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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Transfer Window: United's Sanchez coup, Coutinho woe for Liverpool, Chelsea chaos

The FC crew discuss the January transfer window and grade the top moves.
The FC crew discuss the January transfer window and grade the top moves.
The FC crew discuss the January transfer window and grade the top moves.

The transfer window is closed, so who will be happy with their business and who has work to do? ESPN FC's club correspondents discuss a chaotic month.

MAN CITY

Rate the window: 6/10

Manchester City wanted a centre-back in the summer and were delighted to finally land Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte 18 months after he turned them down. The elegant, ball-playing defender looks a perfect fit for a Pep Guardiola side and, at just 23, he could form a long-term partnership with John Stones, who is just a day older. City also wanted an attacker but missed out on prime target Alexis Sanchez and failed to reach an agreement with Leicester City over a late move for Riyad Mahrez. The club felt the huge financial package (signing-on fee and salary) for Sanchez was too much and also wouldn't meet Leicester's £95 million valuation for Mahrez. That stance could have a beneficial knock-on effect in future transfer windows with the club no longer prepared to pay exorbitant fees.

Were all the objectives met? To an extent. Guardiola has the defensive cover he's been desperate for with problems over the reliability of captain Vincent Kompany and quality of Eliaquim Mangala, who has been moved out on loan to Everton. But he felt his squad was short in attacking options, which has been exacerbated by an ankle injury ligament to Leroy Sane just before the window closed. City insist the move for Mahrez was not a reaction to that setback and just wanted to strengthen with the club still in all four competitions.

Summer shopping: City will be back in the hunt for an attacker at the end of the season and may now move on from Mahrez. A holding midfielder is also on the shopping list with City interested in Shakhtar Donetsk's Fred. A deal for the Brazilian was always going to be difficult with the Ukraine side still in the Champions League but a move could potentially be revived in the summer. -- Jonathan Smith


MAN UNITED

Rate the window: 9/10

United upgraded their attack by swapping Sanchez, one of the best players in the world, for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was struggling to get in the squad before he left. The bulk of the squad was kept together despite interest in Sergio Romero, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian giving Jose Mourinho plenty of options all over the pitch in the second half of the season. He could not have asked for much more in January

Were all the objectives met? The key objective since the summer has been to add a wide attacker who can score goals. Sanchez certainly fits the bill and is even an improvement on Mourinho's main target before the season -- Ivan Perisic. There was debate about whether United might also try to sign a left-back in January but the form of Luke Shaw and Ashley Young meant it wasn't necessary.

Summer shopping: Mourinho has said the summer shopping list will be reduced with Sanchez already on board but there are still gaps that will need to be addressed. Michael Carrick is almost certain to hang up his boots and join the coaching staff while Marouane Fellaini could leave on a free transfer if he does not agree a new contract. It means Mourinho will look to sign at least one central midfielder with Jean Michael Seri at Nice at early candidate. -- Rob Dawson

Manchester United pulled off a major coup in landing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.

CHELSEA

Rate the window: 7/10

It took until the final 48 hours of the window, but Chelsea finally secured the left-sided defender and additional striker that Antonio Conte needed -- though not in time to prevent a humiliating deadline day defeat at home to Bournemouth. Olivier Giroud is a clear upgrade on Michy Batshuayi who fits the profile of frontman that Conte likes, while Emerson Palmieri should be able to take some of the burden off Marcos Alonso. Ross Barkley remains a low-risk, low-cost gamble on unfulfilled English talent, though he is clearly in no physical condition yet to contribute.

Were all the objectives met? The two most urgent needs in Conte's squad were certainly satisfied. Alonso has played so many minutes in the absence of a viable alternative at left wing-back this season that he is a muscle injury waiting to happen and, as the Bournemouth loss showed, Chelsea can be painfully toothless up front with Eden Hazard as a False No.9. There is no indication yet of when Alvaro Morata will be fit to play again without back pain or when he will regain his confidence, so Giroud's presence as a proven Premier League goalscorer is immediately vital.

Summer shopping: Chelsea have made decent squad signings in the last two windows, but Marina Granovskaia must cast her net for some big fish at the end of the season. Chelsea badly need a fresh infusion of elite talent -- particularly in midfield and attack -- if they are to close the gap on Manchester City and the rest of Europe's elite clubs, as well as convince key men Hazard and Thibaut Courtois to sign new long-term contracts. Antoine Griezmann could certainly be available for the right price, and Chelsea would be wise to pester Atletico Madrid about Koke or Saul Niguez too, as both would bring much-needed imagination to central midfield. A slightly less polished but still formidably talented target would be winger Leon Bailey, currently enjoying a breakout season for Bayer Leverkusen. -- Liam Twomey


LIVERPOOL

Rate the window: 3/10

January felt like a case of one step forward, two steps back for Liverpool. While they landed the centre-half they had desired for so long in Virgil van Dijk, the departure of Philippe Coutinho made it a window that leaves Jurgen Klopp's team significantly weaker than when they entered the month. Although Daniel Sturridge hasn't featured much at all this season, letting him join West Bromwich Albion on loan, leaving just Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings in reserve to Roberto Firmino, is an unnecessary risk to take in a campaign that is still promising.

Were all the objectives met? No. Signing Van Dijk was long overdue, but initial impressions suggests he has been worth the wait. However, since Coutinho left for Barcelona, Liverpool have only signed an 18-year-old full-back from Falkirk, Tony Gallacher, who has gone straight into the under-23s side. Coutinho's ability to play both as a midfielder and a forward means his departure has left a gaping hole in the Liverpool squad. Not even half replacing Coutinho will have a significant detrimental impact for the second half of the campaign.

Summer shopping: Of course, adding further options to the final third will be a priority in the close season, but improving at the other end of the pitch is just as crucial. Loris Karius has been installed as the No. 1 after Klopp once again lost faith in Simon Mignolet, but neither have shown enough to suggest they are long-term options under the sticks. Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid and Roma's Alisson have been touted as potential targets for the summer. -- Glenn Price

Liverpool held firm last summer but the lure of Barcelona proved too much for Philippe Coutinho to resist in the end.

TOTTENHAM

Rate the window: 7/10

While Arsenal and Liverpool, two of Tottenham's top four rivals, sold their best player, there was barely a whisper about any of Spurs' modestly paid stars leaving, while they added a potential superstar to the squad in Lucas Moura, who was coveted by Europe's biggest clubs in 2013 when Paris Saint-Germain paid £33.5 million for the winger. With Moura replacing Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, who joined Burnley on loan, Spurs finished the window stronger and when everyone is fit, they have genuine competition for places at both ends of the pitch.

Were all the objectives met? For now, yes. Spurs dislike shopping in the winter window -- before Moura, Lewis Holtby was the last player to join the club mid-season, back in January 2013 -- but the Brazilian was too good a deal to miss, given PSG's desire to sell. The main objectives for Spurs at the beginning of the month were to keep the squad together and add a quality player if one became available. They have done both.

Summer shopping: Spurs still need a long-term replacement for Mousa Dembele, who is creaking a little, which will not be easy given the Belgian's quality and unique skill-set. They also want to upgrade on Fernando Llorente as Harry Kane's back-up and they will target a wing-forward, with Bordeaux's Malcom on the radar, after specialist strikers Vincent Janssen and Llorente struggled for rhythm and form. Spurs want to a make a statement ahead of their move to a new 62,000-seater stadium and they will make ambitious bids in the summer. -- Dan Kilpatrick


ARSENAL

Rate the window: 8/10

Arsenal lost Sanchez but managed to make the best of the situation. Bringing in Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang means the attack is stronger than it was before January, although having to let Giroud join Chelsea to get the latter deal done smarts a bit. But the biggest win of all is convincing Mesut Ozil to sign a new contract, which brings a much-needed sense of stability to the squad.

Were all the objectives met? Largely, yes. Arsenal sorted out the Sanchez situation, shipped off players who were surplus to requirements (thereby clearing the wage bill) and signed their top two targets. They missed out on Jonny Evans, however, meaning the team's defensive weaknesses weren't addressed at all.

Summer shopping: Arsenal desperately need a proper defensive midfielder (apologies if you've heard this one before) and a strong physical central defender who can shore things up at the back. They may go back for Evans in the summer -- especially if West Brom get relegated -- and hopefully new chief scout Sven Mislintat will spend the next four months scouring Europe for the next N'Golo Kante. -- Mattias Karen

Arsenal's move for Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the standout deal on deadline day.

EVERTON

Rate the window: 5/10

A January transfer window defined by muddled messages and confusing decisions closed in fairly underwhelming fashion on Wednesday night. In the end, a late flurry of loan moves rounded out the final few days. The late loan departure of Ademola Lookman, two days after manager Sam Allardyce said the player would not be leaving the club, left a particularly sour taste at the end of a mixed window that closed with the unresolved left-back issue still looming large. While the decision to loan out striker Sandro Ramirez after just 277 minutes of Premier League football also disappointed.

Were all the objectives met? No. After adding Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun earlier in the window, Everton beat the deadline to sign centre-back Eliaquim Mangala on loan from Manchester City. The 26-year-old French international offers a left-footed alternative in that area and has a chance to stake his claim amid a defensive unit struggling for consistency.

Walcott has started quickly and breathed new life into the team from his right-side midfield role, scoring twice and assisting another in his two appearances so far. However, Tosun, reduced to the role of unused substitute after only two matches, is probably not the opening the striker had in mind when joining from Besiktas. There is also no real excuse for the continued lack of progress in the left-back position. Failure to fill this specific void heaps further pressure on a recruitment team that has a lot to answer for once the season finishes.

Summer shopping: To quell further dissent among disgruntled supporters, a left-back, quite simply, has to be near the top of any summer wish list. An imposing and creative central midfielder to complement the destructive qualities of Idrissa Gueye would also be welcomed. -- Luke O'Farrell

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