Grading the best Premier League bargain hunters in the winter window
With the transfer window now firmly shut, thoughts turn to which Premier League clubs conducted proper business. After a relatively slow start, business certainly picked up in January's final weeks. There were some surprising moves. There were also transfers that seemed to have been always penciled in.
After holding onto a prized asset, it could be argued Leicester City had a very good transfer window. Riyad Mahrez was linked with a hosts of clubs in the summer. He desperately wished to leave. So, while the Algerian winger will protest, Leicester has done very well to hold onto him until season's end.
Despite handing in yet another transfer request, Mahrez has remained at the King Power. After Leroy Sane’s injury, the Leicester standout was touted by many as a stand-in replacement. He has enjoyed a stellar campaign thus far. Manchester City were certainly interested in signing the 2016 PFA Player’s Player of the Year but were put off by the economics of a potential transfer. Considering his productive play, Leicester was only too happy to make any deal as onerous as it could.
The Foxes have also been active in the transfer market, signing Mali U23 international Fousseni Diabaté. The Rennes youth signed for Claude Puel on the 13th January, then netted a brace on his debut, Leicester’s 5-1 rout of Peterborough in the FA Cup.
While the club retained Mahrez, others escaped. Leonardo Ulloa rejoined former club Brighton on loan. Ahmed Musa made a loan move to CSKA Moscow. Mahrez's countryman Islam Slimani also departed, joining Newcastle until season's end.
Leicester's grade: kept a key player, signed promising youngster, cleared driftwood - 7/10
Even before the transfer window opened, a primary talking point was Alexis Sanchez's future. The Chilean had entered the final six months of his Arsenal contract when the calendar turned. Juventus and Manchester City were seen as potential destinations. In the end, he made the shock move to Manchester's red half.
While Sanchez’s world class status may be debated, he is certainly within the elite bracket. Like Mahrez, he has been wanting for a move away from the Emirates for some time. Some have complained he downed tools towards the end.
In exchange for Sanchez, Manchester United parted with Henrik Mkhitaryan. The Armenian certainly represents a coup for Arsene Wenger. He'll get a second crack at the Premier League under more favourable conditions.
After much speculation, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's deadline day addition adds further depth and quality to Wenger’s team. Auba is unplayable on his day. While he is similar to Alexandre Lacazette, he will offer the Gunners further pace and movement up front.
To make room, Arsenal’s top goal scorers in the last five years have all exited this window. Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott each went to a rival Premier League club. This will be seen as a potential risk, albeit only if the players brought in do not provide progress and development.
Productive window : sold want-away starter, brought in two elite players who want to be at the Emirates - 8/10
After a low-key start, Swansea was very active on the last day.
Under new boss Carlos Carvalhal, the Swans have recent home wins over Liverpool and Arsenal. They suddenly have momentum going into the campaign's business end.
The Welsh club resigned Andre Ayew on deadline day for £18 million. The Ghanaian will link up with his brother Jordan at the Liberty Stadium. Despite a difficult time at West Ham, Andre certainly has the class and pedigree to lift the Swans away from the relegation zone.
Welshman Andy King has also joined Carvalhal’s men on loan until season's end, deemed surplus to requirements at Leicester. Despite being a squad player towards the end, King was influential in the Foxes' ascent to the Premier League and played a key role in their top flight success.
Ki Sung-yeung also committed his immediate future to Swansea, despite reports linking him with West Ham.
Pragmatic window : Brought in players at need positions, retained core - 6/10
Everton signed Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun. The Toffees also claimed Eliaquim Mangala on loan from Manchester City on deadline day.
City themselves broke their club transfer record by signing uncapped Frenchman Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for £57m. Laporte was impressive in his debut, the Sky Blue's 3-0 victory over West Brom. That ought to alleviate the hard feelings from former crown jewel Kevin de Bruyne.