The January transfer window is an important period in the football season, with teams striving to bolster their squads to improve their chances of landing silverware. This year the transfer window did not disappoint in terms of exciting signings, especially on the deadline day, January 31st.
Since the transfer market opened (almost) right after the FIFA World Cup 2022, logically, players who had made an impact and proved themselves more during the tournament ended up on the radar of Europe’s top clubs. Chelsea made the most remarkable input in this transfer window, spending a record-breaking €362m on eight new players.
Let’s take a look at some of the loudest moves of the 2023 winter transfer window, collapsed deals, and other facts.
João Cancelo: Manchester City to Bayern Munich
The transfer window deadline day saw the Manchester City defender move on to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. The deal is a loan until the end of the season with an option of a buyout for more than €70m.
Ever since returning from the World Cup, Cancelo has had limited game time due to Pep Guardiola changing the shape of the team. Rumors say that Guardiola decided in favor of the loan deal due to the manager being disappointed in the full-back’s furious attitude of being given decreased game time. Hence, this move is a logical step for the Portuguese international, who insists on wanting to play more. However, the player has stated that “There was speculation that my relationship with Pep was not the best, but the fact is I wanted to play more”.
The 28-year-old will now have a mission to try and improve the performance of his new club. Bayern is yet to secure a league win this year after suffering three consecutive 1-1 ties, reducing their lead in the table over Union Berlin cut to a single point.
Marcel Sabitzer: Bayern Munich to Manchester United
The ever-dependable Christian Eriksen suffered an ankle injury in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory against Reading last weekend, ruling the Dane out until early May. Erik ten Hag reacted quickly.
After contacting Bayern Munich only on the last day of the transfer window, a green light was given to a loan move (until the end of the season) for the 28-year-old Marcel Sabitzer – a player United has reportedly been tracking for quite some time.
Although the dynamic Austrian midfielder failed to claim a spot in the starting XI in Bayern, he still boasts fierce competitiveness, high energy, and packs worthy experience, which could help United secure a top-four finish this season. The player himself is more than excited to play for United, stating, “From the moment I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was right for me”.
Memphis Depay: Barcelona to Atlético Madrid
It’s certainly not easy to live up to the expectations of such a prestigious club as Barcelona. The Dutch international became the latest victim of this fact, falling out of favor with the Spanish giants.
After sitting out several weeks before the World Cup due to a thigh injury and with just four appearances for the La Liga leaders this season, it was Atlético Madrid coming to the rescue for the 28-year-old on January 20th. His long-sought-after move away from Catalunya will see him play for Diego Simeone’s side for the next two and a half years on a €3m deal.
The Spanish capital club was indeed missing some firepower up front, and Depay, the second-highest goalscorer in Netherlands history, could potentially form an influential attacking duo with Antoine Griezmann. Either way, it could definitely turn out to be an exciting combination to watch!
João Félix: Atlético Madrid to Chelsea
Chelsea went on an unprecedented spending spree in the winter transfer window, hoping to salvage their uninspiring season. Their fourth signing of January, an €11m 6-month loan of João Félix from Atlético Madrid, was an attempt to bring a spark to their attack.
Unfortunately, his debut didn’t go quite as planned. The Portuguese forward performed a reckless tackle on Fulham’s Kenny Tete just under an hour into his Chelsea debut, resulting in a red card and a three-match ban.
However, the stats the player provided from his time on the pitch were quite inspiring and proved his signing might not be destined for disaster. Besides, let’s not forget the raw talent and fantastic goal-scoring and playmaking ability he displayed during his time at Benfica and Atlético.
Jorginho: Chelsea to Arsenal
After learning that Mohamed Elneny’s knee injury might stretch until the end of the season, Premier League leaders Arsenal were forced to find a replacement in the midfield. The Gunners had both their bids rejected for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, so they ultimately settled for Jorginho from their city rivals Chelsea on a one-and-a-half-year €13.5 m contract.
The Italian became yet another player to join Arsenal from Chelsea, following the likes of David Luiz, Willian, and Petr Cech. And while the listed players all failed to fulfill their potential after making the switch, Jorginho might prove to be the right choice for Mikael Arteta’s side. The midfielder packs high intelligence, great leadership skills, and vast Premier League and international experience. 2020-21 Champions League and 2020 European Championship titles, as well as 3rd place in the 2021 Ballon d’Or voting, are just some of many accomplishments by the Italian.
Jorginho, one of the best penalty takers in the world, will surely add vital experience to the young and ambitious Arsenal squad. Will it help the club lift the Premier League trophy for the first time since the 2003-04 season?
Mykhailo Mudryk: Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea
This deal is likely the biggest hijack of the entire January transfer window. Since last summer, the 22-year-old forward has been a major target for Arsenal, a club that was the preferred destination by the player himself. It all suddenly changed when Chelsea stepped in with a bigger bag of cash, offering €100m for the young starlet, compared to €70m bid by Arsenal.
Of course, the money won, and on January 15th, the midfielder became the most expensive Ukrainian footballer of all time, penning a massive eight-and-a-half-year contract. Was it too much for a 22-year-old with just 65 senior appearances under his belt? Surely, it’s up to the talented player to prove it. His stats from the first half of the season are quite inspiring – ten goals and nine assists across all competitions. Despite not getting on the scoresheet in his Chelsea debut on January 21st, the new signing earned plaudits from fans, pundits, and teammates for his first Premier League appearance.
Meanwhile, Shakhtar Donetsk wasn’t the only one that benefited from this deal financially. Club president Rinat Akhmetov confirmed that a juicy chunk of €25m will be allocated from the Mudryk deal to help the families of Ukrainian soldiers. Some say this was why Shakhtar was so stubborn in the high evaluation of the young winger and opted for Chelsea’s offer rather than Arsenal’s. Was it all politics, after all?
Enzo Fernández: Benfica to Chelsea
This one’s a biggie. In fact, the biggest deal of the whole transfer window. Enzo Fernández became the finishing touch to Chelsea’s bloated squad with a British record €120m deal on transfer deadline day. Similarly to Mudryk, the Argentine also agreed to an eight-and-a-half-year contract.
The rise of Fernández has been nothing short of phenomenal. Just last summer, in July, the player completed a €10m move from his home country club River Plate to Benfica in Portugal, where he instantly made an impact. After a productive first half of the season at Benfica, he entered the World Cup in late November with three Primeira Liga’s Midfielder of the Month honors under his belt.
It’s easy to guess what happened after the 22-year-old midfielder helped his country triumph in Qatar and was named the best young player of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Every big club in Europe was after the talented Argentine’s signature. After tough negotiations throughout the majority of January, Chelsea agreed to pay Benfica’s astronomical release clause and signed the player just two hours before the end of the transfer window. Now, at Chelsea, Fernández’s task will be to solidify the center of the pitch with his superb playmaking and help the club for the second half of the Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
The Hakim Ziyech fiasco
The transfer deadline day certainly cemented Chelsea’s position as the most talked-about club of recent times. However, it wasn’t for good reasons only. Chelsea left Paris Saint-Germain in outrage after the French side found out the English side had submitted incorrect documentation three (!) times for the loan deal of Hakim Ziyech.
Although the terms of an agreement had been finalized and the 29-year-old had already landed in the French capital on Monday to complete his medical for the switch, the operation ultimately collapsed in what the Parisians described as a “class A circus”.
Unsurprisingly, PSG has lodged an appeal to the legal committee of LFP (the French governing body that runs the major professional football leagues in France), claiming that the London club had initially sent through the incorrect paperwork followed by two correct but unsigned ones. When the correct version was finally received, the transfer window deadline had already passed. As for now, the Moroccan international will remain at Chelsea for the time being, but we’re likely to find out more details about this situation in the near future.