It’s strange to think that a day where there is very little football actually played can still of the most highly anticipated days in the footballing calendar. Fans are treated to two Deadline Days per year and the most recent one saw the close of the January transfer window. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one keeping a keen eye on the action as teams frantically raced to make some last minute deals. With a fair number of deals having been completed before the 23:00 deadline, we take a look at which of them could end up being great bits of business.
Michy Batshuayi to Cystal Palace – With the amount of teams that Batshuayi was being linked to on Deadline Day, including the likes of Everton, Real Betis, West Ham and even Spurs, it was looking almost certain that he would be making a move, it was just a matter of where to? However, having reached the final hour of the day, it was starting to look as if the Belgian might have been staying put. This would have been the case if Palace hadn’t of made a last minute loan offer for him but it was still touch and go as to whether they’d complete the deal in time. Thankfully for them and Batshuayi, they had completed the paperwork with minutes to spare. The forward doesn’t seem to be part of Sarri’s plans at Chelsea having spent the first part of the season on loan to Valencia, only now to be loaned out again. Crystal Palace won’t have minded this one bit though. The Eagles currently find themselves 15th in the league, just 4 points clear of relegation. Whilst they are a side who always look reasonably solid at the back, their ability to consistently score goals has been poor this season. Palace don’t lack strikers in terms of numbers possessing players such as Jordan Ayew, Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham but Wickham has only recently returned from a long term injury whilst the other two have failed to hit top form. Virtually ever since being promoted Palace have looked like a side who were a 15-20 goals a season striker away from being a secure, mid-table Premier League side rather than one constantly in relegation scraps. Yes, Batshuayi is only on loan and if they wish to make the deal permanent it could cost a significant amount; he was linked with a permanent £40million move to Everton prior to signing for Palace. Yet, he could be exactly what Palace have been missing and if he proves his worth over the remainder of the season, they would be silly not to try and make the deal permanent, regardless of cost. Rating: 9/10
Gonzalo Higuain to Chelsea – It’s fair to say that Higuaín’s Chelsea career couldn’t have started much better. Whilst he did play in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday helping his side progress to the next round following a 3-0 win, the same can’t be said for his first Premier League start. The blues faced a trip to Bournemouth and were beaten 4-0 by the home side. Seeing as Chelsea didn’t even score their new forward clearly had very little to no influence on the match. The Argentinian would have been desperate to make up for this poor performance in the following match against Huddersfield, and did exactly that. Higuaín scored twice in a 5-0 victory for Chelsea, the perfect way to bounce back from an extremely disappointing defeat. Yes, there will be those cynics who will argue that it’s only Huddersfield, the league’s bottom side, and that a player of Higuaín’s reputation should be scoring at least one or two goals against them. This is true to a certain extent but it shouldn’t take anything away from his performance on the day. The Premier League is arguably the highest paced and most competitive league in world football, so to join a new side and score twice in just your second league game against any Prem opposition is a huge achievement. Not only this, but the goals he scored were of a very high standard, particularly his second, displaying how Chelsea have signed a top striker. If you compare this to the affect loaned out Chelsea forward Morata had on his Atletico Madrid debut, failing to score in a 1-0 loss to Real Betis, it certainly looks as if Chelsea have made a good bit of business. Rating: 8/10
Denis Suarez to Arsenal – Any player who has been raised through the academy of Spanish giants Barcelona is likely to be very gifted. Although Suarez failed to secure a regular starting position in the Barcelona midfield, this by no means suggests that he’s someone incapable of playing at the top level. For the majority of his Barcelona career, Suarez would have been competing with the likes of Iniesta and Xavi; even after their departures securing a position over the likes of Rakitic, Busquets and Vidal was always going to be difficult. If his development has been anything similar to those who came before him, then Arsenal have certainly got their hands on a very technically gifted individual who could add something to Emery’s attacking elements. The issues with this addition don’t come from concerns over Suarez’s ability, but from the fact that he simply isn’t what Arsenal need. Their new loanee may well accumulate a few assists and goals during his time at Arsenal, but is this really going to be enough for them to win more games with the defence they currently have? The Gunners don’t lack in attacking prowess possessing a number of players capable of damaging opponents. They haven’t struggled to score goals at all this season so it’s baffling as to why Emery is still trying to add to his attack rather than focusing on the real issues which are clearly in defence. Considering the backline virtually needs a complete overhaul, the manager might prefer to do this at the end of the season when he can get more permanent signings. Whilst this is somewhat logical, it’s still difficult to see why he couldn’t bring in a few defensive loan signings in January seeing as Suarez was signed on loan himself. This would not only have benefited his side over the remainder of the season, but if these loan signings performed well they could be excellent options to sign permanently for next season, rather than having to scout and sign a completely new defence in a single window. By sticking with his current defence Emery is almost writing off this season despite his side being in a decent position to qualify for Champions League football. It may be slightly unfair to give a lower rating for Suarez when it has nothing to do with his ability as a player but, from the clubs perspective, defensive signings were much more needed. Rating: 5/10
Miguel Almiron to Newcastle – Almiron might be a player who is fairly unknown to a lot of English football fans, but, if you haven’t heard of him before, it shouldn’t be long until you realise why Newcastle have signed him. Almiron is a Paraguayan playmaker who has been strutting his stuff in the MLS, helping his former side, Atlanta United, to claim the Championship title. He was a player grabbing the attention of sides all around Europe so it appears that Newcastle have done well to secure his services. Almiron is yet to make an appearance for his new club but it’s likely that he will be part of the squad when they face a trip to Wolves a week today. Almiron could end up being an excellent signing for a number of reasons. If you have any interest in the MLS you will be aware that he possesses bundles of ability, crucial for a side in a relegation scrap and in desperate need of goals. Whilst his ability will be the main benefits of his signature, it’s also a great statement from the club. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has come under criticism for his lack of financial backing, something that Manager Benitez, has become increasingly frustrated with. Whilst £20million may not be an enormous amount of money in today’s game, it’s still enough to set a new transfer record for the club, a signal of intent from Ashley. Of course, one player will likely not be enough on its own, but introducing one or two signings at a time can be a more effective way of doing business, rather than signing a whole new team. Fulham and West Ham, to a certain extent, are perfect examples as to why signing lots of players in one go can often be detrimental. It’s unrealistic to expect what is essentially a whole new squad to click and perform well straight away; Fulham are at huge risk of relegation after naively thinking that’s exactly what would happen following promotion rom the Championship. Newcastle fans should be pleased with the signing of Almiron and shouldn’t be disappointed they didn’t get anyone more than that. His presence will be a minor change in the squad rather than a complete overhaul, which could be enough for Newcastle to start getting the results they so desperately need. Rating: 9/10