When it was suggested that I write about the January transfer window the obvious approach was to do some sort of top 10 list or best/worst signing list. I have chosen to avoid this and instead focus on two teams who I believe have made the most of the January transfer window. As a result I have opted to completely disregard the Chinese Super League.
With that in mind I am going to focus on Marseille and Bayern Munich as I believe both teams have made signings of significance. The difference being that Marseille’s transfers will have an immediate impact whereas Bayern’s will perhaps be a more long term strategy.
Dimitri Payet (£25m) – Of course this signing will be no surprise to anyone. Marseille’s acquisition of Payet has been one of the worst kept secrets in football this month as Payet made it increasingly clear he wanted to leave West Ham and return to Ligue 1. Although Marseille were not looking to spend as much as they did on Payet his time away from the club does warrant the money. This is due to the fact he was a revelation in the Premier League during the 2015/16 season as he made 30 appearances for the club in his first season whilst playing a key role in 21 goals. Despite slowing down in the 2016/17 season for West Ham Payet leaves the PL in January having created 74 chances, the most in the league so far. This stat is encouraging for Marseille as Payet is guaranteed to provide plenty of goal scoring opportunities for the team going into the second half of the season.
Patrice Evra (Free transfer) – Evra’s move to Marseille will have largely come from not getting enough appearances in Turin as he made 13 appearances for Juventus this season as opposed to Alex Sandro who made 22 appearances before Evra left. With competition tight at left back Evra has likely moved for more game time which is odd in some ways as he leaves Juventus arguably in better form than Sandro with a higher success rate in tackles (44%), take ons (67%) and head duels (75%). Sandro’s stats are as follows; tackles – 39% success rate, take on – 66% success rate and headed duels – 64% success rate. Competition for a spot in the Marseille team will not be as difficult for Evra as the team have conceded 27 goals already this season which isn’t great compared to the other big French clubs and as such the club will want him to make an immediate impact in defence. I would therefore argue that Evra has been a great signing for Marseille as he comes to the club in good form and has a wealth of experience having played for Monaco, Manchester United and Juventus.
With Marseille sitting in 6th place and 13 points adrift from a Champions League place it is highly unlikely they will be playing in Europe next season. Despite this the team could improve next season as the club has bought in the right areas and as such Marseille may begin to score more and look tighter at the back with Payet and Evra now in the squad.
Niklas Sule (€20m reported) – Despite only being 21 years old Sule already has considerable first team experience having played in the Hoffenheim squad for the last 4 seasons as a centre back. As well as this during the first half of the 2014/15 season Sule was reported to be the best tackler in Europe with a tackling success rate of 97.6%, the stat alone is unbelievable but is made all the more impressive given that he was 19 years old at the time. Although Sule is not as established as Bayern’s two main centre backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng the likelihood is he will have plenty of opportunities in Munich as Boateng in particular is injury prone having missed 20 matches last season for Bayern and 14 already this season. Therefore, Sule may not necessarily have his growth stunted at Bayern as despite the talent they have at the back injury setbacks could give him an extended run in the team. Although purely speculative I do believe he will grow to be one of Bayern’s first choice centre back’s in the years ahead as he has demonstrated already just how reliable he is for Hoffenheim and for that reason he should be regarded as a sound investment.
Sebastian Rudy (free transfer) – I believe Rudy could be a good signing for Bayern Munich, not just because he has signed on a free transfer but because he will provide options for Bayern with Xabi Alonso retiring. Rudy is said to be a right sided midfielder who can also play at right back, with this in mind the main players at Bayern who currently play in his position are Alonso and Vidal who alternate between central and right sided midfield plus Lahm who is largely a right back. Rudy is obviously less well known but he could be a suitable replacement for Alonso as their stats this season are not too dissimilar with 38% of Rudy’s tackles being successful meanwhile 39% of Alonso’s tackles have been successful. Rudy has been significantly better this season going forward however as he has won 63% of his take ons whilst Alonso has won 50%. Vidal meanwhile has the same tackle success rate as Rudy but falls extremely short with take ons only winning 17%. Without getting too bogged down in the stats the point I’m making is essentially that Rudy could seriously benefit Bayern and also be compatible with Vidal in the midfield as both have been equally good in their tackles so far this season. But on top of this Rudy could also make up for where Vidal falls short which is beating players although I would be reluctant to criticise Vidal too much as he has always been known more as a hatchet man in midfield. Therefore, Rudy could be a benefit to Bayern going forward whilst also complimenting Vidal.