Another transfer deadline day is in the books. Below, we provide quick-hit analysis of the biggest deals – and rumors – from the January window’s frantic final day.
DONE DEAL: Chelsea smash record for Fernandez ✅
- Details: Transfer worth £106.8 million (Read more)
Chelsea persevered and eventually signed World Cup star Enzo Fernandez. The Blues’ on-again, off-again pursuit was finally confirmed after Tuesday’s deadline when they met Benfica‘s demands and agreed to part with £106.8 million (€121 million) for the midfielder’s services.
Chelsea, languishing in 10th place in the Premier League, were desperately looking for midfield reinforcements due to N’Golo Kante‘s ongoing injury issues. Jorginho‘s deadline-day transfer to Arsenal (more on that below) only increased Chelsea’s desperation.
So, it’s job done from the perspective of Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly. But the intense scrutiny has only just begun: Is Fernandez really worth that much money? Benfica only paid around €15 million for the 22-year-old last June, but his performances in the Champions League and during Argentina’s victorious World Cup campaign have apparently bloated his asking price to seven times that amount. That seems steep.
Ultimately, this transfer should be judged in a few years rather than in a matter of weeks. The youngster’s evasive movement, boundless energy, and impressive precision while passing and shooting could improve further, potentially making Fernandez one of the finest midfielders of his generation.
But the risks are undoubtedly huge. It’s a long contract and a lot can go wrong during that time. At that price, Fernandez must aim to emulate Frank Lampard. If the phenom follows a similar pathway to Danny Drinkwater, that’d be disastrous for the club.
DONE DEAL: Arsenal bolster midfield with Jorginho ✅
- Details: Transfer reportedly worth £12 million (Read more)
The deal for Jorginho seems to have divided Arsenal’s fanbase.
One on hand, the Gunners have acquired a serial winner – he won the Europa League and Champions League with Chelsea, and he was one of the tournament’s standout players when Italy won the European Championship in 2021 – and somebody who’s an expert at breaking up play and maintaining possession for his team.
The naysayers are quick to point out that Jorginho’s use of the ball can be rather unadventurous – something that could be a hindrance for a side that tries to quickly release Bukayo Saka and its other quick attackers – and that he’s slow by Premier League standards.
But at £12 million, doesn’t the 31-year-old represent good backup for the base of midfield? The options behind Thomas Partey are pretty shallow or unimpressive, so Jorginho could be a valuable piece to take some of the Europa League workload and cover spare minutes in the Premier League.
Jorginho’s arrival came hours after defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny, who’s started just one Premier League match this season, was ruled out for an “extended period of time” with a knee injury. His contract expires in June 2023.
DONE DEAL: Bayern add Cancelo ✅
- Details: Loan with reported €70M purchase option (Read more)
This one came out of left field.
A testy disagreement with Pep Guardiola over a recent lack of playing time appears to be the catalyst for Joao Cancelo‘s sudden, surprising move to Bavaria. Even in an era where players have more influence than ever before, an argument with a manager as powerful as Guardiola – at a club where he has been granted autonomy, more or less – is only going to have one winner. Nevertheless, this is a gamble for Guardiola and Manchester City, who are now relying very heavily on 18-year-old academy graduate Rico Lewis to maintain his current form through the end of the season. Lewis is an exciting prospect and clearly has Guardiola’s trust after his recent emergence into the starting lineup, but that’s a lot to ask of a teenager, especially for a club that is competing on three fronts and harbors serious ambitions of winning every title still available to them this season.
Cancelo has also spent plenty of time at left-back, and his departure leaves City leaning heavily on center-back Nathan Ake to cover that position. Sergio Gomez has been poor since his summer arrival from Anderlecht, Aymeric Laporte is unconvincing at full-back, and young prospect Josh Wilson-Esbrand was sent on loan to Coventry City earlier in January.
On the flip side, the move makes plenty of sense for Bayern Munich, who need a jolt to break out of their recent funk after the World Cup break; Bayern have tied all three of their post-World Cup matches, a string of results that has seen their lead atop the Bundesliga dwindle to one point. With injuries limiting Noussair Mazraoui all season, and Benjamin Pavard tipped with a summer move away from the club, Cancelo addresses an immediate need, and, if he slots in at right-back, could give Bayern one of the game’s most electrifying full-back duos playing opposite Alphonso Davies.
“He’s the optimal fit in our system with his attacking style of play and dynamism, and his mentality and experience fit very well in our team.” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said of the move.
Transfers you may have missed
With the constant influx of big signings, rumors, and deals being called off, deadline day can be a whirlwind. Here are completed deals you may have missed amid Tuesday’s madness.
Marcel Sabitzer ➡️ Manchester United: The Red Devils revealed on Tuesday that Christian Eriksen will miss at least three months with an ankle injury. Just several hours later, they announced the signing of a replacement, picking up the talented Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich. This appears to be a shrewd piece of business that addresses an immediate need in light of Eriksen’s impending absence. Don’t look now, but United are operating swiftly and efficiently in the market. What a time. (Read more)
Keylor Navas ➡️ Nottingham Forest: In typical fashion, Forest closed out their transfer window with a flurry of signings, sneaking in deals for Navas, Jonjo Shelvey, and Felipe before the deadline. The decorated ‘keeper is the most notable of the three, as he could step right in between the sticks in the wake of Dean Henderson suffering a serious thigh injury. (Read more)
Hector Bellerin ➡️ Sporting CP: Bellerin‘s summer move to Barcelona always felt like an odd fit; Barca manager Xavi clearly thought the same, as he only gave the former Arsenal player 143 league minutes on the season. Bellerin should have more playing time at Sporting after Pedro Porro‘s departure. (Read more)
Vitinha ➡️ Marseille: Marseille went all-out for this one. The Portugal Under-21 striker could cost a club-record fee of €32 million if all potential bonuses are paid to Braga – €2 million more than the deal to bring Dimitri Payet back in 2017. Vitinha scored seven goals despite starting just 12 league matches this season and was linked with a move to Southampton. (Read more)
Matt Doherty ➡️ Atletico Madrid: Doherty was tipped for a loan move to Atletico Madrid early in the day, but eyebrows were raised when it turned out that Tottenham Hotspur actually terminated his contract by mutual consent to facilitate his switch to the Spanish capital. Spurs were up against the limit in terms of overseas loans, forcing the unexpected change of course.
Djed Spence ➡️ Rennes: Spence is free. After playing a measly seven league minutes for Tottenham this season, the 22-year-old should actually get an opportunity to play at Rennes, where he’ll spend the remainder of the campaign on loan. Let’s see if Bruno Genesio trusts Spence more than Antonio Conte did.
Diego Llorente ➡️ Roma: Llorente was crowded out at Leeds United with Liam Cooper, Robin Koch, and January recruit Max Wober vying for game time, so the Spanish international joined Roma on loan with an option to buy. It’s not immediately clear where Llorente will fit into Jose Mourinho’s side, with Roger Ibanez, Chris Smalling, Gianluca Mancini, and Marash Kumbulla already squabbling over the center-back spots.
Illia Zabarnyi ➡️ Bournemouth: The Cherries aren’t ready to call it quits on the Premier League. The 18th-placed Bournemouth, who are part-owned by Hollywood star Michael B. Jordan, were busy during January and rushed to sign Hamed Traore and Zabarnyi for a potential combined £44 million on the final day. The latter deal seems to have got Football Manager enthusiasts excited, with the Ukrainian defender dubbed a “wonderkid” in the latest version of the video game.
The ones that got away
As always, numerous deals either fell apart or weren’t registered in time to be completed on deadline day. Here are the rumored transfers that didn’t materialize.
Sofyan Amrabat ➡️ Barcelona: A cryptic social media post from the Fiorentina star had Barca fans dreaming of a late move, but it was not to be, as the Tuscan club rejected a reported €40-million package from the Catalans. “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one,” was the unambiguous Instagram message that spiced up deadline day. Fiorentina weren’t willing to oblige and decided to “go for it” another day instead. (Read more)
Hakim Ziyech ➡️ Paris Saint-Germain: Perhaps Chelsea were just juggling too many balls at once? Ziyech‘s proposed loan move to PSG collapsed at the last minute after the Blues, who were still working to sign Fernandez at the time, reportedly failed to file the necessary paperwork before the deadline. PSG were left fuming. Understandably so, after an agreement was reached between all the parties, with the player even flying to France. (Read more)
Milan Skriniar ➡️ Paris Saint-Germain: Skriniar, a long-term target for the Ligue 1 giants, seems destined to join PSG for free this summer, so he’s likely not too perturbed that the French club and Inter Milan couldn’t come to terms and expedite his move.
Moises Caicedo ➡️ Arsenal: Arsenal – and Chelsea, for that matter – tried, in vain, to sign Caicedo, who was public about his desire to leave Brighton & Hove Albion for a bigger club in January. His time will come, but for now, he remains a vital part of Roberto De Zerbi’s intoxicating side that currently sits sixth in the Premier League. Not such a bad outcome, is it?
Ivan Fresneda ➡️ Borussia Dortmund: The Fresneda sweepstakes will heat up once again this summer, when the Spanish right-back is expected to inspire an even larger bidding war. Dortmund and Arsenal were apparently the two clubs who made the most inroads in talks with Real Valladolid over the 18-year-old. More teams will surely get in on the act in a few months.
Nicolo Zaniolo ➡️ anywhere: January was a nightmare for Zaniolo. He went public with a transfer request, rejected a move to Bournemouth, subsequently got frozen out of the Roma squad, and then decided to accept Bournemouth’s terms, only to learn that the English club was no longer interested. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but it seems clear he needs to leave the Italian capital at some point, unless he can rebuild a fractured relationship with the Giallorossi and Mourinho – not an easy task.