A Review of Transfer Deadline Day
February 06, 2018
Premier League spending continues to set new records with every passing transfer window and the last 30 days has been no exception to this rule.
EPL clubs spent a whopping £430m in the January window, shattering the record set following a freak set of transfers in the winter of 2011. A staggering £150m of this was spent on deadline day, as the EPL’s cash-rich clubs strived to improve their fortunes or fortify their positions during the second half of the season.
In this post, we’ll focus on the action that unfolded during deadline day, while addressing which sides did the very best business.
1) Tottenham Hotspur
We start with Tottenham, who have suffered at the hands of various last-ditch transfers during previous summer and winter deadline days. Things were different this time around, as Mauricio Pochettino’s flourishing side managed to retain their best players while also adding some genuine quality in the form of winger Lucas Moura.
The 25-year old Brazilian completed a £23m move from Paris St. Germain on deadline day, and this represented an outstanding bit of business for the North London club. Sure, there are concerns about Moura’s consistency and ability to cope with the physical nature of the EPL, but there’s no doubting that his raw pace and natural dribbling ability has the potential to tie top-flight defenders in knots.
Even more impressively, Moura offers a unique set of skills that Spurs desperately need, making him the ideal addition to a talented forward line. In short, he’ll provide the ideal accompaniment to the strength of Harry Kane and the craft of Dele Alli, while his direct running will create yet another outlet for the mercurial Christian Eriksen.
Alongside the energy and movement of South Korean forward Heung-Min Son, Moura will inject some much-needed pace into the Spurs side and add an exciting dimension to their play going forward.
Next up are Spurs North London rivals Arsenal, whose deadline day activity must be placed in the context of what has gone before. Similarly, it’s questionable whether the Gunners have truly strengthened the weakest areas of their squad, with their defence and midfield remaining key areas of concern.
Still, the deadline day capture of Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for £56m represents an interesting bit of business, particularly alongside the earlier signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. After all, the speedy Aubameyang has shone during four years in Germany, plundering 141 goals in 2013 appearances and emerging as one of Europe’s most sought-after forwards.
Aubameyang will certainly add some pace thrust to the Gunners’ attack, although the suspicion remains that he’ll play out wide to fill the void left by the departing Alexis Sánchez and accommodate the £46.5m hitman Alexandre Lacazette.
Not only this, but some fans of The Gunners may well be ruing the deadline day loss of striker Olivier Giroud, whose £18m departure to Chelsea helped to secure the signing of Aubameyang. Time will tell who got the better deal, but we’d certainly fancy Aubameyang to become a prolific force in the Premier League.
Everton left it late to complete their own deadline day deal, finally forcing through a deal for Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala with little time to spare.
The 26-year old has fallen out of favour at the Etihad Stadium, while Pep Guardiola’s signing of French defender Aymeric Laporte finally convinced the Spaniard that he could do without the Frenchman’s services. Mangala has joined the Toffees on loan, although manager Sam Allardyce could well choose to make this deal permanent in the summer if the centre-back performs well at Goodison Park.
This is one of those rare deals that makes sense for everyone, with City keen to temporarily offload Mangala’s wages and Everton in desperate need of a quick and powerful centre-back to marshal their ailing defence. Both Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka have started to look their age this season, while new signing Michael Keane has failed to perform with the kind of authority required for a £25m defender.
Mangala will resolve some or maybe all of these issues, providing the athleticism, leadership and pace that seems to underpin every Allardyce defensive unit. Whether he alone can revitalise the Toffees’ fortunes has yet to be seen, but he should at least help Allardyce to create a secure side in his own image.
Antonio Conte was extremely critical of the notion of playing competitive matches on deadline day, and his mood will hardly have been improved by the Blues’ 3-0 home defeat against Bournemouth. Still, he can at least take solace from the £18m capture of French striker Olivier Giroud from rivals Arsenal, who will be eligible for selection from the upcoming weekend.
For some, the capture of the deceptively skilful but hardly prolific Giroud serves as little more than a desperate attempt to strengthen Conte’s increasingly threadbare squad. These reflect underlying concerns about the Blues’ transfer policy, which were laid bare by the fact that former academy graduate Nathan Aké scored the Cherries’ third goal at Stamford Bridge.
For those in the know however, Giroud represents an excellent signing and can serve as a direct replacement for the departed Diego Costa. Chelsea have missed the bulldozing striker since his acrimonious fall-out with Conte, particularly when trying to break down organised and deep-lying defences at home. Sure, Spanish striker Álvaro Morata has added some guile and movement in attack away from home, but his lightweight nature makes him ill-equipped to occupy defenders and create some much needed space at home.
The enigmatic Giroud will provide a direct solution to this problem, allowing Chelsea to build pressure at home and provide a platform on which creative talents like Pedro, Hazard and Willian can shine. With Morata also currently sidelined, Giroud will have an immediate opportunity to prove his worth to an increasingly worried Chelsea faithful.