Q&A: Why was January 2021 transfer window so quiet for Premier League clubs?

The January transfer window closed with anything but a slam on Monday night.

One of the quietest deadline days in the past decade saw just nine signings completed by Premier League clubs.

Here, the PA news agency answers some questions surrounding the moves and the reasons behind the lack of activity.

Did the effects of Brexit and coronavirus lead to a quiet window?

Despite a summer of heavy spending, Premier League clubs spent £160million less in January when compared to 12 months ago.

Just £7million was spent on deadline day as the league comes to terms with the financial impact of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Dan Jones, partner at the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, believes ongoing issues caused by Covid were definitely behind the drop-off in spending.

“Premier League clubs were understandably cautious in the January transfer window given the ongoing financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“It remains to be seen if the relatively low activity in January will continue throughout 2021. We certainly do not expect to see another new record this summer.

“While new post-Brexit rules on acquiring players from overseas may have contributed to this, the financial impact of the pandemic was, by far, a more important factor.”

So how did clubs go about their business?

Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino has joined Southampton on loan for the rest of the season.
Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino has joined Southampton on loan for the rest of the season.

The clearest way of doing business with a minimal financial risk was for Premier League clubs to make loan signings.

Six of the nine top-flight deals completed on deadline day were temporary ones – with loans coming for a variety of reasons.

Jesse Lingard moving to West Ham from Manchester United – confirmed on January 29 – and Takumi Minamino switching Liverpool for Southampton on Monday night are loan deals which give two internationals the chance to play more football.

Loan players also offer an option for clubs fighting to stay in the division to improve their squads – 11 such deals being completed by teams in the bottom half of the table.

For example, 19th-placed West Brom signed Mbaye Diagne, Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to help manager Sam Allardyce in the battle for survival.

Now it is over, which Premier League club ‘won the window’?

Thank you and good luck, @MustafiOfficial 👊

— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 1, 2021

Ask most Premier League managers and – regardless of how many incomings and outgoings their club oversaw in January – they will insist they are happy with the business completed.

Arguably Arsenal and Mikel Arteta should be wearing the biggest smile as we enter February.

The Gunners are operating on limited finances at the moment but the key to a successful window for them was to clear out a number of players on big deals.

Mesut Ozil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi departed for Fenerbahce, Olympiacos and Schalke respectively as their contracts were terminated, while Sead Kolasinac moved to Schalke on loan until the summer.

With youngsters Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock – who has gone to Newcastle – in line for more Premier League minutes following loan switches and the temporary arrivals of Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan and Martin Odegaard of Real Madrid, Arteta and technical director Edu can look back at a job well done.

Were there any surprising deals, at least?

Ben Davies has left Preston to join Liverpool.
Ben Davies has left Preston to join Liverpool.

Liverpool’s issues at the heart of their defence have been well publicised in recent weeks as a string of injuries had left Jurgen Klopp playing midfielders in his back line.

Despite the champions coping well without the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, improving his options at centre-back was clearly a priority in the window for Klopp.

As would be expected, Liverpool were linked with a host of defenders from across Europe but few had predicted that one of those highlighted by the club was Preston’s Ben Davies.

Schalke’s Ozan Kabak would join later on deadline day but the signing of Davies on Monday was a deal few would have anticipated at the start of the window – including the player himself.

“I’m obviously delighted to be here. It’s a huge opportunity,” the 25-year-old said following his move, which saw him join for an initial £500,000.

“Obviously it came as a bit of a surprise when it first came but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible.”