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Grading last season's Premier League winter transfers at the one-year mark

Saturday 2nd February 2019
January 2018 saw five big moves for Premier League clubs. Some were successful, others less.
January 2018 saw five big moves for Premier League clubs. Some were successful, others less.

There have been some high profile signings made during the January window over the years. Luis Suarez joined Liverpool in January 2011 and that same year saw Andy Caroll move from Newcastle to Liverpool for £35million, while Fernando Torres switched red for blue by moving from Anfield to Stamford Bridge.

So far 2019 has been relatively slow. According to Transfermarkt, Premier League clubs have spent around £150million on new arrivals - less than was spent on deadline day alone last season... 

Premier League teams spent a record of £150million on January 31st 2018. Taking the total to £450 million. 53 players moved to a Premier League club during the month, with every club, barring AFC Bournemouth, bringing in at least one new player.

One year on, how have some of the bigger moves worked out? Is signing players midway through the season a waste of time and money? Or, have they proved that good business can be done in the winter window?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed for Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund on deadline day, in a deal worth a club record £56million.

Unlike many strikers new to the league, the 29-year-old has an impressive strike rate with the gunners. In his 12 months at the Emirates Stadium, he has scored 28 goals, with 18 coming in the current season. The striker has been compared to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. He currently sits in second position of the Premier League goalscoring charts with 15 strikes to his name.

The Gabon international endeared himself even more to Gunners fans by scoring a brace in the North London derby, as Arsenal came out as 4-2 victors against bitter rivals Tottenham in December.

Aubameyang’s goals helped Arsenal finish comfortably in sixth place at the end of last season. Unai Emery will be hoping that the striker continues scoring to improve on that position this term.

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Olivier Giroud

The 32-year-old was bought in as competition to striker Alvaro Morata and had proven during his time at the Emirates that could score goals in the league. The Frenchman has earned a reputation for being extremely dangerous from headers, and only sits behind 6 foot 7 Peter Crouch for the most headed goals scored since the 2006/07 season.

In his 12 months at Stamford Bridge, Olivier Giroud has found the back of the net 10 times. Five in the second half of last season and the same amount in the first half of this one. The World Cup winner has often found himself as a substitute and has mainly been limited to 30-minute cameos under current boss Maurizio Sarri.

Despite the departure of Alvaro Morata, the arrival of Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuaín means that it is likely that Giroud will not see his role at Chelsea change for the last six months of his current contract.

Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk was the first Premier League signing of 2018 when he joined Liverpool from Southampton on New Year’s Day.

There had been no secret of the fact that Jurgen Klopp was chasing the signature of the defender for a while. An illegal approach to the player in the summer of 2016 led to the Merseyside club being forced to apologise to the Saints.

But that didn't dissuade Klopp. Liverpool were determined to get their man and agreed to pay a record £75million when the window re-opened.

Signing the central defender is now seen as one of the best moves that Liverpool have made in recent years. His presence in the Reds’ defence has contributed significantly in a league-high 13 clean sheets so far in the 2018/19 season.

The tighter defence is a major factor in Liverpool’s current position at the top of the Premier League. The 27-year-old also poses a threat at the other end of the pitch, scoring on his debut in a 2-1 FA Cup win over rivals Everton in January 2018.

The Dutchman is proving that if the right area and player is identified, signings made during the winter season can be just as, if not more effective as players signed in the summer months.

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Aymeric Laporte 

Eyebrows were raised when Manchester City paid £57million for the services of uncapped French defender Aymeric Laporte. The then 23-year-old was plying his trade for Athletic Bilbao in La Liga when Pep Guardiola came calling.

The centre-back had played every game (apart from one due to a suspension) for the Spanish club. But he found playing time harder to come by in his first six months in the Premier League, although he did start nine of the 14 games between then and the end of the season.

Often when players come to a new country they need a settling in period, and this was probably the case for Laporte. This season he has played a part in every Premier League and Champions League game, scoring three goals. He is part of a defence that has kept 12 clean sheets.

Laporte has also shown why Guardiola took a chance on him. His calmness on the ball, as well as his ability to build partnerships with John Stones, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi, are real assets to City both now and in the future.

Alexis Sanchez 

It was the most high profile sagas of the January window. Manchester United sweeping in to take Sanchez after Manchester City pulled out of a deal. United persuaded Arsenal to part with their man with the promise of Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way.

The Red Devils announced the signing with a video of the player playing ‘Glory Glory Man United’ on the piano. Hopes were that he’d make music on the field as well as off it.

That has not been the case and Sanchez has had an underwhelming first year at United. Scoring just five goals in his 33 appearances for the club. A hamstring injury has hampered progress this season. There are also suggestions that former manager Jose Mourinho didn’t know how to get the best out of the player.

An FA Cup goal against his former club could just be what the Chilean needs and could serve as a kick start to his career at Old Trafford, whether that be under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or someone else.

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Amie Wilson

A lifelong football & Leicester City fan, who can be often found at the King Power Stadium at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. I still think about the 15/16 season every day! I sometimes talk about sport on the radio, and am a graduate of the BBC Kick Off scheme.


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