7 European transfers you might have missed: Dembele, Strootman, Capoue
It’s been a strange season so far, with lots of surprise leaders at the top of Europe’s big leagues amid a compact schedule and difficult financial circumstances.
This January marks 10 years since Fernando Torres went to Chelsea for £50million, with Liverpool reinvesting a huge chunk of that on Andy Carroll. Things are a lot quieter now, with clubs having to act more cautiously and creatively with their funds.
With that in mind, you might have missed some of the European transfers during this somewhat subdued window. Here are seven that caught our eye.
Once a darling of the transfer gossip columns, Dost never quite got the big Premier League move he was always tipped to make.
Having left Sporting Lisbon with a remarkable record of 76 goals in 84 Liga Nos appearances, he was never quite so prolific during his 18 months at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Still, the Dutch striker does what he always does and got off to a strong start at Club Brugge, scoring 12 minutes into his debut.
— Will Downing (@WillDowningComm) January 11, 2021
Leicester’s recruitment department worked miracles with the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, who played such pivotal roles in the club’s 2016 title win.
Their business immediately after becoming champions was much more questionable, with Slimani among a number of big signings not to match expectations.
Nearly five years on, following loans at Newcastle, Fenerbahce and Monaco, he’s finally away on a permanent basis, filling a suddenly-vacant void at Ligue 1 leaders Lyon.
It didn’t take long for Atletico Madrid to find someone new to wear Diego Costa’s old No.19 shirt after the striker cancelled his contract, leaving them light up top.
Luis Suarez is very much Atleti’s main man now, meaning Dembele won’t be under pressure to take all the goalscoring responsibility right away – which is just as well as he’s still recovering from a broken arm.
The former Fulham and Celtic striker arrives at the Wanda Metropolitano on a loan deal from Lyon, with a view to a permanent contract in the summer.
With Atletico currently four points clear at the top of La Liga, and with two games in hand on the chasers, there’s a chance Dembele ends the season with two league titles.
One of the seven players signed to help make up for the departure of Gareth Bale, famously likened to selling Elvis and buying The Beatles by Garth Crooks, Capoue never quite delivered in north London.
But he found a home in Watford, making over 150 Premier League appearances across their five-year stint in the top flight.
The Frenchman was reportedly his former manager Javi Gracia’s top target for Valencia in the summer, but the club hierarchy are said to have blocked the move.
To add insult to injury for Gracia, Capoue has now signed for Villarreal, who already nabbed key midfielders Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo from Valencia in the summer.
Former Roma hero Strootman is back in Serie A with Genoa, arriving at the club on a loan until the end of the season after being pushed to the fringes by Andre Villas-Boas at Marseille.
Having broken onto the scene early, it’s easy to forget he’s still only 30 and has plenty yet to offer. It’s been a career hampered by injuries, but he’s not been as unlucky in France and will hope to have put that behind him as he moves forward.
“I must probably find the rhythm again. I’m fine physically and I’m ready to play,” he said after joining the relegation battlers.
“I always give everything for the club I play for. I thank the Roma fans, but also those of Genoa. I’m ready to help this team.”
Part of the merry-go-round that saw Dost sign for Brugge, Jovic is now back at the club where he originally made his name, Eintracht Frankfurt, on loan until the end of the season from Real Madrid.
The highly-rated young Serbian international was one of European football’s hottest properties 18 months ago, having scored 27 goals in the 2018-19 campaign for the German club.
But he’s barely had a look in under Zinedine Zidane, with injuries and disciplinary issues not helping his cause. Finding his old spark at Frankfurt again suit all parties here.
Plenty of Barcelona fans have tipped La Masia academy graduate Carles Alena for big things, but it’ll be harder to catch the eye on loan at Jose Bordalas’ physical Getafe side – La Liga’s closest equivalent to Burnley.
The 23-year-old central midfielder hasn’t had regular opportunities under Ronaldo Koeman, so it makes sense to get minutes elsewhere.