The January transfer window is subject to a lot of career-changing transfers since its introduction in the 2002-03 season. The January transfer window often remains idle as the clubs do most of their business in the summer unless their plans backfire or a key player gets sidelined with a long-term injury. While most of the January transfers are often driven by panic, sometimes clubs need someone special to push them towards glory or save them from disaster and they’re willing to spend over the odds to make it happen.
In this article, we have listed the Top 10 Premier League players signed in the January transfer window who proved out to be a disaster for their clubs. Let’s get started.
10. Ricardo Rocha
Ricardo Rocha was one of the top defenders in Europe during his time in Benfica. The Portuguese defender managed 115 appearances in five years for the Portuguese giants. His performances tempted Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to make a £3.3 million move for the defender in 2007. Rocha managed only 9 appearances for Spurs in the 2006-07 season before making only 5 appearances in the 2007-08 season and not even a single appearance in the following season. The defender was eventually released at the end of his contract.
9. Afonso Alves
Middlesbrough thought they got an absolute steal in Afonso Alves when they signed the former Brazil International for £12.7 million. Alves was tearing down the Eredivisie where he scored 45 goals in 39 appearances for Heerenveen. The Brazilian was another victim of the high demands of the Premier League when he managed just 10 goals in 42 appearances for the Boro. A hat-trick on the final day of the 2007-08 season did no good to their survival hopes as Middlesbrough were relegated at the end of the season. After disappointing at Middlesbrough, Alves decided to move to Qatar where he signed for Al Sadd.
8. James Beattie
Once labelled as the ‘new Alan Shearer’, James Beattie signed for Everton from Southampton for a club record £6 million fee in 2005. Beattie’s journey at the Merseyside began as a nightmare when he was sent off in only his fifth Premier League appearance for the Toffees for a headbutt on William Gallas. Beattie struggled with injuries for the rest of the season which limited his involvement in Everton’s fourth place finish. The following season, he netted 10 goals in the league but his form dipped drastically after that and Everton manager David Moyes didn’t consider him in his plans anymore. Beattie was sold to Sheffield United at the end of the season.
7. Jean-Alain Boumsong
Eyebrows were raised when the Newcastle manager Graeme Souness who showed no interest in signing Jean-Alain Boumsong on a free transfer in the summer of 2004 but six months later he was willing to offer £8 million to bring the French defender to Tyneside. Boumsong created a physical, athletic partnership with Titus Bramble, who soon became a fan favorite among the Magpies. Boumsong’s debut season with Newcastle was promising but his form dipped drastically in the following season where he was often blamed of conceding several goals. The Frenchman was sold to recently relegated Juventus at the end of the season.
6. Michael Ricketts
Another panic signing in this list, Michael Ricketts who was signed by Middlesbrough on the deadline day of the first ever January transfer window. Boro splashed the cash for the Bolton Wanderers striker who recently made his England debut under Sven-Goran Eriksson in a friendly match against the Netherlands in 2002. The Bolton target-man was attracting interest from Liverpool and Tottenham who were preparing bids for him but Ricketts’s form dipped drastically after that and the £3.5 million move to Boro was supposed to be a fresh start for the striker. Ricketts turned out to be a massive disappointment as he managed only 4 goals in 36 appearances for Middlesbrough. The striker was moved to Leeds after just 18 months. Over the next few years, Ricketts moved to Stoke, Cardiff, Burnley, Southend, Preston, Oldham, Walsall and finally Tranmere where he played his final game in 2009. Ricketts was never able to regain his Bolton’s form and had a disappointing end to his career. It would be fair to say he was very much the Andy Carroll of his day.
5. Juan Cuadrado
After the disappointing spell of Mohammed Salah, Chelsea were in the market again in search of a new winger. Then manager, Jose Mourinho identified Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado as a potential upgrade to Mo Salah. Cuadrado arrived for a reported €30 million fee and Salah was sent the other way on loan. The Colombian winger was excited upon arriving at the West London club but things quickly went downhill. The Colombian winger couldn’t earn Jose Mourinho’s trust and was mostly playing second fiddle to Willian. Cuadrado managed only 15 appearances for the Blues failing to score a single goal during his spell at Stamford Bridge. Six months later, he was sent on loan to Juventus for the next two seasons before moving to the Old Lady on a permanent transfer in 2017.
4. Savio Nsereko
Not the only West Ham player to appear on this list, there were a lot of expectations from Savio when he joined the Hammers for a club record fee of £9 million. Savio won the 2008 UEFA European U-19 Football Championship with Germany and with new Irons manager Gianfranco Zola and director of football Gianluca Nani scouting the best talent in Italy, the future looked bright for the young German forward. However, the inability of the German to adapt to the high demands of the Premier League saw him play in just 11 matches, failing to score a single goal for the Irons. Six months later, Savio was sold to Fiorentina for just £3 million. The Germany U-20 International was never able to reach his potential and was arrested in Thailand in 2012 for faking his own kidnapping.
3. Fernando Torres
This goes down as one of the most mind-boggling transfers of all time. Fernando Torres shocked the world on two occasions, one of those was when he was seen holding a Chelsea shirt in the deadline day of the transfer window of January 2011. The Spaniard moved to Chelsea for a club record £50 million fee and was expected to make the same impact that he had in Liverpool. Torres only managed 1 goal in his first 18 games, but there was hope that the Spaniard would be back to his best once he plays a full pre-season with the Blues. Torres scored a total of 45 goals and 35 assists in 172 appearances for the Blues before he was sent to AC Milan. As mentioned earlier, the second time Fernando Torres shocked the world time when he was running free behind the Barcelona defense, cutting past Victor Valdes to send the ball in the net and also to send Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final, which caused Gary Neville to almost have a meltdown live on air. Though that single goal made up for most of his transfer fee but Torres never managed to hit the same heights that he did in Liverpool.
2. Benni McCarthy
Somehow missed out on becoming the worst striker to be signed by West Ham, the former South Africa International was a complete disaster during his time at the Hammers. Benni arrived at Upton Park following a 4-year spell at Blackburn Rovers where he averaged a goal every 234 minutes. The striker signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Hammers and it would be fair to say things went downhill from there. The South Africa striker managed only 14 appearances, failing to score a single goal for the East London side. Things turned from bitter to worse when Benni was fined for failing to keep his weight under control. The Irons failed in attempts to send the striker out on loan due to his high wages. Finally, West Ham decided to pay McCarthy £1.5 million in order to terminate his contract in April 2011. Benni returned to South Africa where he played for Orlando Pirates before retiring in June 2013.
1. Andy Carroll
It’s the pony-tailed former Newcastle forward who tops our list of “Worst Premier League signings in January”. After Fernando Torres left for Chelsea in the final moments of the transfer window deadline, Liverpool were left with a huge void to fill in. The Reds were desperate for a new no.9 and decided to take a risk with Newcastle’s Andy Carroll. Liverpool splashed £35 million for the English International nearly double the amount from their initial offer during the final minutes of the transfer window. Carroll was injured when he arrived and had to wait until March to start his first game in the Red outfit. There were a couple of promising moments including a brace vs Man City and the FA Cup semi-final winner against Everton, but Carroll never managed to hit the heights at Liverpool with the striker managing only 11 goals and 6 assists in 58 appearances during his time at Anfield. Carroll was shipped out to West Ham on loan in 2012 before he joined the London side permanently in 2013.