Clubs around Europe’s biggest leagues have just had a month in which to do any necessary transfer business – in or out – that will see them right for the remainder of the season.
The January window is famously poor when it comes to value and options. Plenty of clubs made use of the market, although there was a clear drop in spending as even elite footbal teams feel the pinch.
Eric Dier’s loan to Bayern Munich made big headlines, as much for the shock value as anything else, while striker Marcos Leonardo was an exciting capture for Benfica and has already made a prolific start in Portugal.
Other likes Eljif Elmas (RB Leipzig), Cyril Ngonge (Napoli), Orel Mangala (Lyon) and Renan Lodi (Al Hilal) moved for the big money. There were also notable loans for Kalvin Phillips (West Ham) and Armando Broja (Fulham), but they don’t make the best possible XI of January signings…
Nottingham Forest wanted a new goalkeeper and, after seeing a £15m bid for Liverpool understudy Caoimhin Kelleher rejected, turned to former Newcastle United stopper Matz Sels.
The 31-year-old Belgian was the number one goalkeeper at Ligue 1 side Strasbourg and will now provide competition for existing Forest goalkeepers Matt Turner and Odysseas Vlachodimas.
Bayern Munich briefly flirted with Kieran Trippier and Nordi Mukiele, before eventually settling on the lesser known Sacha Boey to fill their right-back needs.
The 23-year-old started out at Rennes, a club renowned for developing young talent, but then spent two and a half years in Turkish football with Galatasaray.
Premier League spending fell nearly £700m year on year from January 2023 to January 2024, with clubs in England’s top flight seemingly worried by recent sanctions applied to Everton for breaching the competition’s Profit and Sustainability Rules.
That made Tottenham’s capture of 21-year-old Romanian international Radu Dragusin the most expensive single deal – undisclosed officially but believed to be around £25m – for any Premier League club during the month.
Liverpool were among the clubs taking an interest in 20-year-old Brazilian centre-back Lucas Beraldo, but he wound up heading to French giants Paris Saint-Germain after a breakout 2023 season with Sao Paulo back home.
He will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, both of whom are legends at Parc des Princes.
After a positive season on loan with Burnley in 2022/23 that saw the Clarets secure promotion back to the Premier League, Ian Maatsen wasn’t afforded the regular starts to kick on back at Chelsea.
The young Dutchman will hope that now changes after arriving at Borussia Dortmund on loan until the end of the season. He signed a new contract with Chelsea before he left, so his long-term future is still very much tied to his parent club.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham all scouted teen sensation Arthur Vermeeren in the first half of the season after Royal Antwerp had won the Belgian title in 2023. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund were showing interest too.
But it was Atletico Madrid who eventually landed the 18-year-old. Antwerp managed to negotiate a sell-on clause in the deal so will get a second pay day if he moves on for bigger money in future.
Crystal Palace have shown a willingness in previous seasons to invest in young Championship talent by signing Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise, even if it means paying a premium fee for relatively unproven players. That trend has continued with Adam Wharton.
The 19-year-old only made his senior debut for Blackburn in August 2022 but had already racked up more than 50 appearances for the Lancashire side by the time Palace paid big money for him.
Manchester City made a home run swing with their January 2022 capture of Julian Alvarez from River Plate and have attempted another by going back to the Buenos Aires giant for Claudio Echeverri.
Just like Alvarez did, Echeverri will remain on loan in Argentina before making the move to Manchester. The 18-year-old comes highly rated – he’s another to have been labelled ‘the next Lionel Messi’ – and lit up the Under-17 World Cup last year.
Jadon Sancho established himself as one of the most exciting young forwards in world football during his time at Borussia Dortmund. Now, two and a half years after leaving he will have the opportunity to try and rediscover the old him on loan.
Despite flashes of his Dortmund self, Sancho’s Manchester United career never fully took off and then abruptly hit a wall after falling out with with manager Erik ten Hag. If he returns to Old Trafford in summer without having performed, both he and United will have a big problem.
After accepting defeat at Chelsea and retreating to former club RB Leipzig in the summer of 2022, Timo Werner’s 18 months back in Germany didn’t go to plan – he failed to recapture the form that made the Blues pay the best part of £50m for him in 2020.
The 27-year-old has been presented with another fresh start, returning to London to spend the rest of the season with Tottenham. It has been a promising start and the deal includes an option to buy.
Barcelona have seen up close how Real Madrid have raided the Brazilian market for teenage talents to much success in recent years – Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo – and wanted a piece of that action.
Vitor Roque’s transfer to Catalonia was secured last summer, but Barca delayed his arrival until July 2024 due to La Liga’s financial rules. Come the autumn and the need for more urgent reinforcement, the club found the necessary capital to bring it a few months forward to January.