Ten of Europe’s most fascinating transfers

imitri Payet (West Ham to Marseille)
Without doubt the longest-running transfer saga of the month, Dimitri Payet completed his return to Marseille at the weekend. The France international endeared himself to the Hammers faithful quickly following his arrival in England – they did proclaim he’s better than Zidane after all – but the relationship then turned sour. Some doubted his performances in his second season in London, but the 29-year-old has still completed more key passes (74) than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this season and his void will be a tough one to fill.

 

Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg to PSG)
The Germany international was previously linked with moves to Juventus and Arsenal, but PSG ultimately won the race to secure Julian Draxler’s services in January, with him one of three signings made by the French champions. The 23-year-old made an immediate impact for PSG, scoring on his debut in the 7-0 rout of SC Bastia in the Coupe de France, before netting the winner on his first league start. An average WhoScored.com rating of 7.68 in Ligue 1 so far highlights how quickly he’s adjusted to French football as PSG strive to overhaul Monaco at Ligue 1’s summit.

 

Paul-Georges Ntep (Rennes to Wolfsburg)
It wasn’t too long ago that a host of Premier League teams were linked with a move for Paul-Georges Ntep, who moved to Wolfsburg last month to help cover the loss of Draxler. The 24-year-old has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, but he proved how effective an attacker he can be as he turned provider for Mario Gomez on his Bundesliga debut. Wolfsburg’s gain is Rennes’ loss, with Ntep maximising his statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘dribbling’ prior to his move to Germany, with an average of 2.3 dribbles per game ranking among the top ten in Ligue 1 this season.

 

Leon Bailey (Genk to Bayer Leverkusen)
It may have taken some time to get the deal across the line, but Leon Bailey’s move to Bayer Leverkusen further swells Roger Schmidt’s attacking options. Karim Bellarabi’s injury issues left the Bayer 04 boss short of a wideman on the right flank, with Bailey providing both sufficient competition and an able stand-in where required. Indeed, his WhoScored.com rating in the group stages of the Europa League this season (8.10) was the third best, with four goals and 3.8 dribbles per game contributing to that notable return.

 

Wilfred Ndidi (Genk to Leicester)
Genk lost two key players in the January transfer window, with Wilfred Ndidi’s move to Leicester confirmed at the beginning of last month. The Foxes had required a replacement for N’Golo Kante following his move to Chelsea, with Ndidi more than capable of filling the gargantuan gap left by the Frenchman’s move to Stamford Bridge. The 20-year-old Ndidi made more tackles and interceptions combined (71) than any other player in the group stages of the Europa League and the Foxes will be hoping he can transfer his ball-winning quality to the Premier League and Champions League as Claudio Ranieri’s side look to upset the odds in Europe and pull clear of the relegation zone.

 

Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli to Southampton)
There weren’t many major money deals in the Premier League in January, but Manolo Gabbiadini’s late move to Southampton was one of the biggest. The 25-year-old struggled for game time for Napoli, registering just 19 league starts following his arrival from Sampdoria two years ago. Having played second fiddle to Gonzalo Higuain, Arakdiusz Milik and Dries Mertens, Gabbiadini faltered in his attempts to transfer his good Samp form to Napoli and the Saints will hope to bring out the best in the Italian following his big-money switch. Charlie Austin’s injury had left Claude Puel’s side short of goals, with the hope now that Gabbiadini can rediscover his best form at St. Mary’s to ease Austin’s absence.

 

Conor Hourihane (Barnsley to Aston Villa)
Dropping down a division, Aston Villa made ample movements in the market over the past month, with the most notable capture coming in the form of Conor Hourihane. The 25-year-old may have struggled somewhat on his Villa debut, as they fell to a 3-0 loss at Brentford on Tuesday, but his form in his debut Championship season has been nothing short of superb. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.68 is one of the best this term, with Hourihane registering more assists (11) than any other player in the Championship, while no player has won more WhoScored.com man of the match awards than the Irish midfielder (7). No player has made more tackles (83), while ten clear-cut chances created is joint-second as Hourihane provides the ideal blend of tenacity and creativity for Villa in the middle of the park.

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