The end to one of the more atypical transfer windows is upon us. Monday is deadline day across Europe’s top leagues, where the spending has largely been relatively dormant, some of the rumors as audacious as ever and the temperature of what’s to come in the final hours rather lukewarm.
The pandemic’s impact on the sport, even at the highest levels, has been one that has caused most clubs to rein in the spending. Whether it’s an inability to afford moves, protecting against the future inability to afford them or the inability to replace players sold with a subsequent signing, the winter movement hasn’t been as boisterous as in recent seasons.
Entering deadline day, for instance, the most expensive moves have been West Ham’s purchase of Saïd Benrahma from Brentford (a reported $29.5 million on top of a previous $6.2 million loan fee) and West Ham’s sale of Sébastien Haller to Ajax ($28 million)–which is a relative wash for David Moyes’s club. Contrast that with last January, which had multiple transfers with fees higher than Benrahma’s (led by Bruno Fernandes’s $66 million move to Manchester United); January 2019, which was paced by Christian Pulisic’s $73 million transfer to Chelsea; and January 2018, which saw some outlandish spending in the form of Philippe Coutinho’s $195 million move to Barcelona and Virgil van Dijk’s game-changing $103 million transfer to Liverpool.
There’s also the matter of Brexit, which has forced any non-UK citizens to require work permits to move to Premier League clubs, among many other byproducts. For plenty of reasons, it’s just a different time.
That said, there are still a number of moves expected before the window shuts, with clubs seeking those final reinforcements for the title races and relegation survival scrap heaps that await.
But before all of the latest news and rumors, here’s what’s not expected to happen:
Lionel Messi’s apparent contract details may now be known around the world, but he’s still not going to prearrange a free transfer for this summer. With Barcelona’s presidential elections being postponed to March 7, there’s nobody at the helm to properly handle Messi’s long-term future, and Messi himself has reportedly indicated that no decision on his future will be made until the end of this season, despite his being able to sign a pre-contract elsewhere now before his current deal expires in June.
Paul Pogba also isn’t going anywhere, especially with Manchester United in contention for the Premier League title. His outspoken agent, Mino Raiola, created a stir in early December, when he claimed it’d be best for his client to leave in January, but plenty has transpired since then to quiet things down.
Borussia Dortmund typically has a treasure trove of young talents that it’ll eventually sell for a healthy profit, and this season is no different, but there’s no indication that Erling Haaland and/or Jadon Sancho will be sold this winter–though they’ll surely be starring in rumors headlines for the next six months.
Inter Milan’s CEO candidly discussed how Christian Eriksen was on the club’s list of transferrable players prior to the window opening, but manager Antonio Conte offered a contrarian take just last week, saying that no players would be leaving, and no new players would be arriving. His game-winning goal on a free kick vs. rival AC Milan in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals certainly put him in Inter’s good graces.
Onto the news and rumors as the hours tick on another transfer season (refresh for most recent updates):
TRANSFER DEADLINE NEWS AND RUMORS
Deadline Times: Bundesliga – 12 p.m. ET; Serie A – 2 p.m. ET; Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1 – 6 p.m. ET
Brighton has signed talented 19-year-old Ecuadorian international central midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente Del Valle on a deal through 2025. Caicedo had been linked prominently to Manchester United throughout the transfer window. (Brighton)
Liverpool is closing in on a deal for Schalke and Turkey international center back Ozan Kabak. The club and player have reportedly agreed to personal terms but LFC and Schalke need to find common ground before the deal can be completed. Schalke reportedly wanted the move to be a loan with an obligation to buy (for an overall total of about $36 million), but Liverpool is more amenable to a higher loan fee and just an option to buy. It appears that compromise has been reached. Schalke would need to find a replacement, with Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi as the club’s target. He has reportedly agreed to terminate his deal with Arsenal, which would give him the leeway to make the free transfer. Mustafi is a German international, but he’s never played in the Bundesliga. (Fabrizio Romano | ESPN)
Liverpool is also reportedly signing center back Ben Davies from Preston North End in a bargain $4.9 million deal to help reinforce its back line. With injuries ravaging Jurgen Klopp’s defense (Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all unavailable), Liverpool has had to turn to midfielders and other patchwork options in its effort to repeat as Premier League champions. Liverpool will send Sepp van den Berg on loan the other way as part of the deal. (Fabrizio Romano)
FC Dallas and U.S. international right back Bryan Reynolds is headed to AS Roma, on loan for six months before the move becomes permanent through June 2025. The transfer fee, an FC Dallas record, is $8.12 million with the potential for it to rise as high as $15 million, according to Roma, while FC Dallas will retain a 15% sell-on clause. Reynolds was in attendance at Roma’s win over Hellas Verona on Sunday before being presented on Monday. (Roma)
Reynolds isn’t the only U.S. international going abroad, with Orlando City sending Daryl Dike to Barnsley in England’s second tier on a short-term loan. Orlando maintains a right to recall the 20-year-old Dike, while Barnsley could reportedly purchase Dike outright for $20 million–with Orlando retaining a 20% sell-on clause, according to the Orlando Sentinel. (Orlando City)
PSG reportedly wants to sign Dele Alli on loan from Tottenham, to reunite the midfielder with Mauricio Pochettino, though José Mourinho was doubtful it would come to fruition as of last week. For what it’s worth, Alli was left out of Tottenham’s squad for Sunday’s defeat to Brighton. One move involving Tottenham close to Pochettino’s heart has transpired, though: his son, Maurizio, was sold to Watford. (Daily Mail)
Tottenham did complete another loan move, recalling young striker Troy Parrott from a loan to Millwall and sending him to Ipswich Town until the end of the season. (Tottenham)
Sami Khedira is headed back to Germany, with the World Cup winner leaving Juventus on a free transfer for Hertha Berlin, where he’s signed for the rest of the season. (Hertha Berlin)
Joshua Zirkzee is finding playing time hard to come by at Bayern Munich, but such is life for a young striker in the time of Robert Lewandowski. As a result, he’s reportedly heading out on loan to Parma, which will have an $18.2 million option to buy (Football Italia)
Leicester City is looking to fortify its midfield with some more attacking components with Dennis Praet and Wilfred Ndidi injured, as it pushes for another top-four finish (and perhaps more) in the Premier League. The Foxes are said to be pursuing Watford’s Nathan Chalobah and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The club lost a winger in Demarai Gray, who signed with Bayer Leverkusen. (Leicester Mercury)
Manchester United is expected to lose out-of-favor defender Marcos Rojo to Boca Juniors, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that young defender Brandon Williams will not be leaving the club on loan. (Sky Sports)
Neymar has not been in any transfer plans for this winter, but he doesn’t intend to be for the foreseeable future, saying on French TV’s TF1 that he now wants to stay at PSG and is hoping Kylian Mbappe will do the same. (Sky Sports)
In addition to Eriksen staying put, Inter Milan won’t be doing any business at all, its CEO Beppe Marotta said. That includes a proposed Alexis Sanchez–Edin Dzeko swap deal with Roma. (Fabrizio Romano)
Jean-Clair Todibo has gone on loan repeatedly since joining Barcelona from Toulouse in 2019, and after stints with Schalke and Benfica, he may be recalled to go back on loan to Nice with an option to buy for $12 million. (Fabrizio Romano)
It’s been a busy winter for Americans, capped by Reynolds and Dike’s deadline-day moves abroad.
Prior to that, the Philadelphia Union sent two of their homegrown stars abroad, with 20-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson sold to Salzburg and 21-year-old center back Mark McKenzie sold to Genk. NYCFC sold 18-year-old right back Joe Scally to Borussia Monchengladbach in a move that had been agreed upon for over a year.
Jordan Morris, meanwhile, secured a loan from the Seattle Sounders to Swansea City for the remainder of this Championship season, with an option to make it a permanent transfer. Paul Arriola, who scored twice for the U.S. vs. Trinidad & Tobago Sunday night, has also been linked to a Swansea loan. The Swans and Arriola’s D.C. United share an owner in Jason Levien, and the Washington Post reports there’s a “fairly strong” likelihood of a short-term loan.
Aaron Long has been tipped to move abroad, but the New York Red Bulls reportedly turned down a loan offer from an unnamed club in England’s second-tier Championship. Long captained the U.S. vs. T&T and had an assist in the 7-0 win. Long has previously been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Reading and Lorient.
There’s also the matter of Jozy Altidore, who was omitted from the U.S. friendly as a precaution due to a potential transfer away from Toronto FC, reading between the lines of pre-match comments made by U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter.
With MLS players facing the possibility of a lockout, there could be increased interest among players in finding temporary homes abroad, but the tight window could force those seeking a new destination to look for leagues whose transfer windows remain open a bit longer.
As for other Americans on the move within Europe:
– Chris Richards is leaving Bayern Munich for Hoffenheim on loan (though with no option of making it a full transfer). Hoffenheim has been decimated by injuries in defense, giving Richards the opportunity to accrue significantly more playing time over the next five months. (Hoffenheim)
– DeAndre Yedlin has finalized a transfer from Newcastle to Galatasaray, where he’ll reportedly sign through 2024. Yedlin still had six months to run on his Newcastle deal but was let go to pursue an alternative. (Galatasaray)
– Tyler Boyd is heading on loan within Turkey, leaving Besiktas for Sivasspor, where he’ll spend the rest of the season. (Sivasspor)
KEY DONE JANUARY DEALS
These deals were completed prior to deadline day and represent the biggest names on the move this winter.
Mesut Özil to Fenerbahce from Arsenal
Martin Ødegaard to Arsenal from Real Madrid (loan)
Sébastien Haller to Ajax from West Ham
Moussa Dembélé to Atletico Madrid from Lyon (loan)
Saïd Benrahma to West Ham from Brentford
Dominik Szoboszlai to RB Leipzig from Salzburg
Luka Jović to Eintracht Frankfurt from Real Madrid (loan)
Papu Gómez to Sevilla from Atalanta
Arkadiusz Milik to Marseille from Napoli
Jesse Lingard to West Ham from Manchester United (loan)
Krépin Diatta to Monaco from Club Brugge
Nicolò Rovella to Juventus from Genoa
Morgan Sanson to Aston Villa from Marseille