At this time of year, you will often hear the old cliche being rolled out that there “simply isn’t any value” in the January Transfer window.
Whilst it’s often the case that January deals are either stop-gap replacements for injured stars or final rolls of the dice for under fire managers looking to secure their Premier League fixtures. Occasionally, a real gem is unearthed.
Here we look at five of the best deals to be completed in the top flight during the much-maligned January window.
Luis Suarez | £22.5million
Ajax to Liverpool | Jan 2011
Luis Suarez is arguably one of the best ever players to pull on a Liverpool shirt and even if the £22.5million spent on the Uruguayan in January 2011 SEEMED like a hefty price tag but it was blown out of the water by the £75 million that Barcelona paid for him just 3 years later. Bitey Suarez had a hefty impact on the pitch as well as on the bank balance, however. He set the tone for his Merseyside career by scoring on his debut and going onto become one of the teams most impressive players for the remainder of the season, helping drag Liverpool from 12th to a final position of 6th.
It would go onto score 69 goals in 110 games for Liverpool, with his final season at the club being his finest. In the 2013/14 season he was Premier League top scorer, PFA Football Writers Player of the year and, even more impressively, he even made Daniel Sturridge look decent. Which should probably be his real legacy?
Bought with the proceeds of Fernando Torres’ £50m move to Chelsea (which might just make the list for worst January transfers ever), the success of Suarez was made to look even more impressive by the failures of Andy Carroll who joined the club just hours after the Uruguayan. Whilst Sanchez went onto join one of the biggest clubs in Europe, Carroll would later join West Ham United. That tells you all you need to know.
Patrice Evra | £7million
Monaco to Manchester United | January 2006
Given past history its probably risky to put Patrice Evra quite so close to Luis Suarez but still, Evra’s move from France to Manchester is well-deserving of a place on our list.
The French left-back looked like he would follow the usual January signing path upon first joining up with Alex Ferguson’s team (ie. disappointing) but after a season of hard work, he became a first-team regular where he helped the Red Devils win five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy. He stayed with the club for 8 years, making the left-back position his own before moving onto Juventus for £1.5m in 2014.
He wasn’t always just a guy in funny glasses shouting “I Love This Game” on Twitter you know?
Ashley Young | £8million
Watford to Aston Villa | 2007
Long before he became the Tom Daley of the Premier League Ashley Young was one of the hottest prospects in English football even being compared to Lionel Messi by some… well one, namely Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill when he spent a whopping £8 million on the winger in the winter of 2007.
In the seasons that followed, he became a Fantasy Football must have because of his assists (in his first season he created the second-most assists in the league behind Cesc Fabregas) and dominance of set pieces that helped Villa secure three consecutive top six finishes. His stats in the midlands speak for themselves with 38 goals and 59 assists in just 190 appearances for the club.
Then, in 2011, he earned Villa a healthy profit joining Manchester United for £18 million, where he still plies his trade some nine years later – much to the irritation of many of the Old Trafford faithful.
John Stones | £3million
Barnsley to Everton | 2013
As a business deal alone, Everton’s £3 million investment in John Stones looks like a shrewd piece of business. In just three short years they had seen that investment grow to a hefty £47.5m of oil-funded Manchester City money as he moved to the Etihad which surely beats even then best ISA on offer?
Stones wasn’t just a January transfer buy he was also a deadline day deal – usually a sure sign of desperation but he proved far from a stop-gap in the heart of Everton’s defence. It wasn’t until September after the deal was done that he made his full Premier League debut, but once established in the first team he shone as a ball-playing centre-back with confidence well beyond his years.
He was run close by Seamus Coleman as the clubs best ever January deal with the Irishman showing some incredible value signing for just £60k from Sligo Rovers and going onto make 256 appearances. That’s just £234 per game! However, it is the £44.5million profit made on his transfer to City that seals the deal for the England international.
Clint Dempsey | £2million
New England to Fulham | 2007
What can £2 million buy you in the current football market? A cup of hot Bovril at half time? A new pair of Adidas Predators? Jesse Lingard? When you compare the money spent on USA international Clint Dempsey on his arrival in the Premier League with today’s crazy prices it makes him look like even more of a snip.
Dempsey joined Fulham in January of 2007 for just £2 million, teaming up with fellow US nationals Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride, who were already proving the MLS was a rich hunting ground for the Cottagers.
He went on to become an iconic player in black and white over the five and a half seasons he spent at the club, where he remains their top Premier League scorers with 50 goals during his time at Craven Cottage. Arguably his first was his most important too, scoring in the penultimate game of the 2006/07 season to secure the clubs top-flight status for another term.
His first Premier League strike was one of his most important, netting the winner at Craven Cottage in the penultimate game of 2006/07 to stave off the very real threat of relegation. He is also credited with the potentially the best goal in the clubs history, chipping Antonio Chimenti in the Juventus goal to reach the Europa quarter-final in 2010.
He even made the club a decent profit when he moved across London to join with Spurs for £6 million in 2012. Dempsey is not only Fulham’s greatest ever January signing but probably their greatest ever Premier League player.