January is always a thrilling time of year in the world of futbol because of the mid-year transfer window. Plenty of big-time moves have already been made, and they may just tip the scales in the British Premier League.
Virgil van Dijk, long rumored to be targeted by Liverpool, finally made the move from Southampton to Merseyside. The center back is often regarded as one of the best in the Netherlands and should be a welcome addition to a Liverpool defense that has been less than stellar. With solid form from Van Dijk, the Reds could make a push toward a top-four spot that they desperately desire.
An even bigger trade involved one of the most drawn-out transfers in Premier League history. In a rarely seen straight swap, Arsenal sent star forward Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This should be seen as a fantastic move for the Red Devils as United’s already lethal attacking lineup has gained a world-beater in the form of Sanchez. The Chilean spent four years at the Emirates and emassed 60 goals in 122 appearances. Before joining Arsenal, Sanchez also made headlines in Italy and for Spanish giant FC Barcelona.
In return for Sanchez, Arsenal received a top-notch player in Mkhitaryan, an Armenian midfielder who garnered only 39 appearances for the Red Devils since arriving in 2016. However, in those appearances, the 29-year-old found the back of the net five times, mostly from a midfield role. The Armenian struggled with injury during his tenure at Old Trafford, but before his move to England, “Micki” made tsunami-sized waves at Bundesliga staples Borussia Dortmund. As a part of the high-octane attacking force for which Dortmund is known, Mkhitaryan was a Bundesliga Team of the Season member in 2016.
This move seems heavily favored by United supporters, but perhaps a change of scenery is what Mkhitaryan needs to return to form.
As for Sanchez departing from Arsenal, it seemed the writing was on the wall since the start of this season. His continual drama was clearly toxic to the Arsenal dressing room and partially responsible for the Gunners’ slow start to the season.
The deal should benefit both sides in the long run for this season, but the salad days are over. With less than six months remaining in the season, the warming-up period has ended and teams that want success need to hit the ground running post-January.