The £24m Aston Villa paid for Darren Bent seemed excessive at the time, and has since been dwarfed by the £35m Liverpool splashed on Andy Carroll, but Gerard Houllier has added a reliable Premier League goal scorer to his ranks. It was a good month for the Midlanders, with Bent joined by Jean Makoun and Michael Bradley in midfield. The pair’s arrival will not only boost the Villans’ engine room, but also aid the backline by adding another layer of protection. The forwards, Bent included, will be helped by Makoun and Bradley too, as a stiffer spine should allow the team’s more creative players to shine. Perhaps the most important result of the transfer window for Villa, however, is not the players who arrived but the ones who remain. By keeping hold of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing the club allayed fears it was in decline and completely changed the atmosphere around Villa Park.
Regardless of the good work done by other clubs in January – and Blackpool deserves praise for holding on to Charlie Adam in the face of late Tottenham Hotspur interest – the main topic of transfer discussion will be the Torres-to-Chelsea and Carroll-to-Liverpool deals. The Spaniard’s move to London could prove an essential one for the champions who, together with the signing of centre-back David Luiz, have moved to assist and eventually replace the two totemic figures at either end of their starting XI – Didier Drogba and John Terry. Torres and Luiz are six and seven years younger than Drogba and Terry respectively, and the Stamford Bridge side’s squad is just about thicker at centre-back than centre-forward, giving Luiz time to settle into English football while Torres hits the ground running. How the 26-year-old links up with not only Drogba but also Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda – the other two points of Chelsea’s attacking trident – will be one of the more fascinating stories of the Premier League run-in.
So too will be Carroll’s new partnership with Luis Suarez. The England international has impressed for Newcastle United in his half-season in the top flight but now has a record fee for a British player on his shoulders. Whether Carroll is the right foil for Suarez time will tell but it was important for Liverpool to replace Torres as soon as possible, as much for the signal to the fans as anything else. Newcastle, however, were unable to replace their own departing centre forward and their season may suffer because of it. The void left by Carroll will need to be filled by one of Newcastle’s current stock of centre-forwards and their Premier League survival might rest on that happening.
The Magpies will not be the only club counting the cost of the transfer window and wondering where they go from here, while those who added new players to their roster can prepare for a renewed assault on the Premier League table.