smarterthinking

We graded the Premier League transfer window, and you'll never guess who got the only A+

1. Liverpool: A-

There was no big reason to spend money this January, though a backup fullback or even CM might not have been a bad idea. The opportunistic buy of Takumi Minamino was a chance worth taking. Klopp and company can cruise until the summer and then reassess.

2. Manchester City: C

They still need at least one CB and will probably need a RB soon as Kyle Walker isn't getting any younger. Nor is David Silva, who is out of contract in the summer, and it seems odd that Phil Foden has played so few minutes this season if he's meant to be the little Spanish genius's replacement. There was no progress this time around – so is the idea to keep the squad steady for the Champions League and wait until summer to rebuild? City Football Group must still have a lot of faith in Pep.

3. Leicester City: B

The squad has been extremely stable, with each of nine players having played more than 1,100’ at a single position. Maybe there aren’t any urgent needs, but another option on the wing might have been a good idea. It's a young, developing side, a bit like Spurs a couple of years ago... which means it might need a little freshening soon.

4. Chelsea: D

With Olivier Giroud in the wilderness, no backup striker arrived, nor was the Frenchman shipped out. The transfer ban was lifted… and for what? To shuffle the loan army one more time? A GK to compete with Kepa would have been welcome, too. No wonder Lampard was sulking.

5. Tottenham: B+

The club got good value for Christian Eriksen in the final year of his contract, found Danny Rose a temporary new home, and brought in Steven Bergwijn for a reasonable fee. Gedson Fernandes could be an interesting player. Bigger changes will be needed soon, but this was a successful window given the level of ambition.

6. Sheffield United: A-

The most stable squad in the league needed some depth and to swap out a striker. It’s unclear that Richairo Zivkovic will be any better than Callum Robinson, but the capture of Sander Berge alone will live long in the memory. Panagiotis Retsos may also turn into an asset. But Jack Rodwell? Well, at this point in the season Wilder could be forgiven for thinking he was some sort of alchemist.

7. Manchester United: B

Ed Woodward finally filled the two most pressing needs at CF and AM with players who could probably do the job, in Odion Ighalo and Bruno Fernandes respectively. But he didn’t get much cash for Ashley Young or, for that matter, bring in a replacement. Summer will be time to admit mistakes on some players, who we think may include Victor Lindelof.

8. Wolves: B-

Mendes FC got pretty good money for Ivan Cavaleiro and found a temporary home for Patrick Cutrone with a fee attached. Daniel Podence has been eyed by Premier League clubs for years, though he’s never thrived in the Champions League, which is closest in quality to the Premier League among the competitions where he's played. LM may need improvement soon, and GK arguably required some competition. Though Rui Patricio is outstanding in aerial and ground duels and defends really well for a GK who stays close to his line, his shot-stopping numbers have been mediocre of late – and that costs Wolves goals.

9. Everton: IN

Obviously the big signing for the club was Carlo Ancelotti, who arrived on December 22. He might not have had time to assess the squad and line up transfers in conjunction with Marcel Brands, so we'll give them an incomplete for now. Bigger changes are surely to come.

10. Arsenal: B-

Pablo Mari came in for €5m, and Cedric Soares arrived unexpectedly on loan with an option for a free transfer in the summer. Both add necessary depth but may not have the Gunners' usual ball retention or style. Soares was having a good last season of his contract when injured, putting himself in the shop window, but at 28 years old he's not a long-term solution for anything. Regardless, the timing was tight for Arteta, so the summer will offer a better gauge of his regime.

11. Burnley: B

The Clarets aren't in the Premier League to spend money, so bringing in Josh Brownhill for £8.5m was pretty significant. He's improved his defending this season and is better at it than Ashley Westwood, so he may be a long-term replacement for Jack Cork. Other needs remain.

12. Newcastle: B+

A typical Mike-Ashley-thinks-he's-about-to-sell window. But Nabil Bentaleb, Valentino Lazaro, and Danny Rose can be very good players if used correctly, and the club have options to buy on all three, which is a savvy bit of business. Yet LM/LWB and CF were lacking and unaddressed.

13. Southampton: C+

The Saints were reportedly surprised by Arsenal’s bid for Cedric Soares and excited to receive a loan fee. Kyle Walker-Peters rode the North London train in the opposite direction to make up the numbers. The needle barely moved.

14. Crystal Palace: B-

We thought Palace needed to improve at fullback... so of course they brought in Cenk Tosun on loan and an 18-year-old Scottish AM from Dundee United’s reserves. Tosun does fill a gap, so we’ll see whether they can keep up their unusually good defensive record... recent indications suggest not.

15. Brighton: C-

Aaron Mooy’s loan was made permanent, but the capture of Chelsea starlet Tariq Lamptey was the real headline. Reinforcements also arrived from the Seagulls' somewhat under-the-radar loan army. Alexis Mac Allister probably needs to play centrally to be successful. Is this enough for a club two points from the drop?

16. Bournemouth: D

The Cherries did nothing of note except to bring Sam Surridge back from Swansea. They’re playing with fire.

17. Aston Villa: B-

The club wanted a striker to fill in for Wesley and got two in Mbwanna Samatta and Borja Baston. Neither looks like a big star, but needs must. Yet that was only half the job; defending has been the real weakness so far this season. Pepe Reina's excellent shotstopping will help, but the problem is further up the pitch.

18. West Ham: A

In our preview, we suggested re-signing Darren Randolph. They did. We said the club weren't dominant enough at DM. They brought in Tomas Soucek. And then they nabbed Jarrod Bowen, one of the brightest young stars in the Championship. So we have to reward them with an A, right? Well, it would look weird if we didn't.

19. Watford: B-

With Andre Gray and Troy Deeney sputtering, the club opted for more attacking firepower in Ignacio Pussetto and enjoyed the long-awaited arrival of Joao Pedro. Neither is supremely consistent, but the scant-scoring club will now have options in attack. There are still issues at central defender. Did they do enough?

20. Norwich City: A+

They'll take those parachute payments and run back to the second tier. Sam McCallum is a smarterscout young prospect who's not yet ready for the Premier League. Lukas Rupp will help out defensively and is fine for the Championship. Hey, it was fun while it lasted! This is the epitome of a responsibly and sustainably run club.

[Photo: Steindy]

Recent articles

Should Arsenal trust their youngsters even more?
smarterscout SPECIAL REPORT: Norway are about to blow stuff up
Rodolfo Pizarro and Inter Miami are the new MLS attack
Inter Miami is another MLS team with a patchy back half