7 good, 7 bad: Analyzing the PL January deals

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With a record $596.7 million spent on new players by Premier League clubs in January, there are plenty of new faces who are either settling in at their new clubs or they’re about to.

[ MORE: Latest January transfer news ] 

Bearing that in mind, let’s focus on seven deals which were good and seven deals where they jury remains well and truly out.

[ MORE: January transfer grades for each club ] 

Remember: the term “panic buy” was invented for the January window…


7 GOOD SIGNINGS

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund to Arsenal, $79.6 million) – The big man should be a big player for Arsenal for many years to come and he joins as the reigning top goalscorer in the Bundesliga with a reputation for holding the ball up and finishing chances clinically. Auba’s arrival is a big boost for the Gunners and it will be intriguing to see if Lacazette lines up alongside him.
2. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool to West Brom, loan) – Could prove to be the signing of the January window, if he stays fit. Sturridge’s pedigree as a supreme goalscorer is undoubted but he had no chances of regular minutes. Fair play to him for rolling up his sleeves in a relegation battle at West Brom rather than joining Inter Milan or Sevilla. He needs to play well, and scored goals, to work himself into England’s 2018 World Cup squad.
3. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal to Man United, swap) – We all know about Sanchez’s quality and once Mourinho finds the perfect place for him in the lineup, he will flourish. He could perhaps do his best work centrally behind Lukaku before drifting out wide. Huge wages, but a swap deal for Mkhitaryan represented a wonderful deal for United.

4. Lucas Moura (PSG to Tottenham, $32.6 million) – This one flew under the radar on Deadline Day but could be the biggest bargain of them all. The former Real Madrid winger can rip opponents apart but was out of favor at PSG despite his best mate Neymar urging him to stay, The Brazilian winger will expect to start right away at Spurs.
5. Theo Walcott (Arsenal to Everton, $28.4 million) – Two goals and an assist in his first two games for Everton is a very tidy return and Walcott is another player hungry to get back into the England squad ahead of the World Cup. That’s good news for Everton and he’s made a flying start.
6. Fousseni Diabate (Ajaccio to Leicester, $2.55 million) – Another gem from France’s second tier for the Foxex as Diabete scored twice during his debut in the FA Cup and could be a replacement for Riyad Mahrez, long term. Pace, power and trickery, Diabete should slot into life in the PL very easily.
7. Joao Mario (Inter Milan to West Ham, loan) – Looks like an inspired loan deal until the end of the season with Mario being named Man of the Match on his PL debut. The Hammers may have finally replaced Dimitri Payet


7 BAD SIGNINGS

1. Cenk Tosun (Besiktas to Everton, $38.3 million) – It appears that Besiktas have had a bit of a touch with this deal. Everton were desperate to bring in a new striker at the start of the window and they overpaid for Tosun. The Turkish striker has 64 goals in 124 games for Turkey but in his first few appearances for Everton he has looked off the pace.
2. Andre Ayew (West Ham to Swansea City, $25.5 million) – Bit of a strange deal this one. Andre Ayew didn’t want to move back to Swansea for most of the window, then all of a sudden he did. Swansea have paid a club-record fee for an injury prone striker who scored nine PL goals in 43 appearances for West Ham over the past two seasons. Hardly prolific.
3. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Man United to Arsenal, swap) – Something about this just tells me it won’t quite be the success we all think. Yes, Mkhitaryan has his buddy Aubameyang with him, but there’s a lot of expectation on his shoulders. Failed to take games by the scruff of the neck at United over the last 18 months.

4. Guido Carrillo (Monaco to Southampton, $27.1 million) – A little harsh based on two sub appearances for Saints, but he didn’t exactly rip it up at Monaco. It appears the Ligue 1 club were quite surprised to see Saints spend a club-record fee. Pellegrino is desperate for goals but Carillo averages 1 every four  games in his career.
5. Ross Barkley (Everton to Chelsea, $21.3 million) – Looks a shadow of the player he was at Everton 18 months ago and Barkley’s career is in serious danger if it carries on in this trajectory. Is he going to be another promising Englishman who ends up on the Chelsea scrapheap?
6. Alex Pritchard (Norwich City to Huddersfield, $15.6 million) – Lot of pressure on his shoulders as the club-record signing and has so far struggled to settle into a struggling Terriers side.
7. Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester to Brighton, loan) – This move seems to be all about nostalgia. Yes, Ulloa is an aerial presence, but is he really better than Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed? Probably not.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

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We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

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In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.