Premier League Transfers: 5 Hits And 5 Misses from the January Transfer Window



Image Credit: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Written by: StatsBomb

Football transfers are an inexact affair. Good intentions from all sides can quickly fall away if a player doesn’t settle or do the business on the pitch. The Premier League spent over £430m (around $750m AUD) on deals this past January as the contenders beefed up their squads while the lesser lights reinforced to try to stave off relegation. Did they do a good job though? Let’s review some of those deals.

Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool to West Brom, LOAN

Here’s a look at Daniel Sturridge’s performance radar across the last two seasons:

Tons of shots, a lot of work in the penalty box, decent creativity and a solid ball carrier. It’s high quality output from a high quality striker. Of course, the reason we’re looking at two seasons is to get a moderate sized sample, because for reasons of injury or selection, Daniel Sturridge hasn’t spent much time on the pitch in recent years.

West Brom are rooted to the bottom of the table, but in acquiring Sturridge in a relatively risk free loan, they have found a way to get an elite goalscorer into their squad, just when they need it most. Sturridge’s numbers will surely take a hit in a lesser side than Liverpool, but his quality is undeniable. They just have to hope he can stay fit.

Verdict: HIT

Cenk Tosun, Besiktas to Everton, £27m ($48m)

Tosun had been having a stellar time for Turkish club Besiktas backing up a 20-goal season in Super Lig in 2016-17 with a further eight goals this time round. Four more in the Champions League including three against Monaco and either a goal or an assist in each of the five fixtures he started meant the Premier League beckoned. However, concerns about whether form in a weaker league would translate were quickly magnified by comments from manager Sam Allardyce after Tosun had been benched against Arsenal: “He’s had service to him that he’s not held up and he’s found it a bit of a struggle at this level because of the pace and the physicality of the game.”

Every player needs time for adaptation, but with Oumar Niasse already starting ahead of him--another player who experienced an extended period of adaptation before getting near the first team--it looks like once more Everton haven’t managed expectation effectively. It’s a big fee too.

Verdict: MISS

Emerson Palmieri, Roma to Chelsea, £18m ($32m)

Despite winning a title with Marcos Alonso playing as a left wing back, Chelsea decided to enter the market to reinforce there this january in acquiring Emerson Palmieri from Roma. Looking at the two players’ performance radars--even allowing for stylistic differences between the two clubs-- Emerson shows up extremely well across a wide variety of categories and at five years Alonso’s junior, could well represent the long term future for Chelsea in left sided defensive positions. The only question mark, which is something that may have created what looks like a potentially bargain £18m fee is that he has been injured for much of this season having damaged a cruciate ligament back in May. If able to get back to his best, he looks a solid pick-up.

Verdict: HIT

Ross Barkley, Everton to Chelsea, £15m ($26m)

Barkley spent much of his Everton career as something of an in-between player. A prodigious dribbler with an eye for goal, but with questions marks over his decision making and defensive capability. Now 24, he’s finally got his move to a top six club, but there’s enough going on around this deal to question the sense behind it. Firstly Chelsea aspire to continue to dine at the top table of European football, and it’s far from certain Barkley is good enough to assist them do that. Secondly, his contract was expiring in the summer and he could have then moved for free, so £15m and 6 months of wages were perhaps unnecessarily spent. Lastly, he’s been out injured since the summer, so Chelsea signed him up without seeing him play post-injury. On top of the other factors, all told, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

Verdict: MISS

Lucas Moura, PSG to Tottenham, £23m ($41m)

Pushed down the pecking order by the summer arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Moura had been a constant in the PSG side across the previous four and a half seasons appearing in a around 50 games a year. Usually he averaged around two shots and two key passes per 90 minutes played--solid stuff--while being an effective dribbler, but he pitches up in the defensive columns too, and for an attacking wide player, that’s scarce. That blend makes him look a good fit for Tottenham’s high workrate side. He’s 25 years old so coming into his peak years and the fee looked more than fair in the current market. The only downside is his lack of recent match practice with only a handful of substitute appearances this year.

Verdict: HIT

Andre Ayew, West Ham to Swansea, £20m ($32m) & Theo Walcott, Arsenal to Everton, £20m ($32m)

Some similarities between these two deals: Swansea resigned former player Andre Ayew from West Ham, while Everton brought in Theo Walcott from Arsenal. Each is currently 28 years old, signed for a reported £20m fee, agreed three year contracts and were brought in to add depth to their new club’s attack.

Ayew has presumably been brought back in the hope he can recreate something of his 12 goal 2015-16 season for the Swans, but Swansea have struggled for creativity rather than shooting skill this season, and we can see from his performance radar, that while he is a solid passer, he has scarcely translated that into a threat through chance creation directly or passing high up the pitch. It feels like a sentimental but expensive pick.

In contrast, Walcott gets the chance to revitalise his career having fallen down the pecking order after a decade at Arsenal. In trading up on Aaron Lennon (who moved to Burnley) for Walcott, Everton have exchanged one speedy former North London resident attacker for another. Walcott offers ball carrying ability and a genuine goal threat alongside his pace, and deserves an opportunity to show that he can still cut it in the Premier League, if now for a lower ranked team and with half an eye on a run to the World Cup squad.

Verdict: Ayew - MISS | Walcott - HIT

Jordan Hugill, Preston to West Ham, £9m ($16m)

In this day and age, £9m for a forward in the Premier League doesn’t usually make much of a dent in the finances, but it’s still important to get good value if you can. Hugill joined West Ham from Championship club Preston with a goal rate of around one every three games across 5000 minutes played in the last two seasons. Not shabby for that level, but also not great. It’s hard to see what West Ham have seen in the player to give him his shot at the big time. He’s not young at 25 years old so can’t be expected to make a huge performance leap and if we look at his performance radar, there’s not a whole lot to see:

Verdict: MISS

Olivier Giroud, Arsenal to Chelsea, £15m ($26m)

Last season, Olivier Giroud scored seven goals in the last 15 minutes of league games. He was substitute 18 times that year, so spent a lot of time on the pitch at the end of games, but across the last five seasons, only Romelu Lukaku has scored more in a single season during that period (10 in the same season). So if a club wanted to sign a player as a back-up option to make the difference late in games, Giroud more than passes the test. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang landing at Arsenal for £60m, a move became necessary, and despite his age (he’s 31 years old) he should be able to fulfil the same role he has at Arsenal for a good couple of years. He’s a reliable pick.

Verdict: HIT

Badou Ndiaye, Galatasaray to Stoke, £14m ($25m)

Risk versus reward is a decisive factor when sizing up a transfer and this one is hard to weigh up. Stoke having fired Mark Hughes, have a relatively new manager in Paul Lambert, so it’s hard to presume that Ndiaye isn’t a long term club target. The Senegalese midfielder could turn out to be a solid signing but having spent the last two and half years in the Turkish Super Lig and time before that in the Norwegian Elitesserien, he’s making a big step up into the Premier League. That he’s 27 years old and hasn’t made a breakthrough into one of Europe’s big five leagues already is slightly disconcerting and both that and his fee demand that he hits the ground running. It could go either way for him, but for now the jury is out.

Verdict: MISS

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