January 31st: the day the EPL goes mad. It’s a day of helicopters, botched medicals, 11th hour panic buys and Harry Redknapp denying all interest in a player when chatting to the press from his Ranger Rover before having a bid accepted minutes later.
Here’s a look at some of the movers and shakers in a January transfer window that saw record spending.
A good January for…
Fulham: New coach Rene Meulensteen smashed the club’s transfer record for Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou, who scored 25 in his last 37 games for Olympiakos, as well as firing his country to a World Cup berth via the play-offs. At the foot of the table, investment was imperative and they have also brought in Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and Johnny Heitinga.
Meulensteen has shifted some deadwood too (Senderos, Ruiz, Taarabt) but has also robbed the Premier League of one of its classiest talents by letting Dimitar Berbatov go on loan to Monaco. While he may have been infuriating for the fans of the clubs he represents, the Bulgarian’s lazy, leggy and languid elegance will be missed. That said, he can now sun himself on a yacht on the Cote D’Azur, which is what he looked born to do.
Manchester United: David Moyes, who is keeping calm and carrying on, kept it simple in January with just a single signing that addressed his club’s most pressing problem: creativity. It was some signing too. Juan Mata has been the league’s finest playmaker of recent times until his peculiar exclusion at Chelsea and will surely reignite United on and off the field.
Crystal Palace: Until Tony Pulis took charge in November, Palace looked destined for a swift return to the second tier. The Welshman has breathed new life into the club on the field and has now done so off it too with five, yes FIVE, deadline day deals. In came the experienced Scott Dann and Joe Ledley, a reliable keeper in Wayne Hennessy and one of England’s most talented youngsters, Tom Ince, too. Jason Puncheon made his loan signing permanent, capping off a busy day for the upwardly mobile South Londoners.
Mehh – a middling month
Cardiff City: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is loved by pretty much everyone, and two former employers have given him a helping hand as he looks to keep the Welsh club up. He has brought in Wilfried Zaha and Fabio from Man United and a couple of little known Norwegians from Molde, where he was gaffer until December. Whether it will be enough, only time will tell.
Everton: Aiden McGeady and Lacina Traore are solid, if unspectacular, additions for a club chasing Champions League football, but Roberto Martinez’s finest work was securing a new deal for Leighton Baines and keeping Ross Barkley happy. Both will now cost big bucks if they are to leave in the summer.
Newcastle: The Toon Army bid au revoir to the man they nicknamed “Le Dreamboat”, Yohan Cabaye, albeit for a hefty fee as Paris St Germain’s ravenous owners flexed their considerable financial muscle once again. As consolation, Alan Pardew could only bring in Dutchman Luuk de Jong on loan as a bid for Clement Grenier, a ready-made Cabaye replacement, was spurned by Lyon. The big question, of course, is what the hell does Director of Football Joe Kinnear, who last year famously labelled Cabaye “Yohan Kebab” amid a string of hilarious gaffes, actually do?
Liverpool: This looked an important window for a side that has exceeded expectations while always looking just one injury away from imploding this season. Quite why they waited until deadline day to bid for Yehven Konoplyanka is, frankly, embarrassing, especially considering MD Ian Ayre’s jaunt to Ukraine to push the deal through. They also missed out on Mohamed Salah to Chelsea, but this squad has served Brendan Rodgers well and they remain well set for a first top four finish since 2009.
Arsenal: After the uncharacteristic extravagance that saw Mesut Özil arrive in August, this was normal service resumed for Arsenal. As Arsene Wenger’s mission to build a team populated entirely by graceful attacking midfielders continued, he brought in a “number 10”, but not the one he wanted. Julian Draxler, all supple movement and neat passing, would arguably have been the most Arsenal signing ever, but in the end Wenger settled for Kim Kallstrom’s experience. It’s subsequently been revealed that the Swede is carrying an injury. Great.