European Transfer Review: Big Moves for Potentially Big Impact

The winter transfer window is usually quiet compared to the summer window. Clubs in the top-flight leagues that are struggling to win games usually make purchases in order to bolster their team and help them secure their position for at least one more season.

There’s usually no reason for Europe’s footballing giants to dip their feet and make some big changes during this window. Most of the top clubs did their shopping in the summer and are satisfied with their purchases.

However, the season is long and unpredictable. Some of the leading clubs may find themselves in dire straits due to injury or their players not performing to their high standards. When these things happen, these big clubs ripple the European transfer market with the acquisitions they make.

This is exactly what has happened in the window as there were some significant moves that happened in this winter window.

Morata at the centre of big Spanish moves

Depending on who you ask, they will say that the Spanish top flight is the biggest football league in the world. With the quality of players and the amount of prestige the giants of La Liga have garnered over the years, the league is an ideal destination for some of the more talented players.

Real Madrid are struggling to get things together in the league, but they didn’t make any moves this window. Instead, they went and swooped in two young players that they will try to develop for the future. They paid a pretty penny for Brahim Diaz’s services while they promoted Zinedine Zidane’s son, Luca, to the first team.

Alvaro Morata made the biggest buzz in the Spanish capital, though. Many European transfer 2019 predictions had the former Real Madrid striker going to Atletico Madrid as the Rojiblancos struggled to keep up with the best of them on the attacking front.

It remains to be seen if Morata will be able to turn his form around after an abysmal stint at Chelsea, and fans are already cynical of the club’s decision to pick him up from London. He would have to score goals on the regular if he is to win them over for the last three months of the season.

Meanwhile, Barcelona just got stronger with the acquisition of Jeison Murillo and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Dortmund’s curious decision tops Bundesliga news

Borussia Dortmund are finding a lot of success in the Bundesliga right now: they are at the top of the table and have a deep pool of talent that can help them win the league title and make deep runs in the DFB Pokal and the Champions League.

However, it is still curious for some passionate BVB fans as to why the club decided to sell one of their top stars in Christian Pulisic. The American winger was sold to Chelsea for €64 million and will be joining the Premier League giants next season.

While some fans will be disappointed that they let such a talented youngster leave, they cannot deny that the money they got for him is more than worth the amount of investment they have put on him. The fact that they also get to keep him until the end of the season is a big win for them as well. They also acquired Leonardo Balerdi as a quality option at centre-back.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich made a move for the future by capturing 18-year-old Canadian wonder Alphonso Davies. RB Leipzig kept true to their transfer policy and signed a slew of promising youngsters.

 Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic will be a huge boost for Chelsea squad.

Christian Pulisic joins Premiere League giants Chelsea next season.

AC Milan splashed in the January market

There wasn’t a lot of significant movement in Serie A, but AC Milan made a lot of European transfer 2019 news by acquiring two talented attacking players to solve their worries up front.

Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta were both purchased from Genoa and Flamengo for a whopping total of €70 million while sending a disgruntled Gonzalo Higuain back to Turin. These acquisitions are daring for a club that has long struggled to keep up with the best clubs in Italy over the past couple of seasons.

 Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta deemed to create an impact for AC Milan within the coming season.

AC Milan seals a purchase for Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta from Genoa and Flamengo to add in their squad.

Both players were featured in the Rossoneri‘s league game against Napoli, a match that ended in a bore draw. While both players weren’t able to make any significant impact, the AC Milan faithful are already looking forward to the impact these two men will have on the game at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, some of the other Italian sides also flexed their financial muscles. Internazionale, AC’s neighbours, picked up Andrew Gravillon from Pescara for €7.5 million. Fiorentina burned through €12 million for Hamed Junior Traore.

Juventus were quiet in this window: they got Martin Caceres from Lazio for less than a million Euros.

 

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Tielemans joins Foxes

Leicester City have signed Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans on loan for the rest of the season, confirming the move on transfer deadline day.

In a generally quiet deadline day, Tielemans arrives at the King Power Stadium with Adrien Silva moving in the opposite direction.

Tielemans, a Belgian international, spent the first four years of his career at Anderlecht, joining Monaco in 2017, making 47 appearances for the club.

He said he was delighted to be moving to the Premier League, adding: "The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world and when I was young, I always watched Premier League games."

Silva leaves Leicester having been out of the first team picture, making just one Premier League appearance this season.

Tielemans could make his debut on Sunday when Leicester are at home to Manchester United. The Foxes are 12/5 for the win with United 1/1 and the draw 13/5.

Leicester are 1/2 to finish the season in the top half of the Premier League while they are 50/1 to make the top six.

In other deals Swansea's Wilfried Bony has joined Qatari side Al Arabi on loan for the rest of the season. The striker, who has had two spells at the Liberty Stadium, sees his Swans contract expire at the end of the season.

Brighton have signed a couple of youngsters before the deadline. Striker Jan Mlakar joins from Solvenian side NK Maribor with midfielder Tudor-Cristian Baluta coming in from Romanian FC Viitorul Constanta.

Both have returned to their original clubs on loan for the rest of the season, joining the Seagulls permanently in the summer.

A possible late deal involves Michy Batshuayi joining Crystal Palace on loan for the rest of the season, though it is yet to be confirmed. The striker, who had a successful loan spell with Borussia Dortmund last season, has spent the first half of this campaign at Valencia where he has scored one goal in 15 appearances.

Also, Fulham have signed Hoffenheim's Havard Nordtveit on loan for the rest of the season.

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Bundesliga Preview: A Tough Match May Derail Bayern’s Title Hopes

Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich

The January transfer window has shut its doors, and the top clubs of the Bundesliga can now only rely on the players they have on their roster from now on to win the title.

While some sides haggled throughout the month-long transfer window, Bayern Munich did little to no major changes to their core of players. After all, they have the necessary quality to succeed both in the domestic and European fronts.

However, not all of their opponents will be lying down as they try to snatch back the throne of German football from usurpers Borussia Dortmund. Bayer Leverkusen may have fallen out of luck in recent years, but they are still a superb football club that can cause an upset if given the opportunity.

The BayArena will be loud when the ball kicks off, and the most likely victor in this match will be the guests. However, anything can happen in this league.

Talking Points

Bayern continue their dominant streak

There’s no question among the most passionate fans of the Bundesliga that Bayern have finally hit their stride and are simply way too good compared to the rest of the playing field. Bundesliga 2019 odds on them winning the Bundesliga are now at 1.90 as the league is once again a two-horse race between the two league giants.

Various Bundesliga 2019 highlights starring the Bavarians would showcase just how dominant Bayern have been on the attack and the defence. Their impressive outings against Hoffenheim and Stuttgart is a surefire testament to Kovac’s system.

Fans can definitely remember how the team struggled to get points on the table as they struggled to play under his system. Their performance was so bad that some unsatisfied fans were mulling as whether the company should still keep him in charge of the touchline strategy and the overall growth of the squad.

For Leverkusen, a big key against Bayern in Bundesliga will be the play of Kai Havertz on their offense

Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz looks dejected after the match

Robert Lewandowski is a testament as to how the team has blossomed under Kovac. The Poland international struggled to find the back of the net during his early days with Kovac, but he has since scored 12 goals and is not far behind from topping the top goalscorers list.

Moreover, Lewandowski is not the only person of concern for Bayer. They have outstanding defenders in Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels. Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry are also giving defences a hard time by nabbing goals.

While they weren’t able to get their winger of the future in Callum Hudson-Odoi, I believe that both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben can still get the job done. This is a scary Bayern team that should be taken seriously.

Bayer want to fight fire with fire

Leverkusen haven’t been their best as they dropped quite a number of points that could have gotten them into Champions League football, but they are still a team of fierce competitors, ready to attack.

Their eight league defeats effectively put them out of the title race, but a Champions League finish is still not out of reach. The teams from third to eighth haven’t played consistent football over the past two months, making a comeback possible for Peter Bosz’s men.

The former Dortmund gaffer has more-than-enough firepower on the roster to help them win games. Young Kai Havertz is leading the side with his seven goals and is on Bayern’s summer shopping list. Kevin Volland, Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi will also be instrumental in Leverkusen’s game plan against the Bundesliga giants.

This will be a tough contest for the hosts and the entire BayArena. However, Bosz intends to fight fire with fire and snatch the three points in an exciting goal fiesta.

History

These two teams share a long history, having played each other in top German competitions for since 1979. As expected, the Bavarians have come out victorious a lot more times than many Leverkusen fans would care to admit.

Of the 81 times they have met, Bayern triumphed 50 of those games. Leverkusen won 17, and the two sides split the points only sixteen times. It’s important to note that most of the wins Bayer Leverkusen got over Munich were at home.

However, their most recent matches have been a one-sided affair. Bayern were triumphant in five of their last seven games, and four of those matches saw Munich win by at least two goals.

Betting Tip

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Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich Bayern Munich -1.25 @ 2.21
Feb 02, 22:30(GMT+8)

It’s not even a question as to whether Bayern will win this match. It’s more of whether Bayern will win by two goals or three.

Their last four triumphs over Leverkusen have always been blowouts, and there’s no question that the same thing will happen when these two meet. I believe that while Leverkusen have sufficient attacking talent, their backline wouldn’t be able to handle Bayern’s attackers. Bayer did manage to stomp Wolfsburg, but Munich are a different animal defensively.

With Lewandowski and the rest of Munich firing on all cylinders at the moment, it’s not impossible to see another 4-2 result with the Poland striker netting a brace. Maybe Goretzka can architect a goal or two with his piercing runs as well.

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Dyche: Crouch retains hunger

Burnley manager Sean Dyche says that Peter Crouch still has the hunger to make an impact in the Premier League.

The striker turned 38 this week and in one of the more surprising deals in the January transfer window, he returned to the top flight after signing for Burnley from Stoke City.

The deal involves Clarets striker Sam Vokes going the other way and Dyche says the move suits both parties.

He said of Crouch: "He has a hunger to come and make a mark. We know he's a good character and he still has a desire. The main thing for me is having motivated people."

"It is difficult to let Sam go, but he hasn't played as regularly, it could become a win-win situation."

Crouch has made 462 appearances in the Premier League for six different clubs and was part of the Stoke squad that were relegated last season.

Meanwhile Vokes has been at Turf Moor since 2012 and has started 10 Premier League games so far this season but goes in search of regular first team football.

He has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Championship club who sit 15th in the table.

Potters boss Nathan Jones said of his new signing: "Sam is a player of real pedigree, he has been promoted from this level and he's an experienced international and Premier League player.

"To get it done is something totally different to anything we have and we think he's a marquee player for this level."

Crouch's new club Burnley are just a place above the Premier League relegation zone, though with a four-point cushion over third bottom Cardiff.

The Clarets, 11/5 to be relegated at the end of the season, face fellow strugglers Southampton at home on Saturday and are 6/4 for the win with the Saints 9/5 and the draw 9/4. Burnley are 15/2 to win the game 1-0.

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Almiron aims to repay trust

Miguel Almiron says he wants to repay Newcastle United's trust after signing for a club-record fee.

The attacking midfielder joins from MLS side Atlanta United for a fee believed to be in the region of £20m, exceeding the amount paid to sign Michael Owen from Real Madrid back in 2005.

Almiron started his career in his native Paraguay in 2013, joining Atlanta in 2016, scoring 13 goals last season, helping his team win the MLS Cup for the first time.

He told NUTV of his delight at making the move to the Premier League, saying: "I'm very happy and eager to start and to meet my new team-mates.

"The league is very competitive, this is a historic club, and Rafa Benitez himself were the main reasons why I am here now.

"I think it is a great responsibility, something beautiful for me, and I will try to offer the best I can to repay the trust the club put in me."

United boss Rafael Benitez said that he had been following Almiron for a while, adding: "We saw a player with some pace in attack, who can play behind the striker. We have someone who can score goals and give assists".

Newcastle have also added a defender before the end of the January transfer window, Antonio Barreca joining from Monaco on loan until the end of the season.

The two new signings join a club on a high after Newcastle's midweek victory over Premier League champions Manchester City.

The win took United clear of the relegation zone, five points ahead of third bottom Cardiff. They have the chance to move further clear on Saturday with a trip to Tottenham.

They are 7/1 for an away win with Spurs 2/5 and the draw 7/2. Newcastle are 20/1 to win the game 1-0.

United are 20/1 to end the season in the top half of the Premier League.

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Martial pens fresh United deal

Anthony Martial has brought speculation over his future to an end by signing a new five-and-a-half-year contract with Manchester United.

The 23-year-old arrived at Old Trafford from Monaco in 2015 having been dubbed as a future superstar.

However, the France international has struggled to live up to the hype and had looked set to leave the Red Devils this summer with his previous contract having just 18 months left to run, the club having activated a one-year extension clause in December.

The forward had fallen out of favour under previous boss Jose Mourinho and the chances of him signing a new deal when the Portuguese was in charge appeared slim.

The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker boss dramatically changed Martial's fortune though, the Norwegian viewing him as a key member of his squad.

Martial has now put pen to paper on a deal that will run until June 2024 and has praised the work Solskjaer has done in helping him turn his United career around.

“I am loving my time at this club.  From the day I joined I have been made to feel part of the United family and I have been incredibly humbled and overwhelmed by the warmth and love of our fans, who continue to amaze me with their support," he told the United website.

“I would like to thank Ole and his coaching staff for their belief in me and for helping me to take my game to the next level.  This club is all about winning trophies and I am sure the next piece of silverware is not that far away.”

Martial will hope to mark his new deal with a goal when United take on Leicester on Sunday and is 11/2 to score first.

The Red Devils are 1/1 to get the better of the Foxes, who are 12/5 to follow up their draw at Liverpool on Wednesday with a win. The draw is available at 13/5.

Victory duo poised to return

Melbourne Victory are hopeful two key players will return for what could be the biggest game of their season next week.

Kevin Muscat's side are second in the A-League, four points behind Perth Glory, and will host the leaders on Sunday week.

They look likely to get both German central defender Georg Niedermeier and marquee Keisuke Honda back for that clash.

The pair aren't ready to step back in for Saturday's trip to bottom side Central Coast.

Japanese playmaker Honda, who has been out since injuring his hamstring ahead of last month's derby against Melbourne City, is expected to return to full training in the next few days.

Honda was able to take part in short sprints while at training this week.

Victory have only lost one of their eight games without the 32-year-old, who had started the season on fire with five goals and three assists.

Niedermeier is almost over an ankle problem, while Jai Ingham has been able to return to full training and is available for selection again.

Veteran Leigh Broxham said of the German and Honda: "They're going OK; they're just being mindful of coming back a few times and having to start their recovery again.

"They'll take their time a little bit this time … they'll be close for next week."

James Donachie is on the point of completing a deal to return to the club after a six-month stint in Korea with Jeonnam Dragons.

And with Donachie and Niedermeier coming into contention it could mean the end of Broxham's stint alongside Thomas Deng in the heart of the defence.

"People don't view it as my spot; I'm holding the fort temporarily aren't I?" said Broxham. "It doesn't mean I'm going to give up the position for someone else, I want to play and earn a living."

Melbourne Victory are 9/4 to win the Grand Final.

Victory are 4/7 to win their first game of the season against Central Coast, who are 9/2 with the draw 3/1.

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Roar will be tough reckons skipper

Captain Isaias says Adelaide United are expecting struggling Brisbane Roar to prove a tough test when the sides meet on Saturday.

The Reds are in a period of the season where they're expected to take advantage of their home games.

The fixture list has them playing the bottom three teams in consecutive outings at Coopers Stadium and they've already overcome last-placed Central Coast.

But the fact that the Mariners took the lead against them in the first half before going down to a 2-1 defeat has given Adelaide a warning that they can't afford to take anyone lightly.

United have already beaten Brisbane 2-1 at home this season and the Roar have just one win to their credit in their first 16 games.

Adelaide, who are 17 points better off than the visitors, need to take maximum points to try to move back into the A-League top four.

Isaias said: "I think [Brisbane are] in a tough situation right now. We're coming from a win last game, and I think it's going to be a tough game.

"But we're at home, playing in front of our fans and I hope to have the three points again. We're really happy with the recent results and we're looking for more."

Marco Kurz's side came through the busiest part of the season well, playing eight games from Boxing Day to 27th January and claiming 15 points.

Isaias said: "I think we've done alright so far but it obviously comes from the beginning of the season. I think we worked really hard from the first day on in pre-season and this is why we worked that hard, to get into this period of time really fit."

United have added German midfielder Mirko Boland to their squad for the Roar clash and promoted youngster Carlo Armiento to the senior side.

Adelaide United are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 8/15 to win the game against Brisbane Roar, who are 19/4 with the draw 16/5.

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La Liga: The Miracle Workers of Camp Nou Return!

Barcelona vs Valencia

After overturning a two-goal deficit against Sevilla to reach the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, Barcelona return to La Liga action—again at Camp Nou, this time versus a rising Valencia team.

All eyes will be on the Catalans following their heroic display against the Sevillistas in La Copa. Reversing a 2-0 first-leg advantage is one thing, but turning things around the way Barca did is on a whole different level.

Barcelona are showing a real intention of winning it all this year, and if they can replicate their latest performance, then fans are surely in for another footballing treat.

Talking Points

Barca, deadlier and more confident?

There are plenty of positives to take from Barcelona’s 6-1 reversal against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey.

Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi all scored to help Barcelona win and secure a ticket to the semis after their two-to-nothing embarrassment last week.

While that display showed that Barcelona have the poise and composure of champions, it also proved that they are not going to throw away any competition—particularly the smaller ones—despite the hectic schedule.

Furthermore, the victory provided a glimpse of what the Catalans can do when they are at their best. One particular standout is Coutinho who rose to the occasion after his struggles since arriving in Spain to join the club.

Following his record transfer to Barcelona, Coutinho had very little chance to showcase what he can do and was overshadowed by the greatness in front of him—in the form of the evergreen Messi.

The Brazilian playmaker, however, scored twice for Barca in the win, including the first goal from the spot after Messi gave him the responsibility.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said after the match that he hopes Coutinho’s success will give him more confidence. And if that performance indeed lit a fire inside the 26-year-old, Barcelona will undoubtedly transform into a different beast.

Philippe Coutinho impressed us fans after helping Barcelona win vs Sevilla

Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho in action for Copa Del Rey

The Catalans continue to roll with eight straight wins in La Liga, and they are expected to make that nine on the bounce.

Valencia looking like trouble

Of course, keeping their winning streak won’t be that easy for Barcelona. Not with Valencia playing them anyway.

After their poor start to the campaign that saw them win just once in their first 11 games, Los Che have since clawed their way back to the top half of the table.

Marcelino’s charges have produced some solid La Liga 2019 results, winning their last two showdowns with Celta Vigo and Villarreal. Overall, they have won four of their last five in all competitions, only losing to Getafe in the first leg of their La Copa encounter.

Valencia are dreaming of a top-four finish in the top flight once again, and that doesn’t seem far-fetched now. They are the second-best defensive team with just 18 conceded—a better tally than Barcelona’s and only a little bit behind Atletico Madrid’s record.

The issue for Valencia is where the scoring will come from, with the likes of Daniel Parejo, Santi Mina, and Rodrigo Moreno sharing the attacking duties and accounting for a total of 11 markers.

For what it’s worth, Messi has 19 league goals while his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez has 15.

History

Barcelona haven’t lost versus Valencia since 2016, winning five times and playing out a draw in the other two.

Interestingly, Valencia held Barca to a 1-1 stalemate in their first meeting this 2018-19 campaign. Ezequiel Garay put the Mestalla residents ahead within just two minutes during that game, but the Catalans battled back and equalised on 23 minutes through Messi.

Los Che last won at Camp Nou in April 2016 (that was also the last time Barca lost to them). A Rakitic own goal and Mina first-half strike put the visitors ahead back then, and Barcelona were not able to recover despite a 63rd-minute goal from Messi.

Betting Tip

??
Barcelona vs Valencia Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.33
February 03, 01:30 (GMT+8)

The La Liga 2019 odds at us are stacked against Valencia, though that’s not surprising considering Barcelona’s recent performances.

It’s hard to bet against the reigning La Liga champions, as they can explode offensively anytime, meaning that they can overcome a massive handicap in Asian Handicap Betting.

Valencia are a solid defensive team, so I think they won’t concede as many goals as Sevilla did recently. However, I’m not sure if the home outfit can threaten offensively—or if they will compete to win or merely play to get one point.

With that said, I predict a Barcelona win with two to three goals between them.

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Wolves complete record Jonny deal

Wolves have equalled their transfer record by signing Jonny Otto from Atletico Madrid after he impressed while on loan.

The 24-year-old made the switch from Celta Vigo to Atletico last summer but was immediately loaned out to Wolves on a season-long deal.

Jonny quickly established himself as Nuno Espirito Santo's first-choice right-back and has gone on to make 22 appearances in all competitions for the Molineux outfit.

The defender’s good form in the Premier League saw him earn his first cap for Spain in last October’s friendly win over Wales.

The Wolves fan chanted 'sign him up' when he was substituted in Tuesday's 3-0 win over West Ham and the club have now obliged by completing an £18million deal, a sum which matches the fee they splashed out to bring in Adama Traore last summer.

Jonny has penned a deal through until 2023 and is delighted to join the club permanently, despite never getting the opportunity to play for Atletico Madrid.

Jonny told the club website: "We have had conversations for a while but everything has been very fast.

"The clubs reached an agreement and asked me what I thought. Really from the first moment I said yes, because the truth is that I am very happy to be here.

"I really like this league and I really like Wolverhampton."

Jonny has been a key figure in Wolves' excellent season back in the Premier League and they are now 25/1 to finish in the top six after moving up to seventh with their win over West Ham.

Wolves are next in action on Saturday when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton.

The away side are 11/5 to get the win, while the Toffees are 5/4 and the draw is 23/10.