January sales: 10 moves that needed a refund
IF the January transfer window has got off to a slow start because of the lack of available talent, the economic recession, inclement weather or whatever, there is still plenty of time for squad strengthening. And weakening.
Just wait until the end of the month, when panic sets in and managers jump at the chance of enlisting a 'proven goalscorer' from the Turks and Caicos Islands on the advice of an agent and the grainy evidence of a single viewing on YouTube. Some have done just that, to judge from our top 10 worst January signings.
(Rangers to Newcastle £8m, 2005)
Left Scotland with a big reputation, left St James' Park with laughter ringing in his ears. Central defender renowned for 'Bambi on Ice' impressions. Sold on to Juventus, after 47 appearances, for a loss of almost £5m; now with Lyons.
(Charlton Athletic to Chelsea, £10m, 2004)
He of the McDonald's advert, aged 13, hardly beefed up Chelsea's midfield. Lasted one season, scoring one goal in 15 league matches, before decamping for Newcastle. Resurrecting career with West Ham United and enjoying top form in East Enders' relegation scrap.
(Heerenveen to Middlesbrough, £12m, 2008)
A Brazilian goal machine, apparently, when the striker moved from the Netherlands. An unmitigated flop on Teesside, averaging a goal every four matches and, seemingly, at least four misses every game. Shipped out to Al-Sadd in Qatar last September, which was sad.
(Brescia to West Ham, £9m, 2009)
Ugandan-born Germany U-20 striker who arrived at Upton Park as the club's record signing. Barely turned up for Gianfranco Zola's side, making nine appearances from the bench and one start. Undisclosed talent sold for undisclosed fee to Fiorentina last summer.
(Man Utd to Aston Villa, £1.3m, 2005)
So bad they named him twice. Cameroon midfield player who made even less of an impact in two years at Villa Park than he did in two years at Old Trafford. Drifted off to Burnley on loan and Qatar; now with Odense in Denmark.
(Watford to Wigan Athletic, £4m, 2008)
An eye for goals but another for off-the-pitch trouble. One-goal return for Wigan and farmed out on loan to Hull City and Middlesbrough. Now serving an 18-month prison sentence after conviction in October for sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
(Heerenveen to Manchester City, £6m, 2006)
Another Heerenveen 'pup', like Afonso, to be sold to the Premier League. Stuart Pearce, the City manager at the time, believed that he would develop into a great striker, but his confidence was misplaced. At least the Greek outlasted 'Psycho' at the club. Now with Celtic.
(Real Madrid to Liverpool, £6.3m, 2005)
A legend at the Bernabeu, a leg-end at Anfield. Not one of Rafael Benitez's most productive signings, sold on to Valencia in a cut-price deal in July 2006. Regained semblance of form back in homeland; now not scoring for Marseilles.
(Nottingham Forest to Spurs, £4m, 2005)
Arrived at White Hart Lane as part of a package deal with Michael Dawson. Won many a 'Who Ate All The Pies?' contest in North London before packaged off to Charlton. New slimline version (pictured) now reinventing himself, successfully, with Sunderland.
(Colchester United to Reading, £2m, 2007)
Big reputation at Layer Road with a big throw-in too. Big flop at the Madejski Stadium, making only three appearances, and left for Sunderland, then loan spells with Charlton and Sheffield United. Now hurling his Exocets for Wolverhampton Wanderers. (© The Times, London)