The January transfer window can be a whirlwind experience depending on where your club sits in the table, and 2020’s winter market was no exception.
For the basement dwellers, floundering in or around the relegation zone, the month was spent frantically in pursuit of reinforcements, with sellers acutely aware that struggling clubs were willing pay top dollar for their players.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, those pushing for European places and even domestic supremacy also had their noses pressed up against the shop window, with big-money moves not exclusive to the summer. Bruno Fernandes and Erling Haaland both completed moves to Man Utd and Borussia Dortmund respectively last January, to name but two lucrative winter deals.
Those two stopped the presses, but what are some of the deals in January 2020 that may have slipped your mind, or even went completely under your radar?
🇹🇿 First Tanzanian player to score in the Champions League
🇹🇿 First Tanzanian player to score in the Premier League
🇹🇿 First Tanzanian player to score in a League Cup final
Mbwana Samatta played his part. pic.twitter.com/mekqv1Rtk4
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 1, 2020
To: Aston Villa
Despite spending a king’s ransom in the 2019 summer window, Dean Smith’s side found themselves striker-less come January, with £22m signing Wesley sidelined owing to a severe cruciate knee ligament injury, and locked in a relegation battle, prompting a mad dash to bolster the squad further.
One of those who joined Villa for the impending dogfight was relative unknown Mbwana Samatta, who became the first Tanzanian to sign for a Premier League club. However, after one goal in 14 games and the arrival of Ollie Watkins, Samatta joined Fenerbahce on loan in the summer, where he is yet to set the world alight.
From: AC Milan
To: Hertha Berlin
Heralded as the Second Coming of Andriy Shevchenko following a prolific spell at Genoa, Piatek was unable to mirror the devastating scoring exploits of the Ukrainian legend during his ephemeral stint in Milan. The writing was on the wall for the Pole once Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned from his MLS sojourn to lead the line for Stefano Pioli’s side. Piatek, though, hasn’t really settled in the German capital, starting just seven Bundesliga games this season.
From: Borussia Dortmund
As random a transfer as you are ever likely to see. At one stage Weigl was tipped for stardom, earmarked as the next Sergio Busquets, and the subject of a reported bidding war between Barcelona and Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola believed to have been a huge admirer. Although he was expected to leave Dortmund at one stage, few would have thought Lisbon would be Weigl’s next destination, but that’s exactly where the German ended up, and he has since formed a midfield partnership with the reinvented Adel Taarabt. A combination none of us knew we wanted!
From: RB Leipzig
After Eddie Nketiah was recalled from his loan spell at Elland Road by Arsenal, Marcelo Bielsa needed a new marksman to challenge Patrick Bamford for a starting berth and finally help Leeds overcome that thousand-yard stare in the latter stages of a Championship campaign.
Jean-Kevin Augustin’s signing looked a masterstroke from the enigmatic coach, with the Parisian believed to have turned down a Man Utd bid at the Eleventh Hour. However, his short stint proved disastrous and a conflict has since erupted between RB Leipzig and Leeds over the terms of his deal.
Part of the illustrious Benfica production line, there was a time when Fernandes was considered the brightest gem to emerge from the Estadio da Luz academy, so when he linked up with compatriot Jose Mourinho on an 18-month loan last year, it certainly looked tidy business from the club.
However, fast forward 12 months and the 21-year-old has barely had a sniff, mustering just seven Premier League appearances, with all seven of those coming last season and Benfica said to be eager on bringing their prized asset back to Lisbon early. It’s difficult to see a £42.76m fee being justified as it stands.
✓ Romelu Lukaku
✓ Alexis Sánchez
✓ Ashley Young
✓ Victor Moses
⏳ Olivier Giroud
⏳ Christian Eriksen
Antonio Conte will be requesting a new Inter crest soon. 😉 pic.twitter.com/D4oqi377LP
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 23, 2020
To: Inter Milan
The Nigerian was a pillar of consistency in Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side, helping the Blues to Premier League glory in 2016/17, and he reunited with the Italian last campaign on loan for Inter Milan. Part of a Premier League reunion at the San Siro, Moses joined Ashley Young and Christian Eriksen through the door last year, linking up with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Andrea Ranocchia, if you remember the latter’s spell at Hull City.
To: LA Galaxy
‘Chicharito’ only joined Sevilla from West Ham in September last season but he was out of the door four months later, embarking on a stateside adventure to California. The 32-year-old Mexican completed a £7.2m move to LA Galaxy, subsequently becoming the highest paid player in the MLS at the time. The former Man Utd poacher hasn’t been highly prolific since his switch, though, netting just two goals in 12 games.
Danny Rose may have slipped your mind entirely, as the 30-year-old is yet to play a single minute this season having been frozen out by Jose Mourinho. Newcastle offered Rose an escape hatch last term, though only a temporary one, as the 29-capped England international played 13 games on loan at Steve Bruce’s Magpies. Could Rose once again be on the move this January?
To: Sheffield United
Fee: Free transfer
Having found himself without a club during the first half of last season, Chris Wilder took an audacious punt on the England international. And given the way the Blades were playing, they could afford to roll the dice. Inevitably, though, the former wonderkid has been unable to rejuvenate his career and recapture the form from his early Everton days, sitting on the periphery of first-team action as Sheff Utd went on to sign another central midfielder that window: Sander Berge.
DONE DEAL: West Ham have confirmed goalkeeper Roberto has joined Deportivo Alaves on loan until the end of the season. pic.twitter.com/fO8fOYdkIH
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 20, 2020
From: West Ham
West Ham fans will not have forgotten this one, it was a day of celebration, but you might have. The veteran Spaniard bore the brunt of the blame for West Ham’s autumnal collapse last term following the injury to Lukasz Fabianski, which culminated in Manuel Pellegrini’s departure. Fans attributed the demise to the unconvincing form of Roberto, which ultimately saw David Moyes return to the club. He wasn’t convinced either and signed Darren Randolph permanently that January, with Roberto going on loan to Alaves and ultimately completing a move to Valladolid in the summer.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Fee: Free transfer
Unstoppable on his day, but often far too temperamental to sustain the consistency needed to create a legacy at one single club. The Frenchman proved a hit at Rennes after leaving PSG and looked to try his luck in La Liga, a division which, on paper, looked tailor-made for the balletic playmaker. However, he played just five games after signing on a free and has since returned to more familiar pastures in France, recently joining Bordeaux.
It’s not the most conventional route, Dorset to Milan, but having spent the first half of the season on loan in Azerbaijan, the gauntlet had been thrown down by Begovic. Having made 10 appearances for Qarabag FK, Begovic then joined Milan on loan to function as an understudy to Gianluigi Donnarumma, as Pepe Reina conspicuously made a move to Aston Villa. The Bosnian managed to make two Serie A appearances and has since patched things up with Bournemouth to aid their promotion bid in the Championship this term.