De Jong, Piatek, Higuaín: the eight big movers in the January transfer window
De Jong to Barcelona; Higuaín to Chelsea; Piatek to AC Milan: AS presents the eight biggest moves in the January transfer window so far.
Frenkie De Jong (Ajax to Barcelona)
He has said that he dreamed of playing for Barcelona as a kid, and that dream will finally come true. After months of speculation linking Frenkie De Jong to Barcelona, the LaLiga champions fended off stiff competition from PSG to sign the Ajax midfielder for a fee of 86 million euros (75 fixed plus an additional 11 million euro in variables).
The 21-year-old, considered one of the most promising talents in European football, has signed a deal that will keep him at Camp Nou until June 30, 2024, but will remain at Ajax until the end of season. Barcelona fans will be delighted by the comments of former Johan Cryuff assistant and current Ajax scout Toni Bruin, who likened De Jong to Andres Iniesta. Bruin revealed that the young Dutchman was “the best in the rondos” (the training routine created by Barca legend Cryuff), but admitted that “he needs to improve physically” to compete in Spanish football.
Perhaps as happy as Barcelona fans about De Jong’s move will be the owners of Willem II. The Eredivisie club, who sold De Jong to Ajax for one euro, are set for to make a 7.5-million-euro windfall from his sale to Barcelona.
Brahim Diaz (Manchester City to Real Madrid)
Real Madrid are yet to make the ‘Galactico’-level signing that fans have been craving since Cristiano Ronaldo’s shock move to Juventus in the summer. But Florentino Perez has continued with his plan to sign promising youngsters with the acquisition of 19-year-old Brahim Diaz from Manchester City.
The 17 million euros that Madrid has paid for the Spaniard brings the club’s total spend on young players over the past four years to 217.2 million euros. The European champions have not made a marquee signing since Gareth Bale in 2013, and it seems Madridistas, who have never really warmed to the Welshman, will have to wait until at least the summer for the next one to arrive.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea)
After De Jong, Christian Pulisic is the second most expensive singing in this January transfer window. Chelsea will pay Dortmund 64 million euros for the Croat-American that has come through the ranks of the German's clubs youth academy. The 20 year-old, who has blossomed in the Bundesliga over the past few years, has signed a deal at Stamford Bridge until 2024, but will play on loan at Dortmund until the end of the season.
Surprised as anyone by the deal was Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri, who admitted that he didn't know anyhting about it just a day before the transfer was announced by the club. "I didn't know anything about Pulisic yesterday,” Sarri told reporters on 2 January. "The club asked my opinion about him about one month ago. My opinion was positive. Today I have known that the deal is done, but I didn't know anything."
Lucas Paquetá (Flamengo to AC Milan)
The third most expensive signing of the January transfer window, Flamengo’s Lucas Paquetá will move to AC Milan for a fee of 35 million euros. The 21-year-old Brazilian, who scored 10 goals in 32 Brasileirao appearances in 2018, agreed to a five-year contract at the San Siro, and has already started three games for the Rosseneri since his arrival in early January. In his debut in the Coppa Italia against Genoa, Paquetá delighted Milan fans with a stunning rainbow flick, announcing his arrival to Italian football in typically flamboyant Brazilian fashion.
The move brings the second major windfall for Brazilian club Flamengo in seven months, who have made 96 million euros from the sale of Paquetá to Milan and Vinicius to Real Madrid (61 million euros) in July 2018.
Krzysztof Piatek (Genoa to AC Milan)
AC Milan have been the most active major club in the transfer window, and, three weeks after signing Paquetá, announced the acquisition of Krzysztof Piatek from Genoa. The 23-year-old has been a sensation since his arrival in Italy during the summer, scoring 19 goals in 21 games in all competitions for Genoa, who have made a tidy profit of over 27 million euro for a player they signed just seven months ago. He had been heavily linked with Real Madrid but in the end it is AC Milan who has acquired the services of the Polish striker that coach Gennaro Gattuso has likened to Robocop.
Higuaín (AC Milan to Chelsea)
On the same day the AC Milan announced the signing of Piatek, Chelsea announced that they had secured a loan deal for Gonzalo Higuaín, who will play at Stamford Bridge for the rest of the 2018/19 campaign. After an underwhelming loan spell at the San Siro, Higuaín makes the move to the Premier League, and will wear the number 9 shirt at Stamford Bridge.
“When the opportunity to join Chelsea presented itself I had to take it. It’s a team I’ve always liked that has a lot of history, a wonderful stadium and they play in the Premier League, a league I’ve always wanted to play in,” said the Argentinean upon signing the deal with The Blues, who have the option to purchase him from Juventus at the end of the season.
Kevin Prince-Boateng (Sassuolo to Barcelona)
A few days before the De Jong deal was made official, Barcelona announced the singing of Sassuolo striker Kevin Prince-Boateng on loan with the option to purchase at the end of the season. Since making his debut for Hertha BSC II in 2005, the Ghanaian has built up a long CV, playing for ten clubs in Germany, Italy, England and Spain, and is hopeful that Barcelona will decide to keep him on when the loan deal expires in the summer.
Boateng gave Barca fans a glimpse of his colourful personality in his first press conference last Tuesday, which he brought to an abrupt end after he was asked about a video in which he declared himself a fan of Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo, saying: "I am a Barça player. Messi is the best in the world, in history and in all the worlds. He's been the best for ten years, that's it, come on, thanks and see you later.”
After 501 games, 81 goals and 149 assists for Arsenal and Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas brought his career in English football to an end with his move to Monaco, where he will link up with former Gunners team mate Thierry Henry, now coach of the struggling French club.
Maurizio Sarri’s arrival as coach last summer effectively spelled the end of Fabregas' Chelsea career, as the Italian brought in his former Napoli midfielder Jorginho, who instantly took the Spaniard's position.
The signing of Fabregas offered a much-needed morale boost for Monaco fans, who hoped the Spaniard could help the club to climb out of the relegation zone during the second half of the Ligue 1 season. But in the four games the club have played since his arrival (three of which he played), they have recorded two losses and two draws, which included the embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Strasbourg at home.