Another January transfer window has come and gone. This one though lacked the fireworks of previous windows due to the ongoing impact that COVID-19 is having on the finances of football clubs around the world.
The lack of money does not mean that some clubs improved themselves during the window, while the lack of activity was a nightmare for some.
Here is a look at the winners and losers from the past month of transfer business
January Transfers Winners
Both on and off the pitch, things are looking a lot rosier at Arsenal now than they did just over a month ago.
Mikel Arteta has overseen a huge turnaround in form over the past six weeks, with the Gunners having gone from being in a potential relegation battle to back in the race for a top-four finish following a seven-match unbeaten league run.
Off the field, meanwhile, the north London outfit will be thrilled with the business they have been able to do over the past few weeks.
The major narrative heading into the January window surrounded the future of Mesut Ozil, and though Arsenal received no fee for the former Germany international, his departure for Fenerbahce at least brought the curtain down on a rather distracting sideshow at the Emirates Stadium.
A similar contract resolution allowed Ozil’s fellow outcast, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, to sign for Olympiacos while Shkodran Mustafi’s deadline-day move to Schalke saw him join Sead Kolasinac in Gelsenkirchen and ensured that four players who were clearly surplus to requirements under Arteta have now been moved on.
Loan moves for William Saliba (Nice), Joe Willock (Newcastle) and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (West Brom) have further helped trim the Gunners previously bloated squad.
All those outgoings offered Arteta the opportunity to plug some of the holes in his squad, most notably bringing in Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid.
The Norway international produced some stunning displays for Real Sociedad last term, and if he can reach those same heights at Arsenal then the creativity issues that the club struggled with during the first half of the season will likely be a thing of the past.
Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan was also brought in to act as a proven deputy for Bernd Leno.
Winner: Luka Jovic
The aforementioned Odegaard was not the only Real Madrid fringe player to earn himself a loan move away from Santiago Bernabeu in January, with Luka Jovic having also temporarily departed the Spanish capital.
The Serbia international has managed just two goals in 32 appearances for the Blancos since his €70 million arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt in June 2019, making him one of Europe’s most expensive flops of recent transfer windows.
At 23, Jovic still has time on his side, and it was clear that taking some time away from Madrid could be beneficial for his career as he looks to prove himself at the highest level.
Frankfurt were only too happy to re-sign a player who scored 27 goals for them during the 2018-19 campaign, and Jovic has picked up where he left off in the Bundesliga.
His first four appearances back in a Frankfurt shirt have returned three goals, with the striker already looking reborn now that he is back in familiar surroundings.
Winner: Bayer Leverkusen
As far as making value-for-money signings, few clubs anywhere in Europe can claim to have had a more impressive window than Bayer Leverkusen.
Celtic defender Jeremie Frimpong, Leicester City winger Demarai Gray and Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah have arrived for a combined €18m as Peter Bosz’s side aim to secure a Champions League spot for next season.
Gray’s arrival is particularly intriguing, with the former Premier League winner still only 24 and undoubtedly has the potential to trouble any opposition defence when at his best.
Transfer Window Losers
While Real Madrid were limited to the odd loan departure over the course of the January window, things were even quieter from a transfer point of view at Barcelona.
Despite some improved performances on the pitch, Barca remain in a state of crisis, with their crippling financial situation and the future of Lionel Messi casting a shadow over March’s presidential elections.
Despite entering the final six months of his contract, Messi was never likely to leave Barca in January, but the club’s failure to yet again move on some of their other high earners means that the clubs finances will continue to dominate headlines for months.
To illustrate how broke Barcelona are, they wanted to sign centre-back Eric Garcia in January. A fee of around €3m had reportedly been agreed, with Garcia even willing to forego his salary to rejoin his boyhood club as he bids to catch the eye of Spain manager Luis Enrique ahead of this summer’s European Championship.
But Barcelona cannot afford that and the 20-year-old will have to wait until the summer to complete his return to Camp Nou on a free transfer.
Loser: Dele Alli
If Arsenal have ‘won’ the transfer window from a Premier League perspective, then across north London things could hardly be much more different.
Tottenham were unable to bring in any new faces over the course of the window despite their run of just two wins in nine league games seeing them slip out of title contention.
And though that will likely have left Jose Mourinho rather frustrated, the Portuguese is unlikely to be the most upset Spurs employee right now given how the window has played out.
That honor can be bestowed on Dele Alli, who has found himself out in the cold under Mourinho this season having made just six starts in all competitions.
Alli was heavily linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, a logical move after Mauricio Pochettino took over at PSG. But Daniel Levy reportedly blocked any move for Alli because failed to bring in a replacement for him.
Loser: Christian Eriksen
It was only 12 months ago that Christian Eriksen was being serenaded by Inter Milan fans after signing for the Serie A club. But his dream move away from Tottenham quickly turned into a nightmare when he realized that Antonio Conte wanted to control his every move on and off the pitch.
Conte drove down the value of Eriksen by not playing time and Inter repeatedly said he was for sale. But unable to find any buyers for the Dane, Inter tried to send the midfielder out on loan, and once again found no takers. Eriksen is stuck in Milan until the summer, a situation that neither he, his manager of his employer wanted