The 2022/23 winter transfer window was one to remember as Premier League clubs, especially Chelsea, splashed the cash on new players. However, they were not the only ones who grabbed the headlines as clubs from around the world made some unexpected moves in the transfer market.
January signings often include players signed to fill in a gap in the squad or provide depth in certain positions. However, the 2022/23 transfer window saw multiple clubs sign first-team stars either on loan or on permanent deals, which was quite surprising.
On that note, let's take a look at 5 of the wildest signings made during the 2023 January transfer window.
#5 Marcel Sabitzer to Manchester United
Manchester United shelled out €243 million in the summer transfer window this season to strengthen new manager Erik Ten Hag's squad.
Hence, after a stuttering start, they have looked like a force to be reckoned with, especially since the resumption of the Premier League post the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They also added Wout Weghorst to the squad early last month to provide an extra attacking edge in the box.
Jack Butland was also signed on a loan move from Crystal Palace to provide cover for David de Gea. Everyone believed that was the end of the winter transfer business for the club, but Christian Eriksen's injury in the FA Cup forced their hand.
The Danish midfielder is likely to be out for three months, thereby leaving a huge hole in the midfield for the Red Devils. United ended up signing Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich on loan on the transfer window's last day, which surprised quite a few people.
The midfielder, who joined the Bavarians in 2021, has not been able to realize his potential in the last 18 months. There is a lot of competition in the center of the pitch, with Joshua Kimmich, Ryan Gravenberch, Jamal Musiala, and Leon Goretzka often picked ahead of him. Hence, this transfer made sense for Bayern, as there is no buy option included in the deal.
Regardless, Manchester United have signed a player who can excel on both ends of the pitch, something key to playing for Ten Hag's side these days. Alongside Casemiro, Sabitzer could form a lovely double-pivot, which could lead to the club winning some silverware and finishing in the top four this season.
#4 Jorginho to Arsenal
Jorginho was another deadline-day transfer as the Brazilian moved from West London to North London to join Arsenal for £11 million (plus £2 million in add-ons).
The 2020 Euros winner had less than six months left on his contract at Stamford Bridge, with no signs of the club offering an extension. Given Chelsea's spending spree on transfers this season, the sale of an aging player made sense for them. However, this could be Arsenal's gain as they pounced on signing the player after failing to lure Moises Caicedo to the Emirates. The central midfielder is highly appreciated by Mikel Arteta.
Jorginho can dictate play, hold the ball in possession and create chances from deep. He is also a huge voice in the dressing room and could become an instant leader at Arsenal as the club look to maintain their title charge for the second half of the season.
However, this signing did catch everybody by surprise, especially since nobody believed that Chelsea would strengthen one of their arch-rivals with one of their experienced stars.
Regardless, Jorginho is not the first player to move between the two clubs and is unlikely to be the last one.
#3 Mykhaylo Mudryk to Chelsea
Chelsea may have sold one of their leaders in Jorginho to Arsenal on deadline-day but this was only after they swooped Mykhaylo Mudryk away from the Gunners earlier in the month.
The Gunners had been chasing the Ukranian's signature since last summer and intensified their efforts in January to sign him. However, all three of their bids were rejected by Shakhtar Donetsk, with the Ukrainian side holding out for €100 million for their prized asset.
Chelsea, who were also keen on the player, moved quickly, with co-owner Behdad Egbahli & co-sporting director Paul Winstanley flying to Turkey to complete the deal. Mudryk became a Chelsea player as the Blues paid €70 million (plus €30 million in add-ons) to bring the once-Arsenal bound player to West London instead.
Even some of the most reputed journalists were taken aback by the speed of the move, as the Blues acted stealthily. Regardless, following his debut off the bench against Liverpool two weeks ago, Mudryk looks like the real deal and is now raring to go for the Stamford Bridge side.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo to Al Nassr
If someone had told Cristiano Ronaldo six months ago that he would be playing for Al Nassr in 2023, the Portuguese forward would have laughed it off.
However, the 5-time Ballon d'Or is now leading the line for the Saudi Arabian club following the termination of his contract with Manchester United in November. The tension between him & the Red Devils had been clear since the summer, with several reports indicating that the striker was looking to seal a move away. But with few suitors, no such deal materialized and Ronaldo stayed at Old Trafford.
His frustration with Erik ten Hag also grew over the following months, which he later explained in detail during an interview with Piers Morgan. The interview, which was released a week before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, led to Man United mutually deciding to part ways with the player.
But due to a disappointing World Cup performance and a lack of interested buyers, Ronaldo ended up putting pen-to-paper with Al Nassr. His contract is reportedly worth over €200 million, with the centre-forward likely to be earning his last big pay-cheque before he hangs his boots for good.
#1 Joao Cancelo to Bayern Munich
While most unexpected transfers are still justifiable one way or another, it is hard to understand how Manchester City will justify letting Joao Cancelo leave on loan.
The Portuguese right-back, who has arguably been the best right-back in world football over the past year, joined Bayern Munich during the last days of the January transfer window.
City often sanction moves for players disinterested in playing for them, but that rarely happens in the winter transfer window. Moreover, the club are still in the Premier League title race, not to mention also hoping to complete their quest to win their maiden Champions League.
While Nathan Ake, Kyle Walker, and Rico Lewis have deputized in the full-back areas brilliantly, Cancelo's threat going forward is unparalleled. Hence, it was even more confusing why the right-back was benched for as many games as he was last month.
Regardless, Bayern Munich, who have signed him on loan with an option to buy for €70 million, will be pleased with this transfer. The defender provided an assist on his debut for the club recently, thereby indicating that he could hit the ground running for the reigning Bundesliga champions.