With the January transfer window slamming shut on Tuesday night, theScore ranks the 20 best moves made across the game’s top leagues.
20. Alistair Johnston ➡️ Celtic
Details: Signed from CF Montreal for reported £3M fee
Johnston, a standout performer for Canada at the World Cup, is already becoming a cult favorite among the vociferous Celtic fan base following his transfer from Major League Soccer. The versatile defender made his debut against bitter rivals Rangers – at Ibrox, no less – and acquitted himself well under extremely testing circumstances. “Baptism of fire. Wouldn’t want it any other way,” the 24-year-old said on social media after the match. Eloquent and honest off the pitch and a gritty competitor on it, Johnston has all the tools to become an adored figure at Celtic Park.
19. Josef Martinez ➡️ Inter Miami
Details: Signed after being released by Atlanta United
The remarkable success that followed Josef Martinez’s arrival won’t soon be forgotten in Atlanta. But, while the admiration from supporters never wavered, it became obvious that things were unraveling behind the scenes after the 2018 MLS MVP was suspended for a week late last season. Fast forward five months and the Venezuelan star is looking to revive his career at Inter Miami. If he can avoid injury setbacks and issues off the pitch, the 29-year-old should turn out to be a huge upgrade for a club that needed to replace Gonzalo Higuain, who retired after the 2022 campaign.
18. Facundo Buonanotte ➡️ Brighton & Hove Albion
Details: Signed from Rosario Central for reported £5.3M initial fee
Have Brighton done it again? The Seagulls’ ability to mine talent from all over the world is becoming a thing of legend in world football. Their vaunted recruitment team will hope that Buonanotte is the latest in a conveyor belt of players purchased for nominal fees and sold for exorbitant amounts. The 18-year-old, who was tracked by the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid, is comfortable playing multiple roles in central midfield. A dynamic dribbler, the Argentine midfielder has “very big potential and can become important for (Brighton) this season,” according to manager Roberto De Zerbi. Chelsea should just go ahead and prepare their £100-million offer now to save everyone the time.
17. Hamed Traore ➡️ Bournemouth
Details: Signed from Sassuolo for reported £21M fee
Another deal that showcased the unrivaled financial might of the Premier League. Bournemouth, battling relegation, scooped up a player that’s been linked with some of Italy’s top clubs at various points in his burgeoning career. Traore, an explosive attacking midfielder, is a spellbinding dribbler who thrives when asked to progress the ball up the field and take on defenders. The 22-year-old’s creativity will provide a much-needed spark for a club that averages less than a goal per game in the Premier League this season.
16. Keylor Navas ➡️ Nottingham Forest
Details: Loaned from Paris Saint-Germain until the end of the season
Nottingham Forest don’t need a second invitation to bring in new faces, but they got one when goalkeeper Dean Henderson was ruled out for four-to-six weeks with a serious thigh injury. Relying on 36-year-old Wayne Hennessey to assume the starting job was simply not an option, so Forest went out and picked up the decorated Navas on a low-risk deal. The Costa Rican netminder, a three-time Champions League winner, will instantly provide an assured presence between the sticks for Steve Cooper’s side.
15. Weston McKennie ➡️ Leeds United
Details: Loaned from Juventus, deal can become permanent for up to €40.5M
This deal makes sense on multiple levels for Leeds, who needed a do-everything midfielder to help in their pursuit of Premier League salvation. Given the existing American influence at the club, McKennie should feel comfortable almost instantly, eliminating a barrier that can exist for January signings who don’t have much time to acclimate before being asked to contribute. McKennie embraced compatriot and USMNT teammate Tyler Adams upon his arrival at Elland Road, and their on-field chemistry will go a long way to determining if Jesse Marsch keeps his team in the top flight.
14. Terem Moffi ➡️ Nice
Details: Loaned from Lorient with obligation to buy for reported €30M
Only two players have scored more goals in Ligue 1 this season than Moffi – one of them is Kylian Mbappe. Any time you’re in the same conversation as the Paris Saint-Germain superstar, you’re doing something right. The Nigerian striker, 23, was a consistent scorer for multiple seasons at Lorient. He was ready for the next step in his career and found it at Nice, the ambitious club with aspirations of a rapid ascension under new owners Ineos. No team in France’s top half of the table has scored fewer goals than Nice, who hope their marquee January acquisition can hit the ground running.
13. Pablo Sarabia ➡️ Wolverhampton Wanderers
Details: Signed from Paris Saint-Germain for reported €5.3M fee
The lowest-scoring team in the Premier League with a pitiful 12 goals in 20 matches, Wolverhampton needed someone who knows how to find the net. Checking that box for such a nominal fee is just excellent business. Sarabia enjoyed a prolific loan spell with Sporting CP last season but, understandably, found minutes hard to come by at Paris Saint-Germain this campaign, so Wolves seized a prime market opportunity. The 30-year-old also links up with a familiar face at Molineux, as he’s worked with manager Julen Lopetegui on two previous occasions – once with Spain’s Under-19 team that won the European Championship in 2011 and then again, albeit very briefly, at Sevilla.
12. Memphis Depay ➡️ Atletico Madrid
Details: Signed from Barcelona for reported €3M fee
Atletico Madrid’s tradition of signing veteran forwards from Barcelona continued last month with Depay’s arrival. The Dutch striker follows in the footsteps of David Villa and Luis Suarez, who both won the league title in the Spanish capital after entering the twilight of their respective careers. Expecting Depay to enjoy similar success seems far-fetched considering Atletico’s struggles this year and the gap to league leaders Barca. But the bargain fee Barca accepted after falling out with the 28-year-old makes this a solid signing for Atleti, who recognized and seized an opportunity to improve their squad after Joao Felix’s departure.
11. Leandro Trossard ➡️ Arsenal
Details: Signed from Brighton & Hove Albion for reported £27M fee
The Belgian winger wasn’t Arsenal’s first choice to bolster an injury-riddled attack, but the Premier League-leading Gunners could’ve done a lot worse than Trossard. Although the 28-year-old was essentially Plan B after Arsenal reportedly missed out on Mykhaylo Mudryk, he offers Mikel Arteta another attacking weapon and – more importantly – depth. Also, considering that teams like Chelsea were happy to pay insanely high fees for everyone and anyone, Arsenal’s shrewd deal with Brighton could go down as a steal if Trossard helps the north London club win the Premier League for the first time in 19 years.
10. Marcel Sabitzer ➡️ Manchester United
Details: Loaned from Bayern Munich until the end of the season
This move wasn’t in the works for long, but after Christian Eriksen suffered a serious injury during an FA Cup fixture, Manchester United quickly searched the transfer market for a replacement. The Red Devils reportedly inquired about Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch and Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans before brokering a low-risk loan deal for Sabitzer. His ability to drive his team up the pitch, leadership skills, and versatility could prove to be valuable assets for Erik ten Hag’s team.
9. Yann Sommer ➡️ Bayern Munich
Details: Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach for reported €8M fee
Manuel Neuer’s decision to jet off for a ski trip resulted in a season-ending broken leg, which turned out to be bad news for both Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach, and led to an unexpected search for the German goalkeeper’s replacement. Bayern didn’t have to look far, though, as the Bavarians settled on Sommer, who had become a staple of the Gladbach side since joining the club almost nine years ago. In completing a deal for the Swiss international, Bayern ensured they have an experienced Bundesliga goalkeeper who will slot in immediately and provide a sturdy presence across multiple competitions.
8. Mykhaylo Mudryk ➡️ Chelsea
Details: Signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for reported potential £88M fee
So much is unknown about Mudryk – the Ukrainian sensation who had two Premier League teams chasing after him despite his relatively little experience at the senior level at Shakhtar Donetsk. After Arsenal’s initial interest, Chelsea swooped in to win the race with a lucrative bid for the 22-year-old. What is known, though, is that Mudryk hasn’t disappointed when the spotlight has been on him. He showed tons of promise in the Champions League and offered a glimpse of the exciting talent that earned Mudryk such high praise during his debut at Anfield.
7. Malo Gusto ➡️ Chelsea
Details: Signed from Lyon for reported £26.3M fee
Gusto is already on a trajectory to stardom, but Chelsea fans will need to wait until next season to get a proper look at the highly rated French right-back. If Gusto, who was loaned back to Lyon for the rest of the season, continues to evolve into a top talent in Ligue 1, the Blues will have the enviable luxury of being able to choose between the 19-year-old and their other world-class right-back, Reece James. By all accounts, Chelsea could have themselves a real star in the making here.
6. Pedro Porro ➡️ Tottenham Hotspur
Details: Loaned from Sporting CP with obligation to buy for €45M
Tottenham rode the rollercoaster to sign Porro. The protracted deal with Sporting CP appeared on the brink of collapse roughly 48 hours out from the transfer deadline, but Spurs ultimately landed the wing-back that Antonio Conte views as an ideal fit for his squad and tactics. The Spaniard caught Conte’s eye with impressive performances against Tottenham in the Champions League group stage and could have a transformative impact with the club. Porro, still only 23, is an enormous upgrade on incumbent Emerson Royal. Conte will be hoping his arrival lifts Spurs in the same way that Achraf Hakimi did during his Inter Milan tenure.
5. Cody Gakpo ➡️ Liverpool
Details: Signed from PSV Eindhoven for reported potential £50M fee
Gakpo is one of a few World Cup stars who earned a big transfer in January. Although Liverpool aren’t in the best shape right now – they’re ninth in the Premier League table, 10 points adrift of the Champions League places – they have a proven track record of improving young players and playing adventurous, attacking football. Gakpo, who scored nine goals and assisted 12 times over 14 Eredivisie outings before his move, should fit right in.
4. Enzo Fernandez ➡️ Chelsea
Details: Signed from Benfica for reported £106.8M fee
The absurdity of the January transfer market was perhaps best illustrated by Chelsea’s relentless pursuit of Fernandez. Time after time, Benfica rejected the Blues’ advances before succumbing and losing the war of attrition to a team that refused to take no for an answer. But the Portuguese side’s stiff bargaining tactics resulted in a massive return on investment for the Argentine World Cup winner, who only joined Benfica last summer from River Plate for €10 million. By the time the dust settled on another frantic winter signing period, Chelsea’s spending in January topped €300 million after paying a British record fee for a player who, in all likelihood, probably wasn’t even on free-spending owner Todd Boehly’s radar before the World Cup.
3. Azzedine Ounahi ➡️ Marseille
Details: Signed from Angers in deal reportedly worth up to €10M
In a matter of 18 months, Ounahi dragged himself from obscurity in France’s third tier to becoming a standout player on the world’s largest stage. The midfielder wowed World Cup viewers with his close control, composure, and incredible stamina during Morocco’s run to the semifinals, making the fee that Marseille paid for his services seem like a bargain. At just 22, there’s plenty of time for Ounahi to improve even more at one of France’s biggest clubs.
2. Jorginho ➡️ Arsenal
Details: Signed from Chelsea for reported £12M fee
Jorginho polarizes people. His detractors gesture toward his overly conservative use of the ball and relatively slow movement, while others praise how he breaks up play and rarely loses possession from the base of midfield. And surely his trophy haul with Chelsea and Italy wasn’t sheer luck? Ultimately, Jorginho’s arrival at the Emirates Stadium fulfills a need: He’ll be immediately installed as Thomas Partey’s backup and could be crucial as Arsenal navigate Europa League football while pushing for the Premier League title.
1. Joao Cancelo ➡️ Bayern Munich
Details: Loaned from Manchester City with option to buy for reported €70M
Cancelo upset team morale at Manchester City when he was left out of the lineup. The coaching staff felt he didn’t pay attention during tactical briefs ahead of a recent FA meeting with Arsenal, according to The Athletic’s Sam Lee and Pol Ballus. So, Pep Guardiola decided he had to go. That decision works out nicely for Bayern Munich, who now have a try-before-you-buy arrangement with one of the best full-backs on the globe.
Honorable mentions: Benoit Badiashile (Chelsea), Kamaldeen Sulemana (Southampton), Harry Souttar (Leicester City)