With Tuesday’s transfer deadline fast approaching, Europe’s major clubs have largely remained inactive this month with the exception of Manchester City, who completed the transfer of Brazilian starlet Gabriel Jesus, and Sevilla.
European champions Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico Madrid were barred from signing new players under a FIFA imposed ban, while Barcelona elected to stand pat amid another fierce title battle in Spain.
But Sevilla and revered sporting director Monchi actively looked to strengthen with the Andalusian club in the hunt for a first Liga crown since 1946 and through to the Champions League knockout phase.
After snapping up France Under-21 defender Clement Lenglet, Sevilla plucked Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic from Inter Milan on loan while signing Argentine midfielder Walter Montoya from Rosario Central.
However, there has been precious little movement elsewhere with Italy international Simone Zaza joining Juventus and Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato following the money trail by leaving Villarreal for China’s Tianjin Quanjian.
Unfashionable Las Palmas pulled off a potential coup with the arrival of Paris Saint-Germain flop Jese Rodriguez, the Spanish forward returning to his home city after a difficult six months in France.
In England, the arrival of Jesus at Eastlands remains the standout deal, but there has been a flurry of moves involving clubs fighting to avoid the drop and subsequent exile from the Premier League’s riches.
City agreed to sign Jesus on a five-year contract in August, but the 19-year-old was immediately loaned back to Palmeiras until the end of the Brazilian season in December.
– England’s top six unmoved –
Title frontrunners Chelsea recalled Dutch defender Nathan Ake from Bournemouth, but the Blues have primarily offloaded players with Oscar moving to China’s Shanghai SIPG in an Asian record 60-million-euro ($63 million) deal and John Mikel Obi joining Tianjin TEDA.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he had no need to make any last-ditch signings, with 20-year-old defender Cohen Bramall, signed from non-league Hednesford Town, the Gunners’ only January arrival.
“I believe that number-wise and quality-wise, we have what is required to do well,” said Wenger, with top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool also standing firm in the transfer market.
After their summer spending spree that included the return of Paul Pogba to Old Trafford in a world-record deal, Manchester United have made no new signings this month.
Jose Mourinho instead sanctioned the departures of fringe first-team players Memphis Depay to Lyon and Morgan Schneiderlin to Everton, roughly recouping an initial 40 million euros for the pair.
Second-bottom Hull City made Inter Milan centre-back Andrea Ranocchia their sixth recruit of the transfer window, joining fellow loan signings Oumar Niasse, Evandro, Omar Elabdellaoui and Lazar Markovic.
Markus Henriksen has also arrived for an undisclosed fee from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, while Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass have left to join fellow Premier League sides West Brom and West Ham respectively.
– Germans gamble on youth –
German clubs have shattered Bundesliga winter transfer spending records, forking out close to 100 million euros and largely gambling on the potential of youngsters like Leon Bailey and Alexander Isak.
Promising Jamaican teenager Bailey joined Bayer Leverkusen for a reported 12 million euros, while Swede Isak — dubbed the ‘next Zlatan Ibrahimovic’ — turned down Real Madrid to sign for Borussia Dortmund.
France’s Dayot Upamecano swapped Red Bull Salzburg for RB Leipzig for a reported 10 million euros, yet the trio are all in their teens and untested in Europe’s top leagues.
Defending champions Bayern Munich completed a double swoop for Hoffenheim pair Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy, who will join Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the start of next season.
In Italy, Inter Milan brought in Roberto Gagliardini on loan from Atalanta and have an option to buy the midfielder for around 25 million euros.
Serie A leaders Juventus picked up Venezuelan international Tomas Rincon from Genoa, while Patrice Evra returned to France after a decade abroad as he signed for Marseille.
Roma loaned injury-plagued France midfielder Clement Grenier from Lyon and sent the misfiring Juan Iturbe to Torino, while Napoli picked up striker Leonardo Pavoletti from Genoa.
AC Milan reinforced their attacking options with the loan arrivals of Lucas Ocampos (Marseille via Genoa) and Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) to offset the departures of M’Baye Niang (Watford) and Luiz Adriano (Spartak Moscow).
Reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain splashed out on Germany international Julian Draxler, while adding Portugal’s Goncalo Guedes for around 30 million euros, as well as 20-year-old Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso.
Dimitri Payet completed a controversial return to Marseille from West Ham for a club-record 30 million euros following a well-documented and protracted struggle with his now former employers.
OM have also recruited Evra, Montpellier midfielder Morgan Sanson and Bordeaux centre-back Gregory Sertic as the 1993 Champions League winners continue their rebuilding process under new billionaire American owner Frank McCourt.