PARIS (AFP) – The January transfer window shut in Europe’s leading leagues yesterday, with Newcastle United’s signing of Miguel Almiron the biggest deal to go through on a deadline day almost devoid of activity at the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
Paraguay midfielder Miguel Almiron joined Newcastle from MLS Cup winners Atlanta United for a reported GBP20 million, a fee that breaks the club record.
“The league is very competitive, this is a historic club, and (manager) Rafa Benitez himself were the main reasons why I am here now,” said the 24-year-old on joining the struggling side.
Meanwhile, of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, the only ones to dip into the market on Thursday were Arsenal, who took midfielder Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona.
Their rivals kept their cheque books closed as the window shut, although Chelsea had already signed Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus after buying USA winger Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for GBP58 million, loaning him back for the rest of the season.
“During one month I said we are not going to do anything in the transfer market,” insisted Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola earlier in the week.
Apart from Almiron, Newcastle also took Monaco full-back Antonio Barreca on loan. Elsewhere, Wolves completed an GBP18 million deal to sign Jonny Castro permanently from Atletico Madrid.
Meanwhile, Leicester City signed Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans on loan from Monaco, with Adrien Silva going the other way.
The possible elephant in the room in a comparatively low-key window was Brexit, given the uncertainty caused by the issue dominating British politics.
The resulting impact on sterling’s value against the euro and the dollar might not help, but were clubs really holding back on transfer deals because of the UK’s impending departure from the European Union?
One British-based agent told AFP there was “great uncertainty” among some foreign players, but added that he had not “seen a change in behaviour from clubs at this point”.
While the window was relatively quiet in England, some of Europe’s biggest names made moves, mostly well before deadline day, with Barcelona leading the way.
The Spanish champions agreed to pay Ajax 75 million euros – plus 11 million in bonuses – to take 21-year-old midfielder Frenkie de Jong for next season.
They also signed Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan from Sassuolo as a back-up in attack, following the loan signing of Valencia defender Jeison Murillo. Promising French centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo signed from Toulouse.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid took former Real striker Alvaro Morata on loan from Chelsea, while their city rivals brought in young midfielder Brahim Diaz from Manchester City for 17 million euros.
In France, Paris Saint-Germain strengthened in midfield with the signing of Argentina’s Leandro Paredes from Zenit Saint Petersburg for a reported 47 million euros.
Marseille signed Mario Balotelli from Nice, and struggling Monaco made eight signings, headed by Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea.
In Germany, Bayern Munich signed Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps. The Bavarians also completed a deal to take France defender Benjamin Pavard from Stuttgart from July 1 for a reported 35 million euros.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig continued the trend of British teenagers moving to the Bundesliga, signing Arsenal youngster Emile Smith-Rowe on loan.
In Italy, Juventus allowed Mehdi Benatia to leave for Qatar and replaced him with the Uruguayan Martin Caceres, but Milan have splashed most cash.
The seven-time European champions cut short Higuain’s loan from Juventus and replaced him with Genoa’s Polish hotshot Krzysztof Piatek for a reported 35 million euros.
Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta, 21, joined from Flamengo for a similar fee.
Further afield, Russian clubs have until February 22 to make signings, while the Chinese transfer window is open until February 28, and Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini could be the latest big name to move there.