The January transfer window does not usually see the more glamorous transfer activities but some interesting activities are bound to go down. It may not have had the insane final movements of the January 2011 transfer window but it had its movements. Once again, Liverpool would play a major part after signing two defenders on deadline day, effectively relaxing the veins in Jurgen Klopp’s head and jawline. The different teams across Europe have their transfer objectives. Arsenal have been on a shredding bender, trying hard to cut down on a bloated squad so Mikel Arteta can focus on the core squad. Outside of England, PSG tried to get Dele Alli but failed, Marseille did some good business and some terrible business too. We bring you the top movements from the final day of the transfer window.
Ozan Kabak to Liverpool (Loan)
The Turkish center-half has long been earmarked for great things but his season with Schalke would say otherwise. At 20 years of age, he is very experienced with appearances for Galatasaray, Stuttgart, and Schalke. He is good in the air, sharp on the ground, and very aggressive in the tackle – too aggressive. Last season he gave away 1 penalty and this season 3. He is part of a line of impressive young Turkish brutish defenders including Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu and Juventus’ Merih Demiral. Kabak is quite competent on the ball too, able to bring it forward. His reading of the game suffers in complex situations but that is normal from a young player whose main defensive action is aggression, he can learn.
He is strong and very fast for a boy with his build. The young defender won 67% of his aerial duels in the league last season and 68% of his ground duels. This season he has won 77% of his aerial duels and 49% of the ground duels.
Kabak and the entire Schalke team have suffered from poor form in what has been a very dire season for Die Knappen. He will get a chance to restart his season in a different environment. Hopefully, he can go back to showing us the kind of imperial performances we saw last season.
Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal to Schalke)
Sticking with Schalke, the miners are having a very bad season. They are bottom of the Bundesliga table. Schalke have suspended Nabil Bentaleb (a common occurrence in his career) and Amine Harit this season. They are a crisis club right now. When club legend Naldo returned as an assistant coach under coach Manuel Baum he got involved in an incident with Vedad Ibisevic. The Bosnian forward was let go from his contract at 35. They have sacked Sporting Director Michael Reschke and speaking of coaches, they have had 4 this season. David Wagner, Manuel Baum, Huub Stevens, and now Christian Gross.
Schalke have conceded 49 goals this season, only West Brom have conceded more in the top 5 European leagues. They have just 1 win, the least amount of wins in the top 5 leagues. Schalke need all the help they can get right now. In comes German champion Shkodran Mustafi to lend a hand.
The defender has had mixed fortunes at Arsenal. He won two FA Cup titles and had periods of terrific defending and form. There were also periods of defensive frailty and in fact calamity. Mustafi is a decent defender whose experience is required to navigate a football club in a quagmire. After 5 years at Arsenal, Mustafi who is only 28 can begin to rebuild his reputation in his country. He joins after being released from his Arsenal contract. Schalke will pay the London club a compensation fee as he joins them on a 6-month deal.
Joshua Zirkzee Bayern Munich to Parma (Loan with option-to-buy of 15 million Euros)
Joshua Zirkzee became a name to watch out for in the 2019/2020 campaign for Bayern Munich after scoring goals in consecutive matches against SC Freiburg and VfL Wolfsburg in December of 2019. After that, there was the anticlimax. The Dutch youngster’s form became inconsistent. He could not convince the Bayern hierarchy that he could be back-up to Roberto Lewandowski and so sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic brought in Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting in the summer transfer window. Zirkzee was drowning in the depth at the club and had to move for his chance. The 19-year-old has not been able to prove himself with the senior-team or with Bayern Munich II in 3. Liga. This move affords him the game time he will never have gotten at Bayern Munich.
Parma have scored only 14 goals in the league this season, only Sheffield United have scored less in the top 5 European leagues. Gervinho is the leading goalscorer with 4(!) while Hernani and Juraj Kucka have 3 each. Zirkzee will be a welcome sight for I Gialloblu.
Sami Khedira (Free Agent to Hertha Berlin)
The German Bundesliga is the only league that doesn’t have a top team from the nation’s capital city and while Hertha have been trying to change that, they have failed woefully. They have brought in a mixture of young talent and experienced players yet they languish in 15th place. Hertha Berlin after huge investments continues to be very mediocre. This has led to the sacking of coach Bruno Labbadia and Sporting Director Michael Preetz. They have signed Sami Khedira to compete in midfield with Matteo Guendouzi, Santiago Ascacibar, Vladimir Darida, and Lucas Tousart. Khedira’s contract with Juventus was due to expire at the end of the season but he gets his chance in the German capital. The 33-year-old hasn’t made a single appearance for the Italian champions this season. He will be hoping to help push Hertha into at least mid-table after rejecting offers from the English Premier League.
Olivier Ntcham, Celtic to Marseille (loan)
This transfer is by no means a top transfer but the fallout from it looks like it will make it one. Olympique de Marseille need money. They let go of underwhelming winger Nemanja Radonjic to join Hertha Berlin on loan also and Morgan Sanson left to join Aston Villa. They managed to secure the transfer of an even more underwhelming Frenchman Olivier Ntcham. Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas has announced his resignation claiming that he rejected the player and the Marseille board still went ahead to sign the midfielder.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of their game away to Lens on Wednesday, the former Tottenham and Chelsea boss said: “I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy. I don’t want anything from OM. I don’t want money. We ended the transfer window with a new player (Ntcham). He is a player that I had said no for. The board has not answered me yet. What happened last weekend has nothing to do with it,” the Portuguese said. He was referring to Saturday’s incidents in Marseille. Some fans broke into the club’s training center in protests against president Jacques-Henri Eyraud who runs the club on behalf of American Frank McCourt. A penny for Ntcham’s thoughts right now.
The French love their riots, Marseille fans are dramatic and this situation is comic. AVB and Marseille need to part ways after the great job he did last season. He did mention that he would not be staying beyond this season but this press conference is as damning as they come. What a show!
Quick question, which club’s situation is worse, Schalke, Marseille, or Valencia?