And so it begins once again. The January transfer window for 2015 has opened, and along with it the transfer rumour mill is in full swing, linking teams such as Arsenal and Manchester United with every centre back under the sun. A lot of football experts will tell you that January transfers are more likely to fail than summer transfers due to teams spending big money to drag themselves out of trouble, but some teams have pulled off some season changing signings over the years. But of course, as it often happens with some transfers, some deals have just not worked out. Here’s my top five best and worst Premier League January signings.
- Juan Mata, Chelsea to Manchester United, £37.1million, January 2014
Starting off our countdown is Juan Mata’s transfer to Old Trafford. Some United fans do regard signing Juan Mata as the only half decent thing that David Moyes managed at the club, and to be honest they’re not far wrong. The tricky Spaniard has been lethal for the Red Devils since he signed, and boss Louis Van Gaal has struggled to leave him out of his sides due to his ability to find the net. He has 11 goals in 28 appearances in 2014, making him one of the top scorers from midfield in the Premier League. Although competition had been strong, he has slotted right into the United side and has swiftly became a fan favourite.
- Nemanja Matic, Benfica to Chelsea, £23million, January 2014
After failing to break into the first team at Stamford Bridge as a youngster, Nemanja Matic took the bold step to leave central London for the warmer climates of Lisbon, joining SL Benfica in 2011 as part of the deal which brought David Luiz to Chelsea. However, after coming on leaps and bounds in Portugal, the Serbian found himself back at the Bridge just 2 and a half years later. Jose Mourinho forked out £23million for the then 25 year old, in the same month that he sold Juan Mata for £37million, this piece of business isn’t looking too shabby at all. Matic made his first Premier League start against Manchester City in February 2014, and was voted Man of the Match in a game which Chelsea won 1-0. Since then, he has become a staple part of Mourinho’s side. The lofty midfielder has been vital in their push to the summit of the Premier League in the 2014/15 season.
- Patrice Evra, AS Monaco to Manchester United, £5.5million, January 2006
United fans weren’t exactly teeming with excitement after the club announced that Patrice Evra would be joining from AS Monaco in January 2006. They were even more doubtful of the French left back after his debut against rivals Manchester City, a game in which he was overrun completely by Trevor Sinclair. However, after a shaky start, he grew into an Old Trafford legend. The left back slot became his for over 8 years, and when he moved on in 2014 he said it was one of the darkest days of his life. He is a true modern day United legend, who loved the club almost as much as the fans loved him.
- Nemanja Vidic, Spartak Moskow to Manchester United, £7million, January 2006
Nemanja Vidic was another signing who failed to hit the ground running at Old Trafford. When he first signed, he was very skinny, and was pushed off the ball quite easily. His debut came in a 4-3 thriller against Blackburn Rovers, in a game where he looked out of his depth from the off. However, he worked hard in the gym and results were quick; within a year he had formed a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand and had turned United into a force to be reckoned with. He was sadly quite injury prone, and towards the end of his career at United he missed wide stretches of the season. This didn’t take away from the excellence of his defending throughout the majority of his 8 and a half year United career.
- Luis Suarez, Ajax to Liverpool, £22.7million, January 2011
31st January 2011 will probably be the closest thing to bittersweet Liverpool fans will ever feel. On the same day that the club had blown £35million on Andy Carroll, they pulled off a major coup in securing the services of Luis Suarez for £22.7million from Ajax. A player never too far away from controversy, he became the most hated player in the Premier League by opposition fans. However, Liverpool fans adored him, and he repaid them with consistent breath-taking performances. In his 3 and a half years at the club, he scored 69 goals in 110 games, before moving to Barcelona in a £75million deal. He has gone down in the clubs folklore as a modern day icon, and will be loved by the Kopite faithful.
- Jean Alain Boumsong, Rangers to Newcastle, £8million, January 2005
The Frenchman moved to Newcastle from Rangers for £8million just 5 months after signing for the Scottish club on a free transfer. The signing was so bad, it was even investigated for appearing fraudulent. He and Titus Bramble formed a defensive partnership similar to the footballing version of the Chuckle Brothers, with the pair taking it in turns to make errors. The worst part? Boumsong managed to secure a transfer to Juventus just 18 months into his Tyneside adventure.
- Savio Nsereko, Brescia to West Ham United, £9million, January 2009
Eyebrows were raised when West Ham unveiled this completely unknown youngster from Brescia for £9million. The 19 year old had only appeared 22 times for the Italian club, and had only scored 3 goals. However, manager Gianfranco Zola described him as one of the brightest young talents in the world. After 10 goalless appearances, he was on his way to Fiorentina for £2million. On a completely unrelated note, since his failed move to East London, he has faked his own kidnapping twice.
- Alfonso Alves, Heerenveen to Middlesborough, £15million, January 2008
When Middlesborough announced that they’d signed Brazilian international Alfonso Alves in 2008, it sent shockwaves through Teeside. Many fans were excited to see him in action considering he had a better than a goal a game record in the Eredivisie. Sadly, he never really delivered; 10 goals in 18 months seen him move to the footballing scrapheap of Qatar, where he played out his final footballing days.
- Andy Carroll, Newcastle to Liverpool, £35million, January 2011
After Chelsea had broken the British transfer record to buy Fernando Torres from Liverpool, the Reds needed a replacement, and quick. There were only a few days left of the transfer window, and so manager Kenny Dalglish had to act fast. He did just that – two strikers were brought in. One was Luis Suarez, for £22.7million, who went on to score 69 goals for the club and then triple his transfer fee three years later in a £75million deal which took him to Barcelona. The other was Andy Carroll. In what remains to this day the most confusing transfer fee ever paid, Liverpool handed over £35million for the Geordie. Perhaps it was sheer desperation from Dalglish, who needed something to turn around Liverpool’s dreadful start to the season. Whatever it was, it didn’t work. Surprisingly, Liverpool managed to make £15million of his transfer fee back when he was carted off to West Ham United.
- Fernando Torres, Liverpool to Chelsea, £50million, January 2011
In first place, we have one of football’s greatest declines ever. Fernando Torres was on top of the world. After winning the Euro’s and the World Cup with Spain, he was continuing to bang the goals in on a weekly basis for Liverpool. It was only a matter of time before a big club came in for him, and that club was Chelsea. The transfer fee wasn’t queried – we had seen the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo move to Real Madrid for £30million more, and Torres wasn’t far from Ronaldo’s standard. However, Torres never got started for Chelsea. It took him 8 games to find the net, and then he didn’t score for the rest of the season. In 172 games in all competitions, he has scored 45 goals – and almost half of them came in his one ‘half-decent’ season for the club, 2012/13. Now back at his first club Atletico Madrid, he will be hoping to re-find the form which made him a global star to begin with.
by James Crossan