This week football fans will be on high alert for the signings that will invigorate their clubs’ seasons. We run down some of the best and worst January transfers
By Chris Miller, Writer
Sometimes January signings work a treat. Usually that’s because they’re the result of the club’s rational transfer policy and a negotiation that just happens to conclude in the midseason window. Too often, though, clubs throw money at a last-minute panic buy in a desperate attempt to rejuvenate their team.
When that happens, other fans laugh and laugh and are secretly relieved it wasn’t their club this time. Although there’s every chance it could be them next time…
Sky Sports News/HD (CH 519/509) will be providing its usual extensive coverage of transfer deadline day on Monday 31 January as the news trickles in from grounds around Britain and beyond. But you can find every January signing in one place with Virgin Media’s Transfer Centre, where you can instantly see your club’s every arrival and departure, with all the details you need.
With this highly useful tool, you’ll know exactly when it’s time to get excited about the future/frustrated at the lack of spending/furious because don’t they know it’s the defence that needs strengthening?!!?
While you’re waiting for news of your club’s latest saviour to pop up on Transfer Centre, here’s our pick of the best and worst Premier League signings in Januaries gone by…
The defensive rock that was worth the wait
After an impressive 2016-17 season at Southampton, defender Virgil van Dijk was identified by Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp as the key summer signing to shore up his team’s defence. The Dutchman was keen, but the Saints dug their heels in. Rather than go for second best, though, Klopp hung on till January when he got his man for £75m.
Van Dijk made an instant impact, scoring the winner on his debut against local rivals Everton, and a longer-lasting one too, as he helped his new team to Champions League and Premier League titles in the next two seasons.
The record-breaking underachiever
There was no cash fee involved when Alexis Sánchez moved from Arsenal to Manchester United in January 2018 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan went the other way – but United made him the highest-paid player in Premier League history with a reported salary of £20m. It seemed decent value considering his 72 goals in the previous three seasons, and fans were excited about seeing him in action.
But Sánchez flopped dismally, scoring just three league goals in 18 months before leaving for Internazionale on loan. He eventually made the move permanent – after United paid off a huge chunk of his contract. Ouch.
The bargain who became a club legend
In January 2009, Everton manager David Moyes spent an extremely low-risk fee of just £60,000 on a promising 20-year-old right-back from Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland. At the time fans were more focused on Brazilian striker Jô, brought to Goodison as a deadline-day loan to get the forward line firing.
But 13 years later, Jô is long forgotten and Séamus Coleman is the long-serving captain of the club (and of his country). With more than 360 Everton appearances and counting, he’s a true Blue legend.
The perma-crock with the lovely locks
January 2011 saw Liverpool sell striker Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50m and sign Newcastle’s Andy Carroll for £35m to replace him. Subsequently, it was as if the two were competing to be the worst big-money buy in Premier League history. Torres scored a disappointing 45 goals in 172 games at Chelsea, but he was part of a squad that won the FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League.
Carroll spent much of the next two years injured and even in his best season scored only four league goals before moving to West Ham. At least his lustrous long hair looked smashing throughout.
The unexpected saviour
Birmingham manager Steve Bruce pulled off a transfer coup when he enticed France’s World Cup and Euro 2000 winner Christophe Dugarry to St Andrew’s in 2003, not least because the newly promoted Blues were in real danger of relegation in their first season in the Premier League.
The raffish French forward had a galvanising effect on the team, who beat Liverpool in February before winning all four of their games in April – with Dugarry scoring five times – on their way to a comfortable 13th-place finish.
The forgotten man
Wilfried Bony’s scoring record for Swansea City persuaded Manchester City to make him the most expensive African footballer ever, with a £28m move in January 2015. The Ivorian striker didn’t make his debut till late February because he was off winning the Africa Cup of Nations. That was as good as it got for Bony as a Man City player – 18 months and a mere six league goals later, he was banished to Stoke on loan.
Google him now and you’ll find a lot of headlines referring to “Forgotten man Wilfried Bony”. He ended up in Saudi Arabia, and although he hasn’t retired, he hasn’t had a professional contract in more than a year.
The stylish Cup winner
There was little fanfare when Youri Tielemans left Monaco for Leicester in January 2019 – after all, France Football had named the Belgian among the biggest flops of the previous season.
But the stylish midfielder immediately established himself as an automatic choice for the Foxes and the next season helped his team to their second highest ever league finish: fifth place and qualification for Europe, a feat they repeated in 2021 – when Tielemans also put in a man-of-the-match performance and scored the game’s only goal as Leicester won their first ever FA Cup. That’s impact.
See all the transfer comings and goings in the Virgin Media Transfer Centre
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