Sports Commentary: Recap of the 2023 January Soccer Transfer Window

Jake Hawkins, Staff Writer

Every January is packed with tons of action for soccer fans globally. The January transfer window has grown massive, with ground-breaking transfers happening annually. So, why was this January so different and so much more important than ones from the past? The World Cup, which is considered one of, if not the biggest sporting event of all time, is where players play their hearts out. These players compete with the hopes of making their entire country champions. This makes the athletes play as if their lives depend on it, and with every professional soccer club in the world watching, if a player is performing well it may catch a few eyes. Every World Cup, there poses a huge question for most players: who will make their name known and take their career to the next level? 

Aside from the World Cup, there were also big transfers with names most fans already knew. The January transfer window is so entertaining because most people have grown up watching some players that will be transferred, while others are just starting to see where these future stars will go. 

Cristiano Ronaldo – Free Agent to Al-Nassr

Easily the biggest name and transfer is Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed with the Saudi-Arabian club Al-Nassr. Fans of Ronaldo saw this as disappointing, as he is now 38 years old, which is older than most players, especially for one to be playing in a major league such as the English Premier League, La Liga or Bundesliga. Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year deal that will earn him about $214 million. Ronaldo making a move like this saddened a lot of fans, as many now believe his retirement will come sooner than expected. 

“I think that was one of the worst transfers he’s ever decided to do. He used to say in many interviews that he did not care about the money. And he wanted to play at the top level, which he went completely against with this deal. So it was awful moved by Ronaldo,” Miami Palmetto Senior High sophomore and soccer player Chris Gomez said.

João Félix –

Since Jan. 11, Chelsea F.C. has placed 10th in the Premier League standings, compared to being in third place at the end of last season. Both fans and the organization knew something had to change. That is exactly what Chelsea decided to do when obtaining Félix on a loan from Atlético Madrid, ultimately costing Chelsea around $10.7-11.7 million. Félix is widely known as a talented player who had issues with Atlético Madrid manager, Diego Simeone, and was looking for a way out of the club. 

Mykhailo Mudryk-

The 22-year-old Ukrainian star began to break out in 2021, drawing the eyes of a few Premier League clubs as the prodigy was named Club Player of the Month for Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine Premier league team) during the 2021-2022 season in Nov.- Dec. 2022. Starting the 2022-2023 season having played 12 matches, recording seven goals and six assists, Mudryk was named Ukrainian Footballer of the Year and Shakhtar’s Player of the Year. Coming into the January transfer window, it was rumored that Arsenal F.C. would be the club to sign Mudryk, as they were also one of the first Premier League clubs to scout him. However, Chelsea would swoop in and sign him to an eight-and-a-half-year deal with an initial fee that would rise to $107 million in add-ons. This made Mudryk the most expensive Ukrainian footballer of all time, with the previous record being held by Manchester United’s Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos. 

Enzo Fernández-

Following the Argentinians’ incredible world cup debut, the newly crowned world champion would also set history, becoming the most expensive player in Premier League history. Chelsea got Fernández in the transfer from Benfica for $129.5 million on an eight-and-a-half-year contract. Fernández played in seven world cup matches, two as a substitute player, and recorded a goal and an assist, as well as averaging 68 passes per match with an 88% completion rate. Fans have high hopes that he will be able to help dig Chelsea out of a disappointing premier league standing. 

Jorginho (Jorge Luiz Frello Filho)-

In contrast to Chelsea’s many transfers, they ended up losing Jorginho. Known to be an extremely valuable and talented midfielder that played for Chelsea since 2018, he was transferred to Arsenal for the price of $12 million on a contract for 18 months. Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s Manager, believes Jorginho is the piece to the puzzle that was missing for this Arsenal team. Arsenal believes the transfer for Jorginho will help the club keep their slim lead on Manchester City for first place in the Premier League standings. 

“I do think all Chelsea’s moves are worth it. The team was in a bad state, and they needed to make some quick changes, and spending that much money, I expect them to be a top contender for the title,” Gomez said.

Chelsea was all over the January transfer window, as they spent the most money by a long shot at $387.3 million. 

Cody Gakpo-

The first day the January transfer window opened, Liverpool F.C. jumped on the 23-year-old after his outstanding world cup debut. Liverpool is in 10th place as of Feb. 7, and finished in second at the end of last season. Gakpo had a great World Cup performance, playing in five matches with three shot attempts which all resulted in goals. Along with Gakpo’s three goals, he averaged 24 passes per match with a 76% completion rate. Gakpo also never got booked during the World Cup, meaning he never received a yellow or red card. Gakpo played for PSV Eindhoven since 2018, and during the 2022-2023 season with them, he recorded 13 goals and 17 assists. Gakpo costs Liverpool about $44.6 million. Liverpool, now having obtained Gakpo, looks to climb the Premier League ranks with their new star left winger. 

Luis Suárez-

Former Barcelona legend Luis Suárez has transferred to Brazilian Serie A Gremio on a free transfer, with his contract not ending until the end of 2024. A free transfer is when a player moves to a new club and that new club does not need to pay a transfer fee from the player’s former club. Suárez left Nacional— his favorite club as a kid— after the 35-year-old scored eight goals in the 16 matches he played with the club. The Uruguayan also won the Uruguayan championship with the club before heading off to Gremio. 

João Cancelo

The former Manchester City defender was transferred to Bayern Munich on a loan on deadline day. Most of the reason for the transfer was due to Cancelo wanting more playing time, but Pep Guardiola (Manchester City F.C. Manager) had his own plans in mind for the 28-year-old. Most of the soccer community around the world was shocked at the transfer, as it happened abruptly at the transfer deadline. The deal is a loan with an option to buy the full-back for $74.9 million. 

Weston McKennie

This name may ring a few bells to soccer fans that do not watch the sport constantly, as the 24-year-old American played for the United States men’s national team during this past World Cup. McKennie was transferred to Leeds United on a loan from the Serie A club Juventus, the loan fee costing $1.2 million. Many soccer fans like to joke about the team having lots of American players, calling the club “Major Leeds Soccer” and “Leeds United States of America” as the club now has four American players: Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Jack Harrison and now, Weston McKennie. Leeds is 17 in the Premier league currently and hopes to change that with the edition of McKennie.

It is safe to say that just these players’ transfers alone can show anyone how surprising the 2023 January transfer window was. With all these deals among clubs, the real question now is, how will all these deals turn out? Will they prove to be beneficial, or will they cost the club success?