January transfer window grades for every PL club

Leave a comment

How did all 20 of the Premier League teams fare in the January transfer window?

[ MORE: Latest January transfer news

With the window ending on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, now is the time to analyze which clubs did the best wheeling and dealing over the past 31 days.

Below is a grade for all 20 clubs based on their business.


Arsenal: A
All in all, a very good window for the Gunners. They got Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Alexis Sanchez in a straight-swap, then spun Olivier Giroud out to Chelsea on Deadline Day for $25 million and brought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for $77 million as well as Mesut Ozil agreeing a new deal. They sold Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin as well as getting Matheiu Debuchy off the books. Despite their defense still needing work this was a major rebuild by Arsene Wenger, all for just $10 million net. Very, very fruitful January and plenty of promise for the months ahead.

West Brom: B+
They kept hold of captain and inspirational center back Jonny Evans for their impending relegation battle and added a world-class striker in Daniel Sturridge on loan from Liverpool. A fine window for Alan Pardew‘s Baggies who also added Egyptian center back Ali Gabr as cover.

Manchester United: B+
The Sanchez deal was a massive bonus for United who couldn’t believe their luck when Man City pulled out of the deal. Jose Mourinho also got rid of Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the deal and United loaned out a few fringe players. Sanchez should give them the boost they need in the final months of the season to finish in the top four and go far in the Champions League.

Chelsea: B+
Pretty decent window for the Blues in the end as Olivier Giroud arrived on Deadline Day, plus Ross Barkley was well with a gamble at $20 million and Emerson Palmeri will provide key competition at left back. Antonio Conte may not have the overall say on transfers, but his squad has been strengthened with Michy Batshuayi leaving on loan the only major departure.

Manchester City: B
Swing and a miss on Mahrez and Alexis Sanchez but Aymeric Laporte arrived for a club-record $80 million fee and he will be a long-term project in defense. Jack Harrison was the only other arrival and the former NYCFC man is a product of the City Football Group who loaned him out to Middlesbrough right away.

Liverpool: B
They addressed their big need at CB with Virgil Van Dijk coming in, but was that all that Liverpool needed? Philippe Coutinho‘s departure for $197 million saw them bag VVD and come out $97 million on top in the deal, but Klopp will definitely spend big on a goalkeeper and a few more defenders in the summer.

Brighton & Hove Albion: B
The Seagulls needed to add extra firepower and they did that with Jurgen Locadia and Leonardo Ulloa arriving. A decent window for Brighton and they kept hold of their star players.

Tottenham Hotspur: B-
A Deadline Day arrival with Lucas Moura coming in from PSG for $32 million which could be a steal. He will give Spurs something extra in attack in their top four battle. Loaning out several fringe players will be helpful.

Swansea City: C+
Solid enough window for the Swans as brought in Andre Ayew on Deadline Day for $23 million as he returned to the Swans and will add goals. They kept hold of Alfie Mawson which was a big moment. Given their recent good form, they didn’t need to add much.

Everton: C+
Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott were a necessity with Sam Allardyce desperate to increase his attacking options. Eliaquim Mangala arriving on loan provides extra defensive cover too. Kevin Mirallas, Sandro and Ross Barkley all leaving was a bonus and the Toffees probably needed to trim the wage-bill further too.

Leicester City: C
They kept Riyad Mahrez, despite late interest from Manchester City, and Claude Puel looks to have found a gem in Fousseni Diabate. They also shipped out Ahmed Musa and Leonardo Ulloa who weren’t going to play. Decent window.

Stoke City: C
Badou Ndiaye’s arrival on Deadline Day could be a nifty pick-up in midfield with $19.8 million spent, while Moritz Bauer and Kostas Stafylidis will be steady defensive additions to the squad. Paul Lambert needs to rejuvenate the talent within his squad too.

Burnley: C-
Quiet window for Burnley who added Aaron Lennon and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou to give them extra pace out wide, but you get the feeling Sean Dyche wanted to do a bit more business with his Clarets tumbling down the league. Keeping hold of Ashley Barnes was a bonus.

Southampton: C-
The big loss was Virgil van Dijk but they got $100 million for him from Liverpool and a record deal for a center back. It was time he left after not playing anywhere near his full potential. Guido Carrillo has arrived to add extra firepower but not getting the deal over the line for Quincy Promes has left a cloud hanging over their window.

West Ham United: D
Frustrating window in many respects for David Moyes who did plenty of wheeling and dealing late on. Hit by injuries to key players, he needed to do plenty late on and Joao Mario’s addition on loan from Inter looks like a superb signing. Jordan Hugill arrived from Preston too and will add strength in depth up front.

Watford: D
Javi Gracia’s arrival as manager saw Gerard Deulofeu arrive on loan, but keeping Troy Deeney could be a bigger deal. Didier Ndong has arrived on loan too but the Hornets could have done with a few more defensive reinforcements.

Huddersfield Town: D
Terrence Kongolo and Alex Pritchard were the key arrivals and although the Terriers spent big on Pritchard, you feel like David Wagner could have worked the loan window a little better.

Crystal Palace: D
Erdal Rakip and Jaroslaw Jach will bolster Roy Hodgson‘s squad but the veteran manager will have wanted more from this window. His search for a new striker didn’t go well but Palace did sign Alexander Sorloth late on. Despite their recent good form, the Eagles rely heavily on Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke.

Bournemouth: D
No significant arrivals and plenty of youngsters shipped out on loan. Not a busy window at all for the Cherries as Eddie Howe decided to keep his cash in his pocket. With the relegation picture so tight, Bournemouth are another club in the bottom half who could rue not spending.

Newcastle United: D-
A disappointing window for the Magpies who needed a striker but Daniel Sturridge turned them down and Nicolai Jorgensen was too expensive. Kenedy arrived on loan from Chelsea and given the state of limbo with a new ownership deal in doubt, Rafael Benitez must be a very frustrated man. A late loan move for Islam Slimani could save the day for the Magpies though.

Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham manager

Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho has been appointed the new head coach of Tottenham Hotspur, set to take over less than 12 hours after Mauricio Pochettino was fired on Tuesday, the club confirmed in a statement early on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Pochettino paid the price for Levy’s mistakes ]

Mourinho was the first name linked to the newly vacant managerial post at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and chairman Daniel Levy wasted no time whatsoever. Given his expedient appointment, Mourinho is likely to take Wednesday’s training session and be in the dugout when Tottenham visit West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

The former Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid (among others) manager has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract which will run through the 2022-23 season. Levy described Mourinho as “one of the most successful managers in football.”

“In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football. He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honors at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Mourinho, on his appointment: “I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters. The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.

What did we learn about USMNT during Nations League?

Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The inaugural Nations League group stage is complete, and the U.S. men’s national team managed to finish top of Group A (on the final day of play) and secure its place in the semifinals next June.

[ MORE: USMNT cruises past Cuba to reach Nations League semis ]

So, what did we learn from the final four (semi-competitive) games of 2019?

No matter the competition, the chance creation isn’t there

Inevitably, eventually, the USMNT ends up attacking its opponents in one of two ways: with long, direct balls up to the forward line, or exclusively through wide attackers and constant crosses into the box. In beating Canada and Cuba by a combined score of 8-1 during this international window, Gregg Berhalter’s team relied almost exclusively on these “tactics.” Predictably, it’s also the default setting when facing tougher competition, such as Mexico and Uruguay earlier in 2019.

Neither of those plans are bad plans, per se, only neither of those plans are what the federation has pursued as its stated goal for the last decade: possession-based soccer featuring ample chance creation from midfield.

Five coaches have taken charge of the USMNT this decade, all with varying levels of promising the above stylistic improvements. Upon completing the USMNT’s final game of the decade, it’s fair to say that all five failed.

The worst part of all is that the presence of Christian Pulisic hardly cures anything. Sure, he’s the craftiest attacking player the U.S. has ever produced, but even a primary playmaker like Pulisic requires a stable midfield behind him to filter the ball upfield and give him a stage on which to perform. Weston McKennie was stellar against Canada on Friday, but he’s proven that, at just 21 years old, he can’t be counted on to that degree game in and game out.

The good news: they’re both 21 years old and have north of 50 caps between them. One day — and it could come soon — everything should click for each of them, at which point we could see them move to operate at a totally different level.


The full backs are suddenly a bright spot

Perhaps it’s a tad hasty to claim the full backs are trending positively, but the current crop of right backs sure looks deeper and more talented than ever before. Sergiño Dest chose to play for the USMNT and is now cap-tied, Reggie Cannon is coming along nicely, and DeAndre Yedlin has proven himself, at the very least, a non-problem plenty of times.

That’s three more reliable full backs than the USMNT has had since Steve Cherundolo retired in 2012. Unfortunately, they all play on the same side of the field.

Tim Ream and Daniel Lovitz, who started at left back  don’t inspire the most confidence or excitement at left back, but perhaps a defense-first option is the way to go given the attacking instincts of all three players on the opposite side.

If Berhalter has truly settled on John Brooks and one of Aaron Long or Matt Mizaga as his starting center backs, then the USMNT heads into 2020 with a relatively stable, non-fluid situation along the backline since… maybe the 2010 World Cup.

Small victories, but victories nonetheless.

USMNT cruises past Cuba to reach Nations League semis (video)

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. men’s national team ticked all the boxes — most notably, the one reading “win and advance” — in its 4-0 victory over Cuba to reach the semifinals of the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League as the winners of Group A.

[ MORE: Miami and Nashville stock rosters in expansion draft + trades galore ]

Jordan Morris continued his scintillating late-season surge, carrying over his red-hot form for MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders, and scored his second and third goals of the current international break to put the game out of reach before halftime. Josh Sargent also scored twice, once in each half.

The goals started extremely early and showed little sign of letting up from there. Josh Sargent put the Yanks ahead in the 36th… second. A mass scramble ensued after Paul Arriola crossed the ball into the six-yard box and Sargent got the final touch to tally his fourth senior goal.

Morris got the USMNT’s second in the 26th minute, when he tucked home a simple one-on-one chance set up by Jackson Yueill’s diagonal ball into the box, with a bit of help from Weston McKennie’s head.

Morris got his second of the game 13 minutes later, once again the result of a penalty-area scramble and a bit of pinball in the box. Aaron Long took two chances to get the ball across the face of goal, and once he finally did it looped over the goalkeeper’s head and found Morris crashing the back post. The ball appeared goal-bound without a touch from Morris, but better safe than sorry.

Sargent finished the scoring and bagged his second of the game, and the fifth of his international career, off a clever backheel by Tyler Boyd in the 66th minute. McKennie crossed the ball from right to left, overhitting it just a bit, but Boyd was able to touch it before crossing the endline and find Sargent in all kinds of space atop the six-yard box. He took the chance with his left foot and left very little to doubt.

The result sent the USMNT miles ahead of Canada in the final group standings. Despite finish tied on nine points, the Americans finished with a +12 goal differential compared to their northern neighbors’ +6.

Miami and Nashville stock rosters in MLS expansion draft

Photo credit: Minnesota United / Twitter: @MNUFC
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer expansion teams Nashville and Miami filled out their rosters for next season via the league’s expansion draft Tuesday.

[ REPORT: Spurs, Mourinho in discussions to replace Pochettino ]

The two teams selected five players each from a pool of 222 left unprotected by their current MLS teams.

Miami added defender Ben Sweat, a Florida native, from NYCFC with its first selection. Sweat, a first-round draft pick by the Columbus Crew in 2014, has played three seasons in New York. This past season he appeared in 18 games with 13 starts.

Miami also added Cincinnati defender Alvas Powell, LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen, Columbus midfielder Luis Argudo and Seattle backup goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.

“We’re excited about what we were able to accomplish with this draft,” said Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough. “We feel we are gaining momentum ahead of the 2020 season.”

With its first pick, Nashville selected Minnesota striker Abu Danladi, who played in 24 games this past season with four starts and a pair of goals.

[ MORE: Pochettino paid the price for Levy’s mistakes ]

Nashville also selected Portland defender Zarek Valentin, New England defender Jalil Anibaba, Atlanta forward Brandon Vazquez and Sporting Kansas City defender Jimmy Medranda.

Nashville traded Valentin to the Houston Dynamo for goalkeeper Joe Willis. The expansion team also acquired goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for allocation money and a 2020 International roster spot, and got allocation money from Cincinnati in exchange for Vazquez.

Nashville also acquired defender Daniel Lovitz from the Montreal Impact in exchange for allocation money and a 2020 international roster spot.

[ MORE: Where to next for Pochettino? ]

Miami traded allocation money for Cincinnati’s No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry and Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, a Nashville native, helped to announce Nashville’s picks at an expansion draft party. Earlier this week, Nashville announced it would host Atlanta United in the team’s first official match on Feb. 29.

Inter Miami’s first home match will be March 14 against the LA Galaxy at the new Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

The Galaxy also re-signed midfielder Sebastian Lletget.