Comparisons are a vital part of sports. We can't set our eyes on a new talent without immediately pointing to who that player reminds us of, like the Leonardo Di Caprio meme from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I do it too, so I wish I had an answer for why we can't escape the jaws of a player-comp,...
Winners and Losers of January Transfer Window
It feels as if the January transfer window went as soon as it came. And depending on which team you support, that was either a good or a bad thing. With that said, here are my winners and losers from the month-long transfer window.
You can also tune in to the ICT Zone-sponsored Do Your Home Work Podcast to get a lengthier audio version of our winners and losers from the transfer window.
In this scenario, I'll start with the bad, so I can end with the good.
Loser number 1: Arsenal
Today is February 4th, and Arsenal has yet to score a goal in 2022. They haven't scored in 4 straight games, and in their last Premier League outing, they tied a Burnley team that's in last place, 0-0 at the Emirates. Everyone knew going into this window that Arsenal needed a striker, a goal scorer to cement a top 4 push people felt was improbable when the season started. But what ends up happening is Vlahovic uses Arsenal as bait to get the move to Juventus he wanted the whole time. The club that desperately needed reinforcing ended up losing six players, and the only addition they made was a backup goalkeeper and a backup center back to come in the summer. One of those players they lost was Aubameyang, and they essentially paid him to sign for Barcelona. It got so bad that I started cheering for the LA Rams in the NFC Championship game, thinking that maybe if they won, Stan Kroenke, the owner of both Arsenal and the Rams, would be on the kind of emotional high needed to fund a big move for a striker. Even that didn't work.
Loser number 2: Erling Haaland
It wasn't as if Haaland was ever expected to make a move this window or that he did anything wrong. It's more about what everyone else did. This summer was supposed to be the Haaland sweepstake, but more and more, his realistic options are dwindling. If Mbappe really is going to Real Madrid like rumors are saying, with Manchester City signing another hot prospect at striker in Julian Alvarez and Liverpool with Luis Diaz, Haaland really does not have that many options now. Realistically it's looking like either Manchester United or Barcelona, two teams that are the worst they have been in over a decade.
Loser number 3: Jesse Lingard
It's clear Jesse Lingard wanted a move out to somewhere he can play. He proved he's good enough to last January's transfer window when he went on loan to West Ham, won league player of the month, and helped the club make a push up the table. This time around, with the World Cup coming in December, Lingard would have wanted a full calendar year to reach the best of his form and possibly earn a spot. Instead, he's stuck at United, and now it's been announced that he'll be taking an indefinite absence from the club to focus on his mental health. I feel for Jesse Lingard. Sometimes all you want to do is play.
Winner number 1: MLS
The first winner has to be the MLS. Known for a long time as a retirement league, I have advocated that the MLS should evolve into a developmental avenue for young talent. Well, in this last transfer window, the MLS ranked 6th in transfer fees received. It felt like every day- a new young MLS player was signing for a club in Europe. Do I agree with all the moves? No. But it is a sign of a league that is earning the respect of its peers when it comes to developing young talent.
Winner number 2: Barcelona
Lots of people are laughing at the Barcelona signings, but these are people that don't look beyond the surface of the game. Beyond the surface, I've been arguing that Barcelona has been great all season; they just haven't put away their chances. The La Liga expected goals table has Barcelona in second, but they're fifth because they're underperforming their goals output. What better way to fix that than signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, one of Europe's Top 5 scorers over the last five years? And oh, by the way, you signed him for free, and his former club is helping you pay his wages for the rest of the season. Then you add in Adama Traore and Ferran Torres, and you have a great transfer window.
Winner number 3: Everton
Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek are two of the most maligned players in the Premier League right now, who are also desperate to prove their worth that they can still be the World Class talents they once showed. Those are the exact kind of players you need if you're in a relegation battle. A month ago, I thought Everton might get relegated. Rafa Benitez was wilding out, the club was in 16th place, and there seemed to be no way out. Then January happened, and they hired Frank Lampard, and with Lampard has come the signing of players that immediately improve the quality of the team.
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