‘Marvellous work!’ – Who was the signing of the 2021 January transfer window?
In the final January transfer window podcast with Eurosport and The Beautiful Game, the team join forces to look at the window and review the best signings, the worst signings and the ones that they wish had happened. In the first of a three-part special we focus on the best signings of the window and look more into that category.
Ozan Kabak new signing of Liverpool at AXA Training Centre on February 02, 2021 in Kirkby, England.
To start with the team discussed what they felt were the best signings of the window and Sharland went first, selecting Hungarian attacking midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who moved from RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig.
“He was a player who most of Europe wanted, that release clause was too good to pass up,” Sharland said.
If there’s any team you would have wanted Szoboszlai to move to it would have been Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig.
"When I saw it I was like ‘huh, this is shocking’ but the more I look it the more it makes sense. He’s found it difficult to get a run of games with that front three, plus Diogo Jota, it’s difficult to break in.
Rhythm is so important as a footballer, particularly as a forward player, I can’t stress that enough.
“You imagine this system [at Southampton] will suit him down to a T. [Ralph] Hasenhuttl likes to play a 4-2-2-2 and he can fit in any of the central positions but also into the two behind the striker so I think this is a signing that makes sense.
“Importantly this is a loan with an option to buy, this is not a slight on Minamino at all.”
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“I think this was really important for Liverpool to get done,” Abijoh said.
“I’m not necessarily saying he was the best signing of the window but from a Liverpool perspective it’s the most important signing they could have made.
“I think Liverpool’s title chances and European hopes hinge on whether Kabak can hit the ground running and David Wagner has had glowing things to say about him. Obviously Klopp and Wagner are close friends so that recommendation is certified.
“If Kabak can hit the ground running Liverpool will have a good end to the season.”
Abijoh added another point to the deal, that Kabak’s signing will allow Liverpool to push captain Jordan Henderson and fellow midfielder Fabinho back into their natural positions.
I think another layer that this adds is that Liverpool can move Jordan Henderson back into central midfield because Liverpool have the options of playing Ben Davies and Kabak at centre-back.
“They can then push Henderson, who I believe is a top-three central midfielder in the Premier League and Fabinho, who is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League back into the middle.”
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Whilst some people raised eyebrows given Kabak’s former club Schalke were bottom of the Bundesliga, Odedina had no such concerns.
“This signing has got a lot of attention with people saying ‘you’re signing players from a relegated-threatened club,’” he said.
“But when you look at Liverpool’s history of signings with players like Gini Wijnaldum or Andy Robertson, these are players that come from relegated-stricken clubs into an environment where they’re playing with better players and they’ve thrived.”
Sharland added “Everything we’ve seen so far from him suggests he will do exactly that.
“This is a guy who captained his country at the U17 Euros. He was starting for Galatasaray at 17 and 18, that is a big deal.
“He went to Stuttgart, adjusted to Germany fine, became the Rookie of the Year. Six months later he moved to Schalke, wasn’t expected to start but had to start due to injuries, came in and looked great. Nothing seems to faze him, this is such an intelligent signing.”
Abijoh agreed, saying “That’s the key thing, this has been a long-term target for Liverpool, it’s not a knee-jerk reaction. This a player that they liked in the summer, I think the fee quoted in the summer was €30 million and now they’ve got him on loan with an option, not an obligation, to buy for £18 million.”
“You’ve got to big up Michael Edwards the recruitment team,” Odedina added.
“Time and time again I know they come up, every single window we talk about it. Such marvellous work is going down at Liverpool.”
The final proposal for signing of the window came from Cole who put forward new West Brom forward Mbaye Diagne, who has joined on loan from Galatasaray.
“I think it’s an interesting one because we spoke previously about how desperate Sam Allardyce was to add goals into that West Brom team," Cole said of the Senegalese forward.
“He was heavily linked with Christian Benteke throughout the window and we thought that would be a move that would be made possible because Palace brought in a striker on-loan from Mainz in Jordan Mateta.
Ultimately they went for Diagne and I think it’s a really smart and clever signing because he spent the past five seasons or so in Turkey with a short spell in Belgium but when you look at his goalscoring record he’s scored goals wherever he’s gone.
“He’s a great physical presence, he’s 6'4", he’s quick, he’s skilful and he can bring other players into play. I think having watched his interview what was really interesting was that he arrived and met up with his team-mates this past Saturday and he was thrown in at the deep end at the weekend in a 2-2 draw against Fulham.
“He played the second half after having only met those team-mates a few hours before and got the assist for the second goal, from Matheus Pereira. I think if he can hit the ground running he will certainly help Sam Allardyce’s team score more goals."
Odedina agreed, saying “the key thing you said is hit the ground running and I believe that’s the reason Sam Allardyce went for him over Christian Benteke.
“Benteke’s form has been fractured, and when you’ve come from a different league you normally bring that momentum.
“A Sam Allardyce team isn’t a Sam Allardyce team without a Sam Allardyce striker and he is most certainly a Sam Allardyce striker. His physicality, being that reference point for his team, playing percentage football.”