IIn the end, the biggest deals in January were actually negotiated and concluded four months earlier.
The flattest mid-season window ended and topping the list for the highest transfer fees was Amad Diallo at Manchester United for £ 18.2million rising to £ 37.2million and the Said Benrahma’s loan to West Ham United being turned into a £ 25million permanent.
These two deals were rejected in October, with clubs reluctant to spend money in a tough window even without the Covid-19 pandemic changing the clubs’ position on finance.
Liverpool have made it an exciting deadline out of necessity rather than design. If Jurgen Klopp hadn’t suffered injuries in the heart of his defense, he might have joined Manchester United, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to resist the temptation to add senior players.
Opting for Ben Davies in Preston for £ 2million and Schalke’s Ozan Kabak on loan were also calculated, sensible moves rather than panic buying. West Brom also opted for the loan market in their battle to avoid the decline, bringing in England international Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Turkish midfielder Okay Yokuslu. Overall, there seemed to be an unspoken agreement to get a foot on the ball and wait for summer.
Clubs shelled out £ 230million a year ago but as the final chord sheets went to the Premier League on Monday night they were expected to drop by around 70% this season.
The main reason is the coronavirus, with clubs now approaching a year with no crowded stadiums and no receipt income to help fund salaries and fees. West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has estimated a loss of £ 2million per home game for her club, with the big stadiums losing £ 10million for every game behind closed doors.
While this amount may be less than the money being released, it is still a huge hole in the books over the course of a year. And clubs have also asked players to take salary deferrals in the past 12 months, so spending that money on a new signing is not a good idea.
The clubs still have installments for previous transfer fees and agent commissions that will be paid in August, so they have committed to spending already during a time of financial uncertainty. No one realistically expected this window to compare to just three years ago when Virgil van Dijk, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aymeric Laporte arrived, with total spending exceeding £ 400million.
Another element of January spending is the position of clubs in the rankings. Mid-table safety is not a place where owners feel the need to spend to bolster the squad, with existing players making a decent fist of the season. Nor are they cut off from the rest like Sheffield United, who haven’t brought in players to bolster their hopes for survival.
Most of the attention over the window has been on the future. It has been a quieter period for middlemen, but there has been some discussion over the summer when there is potential for higher spending.
Manchester Unite’s Teden Mengi has joined County Derby on loan until the end of the season after Wayne Rooney descended on his former club to sign the much-loved 18-year-old center-half. “He’s a fantastic young player,” said Derby manager Rooney. “He’s fast and strong, he can play in a two or a three in the back.”
United have fought off the sizable loan interests of Brandon Williams and Daniel James to retain the England Under-21 full-back and the Welsh winger, respectively.
But there have been opportunities to land young or young club players. United have been in talks with three Derby County Academy players, who sold 16-year-old Kaide Gordon to Liverpool.
City have plenty of injury issues but their action on deadline day was to move 18-year-old Kwadwo Baah from Rochdale, who has a pre-contract and will arrive at Etihad Stadium this summer after seeing his contract at Spotland.
Moisés Caicedo was the most prominent of these young players but we may not see him right away in the Premier League. The Ecuadorian international has completed his move to Brighton, but manager Graham Potter intends to let him “acclimatize and settle in” and will not put any pressure on the 19-year-old’s shoulders. Even United’s big move for Diallo was looking to the future.
A new part of a January window during a pandemic was that clubs were looking to break deals, or more specifically Arsenal were looking to unload themselves and move on. Mesut Ozil’s £ 350,000 a week is no longer part of the payroll, while Shkodran Mustafi has also been offered an early exit.
Elsewhere, Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock joined Newcastle on loan as Everton was set to beat Fulham on the signing of Bournemouth striker Joshua King as Carlo Ancelotti’s side struck a deal at short term which could be worth up to £ 5million. King, whose Bournemouth contract was due to expire this summer, had already attracted interest from West Ham United and Manchester United, but he had not been able to move away from the south coast. Fulham has made a loan for Bordeaux striker Josh Maja, who is making his return to English football two years after leaving Sunderland for France.
However, not all players were happy with Dele Alli failing to get away from Tottenham. He faces a fight for regular football, but Spurs have a player to call on if injured in a busy second half of the season. It was not in their best interests to let him go when others were injured, which would only result in unnecessary expense at a time when the belts were tightening.