In arguably the most hectic deadline day in recent memory, a plethora of deals took players from country to country and across cities to cross-town rivals. A complicated love-triangle of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Dortmund combined to send three prolific forwards to new clubs while Manchester City continued to spend more money on defense than many European nations. Which teams and players benefited the most from their moves, and which clubs find themselves in a worse spot after the window?
Chelsea paid just below market value to get the Frenchman to end his five and a half years at Arsenal, and while he scored 105 goals in his career with the Gunners, he had only started one game in the Premier League this campaign. Giroud has long been preferred over other attacking options for Didier Deschamps’ national team side, but his place in the 23-man World Cup roster was very much in doubt. With this move to Chelsea, Giroud can be assured of fairly regular minutes, as he would be the Blues’ secondary striking option. While it hurts Arsenal fans to see him wearing blue, his new contract only runs until next summer, when Giroud will presumably return to Ligue Un.
Loser: Newcastle United, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City, and West Brom
All five of the aforementioned teams are in the midst of an intense relegation battle, and while fellow bottom-feeders Southampton made a splash by signing Monaco forward Guido Carrillo for a fee rumoured to be around 19 million euros, none of their bottom-table counterparts made moves to actively raise their chances of survival. Newcastle were similarly linked to Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen, yet the deal fell through after Newcastle refused to stump up 22 million for the man who led the Eredivisie in scoring last season. Meanwhile, West Brom were linked with Borussia outcast Andre Schurrle, but failed to sign him or bring in any other reinforcements (although they did land out-of-favor striker Daniel Sturridge on loan, who has serious injury issues but also can provide a spark to any attack when fit). Unfortunately, the only sides going into the closing third of the season with hope are Swansea, who knocked off both Arsenal and Liverpool recently and have taken 10 points of a possible 18 since the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal, and Southampton, who will hope to return to their peak form with their new signing.
Winner: Manchester Clubs
Both Manchester clubs can claim to have added quality to their squads in this window. Manchester United signed wantaway forward Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal without paying a dime, and Jose Mourinho got to clear out Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a player who was effectively not included in his plans moving forward. Pep Guardiola forked out 65 million euros for French center-back Aymeric Laporte while signing promising young talents Erik Palmer-Brown and Jack Harrison from the MLS. As Pep gradually phases out older players from his squad, adding youth and talent is certainly a good move.
Arsenal fans can breathe easier after this window, as they streamlined the squad while adding a tremendous amount of quality to the first team. Arsenal managed to get the aforementioned Mkhitaryan from United in exchange for Alexis Sanchez, whose petty attitude had been detracting from the squad, while tying down Mesut Ozil to a new deal. Ozil’s re-signing is a brilliant move for both the player and the club as the German attacking midfielder becomes Arsenal’s leading earner at 350,000 pounds per week until summer 2021. To go along with all of this, Arsenal made a decisively un-Arsenal transfer by forking out 58 million plus variables for pacy Gabonese hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, giving Arsenal the imposing front four of ALexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, and Ozil (LMAO). This deal is a true steal, as Arsenal paid exactly market value for the striker. Arsene Wenger also sold squad players Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin, and Mathieu Debuchy. Arsenal still have work to do, as they currently sit in sixth place after losing to Swansea on Tuesday. Their defense needs bolstering and the midfield needs to find its footing, but this window certainly gives Arsenal fans hope for the short and long term future.
Loser: Transfer Market Consistency
Arsenal getting one of the best strikers in the world for just short of 60 million, but Manchester City bidding 65 million euros for Riyad Mahrez just further shows how TV money has completely distorted the value of players on a global scale. Mahrez is certainly a good player, but he cannot compare to the value that a true global superstar like Aubameyang brings. A similar phenomena occurred in the summer, when players like Gylfi Sigurdsson were transferred for similarly astronomical funds. Unfortunately, when teams like Manchester City spend almost half a billion dollars in the span of two seasons, it looks like this trend is unlikely to change.