting Barcelona midfielder Carlos Alena was snapped up by Getafe in the winter transfer window after the Spanish midfielder discontent on the bench for Barcelona. The 23-year-old was reduced to a bit-part role in the squad after returning from a loan spell at Real Betis in the summer. He will now hope to rediscover his 2018/2019 La Liga form that saw him make 27 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona on their way to their 26th league title in the capital. He remains highly thought of in Catalunya and should return to the first-team setup if the loan goes as planned.
Unai Emery snapped up Etienne Capoue this January from English Championship side Watford for €2.2 million, a deal considered a steal for a player of his quality. The tough-tackling French midfielder has been the fulcrum of Watford’s midfield in past seasons but was sold to the Yellow Submarines for the financial gains involved. At 33 years, he doesn’t possess the legs and tenacity that he did four seasons ago that when he made 37 appearances while scoring seven times from a defensive midfield position. However, his experience and leadership will be crucial for Villareal as they seek to finish the season in the top six.
Dominik Szoboszlai—RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig snapped up the highly rated Hungarian from sister-club Salzburg before the transfer window even opened, beating off competition from many top clubs in Europe to land the Wunderkind. The 20-year-old midfielder joins Julian Nagelsmann’s young team, who are looking to fight Bayern for this season’s title. He is yet to light up the Bundesliga due to a niggling groin injury, but is highly rated and is set to add extra power to Leipzig’s already impressive attack.
Luka Jovic—Eintracht Frankfurt
Real Madrid snapped up Jovic two summers ago after the Serbian sent Bundesliga records tumbling in the 2018/2019 season when he scored 17 goals for Frankfurt in 25 Bundesliga matches—including 10 goals in Frankfurt’s run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League. But after an indifferent season in Spain, Jovic is back on-loan to Frankfurt to add some much-needed fire-power to Adi Hutter’s side. The 23-year-old has already shown that he still has the touch and finish with three goals in just five league matches since his return, after scoring just two goals in 32 games for Real Madrid.
Sami Khedira—Hertha Berlin
Khedira returns to the Bundesliga after years of top-level football in Real Madrid and Juventus. The former Stuttgart man joins Bruno Labbadia’s struggling side and is expected to bring in some experience and steel to a midfield that has often been run over in the league this season. At 33, his best years are behind him, but the World Cup winner will certainly bring in much-needed leadership and winning mentality to Hertha Berlin, who are currently in a relegation fight.
Demarai Gray—Bayer Leverkusen
Demarai Gray became the latest English talent to switch from the English league to Germany, joining the likes of Jodan Sancho and Jude Billingham in switching shores. Signed from Leicester City for an undisclosed fee, the 24-year-old winger is expected to join a fearsome attack that includes Leon Bailey, Moussa, Lucas Alario and Patrik Schick. With Leverkusen fighting for a top-four finish, Bosz Peter will hope the Premier League winner will be able to live up to his obvious potential. He already has scored one goal since arriving, opening his Leverkusen account on his debut against VfB Stuttgart.
There seems to be something about American teenagers and the Bundesliga. The German league seems to be the destination of the best of America, and this time another American teen is looking to make his mark in the league—this time with Hoffenheim. On-loan from Bayern Munich after signing from the MLS in 2018, Richards has joined Sebastian Hoeneß’s side to continue his development. However, he has also been snapped up to aid his side’s quest for a higher league finish. The American has already made one start since his transfer, slotting in a back-three despite being predominantly a right-back. He is certainly one to watch out for.
Parma new boy, Dennis Man is arguably the biggest steal of the January transfer window, after signing from Romanian side, FC Steaua București in a deal reportedly worth €13 million (plus €2 million in add-ons), making him the most expensive sale of the Romanian Championship. The 22-year-old is full of potential and is highly rated in the Romanian league after being named in the Liga 1 team of the year at just 19 years. The current Romanian Footballer of the Year holder comes into Parma with a lot to offer and will certainly be a crucial player for Roberto D’Aversa’s side this season.
Mario Mandzukic—AC Milan
Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic emerged as a surprise target for AC Milan when the window opened, with many considering the deal unlikely as the former Juventus striker had just left the Serie A for Qatar last summer. But after spending one season in Al-Duhail, Mandzukic is back in Italy for some unfinished business. At 34, the Croatian goal-machine is certainly in his closing stages. However, his quality and hunger has certainly not diminished with time. He remains just one of only five players to score in both a European and world cup final. Stefano Pioli can count on the Croatian to deliver when called upon, as they close in on their first Scudetto since 2013.
Stephan El Shaaraway—Roma
Another player returning to Serie A in the last transfer window, El Shaaraway returned to Roma for free after spending two seasons in China with Shanghai Shenhua. The deal is considered a win-win for both parties, as he can rediscover his best form while helping Roma in their quest for a top-three finish in the league this season. The Italian winger remains a valuable player, and at 28 years, he still has a lot of years in his legs.
Antonio Sanabria’s Torino campaign is yet to kick-start, as he currently nurses an injury after signing from Real Betis for €10.2 million. Despite the early setback, Sanabria remains a player highly thought of in Italy after a two-year stint in Genoa. The Paraguayan striker—a La Masia graduate—returns to Italy after one year away to help Davide Nicola’s side in their push to avoid relegation this season.
After doing just enough to beat the drop in the final weeks of last season, Genoa moved with poise in this January window, bringing in highly rated Cameroon defender Jerome Onguene on loan from Red Bull Salzburg. The defender made over 90 appearances for the Austrian side, scoring 11 goals and providing four assists. He has already featured two times since his transfer to Italy. At 23, he still has a lot to learn but will offer a lot in the coming days as Genoa seeks to finish in mid-table this season.
Perhaps the best January signing in the French Ligue 1 this winter; Arkadiusz Milik. The Polish attacker was snapped up by Marseille, on loan from Napoli to help their push for Europe after a poor start to the season. The Polish international still possesses the killer instinct that made him a staple in Napoli’s side as recently as two seasons ago. Since the start of the 2018-19 season, only two foreign players have scored more Serie A goals than the Pole. Still only 26, he certainly is a steal for the French side.
There was a time the name Jean-Clair Todibo was on the lips of all the top clubs in Europe. The defender was gaining rave reviews in Toulouse, leading to Barcelona winning his signature ahead of several other top European clubs. However, things have not gone as planned for the French defender who sees himself in his third loan spell since signing for Barca in January 2019. Now back in his native France with Nice, the jury is once again out on Todibo, with many people tipping him to replicate the form that made Barcelona hand him the number six shirt vacated by Xavi Hernández upon his arrival.
Perhaps not the kind of transfer news that would get people off their seats in amazement and wonder. But Franco Tongya’s transfer from Juventus to Marseille in an €8M deal that saw Marley Ake head the other way represents an under-the-radar transfer that will yield dividends in the nearest future. The highly rated Italian winger had been in Juventus since he was seven and captained Juventus’ under-15 side in the 201-2017 season as they won the youth league title. The Old lady might have let him go, but in Tongya, Les Olympiens have got themselves a player that will be tearing the league apart in few seasons.
William Saliba—OGC Nice
Arsenal snapped up Saliba in the summer of 2019, beating off competition from the likes of Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham, to land the boyhood Arsenal fan. The French defender was tipped to be the next big thing at the Emirates but was not included in the Gunners Europa League squad for the season, despite Mikel Arteta openly stating his admiration for the player. Now on loan in Nice, the defender is looking to rebuild his reputation and help Les Aiglons in their quest for a top-half finish. If he can push off-field issues aside, he will certainly become a hit in France.