The 10 best ever January transfer window signings
We look at the best pieces of business that were done during the January transfer window in the Premier League.
If Liverpool had realised just how good their £22.5 million signing in January 2011 from Ajax would turn out to be they may have decided to let the £50 million they received from Chelsea for Fernando Torres a few days later burn a hole in their pocket for a little while longer. While Suarez made an instant impact it is hard to fathom now that he was initially labelled as a wayward finisher.
After a lengthy pursuit Manchester United sealed a £7 million deal for the Monaco left back in January 2006. Evra was one of two defensive additions Sir Alex Ferguson made that January – Nemanja Vidic being the other – but he struggled initially as United failed to catch a dominant Chelsea. But Evra has since gone on to be a mainstay of the side, winning five Premier League titles and one Champions League.
Having seen Xabi Alonso join Liverpool in the summer of 2004, Real Sociedad shipped another midfielder to Merseyside when David Moyes tied up an initial loan deal for Arteta in January 2005. The Spaniard settled in straight away, helping Everton to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League and a place in the Champions League qualifying round (which they lost to Villarreal). Moyes completed a bargain £2 million deal for Arteta the following summer and over the six and a half season he spent at Goodison he became a firm favourite with fans before joining Arsenal for £10 million in August 2011.
Before Berbatov, there was Christophe Dugarry. Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier claims he advised Steve Bruce to sign the languid French striker on loan for Birmingham in January 2003 and it proved to be sound advice as Dugarry scored five goals in Birmingham's final six games of the season helping the club avoid relegation. Dugarry completed a permanent move that summer but failed to have the same impact, scoring only once in 2003-04 before moving to Qatar where he spent a year before retiring. "When I do not have fun, I am not able to perform," Dugarry explained.
While Patrice Evra initially struggled to settle in England his fellow January 2006 addition Nemanja Vidic hit the ground running. Ferguson had beaten Liverpool and Fiorentina to sign the Serbian defender for £7.2 million and while United were unable to rein in Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 2005-06, it was Vidic's partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the centre of the back four which became the base on which their dominance over the ensuing seasons was built.
Dempsey joined a fellow US internationals Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra in a £2 million deal – a record for a player from the MLS – when he joined Fulham in January 2007. His winning goal against Liverpool that May – his first for the club – ensured Fulham remained in the Premier League. He spent the next five seasons at Craven Cottage – with the stunning chip to seal victory over Juventus in the Europa League in 2010 ensuring his place as a club legend. Joined Tottenham in August 2012 for £6 million before moving back to the MLS – to Seattle Sounders – a year later. He is now back at Craven Cottage on loan.
Before he became 'the new Tom Daley' Young was 'the next Lionel Messi'. Or at least that's what then Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill felt shortly after signing Young on an £8 million deal from Watford in January 2007. Young helped Villa to three consecutive sixth place Premier League finishes and became a regular in the England squad before joining Manchester United for £18 million in June 2011.
Having looked on in dismay as Hayden Mullins kept the Argentina international out of a struggling West Ham team, Rafael Benítez pounced to sign Mascherano for £18 million in January 2007, reportedly showing up unannounced at midfielder's London apartment and using a selection of condiments to illustrate how he envisaged the 22-year-old forming a partnership with Xabi Alonso. While his compatriot Carlos Tévez controversially helped West Ham survive the drop on the final day, Mascherano ended the season playing in the Champions League final as Liverpool lost 2-1 to AC Milan in Athens. Moved to Barcelona following Benitez's departure from Anfield in 2010.
The respective histories of Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and (perhaps) Everton could have been very different had a 29-year-old Spaniard not joined the Welsh side on a short-term loan in January 2003. Martínez helped Swansea stay in the Football League on the final day of the season before signing a permanent deal that summer. Martínez made such an impression on Swansea that he was appointed manager in February 2007 (just six months after leaving the club for Chester). As manager he instilled a playing style that was carried on by Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup. Martínez moved on to Wigan, with whom he won the FA Cup, and is now at Everton.
Looking for a sure-fire January hit? Look no further than Daniel Sturridge. Before Liverpool forked out £12 million for the striker in January 2013, Bolton saw the goalscoring potential of a player who, up until that point, had precious little Premier League experience. Sturridge scored eight goals in 12 appearances at the Reebok as Owen Coyle's side beat relegation with room to spare. Sturridge returned to Chelsea at the end of the season but failed to nail down a regular first-team place before his move to Anfield.
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