The January transfer window has now come and gone for another year, leaving with it a trail of receipts and discarded yellow Sky Sports ties.
As the dust settles and each club accepts their lot for now until the end of the season, some intriguing narratives have been thrown up due to the nature of some of the deals. For some, such as Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho and VIrgil van Dijk, they finally got the moves they had been searching for all season. For the likes of Riyad Mahrez, meanwhile, the return to their current employers, having fought tooth and nail to leave, will be a truly awkward one.
For the players below, now is the time for them to show what they can really do, against a backdrop of a league quite prepared to write them off:
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal). The Armenian forward started the season on fire, but by January he was being used as a makeweight in Man United’s deal to sign Alexis Sanchez. Mkhitaryan now has the chance to link up with former Dortmund teammate Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang at the Emirates, and and a frustrating 18 months at Man United he will be desperate to show Premier League crowds what he is truly capable of.
Daniel Sturridge (West Brom). The England forward had started just five Premier League games for Liverpool this season and, mindful of the World Cup this summer, left Anfield in search of first team football. He will get that at West Brom, of that there is no doubt, and if he can stay fit then he will provide a huge boost to the Baggies’ hopes of staying up. That it is a big if given his trouble with injuries, but on his day he is still one of the best strikers in the league.. What this loan move means for his Liverpool career, however, still remains to be seen.
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea). The French international had started just one Premier League game all season and, though he was not quite surplus to requirements at Arsenal. the arrival this week of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang meant that the writing was on the wall for Giroud. While, on the face of it, he seems to be swapping one bench for another by playing second fiddle to Alvaro Morata at Chelsea, it represents a fresh start for the striker while being able to stay in London and the Premier League.
Islam Slimani (Newcastle). Slimani has endured a tough 18 months in England since completing a club-record £28m move from Sporting in 2016. The Algerian has scored eight Premier League goals in his time at the King Power, but just one of those has come this season. With Claude Puel more likely to call upon Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki and Kelechi Iheanacho, Slimani was given the chance to revitalise his career somewhere else, and that somewhere is St. James’ Park. Newcastle were desperate for a striker and, provided Slimani can recapture some of his old form, it could be a very beneficial move for all parties.
Lucas Moura (Tottenham). With all of the fanfare surrounding the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at PSG in the summer, one can be forgiven for forgetting about the players pushed to the sidelines due to their presence. One such player was Lucas Moura who, five-and-a-half years on from a his €45m signing, effectively became something of a non-entity at the Parc des Princes. Having mad just five league appearances this season, Lucas was allowed to leave, and the Brazilian international now has the chance to rebuild his career and make a push for the Brazilian World Cup squad at his new surroundings at Tottenham.
Theo Walcott (Everton). Although it is way too late in Walcott’s career to consider him to be a player with unlocked potential, the 28-year-old will definitely benefit from a change of scenery. Having stagnated at Arsenal in the past few years (he didn’t start a single game for the Gunners this season), the former Southampton man has already been showing his worth for his new club with two goals against Leicester in midweek. If he can maintain his form, it may not be beyond him to push for an England place and finally play at a World Cup.