The January transfer window: Alan Smith grades each Premier League team’s business

The transfer window has now shut and Alan Smith is here to give each Premier League club a grade for the business they have done during January.

Not every team has been active in January, with many sides content not to make any changes to their squads.

However, others have broken their transfer record, while some went right down to the wire to get their intended targets.

So whether it was an A+, or a D-, the former Arsenal and England forward gives his verdict on each top-flight clubs’ business in the winter window…

Arsenal – C

Arsenal fans would have loved to have seen a little bit more business, but they did manage to bring in Denis Suarez. How much will he play though as you imagine he may be a bit of a squad player? Unai Emery knows him from Sevilla, he is versatile, while another young lad in Smith Rowe has gone out to Germany to get some game time. I do not think Emery would have given up on him and it will be good for his education, so hopefully he can come back a better player.


Man City vs Arsenal

February 3, 2019, 4:00pm

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Bournemouth – B+

Dominic Solanke for £19m is a gamble, but this may be the place for him, while Nathaniel Clyne is a good signing if they can get him in shape and I like centre-back Chris Mepham, who they got in from Brentford for £12m.

Brighton – B

They are not in a desperate shape, they are in a decent position, so they have some elbow room and did not really need to gamble in this window.

Burnley – B-

He has brought in an old head with good experience and a great attitude in Peter Crouch, who also has experience of a relegation fight, although I think they will be OK. And in the dressing room and on the training ground as much as anywhere he will be a great influence, and he will suit their style of play too, even if he will be used sparingly.

Cardiff – No grade

The one glaring shortcoming with Cardiff is putting the ball in the back of the net, as we saw at Arsenal on Tuesday night, and Oumar Niasse is hit and miss. Sometimes he can be dangerous, other times he does not seem to know what he is doing. Leandro Bacuna might be decent and will bolster that midfield, but with the unfortunate situation with Emiliano Sala, they have not been able to do what they set out to do.

Chelsea – B+

They have gone to the top end in terms of players and fees in Gonzalo Higuain and Christian Pulisic. They did need a striker and they have filled that gap, but Higuain does need to get fitter and acclimatised to this style of football. However, there is all sorts going on there, so it is not just a question of putting in a striker and all being well. Pulisic is a young player with a lot of potential, although he was not pulling up trees at Dortmund and he lost his place to Jadon Sancho, but it will give them pace and width next season and they have lightened the wage bill. And they needed a striker and given there were not many out there with that sort of pedigree, they have done well.

Crystal Palace – A-

Alexander Sorloth was a disappointment, he was not good enough for this level, so bringing in Michy Batshuayi on loan looks like an excellent piece of business, especially with Christian Benteke still working his way back to full fitness and Wilfried Zaha currently suspended.

Everton – No grade

They did a lot of their business in the summer, when they spent a lot of money, and really Marco Silva now needs to work with those players on the training ground to coach them to make them better.

Fulham – B+

Ryan Babel has had a new lease of life over the last year, he is back in the Dutch team, he seems to have got his appetite back. I saw him make his debut at Spurs and he looked lively. But for a team like Fulham to get him… but it is obviously at the back where they have problems. However, because of Babel’s arrival, I will give them a B+.

Huddersfield – B+

They are preparing for life in the Championship with the signings of Karlan Grant and Jaden Brown aren’t they? It is not some desperate attempt to stay in the division by throwing money at it, is it?

Leicester – B+

Youri Tielemans’ arrival is exciting, he is still fairly young, with Adrien Silva going in the opposite direction on loan to Monaco after his move did not work out. Puel likes a young, athletic side, so Tielemans fits in, but they are in a very good position, so you wonder what more he can do?

Liverpool – No grade

They bought Alisson and Van Dijk in the last two windows and they were almost the missing pieces in their jigsaw, so there was not too much more that needed to be done.


West Ham vs Liverpool

February 4, 2019, 7:00pm

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Manchester City – B+

They let Brahim Diaz join Real Madrid for £22m and Financial Fair Play is very important for clubs now, so his departure will have helped in that regard. They have a great squad though, so they really did not need to do any business.

Manchester United – No grade

Their defence was obviously the area that Jose Mourinho was wanting to strengthen, but they have tightened up recently under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Victor Lindelof impressing. And they have been on a bit of a roll of late, so why rock the boat? And because of the managerial situation, if you are going to bring in a new man in the summer who may want certain players, are you going to sign players now?


Leicester vs Man Utd

February 3, 2019, 1:00pm

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Newcastle – A-

They have had one of the best windows with the timely club-record signing of Miguel Almiron. So Rafa Benitez has been given the funds, but can he now hit the ground running? At least it has given the fans a lift though.

Southampton – C

He [Ralph Hasenhuttl] has unloaded the decks a bit, but it is a new manager who has looked at players and does not see what another manager does. He is now trying to mould what he has, but he has not been able to get anyone in though and I’m sure he would have wanted to bring people in and get bodies and they are still in trouble.

Tottenham – No grade

It is such a tough ask to bring in a backup striker who is better than Llorente to sit on the bench. They tried it with Vincent Janssen, and that did not work, while I do not think they have a whole load of money to spend either.


Tottenham vs Newcastle

February 2, 2019, 11:30am

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Watford – B

They are in a fantastic position in the league currently, while keeping hold of Abdoulaye Doucoure, at least until the summer, is a real plus. This is a well-run club and recruitment has been fantastic over the last few years.

West Ham – B

They have kept Arnautovic and as long as he now knuckles down, that is good news, while they also spent a lot of money last summer and the funds are not a bottomless pit. But the fact they kept hold of Arnautovic, who may be a bit high maintenance means they get a ‘B’.

Wolves – B+

They are a tight group and bought a lot of good players last summer, who have performed well so far this season, while they have also completed the £18m signing of Jonny Otto from Atletico Madrid. He is an integral part of the team, so it is important to get that deal done permanently, but it is money well spent. And they are almost balancing the books with the £12m exit of Benik Afobe to Stoke.

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