In the January transfer window, Premier League clubs will be looking for players who can hit the ground beneath their feet after a year of game stoppage and the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winter window is usually expensive and value for money is hard to find. However, there have been some outstanding signings in the summer market that the clubs are looking to repeat over the next month. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive newcomers and what teams may have learned from them by January.
(Note: certain players such as Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara and Arsenal’s Thomas Partey have not been included as injuries have limited their participation so far.)
The big money move: Ruben Dias, 23, Manchester City (€ 68 million)
Ruben Dias has made an impression since arriving in City. Getty
Regardless of his partner at the heart of city defense, the Portugal international has looked absolutely solid since his debut. The former Benfica star looks like a no-nonsense back-back with his size and strength, but in reality he is clever at picking the challenges and positioning himself well to pick up the second balls.
Dias isn’t the most adventurous passerby, but an accuracy of 95% this season is still impressive. Not only was he City’s best defender that season, but he was also one of the best in the Premier League. From what we’ve seen so far, he looks just like the man who fills Vincent Kompany’s boots. In fact, City only conceded six goals from 17 games with Dias in the starting XI. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
The Hidden Gem: Wesley Fofana, 20, Leicester City (€ 35 million)
The Frenchman has settled in tactically well at Leicester, be it in the four or three, and has rightly garnered praise for his performances since his Premier League debut in mid-October. Fofana, who turned 20 in December, impressed with his “proactive” way of defending – he intercepts well, is efficient in the air (70% of duels won this season), is fast, agile and plays with you impressive focus – every ball is there to be won.
Although he only started 16 league games for Saint-Etienne in his career before moving to England, he was still highly rated on the scouting track. A scout told ESPN that he could be a “potential world-class center-back” so the Foxes must be given the honor of acting swiftly to sign him before anyone else. It’s safe to say that his former defense partner William Saliba didn’t work out quite as well after joining Arsenal for € 30m last year.
Frank Leboeuf cannot praise Edinson Cavani enough for his professionalism since joining Man United.
The Veteran: Edinson Cavani, 33, Manchester United (free)
Although his signature was largely groaned by Manchester United fans awaiting the € 120million arrival of Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, the veteran Uruguayan is slowly working his way into the hearts of fans.
His two beautifully executed header games in Southampton and his left-footed Carabao Cup winner against Everton are a reminder that Cavani has been one of the best center-forwards in world football over the past decade. Indeed, the 33-year-old has stolen the limelight earmarked for the € 45million signing of Donny van de Beek, who has struggled to make an impact since arriving from Ajax. Cavani may not have been the # 1 target, but United have secured an excellent liaison player, top professional and world-class finisher. For nothing. And boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently said the club have every intention of renewing his contract.
Future prospects: Ferran Torres, 20, Manchester City (€ 23m)
Even the city hierarchy might be surprised at the impact Torres had in his first four months in English football. Predominantly an all-right winger at Valencia, Pep Guardiola was given the freedom to move – often from a far left position as well as being the “wrong number 9” in Europe (where he comes from), scoring four goals out of five games .)
The flair-based, elegant striker also scored a hat trick in the 6-0 win against Spain to prove that he can do it on the international stage. Finally, at 23 million euros, Torres can be considered one of the best deals in the city of the last decade as it is still under development.
Second chance: James Rodriguez, 29, Everton (Free)
James Rodriguez is a quality player who only needed one chance. Tony McArdle / Everton FC via Getty Images
James showed enough of the old self before sustaining a premature injury to suggest he will become a key player for Everton in the years to come. While there was no doubt about the Colombian midfielder’s traits, many thought that it might take him some time to establish himself in a new, more physical setting.
James and Everton, led by old master Carlo Ancelotti, got along well from the start. His three goals and as many assists in 10 Premier League games are a solid return. The winger / attacking midfielder, whose left foot is still one of the finest in world football, looks revitalized and will bring back many memories of why Real Madrid paid Monaco € 75m to sign in 2014.
The game of chance: Edouard Mendy, 28, Chelsea (24 million euros)
Chelsea are still in the works and still have to find the consistency they want, but at least the Senegalese international has brought stability to the goal after Kepa Arrizabalaga’s fights.
The 6-foot-6 goalkeeper is an accurate passer of the ball as well as a great shot stopper (he has scored 80% of shots on goal this season) and never seems to be under too much pressure. While he’s not the most expensive or famous of Chelsea’s € 250million summer signings, he looks like a clear (and crucial) upgrade for the Blues. Chelsea took a gamble as he had just one good season at Rennes and almost gave up his dream of playing professionally five years ago, but it worked.