Boehly's Chelsea revolution can't be stopped! Winners and losers of the January transfer window as Blues spend over £300m, Arsenal miss out on big-money buys & Liverpool refuse to panic
The panic is finally over. After 31 days of dramatic twists and turns, the transfer window has once again slammed shut until the summer. Some teams are now in great shape to finish the season with a bang, but others have been left frustrated after either missing out on key targets or losing vital players.
Chelsea were by far the most active Premier League club in January, spending over £300 million ($370m) on a whole host of reinforcements after a disastrous first half of the season.
Title-chasing Arsenal closed a couple of notable deals themselves, but missed out on some of the big-money deals that Mikel Arteta was targeting, while champions Manchester City kept their powder dry in terms of incomings who can make an immediate impact.
Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham were also quieter than expected, while clubs from around Europe were far more subdued than their English counterparts, perhaps highlighting the growing imbalance between the finances of the Premier League and other domestic leagues.
GOAL is here to run down the winners and losers from one of the craziest January windows in recent memory...
- Gavi & De Jong BOSS El Clasico! Winners & Losers as Barcelona dominate in midfield to put away Real Madrid in season-defining victory
- If not Bellingham, then who? Caicedo, Tielemans & Liverpool's potential January transfer window midfield signings
- More misery for Lionel Messi! PSG winners and losers as star storms down the tunnel following home loss to Rennes
- Arsenal player ratings vs Crystal Palace: Brilliant Bukayo Saka sends Premier League leaders EIGHT points clear!
WINNER: Todd Boehly
Chelsea's new owner Todd Boehly made an instant statement of intent after replacing Roman Abramovich in the boardroom last May, sanctioning a Premier League-record £270 million transfer outlay to provide Thomas Tuchel with marquee signings such as Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The new additions failed to make an instant impact, though, and Tuchel was sacked at the start of September following the Blues' poor start to the 2022-23 season. The German was swiftly replaced by Graham Potter, who left Brighton to take up the position at the Bridge on a five-year deal.
Potter is Boehly's man, and the American is giving him all the tools he needs to succeed. Chelsea have slipped to 10th in the Premier League table since his appointment, but his job is still very much secure, as illustrated by Boehly again opening up his transfer war chest, with the Premier League record signing of Enzo Fernandez and £89m capture of Mykhailo Mudryk standing out as the biggest signings of the January window.
Chelsea snapped Mudryk up from right under the noses of Arsenal, while Noni Madueke, Benoit Badiashile, David Fofana and Andrey Santos have all arrived on a permanent basis. Malo Gusto was also signed before being loaned back to Lyon and Joao Felix has been brought in on a six-month loan deal from Atletico Madrid.
Boehly has even found a way around Financial Fair Play rules, with his permanent new arrivals having been tied down to unprecedented long-term contracts.
Surely now, the only way is up for the Blues, who have proven to be the biggest draw in England despite suffering a dramatic on-pitch decline. Boehly is determined to carve out a glorious legacy in west London, and Potter will now have to prove he deserves to keep his spot in the pilot's chair.
LOSER: Liverpool fans
Liverpool started the winter window in spectacular style as they announced the £44 million arrival of Cody Gakpo from PSV, beating off competition from Manchester United in the process.
The Netherlands international was targeted on the back of a stellar first half of the season that culminated in a fine World Cup, but has failed to hit the ground running on Merseyside, and new year optimism has quickly been replaced by despair at Anfield.
January was a catastrophic month for Liverpool, who lost 3-1 at Brentford and 3-0 at Brighton before playing out a drab 0-0 draw with Chelsea to slip 10 points adrift of the Champions League places.
Brighton also knocked the Reds out of the FA Cup, ending their hopes of winning any domestic silverware this term, and supporters have been left exasperated by a lack of investment in the transfer market.
Was Gakpo even really needed when Jurgen Klopp is so desperately in need of another central midfielder? Club legend Jamie Carragher suggested an overhaul is needed when summing up the frustration of an entire fanbase.
"They can’t get in the top four without signing a midfielder. I can’t see it changing before the end of the season," the former Reds defender told Sky Sports after the Brentford loss. "They’re a team in transition. You think of what United and Chelsea have spent and they’re still not close to winning the league.
"Liverpool need to spend £200m. They need to sign three midfielders. They need to be at least £40-50m players."
That hasn't happened, leaving Reds fans wondering whether the club have already given up on getting anything out of what is looking to be a lost season for Klopp and his players.
WINNER: Wout Weghorst
Wout Weghorst came close to stealing Gakpo's thunder at Qatar 2022, with the Burnley striker stepping off the bench to score twice in the Netherlands' thrilling quarter-final clash with Argentina.
Louis van Gaal's side ultimately lost to the eventual tournament winners on penalties, but Weghorst's stunning cameo showed that he still has plenty to offer at the highest level, despite only scoring two goals in 20 Premier League appearances for Burnley in 2021-22.
The 30-year-old was shipped out on loan to Besiktas after Burnley's relegation, but he embraced a fresh start in Turkey instead of allowing his career to fade out early. Manchester United certainly took notice of his return to form, with Erik ten Hag singling him out as a priority target at the start of the window.
Weghorst was allowed to cut short his loan in Turkey to sign a fresh six-month deal at Old Trafford, where he is now lining-up alongside superstars such as Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.
"My agent called me actually for the first time and I was together with my girl, and she was a little bit shocked because she saw my face and I was like 'oof'," Weghorst told United's official website when asked how he reacted to the club's initial interest. "So yeah, it was a special moment and that was really nice, of course."
Weghorst has made his own luck, and who knows, if he does well then Ten Hag could keep him in Manchester for the long-term.
LOSER: Arsenal's big-money bids
Arsenal have ended the January transfer window with three pleasing new additions in the form of Leandro Trossard, Polish youngster Jakub Kiwior and deadline-day arrival Jorginho, but Mikel Arteta must be secretly seething over the club's failure to land his main January targets.
Mykhailo Mudryk made no secret of his desire to join the Gunners, and had reportedly agreed on personal terms with the club last summer. Arsenal submitted multiple offers to Shakhtar Donetsk during January in an attempt to tie up the deal, but all of them were rejected before Chelsea swooped in to break their hearts.
Both clubs were willing to pay the same £88m fee for Mudryk, but Shakhtar accepted Chelsea's bid over Arsenal's due to a more favourable bonus payment package.
Arteta played down the significance of the setback publicly, with the Gunners subsequently focusing their efforts on Brighton's Moises Caicedo in a bid to strengthen their midfield.
Again, Arsenal tabled a couple of mega offers, the second of which came in at £70m, but Brighton refused to let the Ecuadorian go for less than £90m, despite his release of an ill-advised social media statement to try and force through the move.
The Gunners are five points clear at the Premier League summit with a game in hand on second-placed City, but they will soon have to juggle Europa League commitments while chasing a first title in 19 years.
Supporters will be praying that Arsenal's failure to land Mudryk and Caicedo doesn't come back to haunt them.
WINNER: Middle Eastern football
When Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United under a dark cloud of controversy in November, Al-Nassr saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It was initially suggested that the 37-year-old wanted to remain in Europe with a Champions League club, but the likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli all distanced themselves from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, leaving Saudi Arabia to quickly become an attractive option.
After weeks of speculation, Al-Nassr announced the signing of Ronaldo on an initial two-year contract on December 30, which reportedly made him the highest-paid player in the history of football.
The Portuguese is set to earn a staggering £177 million per year during his time at Mrsool Park, which will include an ambassadorial role after he finishes his playing career.
Ronaldo's arrival in Saudi Arabia is ground-breaking, and whether the veteran striker is a success or not, more European stars will seek to follow in his footsteps in the near future due to the monetary gains on offer.
It's time to start taking football in the Middle East seriously, for better or worse.
- Getty Images
It's official: Everton are a club in crisis. Frank Lampard was sacked as manager on the back of the Toffees' 2-0 loss to West Ham on January 21, which left them joint-bottom of the table after 20 matches.
The finger of blame has been largely pointed at Everton's majority owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright, with supporters calling for the former to sell up and the latter to resign in regular demonstrations outside Goodison Park.
Former Burnley manager Sean Dyche has now replaced Lampard, but it remains to be seen whether he can do anything differently to motivate a squad lacking in quality and character across all areas of the pitch.
A few January additions would have helped his cause, but Everton were thwarted at almost every turn when trying to bring in fresh blood, and ended the window as the only Premier League club not to make any new signings.
Danny Ings reportedly rejected the Toffees in favour of joining West Ham from Aston Villa, while Sheffield United forward Iliman Ndiaye is also said to have spurned their advances.
They also had a deal in place for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma, who even completed a medical on Merseyside, only to see Tottenham swoop in at the last minute and beat them to his loan signature.
Everton's misery was compounded when academy graduate Anthony Gordon jumped ship to complete a £40m switch to Newcastle. The 21-year-old's lack of loyalty summed up just how rotten things have become behind the scenes at Goodison.
Dyche, then, has a huge task on his hands.
- Getty Images
WINNER: Weston McKennie
Leeds United ended up securing perhaps the most surprising January transfer, and no, it wasn't their club record £35m move for Hoffenheim forward Georginio Rutter.
American coach Jesse Marsch added yet another United States talisman to his ranks in the form of Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, who had also been strongly linked with Arsenal.
The 24-year-old has moved to Elland Road on a loan deal until the end of the season, but Leeds also have the option to buy him outright for a reported £35m fee in the summer.
By taking on a new challenge in the Premier League, McKennie has escaped the off-field chaos at Juventus that has seen them docked 15 points in Serie A for false accounting. It is doubtful that he will want to head back to the Allianz Stadium anytime soon, especially given the fact Bianconeri fans have never quite warmed to him.
McKennie hasn't been awful for Juve, but he has taken a lot of flack given his arrival at the club from Schalke in 2020 coincided with the beginning of their fall from grace on the pitch. He will be able to play with freedom at Leeds, and will also benefit from linking up with fellow U.S. men's national team stars Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson.
Speaking before a friendly clash with Japan back in September, McKennie said of his relationship with Adams, who he has played with since the age of 14: "Knowing each other for so long, we've, I think, developed a relationship that we know each other's tendencies, we know each other's abilities, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses and how to cover for one another."
The question is: Will Leeds' American connection be enough to keep them in the top flight for another year?
LOSER: Christian Pulisic
In stark contrast to McKennie, the next USMNT player on this list has reached a crossroads in his career.
Christian Pulisic has joined the long list of Chelsea flops to have failed to live up to their huge price tags over the past decade, with fitness issues plaguing him at every turn.
Every time he has come close to justifying his £58m transfer fee from Borussia Dortmund, the winger has been knocked back by a fresh injury blow, and the latest one has been the most damaging yet.
Pulisic was ruled out of action for two months after limping out of a clash with Manchester City on January 5, which effectively ruined his chances of earning a January transfer.
Chelsea were open to a sale as the 24-year-old was linked with a return to Dortmund, while AC Milan reportedly held talks to bring him to San Siro. However, Pulisic and the Blues will now have to wait until the summer to part ways.
The U.S superstar desperately needs a clean slate after four largely frustrating years at Stamford Bridge, with the prime years of his career still very much ahead of him. However, there is no guarantee that such an opportunity will arise again in 2023, especially if he is unable to get back in top physical condition.
- Getty Images
WINNER: Bayern Munich
While Bayern might not have made a huge splash in January, they arguably did the smartest business out of any of continental Europe's giants as Julian Nagelsmann moved to bolster his squad in key positions.
Manuel Neuer's season-ending broken leg that he picked up while skiing in December left the German champions without a goalkeeper they could rely upon, but they acted quickly to bring in veteran Yann Sommer before the Bundesliga returned in mid-January.
A staple of summer tournaments with Switzerland, Sommer brings with him a wealth of experience as well as a skillset which is, while not identical to Neuer's, pretty similar to the Germany No.1's.
Perhaps their most impressive signing did come until deadline day, though, as they shocked fans around the world with the loan capture of Joao Cancelo from Manchester City.
One of the game's best full-backs over the past 12 months, Cancelo has fallen out of favour at the Etihad Stadium since the turn of the year, and Bayern moved quickly to take advantage of a reported bust-up between the Portugal international and Pep Guardiola.
Bayern have been crying out for natural width at right-back for a number of years, and Cancelo should provide them with both attacking thrust and defensive reliability down the stretch.
LOSER: Any league not called the Premier League
If confirmation of the Premier League's superiority over the rest of Europe's top five leagues was still needed, the January window provided it - in emphatic style.
Chelsea alone spent more on new players than clubs in Serie A, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and La Liga combined, with England considered to be the ultimate destination for any up-and-coming talents looking to make their mark at the highest level.
Former Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli conceded as much after resigning his post in November, while also insisting that a much-maligned European Super League format must be considered to restore balance.
"I believed and still believe that European soccer needs structural reforms to tackle the future," he said. "Otherwise we are heading for inexorable decline for soccer in favour of a dominant league, the Premier League, which over a few years will attract all the European talent and marginalise the others."
In the Blues' case, Roman Abramovich has been swapped for another big-money investor in Todd Boehly, while state-owned clubs Man City and Newcastle are also able to offer players lucrative contracts that some of Europe's more historically successful clubs - such as Barcelona, Bayern and Milan, simply cannot match.
Paris Saint-Germain can compete with their Qatari backing, and Real Madrid remain a global spending force - but even they are now far tighter on the purse strings than they once were.
The Premier League is the place to be at the moment, and the high quality competition will surely only increase on English shores in the coming years.