Football: Waiting for a late flourish as transfer window prepares to shut

Football: Waiting for a late flourish as transfer window prepares to shut

Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain made his debut for Chelsea in their 3-0 win FA Cup fourth round win against Sheffield Wednesday. (AFP/Adrian DENNIS)

PARIS: The January transfer window closes on Thursday with a late splurge from the Premier League's biggest clubs unlikely after a month in which the biggest movers have been on the continent, from Barcelona to AC Milan.

Of England's 'Big Six', the busiest club has been Chelsea, who signed Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus after buying USA winger Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £58 million (US$74 million) and loaning him back for the rest of the season.

Their rivals towards the top of the Premier League have kept their cheque books closed, with the window shutting on Thursday at 2300 GMT.

"It's a tough situation because people tell you 'here's a player, there's a player', and you buy him, but it's helpful for three weeks, and after that you have a problem because the other boys come back," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told the BBC, confirming he does not want short-term fixes to defensive injury problems.

"We have to go through that, and this transfer window will not be ours."

Beyond Pulisic, the biggest January transfer in England has been Dominic Solanke's move from Liverpool to Bournemouth for a reported £19 million ($24 million).

"During one month I said we are not going to do anything in the transfer market," insisted Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

BREXIT FACTOR?

The possible elephant in the room in a low-key window is Brexit, given the uncertainty caused by the issue currently dominating UK politics.

The resulting impact on sterling's value against the euro and the dollar might not help, but are clubs genuinely holding back on transfer deals because of the UK's impending departure from the European Union?

One British-based agent told AFP there is "great uncertainty" among some foreign players, but added that he hadn't "seen a change in behaviour from clubs at this point".

BARCELONA LEAD THE WAY

Meanwhile, some of Europe's biggest names have made moves, with Barcelona leading the way.

The Spanish champions have agreed to pay Ajax €75 million - plus €11 million in bonuses - to take Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong for next season.

They have also signed Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan from Sassuolo as a back-up in attack, following the loan signing of Valencia defender Jeison Murillo and a deal to take promising French centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo of Toulouse from next season.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid have taken former Real striker Alvaro Morata on loan from Chelsea, while their city rivals have brought in young midfielder Brahim Diaz from Manchester City for €17 million.

"We have a marvellous squad and we will fight on all fronts," said Real coach Santiago Solari on Wednesday, indicating there will be no more business at the Bernabeu.

PSG STRENGTHEN IN MIDFIELD

In France, Paris Saint-Germain have lost Neymar for 10 weeks with a metatarsal injury, but it is in midfield that they needed to strengthen.

Having completed a deal to sign Argentina's Leandro Paredes, 24, from Zenit Saint Petersburg for a reported €47 million, they may also come back in for Everton's Idrissa Gueye.

Marseille have signed Mario Balotelli from Nice, while struggling Monaco have made several signings, headed by Spain star Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea.

In Germany much of the focus has been on Bayern Munich, who have signed Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Bavarians also completed a deal to take France defender Benjamin Pavard from Stuttgart from Jul 1 for a reported €35 million.

PIATEK, PAQUETA TO MILAN

In Italy, Juventus allowed Mehdi Benatia to leave for Qatar and replaced him with the Uruguayan Martin Caceres, but Milan have splashed the most cash.

The seven-time European champions cut short Higuain's loan from Juventus and replaced him with Genoa's Polish hotshot Krzysztof Piatek for a reported €35 million.

Brazilian international midfielder Lucas Paqueta, 21, joined from Flamengo for a similar fee.

Beyond western Europe's leading leagues, Russian clubs have until Feb 22 to make signings, while the Chinese transfer window is open until Feb 28, and Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini could be the latest to move there from Europe.

Source: AFP/de

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