A wrap-up of the January transfer window

So, the January window for European clubs to make midseason transfers is only about half over, but there has been plenty of drama and surprising moves both touted and completed in the first two weeks or so. This week, I’d like to take a look back at some of the moves we’ve seen thus far and what they could mean for both player and club moving forward into the back half of the 21-22 season.

Phillipe Countinho to Aston Villa (Loan) 

We start off with a stonking coup by Aston Villa, as they have managed a six-month loan deal for mega-star Phillipe Coutinho from Barcelona. The Brazilian playmaker has long been an outcast at the Camp Nou, but this does not diminish the feat Villa have pulled off. Coutinho cost Barca 142 million pounds back in 2018 and rightly so: he was among the best creative midfielders in the world at that time. But it never quite worked for him in Barcelona, where he had to play second fiddle to Lionel Messi for three years and, as such, never justified his transfer fee. In four seasons, he managed only 17 goals for the Blaugrana as he lost confidence and form. But he has been given a lifeline by Villa, who has ambitions of pushing for European qualification. The most likely pulling force is manager Steven Gerrard, a legend with whom Coutinho played several seasons in his younger years at Liverpool. He grew into the superstar he is under the tutelage of Reds’ legend Stevie G, so, perhaps, the chance to reunite with his old mate is what brought him to the Midlands. Regardless, I think fans in general are excited to see if Coutinho can rediscover the old magic that lit up the Premier League for years in the 2010s. A good move for both parties.

Lucas Digne to Aston Villa, 25 million pounds 

Villa has some windows, as shown by the fact that they also managed to bring in one of the best left backs in the Premier League for a relatively cheap fee. Digne had spent a few seasons at Everton with great personal success. He has been a consistent figure in the top five to 10 players in the league in terms of accurate crosses per game and is a leading figure in chances created for the Toffees as well. However, as Everton’s form slumped this season under Rafa Benitez, manager and player had a monumental fallout, leading to Digne’s departure. Villa was first on the scene, signing the 28-year-old Frenchman up on a permanent deal for a 25-million-pound fee. Given he would have gone for 40 – 50 million a year or two ago and is still in his prime years, this is a spectacular signing by the Villains. They look to be capable of doing some damage in the second half of this season.

Chris Wood to Newcastle, 25 million pounds 

I am a little more skeptical of this move. The New Zealander has been a consistent goal threat for former club Burnley for years now, regularly hitting 10 plus league goals to keep the club in the Premier League. But he has only three goals this season so far and is now in his 30s. Newcastle desperately needs goals, yes, but it feels as if there were better options available. This signing is a safe bet: Wood will most likely get five to 10 goals in the second half of the season, as he tends to come on strong after the winter period. I believe at one-point last spring, he scored eight points in eight league games. He is also a very technical finisher. But Newcastle does not create many chances, and Wood is not one to make his own goals by any means, so his return may suffer. He is also not a particularly long-term option at 30 years old and has reached his ceiling; the chances he ever hits 20 plus league goals in a season are minute at best. This is a C+ signing at best, but if it keeps Newcastle from going down, then it will surely look much better come the end of the season. 

Krzysttof Piatek to Fiorentina, loan 

I’m now branching off to look at the continent instead of simply the Premier League to examine Piatek’s loan move back to the Italian Serie A after a season and a half away. Piatek originally came to prominence in Genoa, where he scored 13 goals in 19 matches in half a season. He has struggled since, however, as the goals dried up at AC Milan and then never returned to Hertha Berlin. Now back in Italy, this may be Piatek’s last shot with a big-name club if he is to stay at the top level of European football. But the signs are good to begin his career in Florence, as he scored on debut in the Italian Cup this past week. Fiorentina is a good destination for him as well. They are still involved in multiple competitions, and star man Dusan Vlahovic needs a backup so he isn’t run into the ground playing every match. Further, La Viola plays a very attractive style of soccer, which creates plenty of chances for a penalty box poacher like Piatek to score goals. He will get enough minutes to make an impact and have plenty of chances to score and build his confidence. Watch this move as a sleeper for the best signing of the January Transfer Window.  

Read again in two weeks’ time for a final update after the window ends to see what other big names find themselves playing at new clubs come February.