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For clubs in Europe’s ‘Big 5’ leagues, today is one of the busiest days of the year.
January’s transfer deadline day is the last chance to sign players before the summer. It is rarely calm, sometimes chaotic and always full of rumor.
The official figures are still to come but spending by clubs is set to surpass last January’s total by some distance. There will be more deals done today as clubs scramble to improve their respective squads for the rest of the season.
For now, though, here are the confirmed transfers you need to know about.
Adama Traoré, Wolves to FC Barcelona, loan with option to buy for €30 million ($33.5m)
Despite the club’s considerable debt problems, FC Barcelona has splashed the cash this January. First, Manchester City forward Ferran Torres arrived for an initial fee reported to be $62.6 million. Now, Wolves’ winger Adama Traoré has joined his former club on loan, with the Catalan giants holding an option to make the deal permanent in the summer.
One club unhappy about the deal is Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs had hoped to sign Traoré and turn him into a right wing-back. Traoré preferred a move to Spain. Barca’s focus now falls on getting some of its big earners off the wage bill. Ousmane Dembele looks set for a deadline day move, probably on an initial loan, and Philippe Coutinho has already left.
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Philippe Coutinho, FC Barcelona to Aston Villa, loan with option to buy for €40m ($44.6m)
Villa has shown ambition this January transfer window, bringing in four players. Lucas Digne at left-back looks a good signing and picking up Calum Chambers on a free transfer could be another smart deal. The most eye-catching transfer, however, is the arrival of Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard played with Coutinho at Liverpool and described the 29-year-old as a “special footballer”. A loan move makes sense for all sides. Barca reduces its wage bill (Villa will pay 65% of Coutinho’s salary for the rest of the season), Villa picks up a proven Premier League talent and the player has a chance to revive his career. He got off to a good start, scoring one and assisting the other in Villa’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United.
Luis Díaz, FC Porto to Liverpool, €45m ($50.2m) (could rise to €60m/$67m)
The Colombian attacker has become the second most-expensive January signing in Liverpool’s history. The 25-year-old has signed a five-year deal at the club. Few had predicted this signing but Liverpool was forced to act quickly after Spurs bid for Díaz, who has scored 14 goals in 18 league appearances for Porto this season.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was reportedly “furious” that Liverpool was able to get the deal done ahead of his club. While Spurs is set to make a couple of January additions, it remains to be seen if they convince manager Antonio Conte. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted to secure the signing of Díaz, particularly given Mohamed Salah’s future has not been resolved. “I have always been a believer in only signing players in January if you would want to sign them in the summer, and that’s very much the case with Luis,” Klopp said.
Dusan Vlahovic, Fiorentina to Juventus, €81.6m ($91.1m) (could rise to €91.6m/$102.3m)
The most expensive signing of the transfer window (so far) is Dusan Vlahovic’s move from Fiorentina to Serie A rivals Juventus. The 22-year-old Serbian striker had been heavily linked with a transfer to the Premier League but Juve has found the money to take him to Turin.
With 41 goals in 63 matches, Vlahovic is a proven goalscorer who Juventus hope can fire it back to the top of Serie A after a disappointing 12 months. Fiorentina would have wanted a higher fee for such an in-demand player but, with 18 months left on Vlahovic’s contract, the decision to sell now was the prudent one. Perhaps with an eye on Vlahovic’s likely departure, Fiorentina signed Lille’s Jonathan Ikoné at the start of the January window.
Bruno Guimarães, Lyon to Newcastle United, €40m ($44.7m) (could rise to €48.1m/$53.7m)
As expected, Newcastle has been one of the biggest spending teams in the January window. Now owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Newcastle is, in theory, the richest club in the world. Spending in excess of $105 million so far, the club has secured the signings of striker Chris Wood, from Burnley, and full-back Kieran Trippier, from Atletico Madrid. Centre back Dan Burn, of Brighton, is set to follow.
Both Wood and Trippier look solid signings but it is the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimarães that really makes a statement. The 24-year-old had admirers at bigger clubs but Newcastle has jumped ahead to secure his signature. It’s not easy to make an instant impact in the Premier League but the quality Guimarães possesses should help Newcastle avoid relegation this season.
Christian Eriksen, free agent to Brentford
There isn’t big money involved but Christian Eriksen’s return to soccer with Brentford is arguably the story of the transfer window. The Danish midfielder joins on a six-month deal with the option to extend. He has not played since having a cardiac arrest during a match at Euro 2020 last June.
After being fitted with an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) – a type of pacemaker – Eriksen and former club Inter Milan agreed his contract would be cancelled. Players in Italy’s Serie A cannot play with an ICD. “We have taken an unbelievable opportunity to bring a world-class player to Brentford,” Thomas Frank, Brentford’s head coach, said. Everyone in soccer should be pleased to see Eriksen return to the pitch.