January transfer window winners, losers: Newcastle, Barcelona, Juventus, Arsenal, Aston Villa among headliners

The transfer deadline has come and gone as several teams around Europe were busy with incomings and outcomings in an effort to stay competitive and possible win trophies in latter half of the season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers from each of the five big European league and the United States.


Winner: Newcastle

It certainly might have been better, there is still a rather glaring hole at center back that Dan Burn will not fill anywhere near as effectively as Sven Botman or Diego Carlos might have. But Newcastle came into the transfer window with one desperate aim, to stay in the Premier League. Results have rather helped them and they should continue to pick up with a squad that has proven Premier League performers — Chris Wood, Kieran Trippier, Matthew Targett — in key positions. In the long term, some of these players may be expensive fringe options that are hard to move on, but when you have the greatest riches, it may not matter.

Meanwhile, Bruno Guimaraes’ signing feels rather like the deals Manchester City were doing in the summer of 2010, signing players such as Yaya Toure around whom they could grow. The former Lyon player can anchor Newcastle’s midfield for years come; crucially his fellow new arrivals should ensure that time is spent in the Premier League. — James Benge

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Loser: Arsenal

Almost nothing has gone to plan in north London this month and Tottenham might well have pipped Arsenal to the post here after a window in which they saw deals collapse for Adama Traore, Luis Diaz and even non-league footballer Ollie Tanner. Still, they did strengthen in the top-four fight unlike rival Arsenal, where Mikel Arteta is left with a paper-thin squad for the Premier League run-in. Five members of the first team squad left, two permanently, without a penny being brought in.

Those players were on the fringes of the first XI, but their absence has already been felt, Ainsley Maitland-Niles loaned to Roma at precisely the moment Arteta needed midfielders. Plans to bring forward this summer’s business never really materialized; instead of signing a new striker, they lost Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang without replacing him. Getting $400,000 a week off the wage bill is no disaster, but one cannot shake the sense that Arsenal have cut costs at a time when strengthening their squad might have given them access to the riches of the Champions League. — James Benge

Wait-to-see: Aston Villa

It all looks very exciting from afar, doesn’t it? The statement signing from La Liga, snaring a key player from a Premier League rival and picking up squad options from the bargain basement. But equally, it all seems a bit Everton-ish, doesn’t it, especially when you add in some curious summer additions such as Danny Ings.

Ultimately, it seems like Villa’s very wealthy owners have invested a lot of capital to build a squad for whom the best-case scenario is scrabbling into a lower tier European competition. Equally, it’s eminently plausible that Philippe Coutinho cannot rediscover his form, Lucas Digne continues to struggle with injuries and continues with the decline he seemed to be on in his final season at Everton while Calum Chambers proves to be nothing more than squad filler. None of those players have come cheap, two are signed to major long-term contracts.

Villa seemed to have a clear vision for building their squad when they came up, putting together something akin to the Championship All Stars. The ceiling perhaps was not as high as it would be if Coutinho, Digne and company really pop but it is hard to shake the sense that this team may have committed an awful lot of money to not be all that much better. — James Benge


Winner: Barcelona

There is no doubt that this team really needed to bolster their squad if they are going to have any chance of finishing in the top four, and they may just do it. While winning the Europa League may be a stretch, Xavi greatly boosted his squad after signing Ferran Torres. First they brought in Wolves right winger and former Barca man Adam Traore on a loan, and then they signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer to bolster the No. 9 position. Both Adama and Aubameyang have a lot to prove after rough starts to the season, but these are shrewd moves on paper that could pay off in a big way for a team in desperate need of impact players. — Roger Gonzalez

Loser: Real Betis

They want to stay in the top four yet made no moves ahead of the second half of the season. Pretty much every team around them in the table made moves, yet they stayed put, which was quite curious. They’ve had a fine first half but have shown an inconsistency that makes you wonder if they are truly top-four material, but Manuel Pellegrini believes in what he has in this squad. Personally, adding a little bit of depth at center back would have been nice to see. — Roger Gonzalez

Wait-to-see: Valencia

They may have lost Daniel Wass to Atletico Madrid, but Valencia are intriguing because they now have a physical identity under coach Jose Bordalas. While they need to improve defensively as they’ve been riddled with injuries, landing Basel center back Eray Comert is a low-risk move that may just pay off due to his versatility. They also added Bryan Gil on loan from Tottenham and Ilaix Moriba from RB Leipzig, and those are guys with serious quality that may see the field soon. Valencia feel like they are on the fringe of competing for a Europa League spot, and if these guys can help them get there, then it will be mission completed for Year 1 under Bordalas. — Roger Gonzalez


Winner: Juventus

Juventus were undoubtedly the most active Serie A team this January with two important and unexpected signings: Dusan Vlahović from Fiorentina and Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach. Although those two additions may not have been expected in the January window, these moves will now raise the level of expectations of this squad despite the outgoings of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur to Tottenham. Now we need to understand if these moves will be crucial for the Champions League race. Surely now the pressure is on coach Massimiliano Allegri who will have no choice but to get his squad into a top-four Serie A spot in order to clinch a berth into next season’s Champions League. — Francesco Porzio

Loser: AC Milan

The Rossoneri were expected to buy a center back in January, and among the big clubs, they were actually in real need of an addition after the injury of Simon Kjaer. At the end, club director Paolo Maldini tried to go find a replacement for the Danish captain but failed to reach an agreement for Lille’s Sven Botman who will remain the main target for the summer. — Francesco Porzio

Wait-to-see: Genoa and Salernitana

Genoa and Salernitana were the two most active clubs based on the number of signings made in January. Both sides needed a a 180-degree turn after an extremely disappointing first half of the season. Genoa signed Amiri from Bayer Leverkusen and Roberto Piccoli from Atalanta while Salernitana signed former Torino midfielder Simone Verdi and Federico Fazio from AS Roma. Those are two important additions that can create somewhat a glimmer of hope among their supporters in their bid to avoid an expected relegation. — Francesco Porzio


Winner: Augsburg 

Ricardo Pepi was definitely the most interesting signing in Bundesliga this winter. Augsburg completed the deal for around €16 million to have one of the best talents in American soccer in Germany. It’s a move to monitor for a club that is currently struggling and fighting to avoid relegation after a complicated beginning of the season. The signing of Pepi is certainly very exciting for the whole American movement, after he was very close to joining Bundesliga rival Wolfsburg before Augsburg stepped in. — Francesco Porzio

Loser: RB Leipzig

We could have expected something more from RB Leipzig after the first part of the season and the change of coach, with Domenico Tedesco taking charge in the last weeks. In comparison to the Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmunds of the world, the Red Bull-backed side has always preferred to wait until the summer to make important signings and that strategy did not change at all this winter. But unlike their rivals, this roster probably needed something more to get in the next Champions League. — Francesco Porzio

Wait-to-see: Borussia Dortmund

Oftentimes, it is better to do nothing rather than make signings that might not necessarily be useful to the project. That’s usually the case with Borussia Dortmund which did not make any new signings. Obviously, everything will hinge on what happens in the summer with Erling Haaland, but they are already working to sign RB Salzburg striker Karim Adeyemi as a potential replacement for the Norwegian striker next season. Dortmund are working to sign him before knowing the future of Haaland, who is not expected to make a decision about his next club anytime soon. Not signing any players in January might have been the best decision for a club that could lose a massive piece over the summer. — Francesco Porzio


Winner: Lyon

Having looked like major losers as Bruno Guimaraes completed his surprise move to Newcastle, Lyon turned things around with the signing of Romain Faivre from Brest and Tanguy Ndombele on loan from Tottenham. Add in the fact that the problematic Marcelo has also been moved on and OL have pulled this one out of the fire and given Peter Bosz solid tools to recover domestically and challenge in the Europa League. — Jonathan Johnson

Loser: PSG

Mauricio Pochettino’s men needed reinforcements this month and despite moving Rafinha, Sergio Rico and Bandiougou Fadiga on, it was not even enough to secure somebody of Ndombele’s quality until the end of the season. The likes of Layvin Kurzawa, Julian Draxler and Mauro Icardi continue to eat away at the wage bill and the PSG midfield will remain workmanlike and highly dependent on Marco Verratti’s fitness and general availability. Ousmane Dembele was a non-starter really and will likely remain an option ahead of the summer as the question remains where Kylian Mbappe’s future lies. — Jonathan Johnson

Wait-to-see: Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux

Ligue 1 fallen giants Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux are both battling to survive in the French top-flight and January has been a key period for both. Les Verts have brought in Eliaquim Mangala, Joris Gnagnon, Sada Thioub, Paul Bernardoni, Bakary Sako and Enzo Crivelli to strengthen Pascal Dupraz’s hand while Les Girondins have moved for Josuha Guilavogui, Anel Ahmedhodzic, Danylo Ignatenko and free agent Marcelo from OL with Samuel Kalu as well as ex-captain Laurent Koscielny shown the door. The chances are that only one of these two will survive the drop, so who has been wisest with their winter window dealings? — Jonathan Johnson

United States

Winner: FC Dallas and MLS young players

MLS is in a unique position as teams are in preseason training as opposed to midseason like European leagues, and as a result, this has led to seeing much more moves than what is going on abroad. FC Dallas has been leading the charge selling Ricardo Pepi to Augsburg in the Bundesliga but they have also reinvested that money to acquire Nanu, Maarten Paes, Paul Arriola and are finishing a club-record deal to add Alan Velasco from Independiente. It isn’t often that a team can sell their best player and on paper come out better from it, but that’s just what Dallas did.

On a similar note, this transfer window saw MLS become players on the global stage with young talent going abroad. Pepi, Daryl Dike, Tajon Buchanan and Kevin Paredes all left in this window for fees over $5 million. While this doesn’t even count loan moves involving James Sands and Cole Bassett, it’s clear that leagues are valuing talent within MLS. And with Lorenzo Inzigne, Luiz Araujo, Carlos Salcedo and Douglas Costa heading to MLS, these moves aren’t changing the effectiveness of the league in recruiting. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of MLS as things only get better from here. — Chuck Booth

Loser: Kronke Sports & Entertainment/Colorado Rapids

After securing first place in the Western Conference last season, the Rapids lost their best midfielder and defender. Auston Trusty will be heading to Arsenal in the summer in a KSE transfer while Kellyn Acosta is headed to Los Angeles FC. Cole Bassett was also loaned to Feyenoord with an option to buy as the Rapids opted to blow up their entire midfield. Replacing these three with Bryan Acosta, Drew Moor and Max Alves feels like quite a downgrade heading into the season.

While it’s hard to judge MLS sides too harshly before the season, it feels like the Rapids looked more to turn a profit than to defend their Western Conference title. — Chuck Booth

Wait-to-see: Rebuilding teams

Los Angeles FC blew things up replacing Bob Bradley with Steven Cherendolo and remaking the team in his image. Toronto FC brought in Bob Bradley as head coach/general manager and proceeded to make 20 roster moves with more coming as this doesn’t count Jozy Altidore and swapping Yeferson Soteldo for Carlos Salcedo. Inter Miami has made more moves than we can count blowing up the entire roster and making it anew while adding DeAndre Yedlin.

It’s a fun quirk of MLS contracts as the league has more turnover than most European leagues but it also means that the full fallout from a lot of January transfers can be hard to judge until the summer. It keeps things interesting as teams like Toronto and Miami can go from worst to first if things break their way. — Chuck Booth

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