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January transfer window: Grades for each Premier League club

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How did each Premier League fare in the January transfer window?

[ MORE: Latest January transfer news ]  

Let’s just say some did remarkably better than others…

Below is a grade and a brief assessment for each PL club based on their transactions in the transfer window after it slammed shut on Jan. 31.

Time will tell who did the best business, but here’s our assessment.


Arsenal: C — Gunners didn’t have to do any business and they shipped out a few youngsters such as Zelalem and Akpom on loans. Still, I’m sure Arsenal fans wanted to see one more defender for cover.

Bournemouth: D — The Cherries failed to replace Nathan Ake after he went back to Chelsea and also couldn’t force through a deal for Asmir Begovic. Eddie Howe‘s men looking a little bit suspect in defense now.

Burnley: B+ — A wonderful window for the Clarets as they picked up Joey Barton on a free transfer, plus experienced campaigners Ashley Westwood and Robbie Brady for a combined fee of $22 million. Money well spent as they look set to fight off relegation for the first time ever.

Chelsea: C – The Blues brought back Ake and kept hold of Begovic and Diego Costa, plus they sold Oscar for an astronomical fee. Conte didn’t get the experienced striker he wanted as cover for Costa but that was the only stumbling block. Overall the squad was trimmed significantly and the Costa situation was handled. For now…

Crystal Palace: A – The Eagles finally got what they needed. Patrick Van Aanholt and Mamadou Sakho (on loan) will add plenty of quality to their defense and Serbian midfielder Luka Milivojevic will be an instant starter. Jeffrey Schlupp adds pace and power out wide and Palace should be much tougher to break down. A nice flourish saved their transfer window.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: Patrick van Aanholt of Sunderland celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and A.F.C. Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light on January 23, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Everton: B – The Toffees probably could have added one more defender to make it a perfect window but Morgan Schneiderlin was the biggest buy in January at over $29.2 million. Ademola Lookman looks a handful and Koeman got rid of plenty of fringe players in Cleverley, Kone, Niasse, Oviedo, Deulofeu and Gibson. Solid window.

Hull: D – Hard to know how this will go for Hull. They sold Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass for big money and Marco Silva has brought in plenty of unfamiliar faces. Evandro, Niasse and Omar Elabdellaoui have already made a big impact, while Ranocchia and N’Diaye have quality pedigree. Did the Tigers really need to sell Snodgrass, their top scorer, now?

Leicester City: D – Not a good window for the Foxes as they gambled on more players based in Europe. Although Wilfried N’Didi looks a good player, can he really help them battle against relegation? They needed more help in defense than they got (they took a gamble on Molla Wague on Deadline Day) and after refusing to let Leonardo Ulloa to leave they now have a player sitting there unwilling to play. 

Liverpool: C – Jurgen Klopp should have moved for a central defender in the window but there was a lack of quality out there in January. No incomings at all tells us that Klopp is happy with his squad. They are in the top four mix and have trimmed their squad accordingly.

Manchester City: C – Another big club which didn’t really do anything. Gabriel Jesus finally joined but that deal was done in the summer. Surely Pep Guardiola had to buy some new defenders in January? If he had done, they could have kicked on and mounted a title challenge. Now it’s all about the top four or bust.

Manchester United: C – See above. United didn’t really need much in January and managed to move on some of their fringe players such as Memphis and Schneiderlin for big money. Job done. Like City and Liverpool, their long-term target remains a top-class center back.

NAPLES, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 17: Manolo Gabbiadini of Napoli in action during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on September 17, 2016 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
(Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Middlesbrough: F – A really bad window for Boro. They brought in Gestede, Bamford and Guedioura who are all solid players but they needed extra quality in attack. You can understand why manager Aitor Karanka looks so frustrated at the Riverside. Deals for Snodgrass, Bojan and Jese Rordiguez fell through to compound their misery.

Southampton: B – Saints brought in a talented striker for a club record fee in Manolo Gabbiadini, but they didn’t add the center back they wanted after letting Jose Fonte leave. Claude Puel can be happy with his squad who now don’t have a plethora of games to deal with. Holding on to Virgil Van Dijk, for now, is massive for their chances of winning the EFL Cup and finishing in the top 10.

Stoke City: B – A pretty decent window for the Potters as Saido Berahino finally arrived from West Brom to give them the forward presence they needed. They also added Lee Grant on a permanent deal. Bojan went out and Mark Hughes did a little bit of trimming.

Sunderland: F – It turned in to a bit of a nightmare window for the Black Cats. It’s obvious David Moyes didn’t have much money to spend and he’s lent on his old clubs to bring in Gibson, Oviedo and Lescott. Losing Van Aanholt was a blow and Sunderland really need to spend big on strikers to help Jermain Defoe. A potentially fatal decision not to strengthen this month with relegation looming.

Swansea City: B – Really good window for the Swans who have have added four key starters in Olsson, Carroll, Narsingh and Ayew. Three wins in four games in January also helps with Paul Clement‘s new-look squad. Keeping hold of key players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente was also key.

Tottenham Hotspur: C – Another meh window for a big club. Spurs have had a few defensive injuries but they have cover. With an expensive new stadium to pay for this was always going to be a quiet window.

Watford: B – A decent enough window, especially getting $25 million for Ighalo at the end of it. Cleverley, Zarate and Niang will all contribute right away Walter Mazzarri moved on six players. Tidy.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Dimitri Payet of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United at The Hawthorns on September 17, 2016 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion: C – Jake Livermore was a surprise buy considering all of the midfielders the Baggies already have. Another striker was high on their list to replace Berahino but they couldn’t quite get Jay Rodriguez.

West Ham United: C – Fonte and Snodgrass came in and Dimitri Payet went out. The latter will be a huge loss but after he refused to play, what more could they do than take the $25 million? Slaven Bilic‘s team have improved since Payet has been out of the team so that’s promising. Adding another striker would have been ideal.

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

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In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.

MLS Notes: Shea out for season with torn ACL, and more

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It appeared Brek Shea had finally gotten his career back on track, only for a serious injury to end his season prematurely.

Atlanta United announced on Tuesday that Shea had suffered a “right knee injury” that will involve season-ending surgery. An earlier report from the Athletic stated it was a torn ACL, which could leave Shea sidelined into the start of next season.

[READ: de Ligt arrives in Turin]

Shea has made 10 starts out of 19 appearances so far this season for Atlanta, where he’s often played as a left wing back or left midfielder, offering speed down the flank and a deeper starting position to connect with Atlanta’s talented attackers. A good season from Shea could have propelled him back into the USMNT conversation, especially if he took part in next season’s January camp. Now, that option is off the table.

Here’s some more MLS news and notes:

(more…)

De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of proposed Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s recruiting tactics with Matthijs de Ligt during the UEFA Nations League final appears to have worked.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Juventus posted a video on the club’s social media accounts that shows de Ligt arriving in Turin, Italy on a private jet, likely to sign his contract and get started with the club. It’s a huge precursor to an announcement for one of the top targets of this summer’s transfer market, and it represents a huge coup for Juventus.

Just a month ago or so, Juventus were on the outside looking in, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and even Manchester United and Manchester City all mentioned in the race to sign the Netherlands and Ajax star centerback. And yet, PSG, which appeared in the lead at one point, lost ground to Juventus, and de Ligt now gets to compete alongside Ronaldo after facing him twice over the past season.

It’s the latest move in the incredible rise of de Ligt over the past three years. De Ligt was promoted to Ajax’s first team as a 17-year-old, and pretty quickly established himself as a huge talent for the Netherlands. Then Netherlands National Team coach Danny Blind called up de Ligt to start in a crunch World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, with the Netherlands desperate for some defensive answers.

It’s didn’t exactly go well.

And yet, de Ligt has overcome those experiences and raised his game to new levels each of the last two years. Alongside Davinson Sanchez, Ajax made it to the Europa League final, and last year, de Ligt scored as Ajax defeated Juventus on the way to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Ajax was just a few minutes away from the finals before Tottenham’s late winner.

At the same time, along with Virgil Van Dijk, they form one of the strongest centerback partnerships in Europe, and look set to lead the Netherlands to UEFA Euro 2020.

As mentioned before, it’s a massive get for de Ligt, assuming that the soon-to-be 20-year-old can settle in Turin. Juventus’ defensive corps continues to grow older, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini both well into their 30s. De Ligt’s arrival can help give some stability at the back and allow Juventus to transition to the next generation of centerbacks.

Cameroon fire Seedorf, Kluivert

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Upset with how the national team was bounced from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the Cameroon Football Federation has taken a drastic and surprising measure.

[READ: Reports: Trippier set to join Atletico Madrid]

The Cameroon FF (FECAFOOT) announced on Tuesday that it had dismissed head coach Clarence Seedorf and his coaching staff, which includes Seedorf’s former Netherlands and Ajax teammate Patrick Kluivert. Seedorf and Cameroon were defeated 3-2 by Nigeria in the Round of 16, knocking The Indomitable Lions out of the tournament.

Cameroon had won the last AFCON tournament and were set to host again, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) removed the tournament from Cameroon due to the anglophone political crisis.

Seedorf signed a four-year contract last August, bringing Kluivert along with him in his first attempt to coach international soccer. However, it appears that the bosses in FECAFOOT expected more from Cameroon at the AFCON, and the results have embarrassed the federation enough to sack a promising coach.

The news should be a boost to club teams across Europe, which could pick up two of the top young coaches with a ton of playing experience, both of whom are free agents.