Biggest January Transfers – Mateo Kovačić, Mario Balotelli & Willian

The FIFA financial fair play is a meaningless attempt at stopping spending in global football. That isn’t stopping teams with and without ample streams of revenue to spend big, even outside the Premier League or the profitable Bundesliga. The three biggest moves in January were a bit surprising – Mario Balotelli to AC Milan, Willian to Anzhi Makhachkala and youngster Mateo Kovačić to Inter.

In general, Internazionale were a very busy team during the last 30 days. They signed Tommaso Rocchi (a 35 year old striker) from Lazio for €500,000; they added Zdravko Kuzmanović of Stuttgart for €1.2 million; Ezequiel Schelotto of Atalanta for €5.3 million; goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo for €250,000.

The biggest move was for Croatian wonderkid, Mateo Kovačić, signing him from Dinamo Zagreb for €11 million. Kovačić is actually Austrian born to Bosnian Croats parents. At the age of 13, he was scouted and approached by quite a few prominent European clubs, but his parents moved to Zagreb, and Kovačić joined Dinamo.

He’s been in the first team lineup for Dinamo since the 2011-2012 season, scoring 5 goals and adding six assists in 25 matches. His ability for the team and the young Croatia sides have drawn comparisons to Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Diego Maradona in the local press, also calling him their most talented player since Robert Prosinečki, who went on to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid in the 1990’s.

The most surprising of the January moves was Willian leaving to Anzhi from Shakhtar, signed for an incredible €35 million, making him the most expensive signing this offseason. The 24 year old was linked to both Chelsea and Tottenham for quite a few months, but it’s hard to rival these kind of sums, and sometimes it feels like some of the former-Soviet clubs prefer not to sell to the Premier League if they can help it. It’s unclear how much longer these kind of sums can continue to be used among clubs without the revenue streams of Western European sides and how does it all play out according to the FIFA financial regulations, but for now, they’re just as much of a player in the transfer market as the richest clubs in England.

Mario Balotelli didn’t surprise anyone when he left Manchester City, but for AC Milan, a team most thought to be in serious financial limitations due to their inactivity this season, to spend €20 million on the proven trouble maker, with no one still decided on whether or not he’s worth all the trouble he brings with him, seems like a bit of a stretch, and too much of gamble.

Image: ESPN