January transfer window: The biggest winners, losers and shocks

Chelsea dominate European football’s 2023 January transfer window with a raft of signings, while Bayern spring a surprise.

Enzo Fernandez #24 | Argentina v France, FIFA World Cup 2022 Final, December 18, Lusail Stadium
Chelsea broke the British transfer record by signing World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez [File: Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Chelsea have made Enzo Fernandez the most expensive player in British football history in a deal worth $131m, as English Premier League spending power dominated the 2023 January transfer window.

Other big signings were also sealed on a frantic transfer deadline day in Europe on Tuesday, as Joao Cancelo made a surprise move to Bayern Munich and Jorginho joined Arsenal.

Here are the main takeaways from the January transfer window:

Struggling Chelsea spend big

  • Graham Potter’s Chelsea – currently languishing in 10th place in the Premier League – went on a staggering spending spree in January, bringing in a clutch of players including Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke and Joao Felix, who joined on loan from Atletico Madrid.
  • Argentinian World Cup winner Fernandez, whose transfer was announced by Portuguese club Benfica in the early hours of Wednesday, is Chelsea’s eighth signing of the January window. The 22-year-old is understood to have signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal.
  • The £106.8m ($131.5m) fee eclipses the previous record of £100m ($123m) that Manchester City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish in 2021.
  • Chelsea’s lengthy contracts allow them to stay within Financial Fair Play (FFP) spending limits by spreading the cost of transfers over several seasons. Ukrainian winger Mudryk, signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for $108m, was also signed on an eight-and-a half year contract.

PL spending eclipses the rest of Europe

  • Chelsea alone spent more than top-flight teams in France, Spain, Italy and Germany combined as Europe’s other major leagues were modest in their dealings this window.
  • According to football data website Transfermarkt, English teams paid out about $831m, not including loan payments, while the other four leading leagues spent about $263m.
  • France’s total was $128m, which was the next highest after the Premier League.
  • German clubs paid about $74m in January.
  • Teams in Spain spent $30m during the window, with Italian clubs paying out $30.89m.

Arsenal strengthen title bid

  • Premier League leaders Arsenal strengthened their bid for a first title since 2004 by signing Brighton attacker Leandro Trossard and making a surprise deadline day move for Chelsea’s Italian midfielder Jorginho.
  • Despite links with Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, Arsenal will have to wait at least until the summer to complete that deal.

Bayern make surprise move for Cancelo

  • One of the most intriguing signings of the window was completed by Bayern Munich with the deadline-day loan capture of Manchester City fullback Joao Cancelo for the rest of the season.
  • The German league champion’s interest in the 28-year-old only emerged on Monday, with the deal including an option to buy the Portugu international for $76m.
  • Bayern also secured the signing of former Manchester United and Ajax defender Daley Blind on a free transfer earlier in the month.

Damp squib for Serie A

  • A quiet deadline day in Italy brought to an end a winter transfer period that saw the lowest spending by Serie A clubs since 2006.
  • The biggest outlay was by Fiorentina, who made Antonín Barák’s move from Hellas Verona permanent on deadline day on Tuesday, paying 8.5 million euros ($9.24m) for the Czech Republic international, who had been on loan at the Tuscan club since August.
  • None of the top four teams – Napoli, Inter Milan, Lazio, Atalanta – spent anything this month.
  • There was also no outlay by Juventus this month, although defender Luca Pellegrini joined Lazio on loan. The club is only 10 points above the relegation zone after being penalised 15 points for false accounting earlier this month.

Barcelona hold onto rising star Gavi

  • Barcelona were left to concentrate on keeping hold of one of their most exciting talents, rather than bringing in any major signings.
  • The Spanish league leader managed to sign Gavi up to a first-team contract, which will prevent him from being able to leave for free in the summer.

Manchester United sign cover for injured Eriksen

  • Manchester United signed Bayern Munich midfielder Marcel Sabitzer on loan early on Wednesday.
  • United were forced into deadline-day action following an ankle injury to Christian Eriksen, which is set to rule the Denmark midfielder out until early May.
  • Manager Erik ten Hag completed the loan signing of Netherlands forward Wout Weghorst earlier in the month.

Major January transfers

  • Fernandez – Benfica to Chelsea: $131m
  • Jorginho – Chelsea to Arsenal: $14.8m
  • Joao Cancelo – Manchester City to Bayern Munich: Loan
  • Marcel Sabitzer – Bayern to Manchester United: Loan
  • Mykhaylo Mudryk – Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea: $108m
  • Anthony Gordon – Everton to Newcastle United: $55.4m
  • Cody Gakpo – PSV to Liverpool: $45.6m
  • Benoit Badiashile – Monaco to Chelsea: $43.1m
  • Georginio Rutter – Hoofenheim to Leeds United: $43.5m
  • Noni Madueke – PSV to Chelsea: $38m
  • Leandro Trossard- Brighton to Arsenal: $33.2m
  • Malo Gusto – Lyon to Chelsea: $32.4m
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies