When we talk about January transfers, most of them are players bought by the club in panic mode or as a Plan B. While there have been more disappointments than successes, there are players who decided to take the risk of moving to a new club mid-season, adapting to new tactics and changed their career for good.
In this article, we have listed our “Top 10 Best Premier League January signings”. Let’s get started.
10. Christophe Dugarry
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier claimed that he was the one who advised Steve Bruce to land the French striker on loan for Birmingham in January 2003 as the Blues were on the brink of relegation. Houllier’s words turned out to be the game changer when Dugarry scored five goals in 16 games helping the club avoid relegation. The 1998 World Cup winner joined Birmingham on a permanent deal in the summer but he failed to have the same impact, scoring only once in 2003-04 before moving to Qatar. The French striker could’ve had a better farewell at Birmingham, but his impact during the six months loan spell really made the difference. Dugarry has since been inducted into Birmingham City’s Hall of Fame.
9. Wilfried Zaha
A return to Selhurst Park was always on the cards for Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian struggled at the Old Trafford as he managed only four appearances for Man United under David Moyes. The winger described his experience in Manchester as “living in hell”. Zaha returned back to Crystal Palace in January 2014. The winger made an instant impact as the Eagles stormed upto 10th place in the league table in the second half of the season. The winger rediscovered his confidence and since then he is a key player in the Crystal Palace team. Zaha scored 46 goals and 60 assists in 309 appearances for the Eagles with the Ivorian being named as the Crystal Palace player of the year in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.
8. Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey arrived in Craven Cottage for a record £2 million deal, which saw the forward become the most expensive American export in the Premier League in January 2007. Dempsey was already influential in his first season when he scored the all important winner against Liverpool in May ensuring top-flight football for the Cottagers the following season.
Dempsey played 225 games for Fulham over a spell of five years scoring 60 goals and 21 assists. Rolling back the years, Dempsey’s most memorable moment in a Fulham shirt is arguably the stunning chip he scored against Juventus in the Europa League when Fulham beat Juventus to go all the way upto the final in 2010.
7. Mikel Arteta
avid Moyes took a risk when he brought in Mikel Arteta from Real Sociedad on an initial loan deal in January 2005, after the Spanish midfielder failed to establish himself in the first-team in La Real. The move was rewarded quite well when the Spaniard helped Everton to a top four finish in the Premier League. The Toffees completed a bargain £2 million deal for Arteta the following summer. The Spaniard put in man-of-the-match displays for which he was awarded the Everton Fans’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season award in 2005-06. The former Barcelona midfielder became the first Everton player in five years to receive the Liverpool Echo’s Sports Personality of the Year award in January 2008. Over a spell of six and a half seasons in Everton, Arteta has scored 35 goals and 33 assists in just 209 appearances which made him a fan favorite at Goodison Park. The journey finally came to an end when the Spaniard joined Arsenal in 2011.
6. Ashley Young
Once considered on the same level as Lionel Messi by Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, Ashley Young signed for the Villans for a club-record £8 million deal from Watford in January 2007. The former Watford winger played a crucial part in Villa’s three consecutive sixth-place Premier League finishes and 2010 League Cup final. Young was awarded the PFA Young Player 2008-09 award for his displays. The England winger scored 37 goals and 59 assists in his four year spell at Villa Park before moving on to Manchester United in 2011.
5. Nemanja Matic
It wasn’t too late for Chelsea to realize that selling Nemanja Matic was a mistake when they brought him back to Stamford Bridge in January 2014. Then manager, Jose Mourinho identified the Serbian as key to their hopes of winning the Premier League title. The move was rewarded quite well when Chelsea won the Premier League and the League Cup in 2013-14. The best of Matic came in the 2016-17 season under Antonio Conte when Chelsea went on a 13-game win streak, also winning the Premier League title in the process. Matic, who was preferred ahead of Cesc Fabregas in Conte’s 3-4-3 system, put on a formidable partnership with N’golo Kante in midfield. Matic’s vision and ability to break up play allowed Hazard more freedom in the attacking phase thus leading to more goals. Matic finally moved to Manchester United in 2017 where he reunited with Jose Mourinho for another adventure.
4. Patrice Evra
Signed in the same window as Nemanja Vidic, Evra arrived to the Old Trafford from Monaco for a fee of about £7 million. Then French defender was expected to succeed the injured Gabriel Heinze at left-back. Evra initially struggled to adjust to the high demands of the Premier League but eventually became the club’s first-choice left back, establishing himself as a crucial part of a dominant defensive line along with Neville, Ferdinand and Vidic. Evra’s pace, positioning and aerial ability made him one of the best left-backs in Europe despite his short stature. In his eight-year spell in Old Trafford, Evra made 379 appearances winning nine major trophies before moving on to Juventus in 2014. Overall, stealing Patrice Evra from the hands of Inter Milan who nearly signed him in 2006, may come down as one of the best pieces of business Sir Alex Ferguson ever made.
3. Gary Cahill
Ever dreamed of winning the UEFA Champions League just after signing for your favorite club? well Gary Cahill has won it all with the Blues. The defender was targeted by a number of Premier League’s top clubs before Chelsea splashed £7 million to sign the English International from Bolton Wanderers. Cahill settled in the team pretty quickly and won the UEFA Champions League just four months after his arrival. The following season, he was a key player in Chelsea’s Europa League triumph. Cahill had become a John Terry like figure for the Blues following the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. Cahill only missed two games that season as Jose Mourinho’s men won the Premier League title again in 2014-15. Cahill continued his partnership with John Terry under new manager Antonio Conte as the Blues won their sixth Premier League title in 2016-17. However, with the frequent change of managers, Cahill has lost his place in the starting 11 and currently doesn’t even make the substitutes bench under new manager Maurizio Sarri. Although it’s been one amazing career for Gary Cahill at Chelsea, now might be the right time to move on and possibly seek a new adventure.
2. Nemanja Vidic
Manchester United faced heavy competition from Liverpool and Fiorentina for the signing of Nemanja Vidic. While Fiorentina had already reached the limit for the number of foreign players in the squad, the Red Devils took advantage of this opportunity to sign the Serbian for £9.5 million in January 2006 and everyone knows what happened next.
While Patrice Evra initially struggled to settle in England, Vidic was already two steps ahead. The Serbian formed a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the back, which became the base of their dominance for the next eight years. Vidic played a total of 300 games during his eight-year spell at Old Trafford winning 5 Premier League titles, 5x FA Community Shield, 3x League Cup, UEFA Champions League 2007-08 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2008 before moving to Inter Milan on a free transfer.
1. Luis Suarez
If Liverpool knew how good Luiz Suarez was when they signed him, they could have saved the £35 million they wasted on Andy Carroll. Suarez recorded a tremendous 111 goals in 159 appearances for Ajax scoring at a rate of 0.7 goals per game. Liverpool signed the Uruguayan for about £23 million in the deadline day of January 2011. With Carroll being injured most of the time, Suarez got his opportunities at Liverpool and delivered. The Uruguayan striker almost single handedly won Liverpool the Premier League title in 2013-14 season, where he scored 31 goals in 33 appearances for the Reds. Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 league goal in a season. The former Ajax striker won the Golden Boot and was named as the Premier League Player of the season in 2013-14.
His honeymoon period at Liverpool finally came to an end when the Uruguayan agreed to join Spanish giants Barcelona for a reported £73 million fee. Though Suarez would have wanted to win some more trophies with the Reds as he only won the League Cup in his four-year spell at Anfield. The signing of Luiz Suarez in a very panicking window for Liverpool will go down as one of the best January transfers of all time.
This conclude our list of the “Top 10 Best Premier League January signings”.
Did we miss out on someone? Comment below.