Hit or Miss: Rating the Biggest Premier League Signings From the 2019/20 January Transfer Window

By Ben Morris in English Premier League
| March 29, 2020 3:52 am PDT
Bruno Fernandes, Steven Bergwijn, Sander Berge and Jarrod Bowen

From record signings to desperate loan deals, the majority of Premier League clubs were busy during the January transfer window. With many managers eager to bolster their squad, there were plenty of new arrivals in England’s top flight.

The Premier League may be out of action at the moment, but there have still been enough games since January to judge the winter newcomers. In this post, I’ll be rating this season’s January transfers in the Premier League and sharing my verdict on each player.

Will Bruno Fernandes become a Manchester United legend? Can Jarrod Bowen save West Ham from relegation?

Here are my views on this season’s biggest Premier League January transfers.

Bruno Fernandes – Sporting CP to Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes has made a huge impact at Manchester United since arriving from Sporting in a £67 million deal. The Portuguese has scored three goals and provided four assists in his first nine appearances for his new club and has quickly become the main man in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.

Man Utd has lacked a leader in recent times, but Fernandes has already shown that he’s ready to take command at Old Trafford. The 25-year-old isn’t afraid to shoot from almost any position on the pitch, and his creativity has taken the team to another level.

I can’t think of a previous January signing who has made such an instant impression on the Premier League. The Red Devils are heading into an exciting new era, and Fernandes looks set to lead Man Utd for years to come.

The Verdict: Hit

Steven Bergwijn – PSV Eindhoven to Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham’s new boy announced himself on the EPL scene with a debut goal against Manchester City. Steven Berwijn’s spectacular volley helped Spurs to secure a famous victory over the reigning champion, and the Dutchman couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to life in north London.

However, Bergwijn has since struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League. Of course, Tottenham is going through a transitional period at the moment, so the team’s lack of consistency hasn’t helped the £27 million signing to settle in.

But apart from his debut heroics, Berwijn hasn’t exactly set the league on fire. He has shown glimpses of quality across his first six games in England, but he’ll have to do a lot more to win over the Spurs supporters.

At 22, Bergwijn still has plenty of time to prove me wrong. But for now, he hasn’t done enough to be classed as an instant hit.

The Verdict: Miss

Sander Berge – KRC Genk to Sheffield United

This transfer speaks volumes about how far Sheffield United has come over the past few years. The Blades were playing in the third tier of English soccer just four seasons ago, but now the club is able to attract Europe’s hottest young prospects to Bramall Lane.

With Liverpool, Man Utd, and Chelsea all reportedly interested in Sander Berge, a move to the Premier League was looking likely for the Norwegian. But who could’ve predicted that Sheff Utd would win the race to sign the highly rated midfielder? I certainly didn’t see it coming.

Berge — who already has 20 international caps to his name — has slotted seamlessly into Chris Wilder’s side. The 22-year-old plays with a maturity far beyond his years, and his Champions League experience with Genk has clearly stood him in good stead.

Both Berge and Sheff Utd were in fine form before the season took an unexpected break, so Blades fans will be hoping the campaign can resume as soon as possible.

The Verdict: Hit

Gedson Fernandes – Benfica to Tottenham Hotspur

When Spurs announced the 18-month loan signing of Gedson Fernandes, I was excited at the prospect of watching the much-talked-about youngster in the Premier League on a weekly basis. But the Portuguese has been given very little opportunity to showcase his talent so far.

Tottenham has played seven league games since Fernandes arrived at the club, but the midfielder has accumulated fewer than 45 minutes of game time during that period. He was an unused substitute for three of those games, while only making cameo appearances off the bench in the other four.

Jose Mourinho has been reluctant to pick his new signing, and it’s difficult to see where Fernandes will fit into the team. Tottenham has the option to make his signing permanent at the of the loan spell. But right now, I can’t see that happening.

The Verdict: Miss

Jarrod Bowen – Hull City to West Ham United

After notching up 16 goals and six assists in the Championship throughout the first half of the season, it was inevitable that an EPL club would come calling for Jarrod Bowen during the January transfer window.

In the end, West Ham decided to take a punt on the exciting winger, and it’s a move that’s worked well for both the club and the player.

Hammers manager David Moyes was quick to point out that it would be wrong to rely on Bowen to save the club from relegation. But if West Ham was to avoid the drop come the end of the season, I can almost guarantee that Bowen would’ve played a starring role in keeping his team in the top flight.

The former Hull City man scored in the Irons’ crucial win over Southampton at the end of February, and I think his goal against Saints will be the first of many for his new club.

The Verdict: Hit

Takumi Minamino – Red Bull Salzburg to Liverpool

The Reds swooped early to acquire the services of Takumi Minamino and announced the signing two weeks before the transfer window opened. After facing Minamino’s Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League earlier in the campaign, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was clearly impressed by the Japan international.

But due to the fierce competition for places in Klopp’s side, Minamino is yet to start a Premier League game. The 25-year-old has been given opportunities in the FA Cup, but he has so far been surplus to requirements in the EPL.

There’s no doubting Minamino’s ability, but I can’t help but feel that he’s been signed primarily as a squad player. Don’t get me wrong, he is a very good squad player. But with so many world-class stars ahead of him in the pecking order, it’s going to be very tough for Minamino to make a name for himself at Anfield.

Liverpool only had to part ways with £7.25 million to sign Minamino, a relative bargain in today’s market. Still, I don’t think this transfer can be viewed as a success at this point.

The Verdict: Miss

Mbwana Samatta – KRC Genk to Aston Villa

Following the news that first-choice striker Wesley would miss the remainder of the season with a serious knee injury, Aston Villa was in desperate need of some reinforcements in attack.

Signing the Premier League’s first-ever Tanzanian player probably wasn’t what Villa fans had in mind, but Mbwana Samatta has quickly endeared himself to the club’s supporters.

Samatta kicked off his Villa career with a debut goal against relegation rival Bournemouth before scoring against Manchester City in the EFL Cup final. After netting 76 goals in 191 appearances for Genk, including 32 in 51 last season, it’s safe to say that Samatta knows where the back of the net is.

Sure, the Villains still find themselves in the relegation zone. But with a game in hand over the three teams directly above them in the table, Samatta could well fire Villa to safety when the campaign gets back underway.

The Verdict: Hit

Daniel Podence – Olympiacos to Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves continued their recent tradition of signing Portuguese players by bringing in Daniel Podence from Greek outfit Olympiacos in January. The former Sporting winger is now one of nine Portuguese players at Molineux, along with manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

But while compatriots such as Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and Diogo Jota have enjoyed standout campaigns, I can’t see Podence being given much game time. Wolves have a very settled starting eleven, so it will be hard for the new arrival to break into Nuno’s team.

It remains to be seen whether £17 million will be money well spent by Wolves. However, given the abundance of attacking players already at the club, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Podence move on in the not too distant future following an unsuccessful spell at Molineux.

The Verdict: Miss

Final Thoughts

The January transfer window has dished up some of the most talked about signings in Premier League history. Luis Suarez, Virgil van Dijk, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all brought to the EPL during the winter window. But a lot of January signings don’t work out.

I’m confident that Bruno Fernandes will enjoy a long and successful career at Manchester United, while Sander Berge looks set to transform into one of the best midfielders in the division with Sheffield United.

But Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes still have a lot to prove at Tottenham, and Takumi Minamino could struggle to establish himself at Liverpool.

With that being said, it’s still early days for these players in England, and they could turn out to be excellent signings further down the line.

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