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.

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow