Ranking the 20 best deals of the January transfer window

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The January bonanza ended on Friday evening. Here, theScore ranks the best pieces of business conducted over the winter transfer window.

20. Pablo Mari

Flamengo ?? Arsenal

Though Mari didn’t play a match for Manchester City, Mikel Arteta should remember the defender well from his three years on the club’s books.

There’s little risk in Arsenal’s decision to sign the player on loan with an option to buy. His arrival means a lessened chance of Shkodran Mustafi playing (which can only be a good thing), and he joins the Gunners buoyed by a hugely successful period with Brazilian and Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo. Mari could be a hit in north London.

19. Cenk Tosun

Sebastian Frej/MB Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Everton ?? Crystal Palace

Tosun was substituted in his only start at Euro 2016, so this summer’s showpiece – only Turkey’s second major tournament in 12 years – means a lot to the striker and his homeland.

Crystal Palace appear set to reap the benefits after Tosun, who joined on loan from Everton, opened his goal account against Manchester City in mid-January. The Eagles have been lacking in the striking department since Christian Benteke forgot how to play football about two years ago, so Tosun certainly addresses an area of need.

18. Exequiel Palacios

River Plate ?? Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen have a reputation for kick-starting South American players’ careers in Europe. Arturo Vidal, Ze Roberto, Renato Augusto, Emerson, and plenty of others have represented Die Werkself with distinction, and Palacios noted the many Argentines who have passed through their door when his transfer was confirmed in mid-December.

The 21-year-old, who reportedly cost his new club €22 million, is eligible to make his Bundesliga debut Feb. 8 against Borussia Dortmund. Few would bet against him making an instant impact in Germany. He built his reputation with a Copa Libertadores title and two Copa Argentina triumphs at River Plate.

17. Sander Berge

NurPhoto / NurPhoto / Getty

Genk ?? Sheffield United

For the fifth time in seven months, Sheffield United broke their own transfer record. But the signing of Berge for about £22 million could eventually prove to be a shrewd piece of business by the Blades.

There’s no questioning the 21-year-old Norwegian international’s quality, but he does move into what’s arguably the most impressive section of Chris Wilder’s lineup. Oliver Norwood, John Lundstram, and John Fleck have all been superb in midfield, so Berge might have to bide his time for regular minutes in the starting XI.

16. Pepe Reina

AC Milan ?? Aston Villa

With a wealth of top-flight experience that makes him a reliable fill-in for the injured Tom Heaton, Reina joined Aston Villa on loan from Milan. The 37-year-old shot-stopper is precisely the kind of player who can help Villa avoid relegation.

Reina’s distribution proved valuable in the 2-1 win over Watford that lifted Villa from the drop zone, with the Spaniard pinging perfect passes to full-backs while under pressure from Hornets attackers on several occasions.

15. Javier Hernandez

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Sevilla ?? LA Galaxy

The LA Galaxy needed a replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Chicharito needed a change of scenery after a disappointing spell with Sevilla. “We are retiring from the European dream,” Chicharito said in a stirring chat with his dad.

Chicharito isn’t known for creating his own chances, but the Galaxy have plenty of providers in Aleksandar Katai, Efrain Alvarez, Cristian Pavon, and Sacha Kljestan, among others. The 31-year-old should challenge for Golden Boot honors.

14. Jean-Kevin Augustin

RB Leipzig ?? Leeds United

Eddie Nketiah couldn’t usurp first-choice striker Patrick Bamford, so he returned to Arsenal with his tail between his legs. But French youth international Augustin is a better player and could go on a tear if given a run in Leeds’ starting lineup.

The 22-year-old received few chances during a half-season loan spell with AS Monaco, so he’ll be desperate to revive the form that saw him tipped for the top when he notched nine Bundesliga goals last term. The high-flying Championship side can sign Augustin permanently from RB Leipzig if his loan spell works out.

13. Jarrod Bowen

Dave Howarth – EMPICS / PA Images / Getty

Hull City ?? West Ham United

The reported £22-million fee may seem a bit steep for a Championship player, but many scoffed when Leicester City paid £25 million for James Maddison in 2018. Bowen is only 23 and his five-and-a-half-year contract in east London could be one hell of a deal for West Ham.

Bowen was excelling for a poor Hull City side. The Tigers ranked 21st for key passes in the Championship last season, yet he managed to score 22 goals and assist four more. In 29 appearances this term, he’s netted 16 times and set up seven goals for the 14th-placed team in England’s second rung. He’s a versatile and clinical attacker.

12. Lucas Tousart

Lyon ?? Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin are in danger of becoming a laughing stock. They’re 13th in the Bundesliga and last reached the top four in 2009. “I think that if it’s carefully planned and implemented with great determination, it’ll certainly be possible to have a European presence within three years,” Jurgen Klinsmann said in early January.

Tousart is exactly the kind of player they need to realize these lofty ambitions. The Frenchman, just 22, is a tenacious midfielder and rarely loses possession. Tousart won the European Under-19 Championship with his country in 2016 and is an established member of the Under-21 fold. He’ll arrive from Lyon in the summer.

11. Christian Kouame

Nicolò Campo / LightRocket / Getty

Genoa ?? Fiorentina

Fiorentina were busy in January, but one deal struck on deadline day stands above the rest.

Kouame initially joined La Viola on loan, but the club has an obligation to buy the Ivorian attacker written into the paperwork. He’s currently rehabilitating from a knee injury suffered at the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in November, but he’s already highly rated after showcasing his aerial presence and incredible speed over one-and-half seasons in Liguria.

10. Christian Eriksen

Tottenham Hotspur ?? Inter Milan

Yes, €20 million is a lot of money for a player who would’ve been available for nothing in the summer. But Inter are eyeing their first Scudetto in a decade and have created fewer chances than five Serie A clubs this season.

Eriksen was twice named Tottenham’s Player of the Year and has tallied more assists, goals from outside the box, and key passes than anyone else in the Premier League since his 2013 arrival from Ajax. The Dane’s creativity should significantly boost Inter’s upfield forays.

9. Bruno Fernandes

Matthew Peters / Manchester United / Getty

Sporting CP ?? Manchester United

Manchester United’s forward movement this season has often been limited to punting it ahead of Daniel James, Anthony Martial, or Marcus Rashford. It’s not particularly pretty, but it’s been necessary given the lack of inventiveness or incisiveness behind the frontline; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t have much of a choice.

Fernandes, who scored 63 goals and added 52 assists in 137 appearances for Sporting CP, will make the Red Devils more potent going forward. A potential €80-million fee for the 25-year-old is hefty, but a club of United’s standing can’t be fielding Andreas Pereira as its most progressive midfielder.

8. Emre Can

Juventus ?? Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund needed this. Injuries to wise midfielders Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney have exposed Lucien Favre’s defense this term, and the center of the lineup was left further undermanned following the January sale of Julian Weigl to Benfica.

So, Can is brought in to fill the void. His experience winning two league titles (one apiece in the Bundesliga and Serie A) and a Champions League medal will be an asset to the young squad as it tries to close a four-point deficit behind league leaders RB Leipzig.

7. Dejan Kulusevski

Nicolò Campo / LightRocket / Getty

Atalanta ?? Juventus

Though it’s daft to doubt Maurizio Sarri’s methods, five of the seven oldest starting XI’s fielded in Serie A this season have come from Juventus. The addition of 19-year-old Kulusevski is a sage move, one made with an eye on the future.

Kulusevski, who’s starred at Parma this season on loan from Atalanta, can play centrally or out on the wing, where he’s most comfortable. Where the versatile talent fits at Juventus depends on whether Sarri is around next season.

6. Steven Bergwijn

PSV Eindhoven ?? Tottenham Hotspur

Bergwijn brings versatility to Jose Mourinho’s attacking ranks. At PSV, he regularly switched flanks with fellow right-footer Hirving Lozano, logging five goals and 10 assists in 16 appearances before departing midway through the Eredivisie season.

He’s at his most thrilling on the left-hand side, where he shifts the ball onto his stronger trotter and dribbles at opponents. Bergwijn is unlikely to be a prolific short-term striker solution during Harry Kane’s injury layoff, but the sight of Tottenham’s new signing and Heung-Min Son running at Premier League defenses is an exciting proposition.

5. Takumi Minamino

Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Red Bull Salzburg ?? Liverpool

Minamino was magnificent in Red Bull Salzburg’s trip to Liverpool during the Champions League group stage, scoring one and setting up another in his former team’s 4-3 defeat. He tied the dependable midfield trio of Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Jordan Henderson in knots with his pace, clever movement, and work rate – and Jurgen Klopp took note.

The Japanese attacker only cost £7.25 million and should prove a significant upgrade on both Adam Lallana, whose contract is up at the end of the campaign, and the seldom-seen Xherdan Shaqiri.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Free agent ?? AC Milan

In luring Ibrahimovic back to the San Siro, Milan get a dependable striker who can cover for the January departures of Krzysztof Piatek, Suso, and Fabio Borini. They also add a player with a much-needed winning mentality to Stefano Pioli’s meek core.

For the 38-year-old, it’s a chance to prove he’s still at the level of Europe’s best, a legacy the polarizing braggart likely felt was at risk while he plied his trade in MLS. Small sample size, but Ibrahimovic looks up to the task.

3. Bruno Guimaraes

VIEW press / Corbis Sport / Getty

Athletico Paranaense ?? Lyon

Lyon sporting director and icon Juninho Pernambucano strengthened the club’s Brazilian identity with the signing of Guimaraes. The promising 22-year-old midfielder moved to Lyon from Athletico Paranaense, where his knack for quickly surging away from danger and instigating attacks from deep caught the eye.

Guimaraes’ former club held him in high esteem – he captained the side in a meeting with Palmeiras – and he earned the nickname, “the Wizard” in Brazil. He was reportedly attracting interest from Arsenal before the Ligue 1 switch was confirmed.

2. Dani Olmo

Dinamo Zagreb ?? RB Leipzig

There’s a huge difference between facing Croatian minnows like Varazdin and Inter Zapresic every week and taking on the likes of Manchester City and Atalanta. But Olmo sparkled for Dinamo Zagreb during the Champions League group stage, and in a matter of months, the Spaniard’s signature was among the most coveted in Europe.

The 21-year-old can fill various attacking roles, but he believes he’s at his best in the No. 10 slot. “I’m very much looking forward to playing with Timo Werner,” he said at his official unveiling. “He’s a great striker who’s already scored a lot of goals this season, and I want to help him score even more.”

1. Erling Haaland

TF-Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Red Bull Salzburg ?? Borussia Dortmund

Relatively inexpensive. Capable of making an immediate impact. Liable to eventually snatch a big fee courtesy of stellar showings in one of Europe’s top five leagues. Haaland’s €22.5-million move to Dortmund checks all the boxes.

Five goals in less than an hour is a decent start for the Norwegian teen, and considering Manchester United, Juventus, and Salzburg’s sister club RB Leipzig were in for him, BVB’s key January signing amounts to a coup.

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