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Another deadline day is in the books. Below, we provide a quick-hit analysis of the biggest stories from the final day of the January transfer window.
Last-minute hijacking saves deadline day
We had to wait until the last two hours of the window to get excited about something. In a classic gazumping, Tottenham Hotspur snatched 17-year-old Swedish phenom Lucas Bergvall from under Barcelona’s noses in a last-minute deal worth €10 million, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein. A move to Barcelona had seemed imminent – the Djurgardens player had reportedly agreed to a contract with the Blaugrana – but Tottenham swooped in at the 11th hour with a sweeter financial package and convinced his family they were right for his development. Bergvall showed maturity beyond his years in his first season in the Swedish top flight, appearing in 25 of Djurgardens’ 30 matches. He’s now expected to spend the next few months there before linking up with Spurs in the summer.
Palace the day’s big spenders
Believe it or not, the most expensive deal of the day belongs to Crystal Palace, who reportedly agreed to pay Blackburn Rovers up to £22 million for teenage midfielder Adam Wharton. In any other January, word of Wharton’s transfer would barely make a ripple. Palace are 14th in the Premier League, Wharton is 19 and unknown to even some of the keenest observers, and Blackburn are 18th in the English second tier. This being a strange month, though, Wharton goes down as one of the most expensive acquisitions in the entire window. There’s some upside here, of course. Wharton showed he could handle the gruff standards of the unforgiving Championship, starting in 22 of 26 matches. A defensive midfielder by trade, Wharton can also impose himself further up the field and offer Palace another dimension in the middle of the park.
Big opportunity for Broja
Hours into the slowest January window in recent history, we finally got some news: Fulham outfoxed Wolverhampton to sign Armando Broja on loan from Chelsea, submitting a deal sheet just in time before eventually confirming the move after the 6 p.m. ET deadline. The deal is actually interesting, even if it doesn’t sound like it. If Fulham don’t play him enough over the remainder of the season, they’ll have to pay Chelsea up to £4 million in penalties, according to The Independent’s Miguel Delaney. The West London side obviously wants to give the 22-year-old the best opportunity for minutes – particularly after two seasons of knee troubles – and with Raul Jimenez out several weeks for Fulham, Broja now has that chance. The loan deal could also elevate his value ahead of a potential summer auction. The Blues apparently value Broja at around £50 million.
The 2024 January transfer window was low on excitement, but why? A year after spending a record £815 million on winter transfers – and more than £275 million on deadline day alone – Premier League clubs barely broke the £100-million mark this time around. Granted, Chelsea inflated those 2023 numbers with reckless deals for Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, and Noni Madueke, but, generally speaking, the appetite was there.
Everton being docked a record 10 points for breaches of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules – along with the prospect of further action against the Toffees and Nottingham Forest for more recent infractions – may have scared off the pack. Chelsea hit the tippy top of their billion-pound budget, and Manchester City limited their January business to acquiring future talent. Only 30 permanent transfers were completed in the English top flight compared to 67 last winter.
Chelsea want your money
Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League and without Champions League football on the horizon, cash-guzzling Chelsea desperately need funds to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations ahead of the 2024-25 season. But they didn’t manage to sell anyone in January. They just moved four players out on loan. Conor Gallagher was reportedly up for sale, but no one was willing to pay £50 million for him. It’s more than likely the west London side will flog Broja and Gallagher in the summer. Chelsea are raising academy graduates for financial slaughter, not because they want to but because they have to. They’ve already pawned off Lewis Hall, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Mason Mount for tens of millions of pounds in profit over the last six months, and Broja and Gallagher are simply next on the conveyor belt.
Bayern getting instant relief
Bayern closed out the window strong. Signing Sacha Boey from Galatasaray for a reported €30 million solved a crisis at the right-back position, where midfielder Konrad Laimer and left-back Raphael Guerreiro split time as square-peg-round-hole replacements for the injured Noussair Mazraoui. Further injuries to wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman forced Bayern to bring in 22-year-old Granada winger Bryan Zaragoza six months ahead of his expected move to Bavaria. Bayern now have the depth they need to continue competing on all fronts. Given their sputtering form and a sustained challenge from Bundesliga title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, they needed all the help they could get.
No place like home for Hojbjerg
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s future at Tottenham Hotspur has been up in the air since Antonio Conte left the club in March 2023 – and it’ll be suspended in motion for a while longer. Hojbjerg, one of former manager Conte’s soldiers in midfield, has made just five Premier League starts under Ange Postecoglou. And while he remains on the periphery of Postecoglou’s plans, Hojbjerg remains committed to the cause. He doesn’t lack options – Juventus, Napoli, Ajax, and Lyon reportedly expressed interest in the midfielder this winter – but still feels part of something big in north London. Credit to Postecoglou for making a player with such limited minutes feel connected to the cause.
Forest keep wheeling and dealing
Nottingham Forest found a way to be busy on deadline day without taking on another mortgage. Having closed out the 2023 summer transfer window with an incredible seven signings, suddenly frugal Forest finagled loan deals for highly rated Portuguese striker Rodrigo Ribeiro and Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna. Forest also flew in veteran goalkeeper Matz Sels from Strasbourg for a negligible fee and found time to sanction some departures. Orel Mangala left for Lyon in the club’s biggest transaction of the day.
Transfers you may have missed
Here are some notable deals that may have fallen off your radar.
Tommaso Baldanzi ➡️ Roma: This is one of the slickest moves of the window. Baldanzi arrives at Roma as Paulo Dybala’s future replacement in a budget-friendly deal reportedly worth up to €15 million. The 20-year-old showed tremendous tactical flexibility during his boyhood years at Empoli and starred for Italy at the U20 World Cup. With Dybala in and out of the lineup, Baldanzi will have a chance to stake an early claim to Daniele De Rossi’s starting XI.
Hugo Ekitike ➡️ Eintracht Frankfurt: Ekitike finally got his move. Paris Saint-Germain sent the 21-year-old forward to Eintracht Frankfurt on an initial loan deal with a reported €30 million option to buy. After missing out on a move to Frankfurt on the final day of the summer transfer window, Ekitike had to settle for just one appearance for PSG across all competitions. Mercifully, his purgatory has come to an end.
Orel Mangala ➡️ Lyon: Belgian midfielder Mangala is one of six players Lyon have signed in the January window as they attempt to dig themselves out of the relegation zone. Though he’s joined the Ligue 1 strugglers on loan, Lyon reportedly have the option of signing him permanently in a deal that could total £30 million. It was always going to take a lot of money to convince Forest to part with one of their most important players amid their own relegation dogfight. Perhaps motivated by the prospect of a points deduction, Forest did what they had to do.
Enes Unal ➡️ Bournemouth: Unal arrives at Bournemouth fresh off an ACL tear that forced him to miss the first half of the La Liga season at Getafe. But the 26-year-old comes with a competitive scoring record, having amassed 30 goals over the previous two domestic terms. That’s good news for Bournemouth, who’ve relied almost exclusively on Dominic Solanke to produce up front. Solanke’s goals account for 41% of the Cherries’ total Premier League output.
The one that got away
One deal looked set to be completed all day before falling apart …
Said Benrahma ➡️ Lyon: This seemed for quite some time like it would get over the line, with an offer worth around £15 million reportedly submitted days before the deadline. The Algerian winger, in anticipation, flew to France, and was spotted Thursday wearing the Ligue 1 club’s gear ahead of an expected official announcement. It never arrived, and Lyon were furious, accusing West Ham of negligence and a lack of respect for failing to register the deal with FIFA despite all parties agreeing to the discussed terms. This could get ugly.