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Mourinho a winner, Guardiola a loser in window dominated by major deals

Another transfer window has closed, with more than £400 million spent by the Premier League clubs during January.

There were some mega-deals, with records set for the world's most expensive defender (Virgil van Dijk, £75m), the Premier League's biggest-ever sale (Philippe Coutinho, £142m) and Manchester City smashing their club transfer record to seal a £57.5m deal for Aymeric Laporte.

But now the dust has settled, who were the winners and losers?

Jose Mourinho: Winner

The Manchester United manager went into the transfer window complaining about the club's inability to compete with Manchester City and ended it having beaten Pep Guardiola to the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.

Perhaps Mourinho was testing his Old Trafford bosses, but if he was, the tactic paid off spectacularly. Sanchez seemed destined for the Etihad, but United made their move and blew City out of the water.

If Mourinho and United needed a morale-booster during a season that is being dominated by their neighbours, signing Sanchez was a big victory and one which has laid down a marker for the summer and beyond.

Jose Mourinho got one over his old rival by landing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal when it appeared Pep Guardiola was favourite.

Pep Guardiola: Loser

It was a strange window for City and Guardiola. They wanted Sanchez and Riyad Mahrez and ended up with neither, claiming to have walked away from both deals due to the costs involved.

But City have nonetheless broken their club record with the £57.5m capture of Laporte from Athletic Bilbao. Ultimately, Guardiola has added to his squad, but did it really need strengthening?

Having targeted two big signings and missed out on both, it cannot be described as a good window for Guardiola. 

Arsene Wenger: Jury's out

Time will tell how successful Wenger has been with his trading, but he rebuilt his forward line and managed to nail down Mesut Ozil to a new contract. Out went Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming in.

Arsenal once again failed to bolster their defence and it is difficult to see how Wenger can accommodate all of his forward players, so the jury is out on the Gunners manager.

Arsene Wenger landed Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to soften the blow of losing Alexis Sanchez.

Antonio Conte: Loser

The good news for Conte is that he didn't lose any key players during January, but there was little else to cheer up the under-pressure Chelsea manager.

A £15m deal for Ross Barkley was struck early in the window, but Conte has done little to suggest the Everton and England midfielder was his signing. Barkley is not a player that will go straight into the first team and it is difficult to see how he will break into Conte's starting XI.

The same applies to Giroud. The French forward may have a good record in England with Arsenal, but again, he is not first-choice material and not in the same league as Roma's Edin Dzeko, whom Chelsea failed to sign.

Conte did get his man by landing Roma full-back Emerson Palmieri, but it was a window dominated by the Italian's complaints about recruitment, which doesn't bode well for his Stamford Bridge future.

Philippe Coutinho: Winner

Liverpool eventually conceded defeat in their bid to hold on to Coutinho by selling the Brazilian to Barcelona for £142m. They will miss their No.10, but Coutinho's performances during the first half of the season proved that a player can miss out on a big move, but still perform for his current employers.

Liverpool ended up banking a huge fee for the forward and Coutinho got the move he dreamed of, so it was a win-win for club and player.

Philippe Coutinho waves to fans from Camp Nou pitch after completing move to Barcelona
Philippe Coutinho finally got the move he wanted.

Riyad Mahrez: Loser

Who would want to be Mahrez on transfer deadline day? Having spent the final day of the summer window at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, waiting in vain for a flight to a new destination, the Leicester City winger was forced to kick his heels on Jan. 31 while Manchester City waited for an answer on their £65m offer for the player.

Leicester never had any intention of selling their Algerian star, especially having received such a late bid, and the Foxes made it clear from the outset that he would not be allowed to leave. Mahrez missed the 2-1 defeat at Everton on deadline day to sit by the telephone, but the call from City never came.

Keeping Mahrez was a big statement by Leicester, but the player was the one who missed out.

Rafa Benitez: Loser

Benitez needed reinforcements at Newcastle and he made the case for them weeks before the transfer window opened. But the on-off takeover saga at St James' Park added to the Spaniard's problems at the club and he ended up with just three new signings -- a back-up goalkeeper and loan deals for Kenedy and Islam Slimani.

Kenedy has been nothing more than a fringe player at Chelsea and Slimani has been more cold than hot during his 18 months at Leicester, so it promises to be a tough time ahead for Benitez and Newcastle.

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez was left frustrated as he failed to sufficiently add to his Newcastle squad.

Jonny Evans: Loser

For the second transfer window in succession, the West Brom captain was targeted by Manchester City and Arsenal, but neither were prepared to seal a deal.

Evans admirably carried on regardless, despite the distraction, but the former Manchester United defender must now prepare for a relegation slog for the rest of the season rather than the chance to win silverware at the top end of the table. And we all know what his summer transfer window will be like...

Theo Walcott: Winner

Walcott is one of those players whose career has gone by in a flash, with many wondering if he will ever realise the potential shown as a teenager. Perhaps it is a harsh appraisal of a 28-year-old with almost 50 England caps and over 100 goals for Arsenal, but Walcott needed a move to relaunch his career and his switch to Everton offers him a platform to prove his doubters wrong and return to the England squad.

His two-goal display in the 2-1 win against Leicester highlighted just what a confident Walcott can do for Everton.

Everton: Winners

At the time, Everton looked to have had a great summer window, having signed numerous players for big money, as well as re-signing Wayne Rooney from Manchester United. But none of Ronald Koeman's big buys have delivered to expectations and some, such as Davy Klassen, have sunk without trace.

Sam Allardyce used January to rectify the mistakes of the summer, though, and his first move was to sign Cenk Tosun, a much-needed centre-forward, following the summer sale of Romelu Lukaku. Allardyce also added Walcott and Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala and Everton now look much stronger as a result.

Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott's arrival will add pace to Everton's slack attack.

Southampton: Winners

Everyone in the game knew that Virgil van Dijk wanted out of Southampton and the Dutch defender's form and fitness was hardly 10 out of 10 during the early months of the season.

But Southampton certainly maximised the value of their asset and were able to cash in spectacularly with a £75m sale to Liverpool. Chelsea and Manchester City were also interested, but Liverpool wanted him most and Southampton somehow managed to bank a world-record fee for a defender who did not want to be at St Mary's.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_


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