Winners and Losers of the 2023 Premier League Winter Transfer Window
0 of 6
Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images
The winter transfer window. A time where Premier League managers often say it’s difficult to do business. “Players are too expensive,” they cry. “We’ll have to wait until the summer.”
An eye-popping amount of owners’ money was spent by Premier League managers in January, most notably from Stamford Bridge.
We had struggling teams trying to turn things around. We had other teams covering injuries. We had one team in particular trying to consolidate their march to the title…
We had Winners and Losers. Enjoy!
Winner: Graham Potter and His New Toys at Chelsea
1 of 6
Clive Howes – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
New Chelsea boss Graham Potter is a very lucky man.
He oversaw just one win in six games across all competitions in January. The Blues sit 10 points behind the top four in 10th, are out of both domestic cups and have a tough Champions League knockout tie with Borussia Dortmund on the horizon.
So far, Potter’s tactics haven’t really offered much spark. He’s begun to blood a few talented youngsters like Lewis Hall and Bashir Humphreys, but the attacking riddle of Thomas Tuchel’s reign continues. Chelsea possess incredible attacking strength in depth that just never seems to click and, vitally, with no prolific striker to act as a focal point.
Kai Havertz has shown glimpses but is yet to show he can consistently deliver. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has proved useless, and players such as Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic flit in and out of injury. Potter’s tactics have so far been unbalanced and exposed a lot of the squad’s weaknesses, while creating new ones that weren’t there before, such as an easy-to-bypass midfield.
The former Brighton man is fortunate he’s got the backing of new owner Todd Boehly.
Few would sanction the transfers of João Félix, Benoît Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Andrey Santos, Noni Madueke and Malo Gusto when a manager is performing so badly. Even fewer would gazump Arsenal to the £70 million acquisition of Mykhailo Mudryk.
Fewer still would pay £105 million to snatch World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez from Benfica. Chelsea were in, they were out, but ultimately they were in again. Potter has absolutely no excuses not to improve this team now.
Boehly has made it clear: He believes in Potter, and he’s willing to reinforce that with extravagant spending to get Chelsea out of a hole.
Losers: The Merseyside Clubs
2 of 6
Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Both Liverpool and Everton suffered a difficult January, albeit for very different reasons.
But wait, how can Liverpool be considered losers when they signed Cody Gakpo? As talented as the Dutch forward is, his arrival failed to address the problems Jurgen Klopp is dealing with in midfield.
Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara are slowing down. Fabinho doesn’t look as dominant as usual. Naby Keïta is destined to leave, having never fulfilled his potential at Anfield. Despite being extremely talented, Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic are not the immediate answer for a club that expects to compete for every trophy.
To add to the misery, Arthur Melo’s loan has proved a disaster, as long-term injury means he’ll be lucky to get on the pitch more than the single time he’s accumulated.
Liverpool are clearly a team in transition. Gakpo is part of that, alongside Darwin Núñez, as the long-term successors for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are hunted. You need to plug the biggest holes first in moments of flux, though, and Klopp’s desperate needs were left wanting in January.
As for Everton, well, what is there to say? Frank Lampard led the Toffees to the relegation zone before being sacked. What looked like a stunning coup in Arnaut Danjuma turned out to be highly embarrassing after the Villarreal winger opted to join Tottenham Hotspur on loan instead, despite media duties being completed for his Goodison Park reveal.
Everton flirted with Hakim Ziyech, but it seemed too good to be true, and it was. Then Fenerbahce striker Michy Batshuayi reportedly turned them down because the project isn’t stable enough, per David Ornstein of The Athletic.
All of this played out to the backdrop that Anthony Gordon, the club’s best young player, just gave up on them to move to Newcastle United. Even Everton’s own want out. It’s a nightmare scenario for a team who are real candidates for relegation.
Winners: Arsenal Fans
3 of 6
David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Arsenal always fall away after Christmas. That’s what they tell us. No matter the size of the Gunners’ lead over Manchester City, there’s still so much doubt Mikel Arteta’s men will get the job done.
Whether you believe the Premier League trophy will be decked in red or blue at the end of the season, Arsenal did everything right to maintain momentum.
So many fans will have been disappointed by missing out on Mudryk, but the swoop for Leandro Trossard was extremely smart. He seems to have already fit in with a confident cameo in the win over Manchester United and a good performance in the narrow FA Cup defeat to City. Trossard cost a fraction of the budget at £24 million, meaning more depth could be added elsewhere.
And you know what? Missing out on Moises Caicedo is not the end of the world because a quality alternative was found in Jorginho.
He is excellent cover and a controlling presence for the remainder of a season that will be nervy as Arsenal get closer to winning the league. Fans might not like to hear that, with a lot of eggs puts in Caicedo’s basket, but there’s real brains at work behind the scenes at the Emirates Stadium.
Many fans were fearful the north London side would stand still in January. Well, Arsenal have recruited smartly, showing intent to go all the way. You can’t ask for much more.
Losers: Wolves’ Relegation Rivals
4 of 6
Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images
Wolves are teetering scarily close to the relegation zone right now, but a well-considered January will have the rest of the division’s struggling clubs worried.
Julen Lopetegui is starting to stamp his style into the Molineux side after joining in November, adding a lot more steel to a team that hasn’t shown as much fight as we’re used to this campaign.
Both Mario Lemina and Craig Dawson are players who will allow others to shine. Ruben Neves’ ability to dictate with his passing ability has slowed in recent times because of an increased need to play more defensively, so he should have a freer second half to the season. Matheus Cunha can help a woeful goalscoring record improve, aided by the delivery of Pablo Sarabia from Paris Saint-Germain, whose surprise move underlines the ambition under the new manager.
It’s time to worry if you’re Everton, Bournemouth and Southampton. Wolves will have to go a long way to perform as badly as they’ve done through 20 games in which they’ve only seen four wins and 12 goals scored. January’s additions should naturally see them drift away from the struggling pack.
Winners: Leeds’ USMNT Connection
5 of 6
Pan Yulong/Xinhua via Getty Images
The American links get stronger for Leeds United, who are now just a Yunus Mensah away from boasting the United States national team’s scrappy midfield trio.
Weston McKennie has joined countrymen Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and, of course, manager Jesse Marsch in a team that might well soon walk out to the “Star-Spangled Banner” for inspiration.
Adams and McKennie performed admirably alongside each other at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They dictated the draw with England, and both showed leadership qualities in a difficult run to the last 16.
In McKennie, Marsch has added another player he can trust, a player he knows well. Finding that little extra control could stop Leeds from being the team who can give anyone a game but often fall short anyway.
Marsch has no problem drilling goals into the team, with Leeds’ 26 more than nearly all the bottom half and even Chelsea in 10th. But, 33 conceded is the reason they’re sitting in 15th. A guard of Adams and McKennie may well rectify that.
Winners: Manchester United’s Momentum
6 of 6
Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Losing Cristiano Ronaldo was never going to be easy, mainly because Manchester United needed a new striker on a shoestring budget after spending readily in the summer.
Many will have laughed at Wout Weghorst’s arrival on loan from Burnley. He’s performed well for Eric ten Hag’s side throughout his first three games and has shown he’s more than the archetypal big man. Weghorst’s clever touches and willingness to press is a refreshing alternative to Anthony Martial, who tends to slink away from putting in the hard yards at key moments.
United were thrown another curveball late in the window, though. Christian Eriksen’s long-term injury means a star performer will likely not be available for the remainder of the season. The lightning-quick decision to sign Marcel Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich is an excellent piece of business that could go a long way to plugging the major issue Eriksen’s absence could cause: control of matches.
With little to spend and potential new ownership on the horizon, it was a well-played window from ten Hag and the club. Weghorst and Sabitzer have it in them to contribute significantly during the rest of the season.