So the January transfer window was slammed shut last night as Europe’s clubs frantically finished their business. The mood of austerity seemed to hit the pockets of the biggest spenders across the continent, with most of the continent’s biggest teams relatively quiet in the transfer market, probably waiting for the summer to push through their major signings. Nonetheless, there were still some important signings made, and here football.co.uk wraps up the smartest moves.
Inter Milan pulled off a coup by Zdravko Kuzmanovic, the Serbian midfielder. Kuzmanovic, who previously played in Italy for Fiorentina, joined the Italian giants for barely 2 million euros, an absolute snip considering the impressive central midfielder has been a key part of Stuttgart’s squad since he left Italy.
Another midfielder moving to Italy was Mohamed Sissoko, who joins Fiorentina on loan from Paris St Germain. The powerful former Liverpool midfielder had struggled for playing time at the Parisians, but is a potential steal for a Fiorentina team looking to build on an impressive start to the season.
Another Sissoko was on the move from France, in this case Moussa, who joined Newcastle United. At 1.5 million euros, he is another bargain, and the powerful yet technically gifted midfielder can be something of a hugely reduced version of Yaya Toure for Alan Pardew and his French revolution in the North East. Pardew pulled off arguably the best coup of the entire transfer window with another of the French players he signed, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. It was quite incredible that a bigger team did not come in for the Montpellier man, but the France international did not hesitate to sign for the Magpies when they made their move.
Yanga-Mbiwa was one of the three stand out players, along with Olivier Giroud and Younes Belhanda, as Montpellier shocked French football by winning Ligue 1 last season. Yanga-Mbiwa is strong, technically good and fast, and he should add solidity to Newcastle’s defence. He will be worth far more than what they signed him for and is probably the best signing any team in Europe has made in the last month.
One move which went under the radar, but should not be underestimated, is Wigan Athletic’s signing of the Honduran international Roger Espinoza. The midfielder enjoyed a good game this week against Stoke City, being integral to his team’s fightback to draw 2-2, and that should be just the start of a good career after his move from Sporting Kansas City. He is another player who was surprisingly overlooked by bigger teams, having been one of the stars of last summer’s London 2012 Olympic Games. Espinoza was in inspired form for his country as they beat Spain on their way to the last eight, where they were beaten by Brazil. Yet Espinoza was the man of the match in a bizarre game against Brazil, being sent off but still performing majestically, scoring one and setting up another brilliant strike to underline his burgeoning potential.
Of the other players moving to England, it was North London duo Arsenal and Tottenham who got the best bargains of the window. Tottenham brought in Lewis Holtby for £1.5 million, and the English born German international’s passing ability and strength should make him well suited to the rigours of the Premier League. Expect that fee to prove a bargain. And Arsenal swooped late for Nacho Monreal from Malaga, taking advantage of the Andalucian outfit’s financial woes to bring in a proven Spain international who has been key in developing his team into one of Spain’s top four sides.
Another player departing Malaga is Diego Buonanotte, the Argentine midfielder, who looks an intelligent loan signing for fellow La Liga outfit Granada. The playmaker is a useful player who can add quality to the Pozzo owned side.
Leaving England to return to France is Alou Diarra, who joined Rennes on loan from West Ham. The French side, pushing for a top four place in Ligue 1, have picked up a brilliant signing. Diarra was captain of France little over 18 months ago, and his abilities make him the ideal replacement for the impetuous Yann M’Vila, who left for Rubin Kazan. West Ham’s loss is Rennes’ gain.
France’s big signing, David Beckham apart, was Lucas Moura, who moved from São Paulo to Paris St Germain for 35 million euros. The Brazilian is a hard working but skilful and fast winger who is treading the same career path as Ronaldinho. He should revel in France and in Paris, where he has a number of fellow Brazilians to help him settle. The other big money signing of this window was Willian, who in the words of his former coach at Shakhtar Donetsk, chose money at Anzhi Makhachkala rather than staying the season in Ukraine to continue their Champions League adventure and the options available in Western Europe, where the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea had followed him. Anzhi certainly have a coup on their hands, and few teams will relish taking on a forward line of Lacina Traore, Samuel Eto’o and Willian in the months ahead. That could be enough to secure a maiden Russian Premier League title for the ridiculously wealthy Anzhi.