Deadline Day: Liverpool sign Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak but January transfer window shuts quietly

Biggest transfer of January window remains £37.2m Man Utd signing Amad Diallo in deal agreed during the summer; Arsenal make deep cuts to their first-team squad; Liverpool sign two centre-halves but lose Matip for the rest of the season


The impact of the global coronavirus pandemic and Brexit were felt acutely as the 2021 January transfer window shut relatively quietly on Monday night despite a late spree of loan deals.

In total, Premier League clubs spent just £84.2m in January on deals with disclosed fees, with the biggest deal - Amad Diallo's £37m move from Atalanta to Manchester United - being agreed in the last window.

The dispensing tally represents a vast fall from the £230m last January and a slump of £381m from the record high of £430m in January 2018.

Only 12 permanent deals were completed in the month, with Aston Villa's signing of Morgan Sanson from Marseille for £15.5m representing the biggest new deal of this window.

The sharp fall in spending has been attributed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and new post-Brexit immigration rules.

While football matches are taking place in relentless fashion during this condensed season, there are no fans in the stands and clubs across the country - regardless of size - have taken huge financial hits as a result.

There was an added layer of complexity for clubs trying to sign foreign players during the window, too, with post-Brexit immigration rules making it much more difficult to bring in players from other countries.

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Foreign players must now pass a points-based system, while there are new limits on signing players under the age of 21.

So what did happen on Deadline Day?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is leaving Arsenal on loan in search of first-team minutes
Image: Ainsley Maitland-Niles is leaving Arsenal on loan in search of first-team minutes

Brighton signed Ecuador international midfielder Moises Caicedo for £4.5m, Liverpool moved to boost their options at centre-back with the double Deadline Day capture of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles swapped Arsenal for West Brom on loan, Joe Willock departed for Newcastle, while Shkodran Mustafi also left the Gunners to return to Germany.

Elsewhere, Takumi Minamino surprisingly joined Southampton on loan, Josh Maja joined Fulham from Bordeaux and there was a late tussle for Josh King, with Everton beating Fulham to the signature of the Bournemouth forward.

Beyond those deals, it was an extremely quiet Deadline Day.

Having already offloaded Mesut Ozil, believed to be the league's highest earner prior to his move to Turkey, Arsenal's squad clear-out continued apace with Maitland-Niles, Willock and Mustafi following Sokratis, Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi through the exit door, while West Brom were the most active Premier League club over the past month as they backed Sam Allardyce to save their top-flight status with a total of five new recruits.

Twelve clubs made no permanent signings at all.

Watch how Transfer Deadline day unfolded on Sky Sports News...

Why was the window so quiet?

Sky Sports News' Keith James:

"A perfect storm of factors has led clubs across Europe looking to save rather than spend in January's Transfer Window.

"Nowhere has suffered a bigger financial hit in the pandemic than in France. The collapse of Mediapro's £760m TV deal has left many clubs dangling by a financial thread - with no new TV deal close to being agreed.

Dele Alli takes on Marine's James Devin - Clive Brunskill/Pool via AP 3:15
Paul Gilmour reports from Spurs and says the London club were open to the possibility of loaning out Dele Alli - but a suitable replacement could not be found.

"For clubs this side of the Channel, revenues from all but a few streams have dried up: gate receipts, corporate entertaining, advertising and sponsorship to name a few. And it's not just the immediate future which looks financially barren for our clubs.

"Problems for Europe's most dominant financial league will be felt in all the continent's domestic competitions. Back in the summer, when fans were expected to return to grounds within weeks, clubs continued to spend, many believing they were over the most punishing aspects of the pandemic. Instead, as new variants led to longer, more stringent lockdowns, boardrooms across Europe battened down the transfer hatches and looked to manage cash flows wherever possible.

"One agent told Sky Sports News: 'In the summer we had dozens of transfers over £25m. From now on, they will become the exception, rather than the norm. There's no reason to think this is a temporary spending blip. There's no reason to think we'll be back to pre-Covid transfer fees in a couple of years. We won't'.

"Of course, if a club is not buying, then their players' contracts will need extending. Few players, however, will be content to stay longer at a club, for less money. Consequently - and there is evidence of this already happening - more and more players will see out their contracts and become free agents.

Erling Haaland in action for Borussia Dortmund
Image: Dortmund reported annual losses last autumn of €45m. Will they be forced into selling Erling Haaland?

"In more normal times, a free agent could rely on receiving favourable personal terms from a club due to the lack of a need to pay a transfer fee. Already, that 'perk' appears to be withering at the vine. Wages are simply what clubs can afford - nothing more.

"The rise in free agent deals and the drop in sales of contracted players, will see more deflationary pressures on transfer fees. Last year, buoyed by a lucrative TV deal, French football was Europe's second biggest net spender. Now, with their TV deal in ruins, clubs are pulling in purse strings wherever possible.

"Across the continent, the picture is far from rosy. In Italy, Juventus spent most of the window trying to organise swap deals. German giants Dortmund reported annual losses last autumn of €45m and know they will soon have to sell the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho to balance the books. But how much will the likes of the PL's top six be willing to pay for such talents next time round?

"When clubs with global revenue streams like Barcelona are asking their players to take a second pay cut, you know things are far from healthy. If, as Presidential candidate Victor Font claims the club is already 'bankrupt', what chance do smaller clubs have."

So what were the biggest deals in January?

Financially, Diallo's New Year's Day done deal was the most expensive of the window, however West Ham signed off a £26m outlay to turn their loan of Said Benrahma from Brentford into a permanent move.

The Hammers were involved in another headline-grabbing switch when Jesse Lingard joined them on loan from Manchester United, while Real Madrid wonderkid Martin Odegaard drew plenty of attention with his temporary move to Arsenal.

Who spent the money?

There were only six signings made during the window for transfer fees, topped by Manchester United winger Amad Diallo at £37.2m from Serie A club Atalanta.

As expected, West Ham converted Benrahma's temporary move into a permanent deal at a cost of £26m after a bit-part start to his career at the London Stadium.

Aston Villa snapped up 26-year-old Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson for a fee that could rise to £15.5m, while Brighton made a £4.5m Deadline Day move for Caicedo.

Liverpool secured the signature of Preston centre-back Davies for £1.6m, while Arsenal bolstered the youth rank by drafting Herta Berlin 19-year-old centre-back Omar Rekik.

Incoming loan deals

Many of the headline signings were drafted on temporary deals. West Ham snapped up Lingard, while Arsenal swooped for Odegaard to compete with fellow youngster Emile Smith Rowe - while the Gunners also loaned Brighton stopper Mat Ryan as back-up for Bernd Leno.

Wolves signed Real Sociedad forward Willian Jose to cover injured striker Raul Jimenez, while Crystal Palace and West Brom also bolstered their attack by drafting Jean-Philippe Mateta (Mainz) and Mbaye Diagne (Galatasaray), respectively.

A Deadline Day surprise saw Southampton completing a short-term deal for Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino, with Jurgen Klopp's side snapping up Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak, while Gunners duo Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Wilock joined West Brom and Newcastle, respectively.

Who was sold?

The subdued market also affected outgoing deals, with just 34 players leaving clubs on permanent deals, of which only 14 were for undisclosed fees.

West Ham sold Sebastien Haller to Ajax for a window-topping £22.2m - less than half the £45m they paid Eintracht Frankfurt for him only 18 months ago.

Meanwhile, Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen completed a double-raid for Premier League talent by signing Leicester winger Demarai Gray (£2m) and Manchester United midfielder Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£1.8m).

Net spend

Total transfers

In terms of total incomings, West Brom were busiest with five additions, followed by Arsenal, Liverpool and West Ham with three per club, and 10 clubs made one signing apiece: Aston Villa, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Manchester United, Newcastle, Southampton and Wolves.

For outgoings, Arsenal were busiest with 11 shipped out on loan or permanent deals, followed by Tottenham (10 outgoings), Everton, Leicester, Manchester United and Wolves (nine each) - while eight left Manchester City and seven departed Aston Villa, Brighton, Fulham and West Ham during the window.

All the incoming deals

All the outgoing deals

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