Breaking down the 4 most expensive January transfer window moves

James Sharman and Craig Forrest discuss Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and what the striker will bring to Arsenal.

The January transfer window officially closed on Wednesday evening, but not before a busy stream of business took place.

How busy? According to The Guardian website, approximately 515 transfer deals worth £792.7 million took place across Europe’s top five leagues: Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Premier League and Serie A.

Premier League teams have accounted for £537.6 million of the deals that went down this month, outdistancing La Liga clubs (£303.5 million) by a wide margin.

Here’s a look at the four most expensive transfer moves of this past month which, not so surprisingly, all involve English teams.

Philippe Coutinho

Move: Liverpool to Barcelona
Price tag: £106m

Coutinho’s long rumoured move to Barcelona finally took place on Jan. 6, as he became the latest in a long line of Brazilian stars to set up shop at the Camp Nou. A traditional No. 10 by trade, he can also be deployed as a second striker, an attacking midfielder or out on the wing. After overcoming a thigh injury, he made his debut in a Copa del Rey match (subbing on for Andres Iniesta), and then earned his first start in a La Liga game last weekend. Against Alaves on Sunday, he seemed to crowd the space through the middle with which Lionel Messi was trying to operate, before he was subbed out in the 65th minute. No doubt, Coutinho is a dangerous and creative attacker. But it’ll be interesting to see how Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde uses him, and how the Brazilian adapts to not being the key figure through which the attack flows, like he was at Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk

Move: Southampton to Liverpool
Price tag: £75m

Looking to bolster a defence that could charitably be described as leaky, the Reds bought Virgil van Dijk from the Saints, establishing a new world record transfer fee for a defender after they failed to procure a move for the Dutch international last summer. Van Dijk wasted little time in making an impression, as the 26-year-old centre back scored the winning goal in Liverpool’s win over Everton in the third round of the FA Cup. In doing so, he became the first player since Bill White in 1901 to score on his debut in the Merseyside derby. Able to play on either the left or right side in central defence, van Dijk is comfortable while in possession and is strong in the air, qualities that manager Jurgen Klopp hopes the Dutchman will put to good use in leading Liverpool’s defence.

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Aymeric Laporte

Move: Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City
Price tag: £57.2m

Never one to shy away from spending big money, the Citizens triggered Laporte’s release clause, making the 23-year-old Frenchman the most expensive signing in club history. City boasts the second-best defensive record in the Premier League, but there’s no denying they lacked depth at the back, especially in the middle, and it was an area of the pith they badly needed to shore up, especially if they hope to make a run in the UEFA Champions league. Manager Pep Guardiola hopes the left-footed Laporte can provide defensive balance and stability to a side noted for its attacking prowess. Also, Laporte’s ability to comfortably play the ball out from the back should be a perfect fit for Guardiola’s tactics and style of play. With Vincent Kompany dealing with injuries and likely to leave at the end of this season, the young Laporte looks poised to replace the Belgian as the Blues’ long-term defensive quarterback.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Move: Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal
Price tag: £56m

It was hardly a surprise that Aubameyang left Dortmund, as he had long wanted to make a move abroad. The signing of the 28-year-old Gabon international striker was a key part of Arsene Wenger’s overhaul of the Gunners’ attack, following the exits of Alexis Sanchez (who went to Manchester United in a swap for Henrikh Mkhitaryan) and the sale of Olivier Giroud to Chelsea. In four and a half seasons at Dortmund, Aubameyang scored 98 goals in 144 Bundesliga matches, and 141 goals in 213 appearances in all competitions. No wonder Arsenal made him their club-record signing. One of the interesting questions is how this will affect French striker Alexandre Lacazette, who signed with the Gunners for a club-record fee only last summer. Aubameyang will start for Arsenal – you don’t spend that kind of money on a striker and then sit him on the bench. But will Aubameyang play alongside or instead of Lacazette, who has nine goals in 28 appearances this season?

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