10 Jan The Best Signings in January Transfer Window History
It’s hard to believe that it’s already that most special time of year once again. The time of year when the Sky Sports News yellow ticker goes into overdrive. The time of year when Harry Redknapp winds his car window down for a chat with a stranger every week, like he’s at a McDonalds drive-through. The time of year when countless middling Premier League managers try their best to blow millions of pounds on out-of-form strikers in a desperate attempt to save their jobs.
Yes, the January transfer window is well-and-truly open. And though the legend goes that it’s a difficult time to buy, the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho and Ross Barkley have already moved so far this month, and with others such as Alexis Sanchez, Arda Turan and Lucas Moura looking likely to switch clubs, the relentless conveyor belt of gossip shows no signs of slowing down.
Here, we take a look at some of the most successful moves the January transfer window has ever seen.
Christophe Dugarry — Bordeaux to Birmingham City — 2003 — Loan (free transfer in summer)
You’re Steve Bruce. It’s your Birmingham City team’s first Premier League season. Your aim is to stay up and you need a new goalscorer to help you out. Who are you gonna call?
30 year-old World Cup and Euros winner Christophe Dugarry, of course. The maverick forward was innately French in his style; with his whispy long hair, nonchalant mannerisms and hatred of running, he was also something of a precursor to Dimitar Berbatov.
The move was quite a step down for Dugarry, who had spent the early parts of his career with Bordeaux, AC Milan, and Barcelona, but he was revered by the crowd at St. Andrews after he scored 5 goals in 15 games at the end of the 2002/03 season to help the Blues maintain their Premier League status.
The pick of the bunch was a wonderful free-kick against Southampton in April, a match in which Dugarry scored twice to secure a crucial 2-1 win that led the club out of the relegation zone.
Mikel Arteta — Real Sociedad to Everton — 2005 — Loan (£2m in summer)
Back in 2005, Everton sealed Mikel Arteta’s signature in an absolute steal of a move that saw the midfielder move from Real Sociedad to join David Moyes’ men on loan, before a permanent deal was struck in the summer for a measly £2m.
The Blues started the season well, but lost Thomas Gravesen to Real Madrid in early January (a transfer which will absolutely not be making this list) and needed a replacement. In came Arteta, and the former Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Rangers midfielder hit the ground running with a string of man-the-match performances that helped catapult the club to a 4th place finish in the Premier League.
The Spaniard remained at the club before moving to the Gunners, and can now be found at Manchester City as part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff.
Clint Dempsey — New England Revolution to Fulham — 2007 — £2m
Fulham’s 2007 squad already contained a strong American contingent in the form of Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra, but then-manager Chris Coleman added another when he bought Clint Dempsey from New England Revolution for £2m, which at the time was the highest fee paid for an MLS player.
In his first season, the forward could not replicate the prolific form that saw him score 25 goals in 71 games in the previous two MLS seasons, but Dempsey’s first strike for the Cottagers could hardly have been more crucial — his winner against Liverpool in May 2007 effectively guaranteed the club’s place in the top-flight for the following season.
He subsequently scored 50 league goals for the club before his 2014 departure to Tottenham Hotspur, where he spent one season before returning Stateside to play for Seattle Sounders.
Luis Suarez — Ajax to Liverpool — 2011 — £22.5m
In pure footballing terms, possibly the best January transfer of all-time. In 2011, a Liverpool side reeling from the terrible tenure of Roy Hodgson was stripped of its focal point as Fernando Torres left Anfield to join Chelsea in a £50m deal. Though Andy Carroll was also a failed part of the plan to replace the Spaniard, it was former Ajax captain Luis Suarez who ended up filling those rather large goalscoring shoes.
The Uruguayan became a Kop hero, scoring 82 goals in 133 league games during his spell with the club, including a staggering 31 in 33 under Brendan Rodgers in the 2013/14 season.
He went on to join Barcelona in 2014, winning La Liga, the Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League in his first season. Liverpool, meanwhile, replaced him with Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli, which is still absolutely staggering.
Jermain Defoe — Toronto FC to Sunderland — 2015 — £3m (plus Jozy Altidore)
Jermaine Defoe had already scored goals for West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur, and Portsmouth, and by gum, it put them on the map!
So when the diminutive dangerman toddled off to Toronto for what can only be described as a mid-career holiday, it was no surprise that lower-down-the-division Premier League clubs kept one eye on the forward’s form across the pond. His 11 goals in 19 league games were enough to convince Sunderland boss Gus Poyet that it was worth taking a chance on the man who spent nine years of his career at White Hart Lane, and the Black Cats were rewarded as Defoe scored a stunning volley against Newcastle to win the Tyne-Wear derby in his first season with the club, before his 15 league goals in 2015/16 provided the springboard for the club to narrowly avoid relegation.
He managed another 14 league goals under David Moyes in 2016/17, but it wasn’t enough to save perennially relegation-threatened Sunderland, who dropped down to the Championship for the first time in ten years. But Defoe had already kept them up almost singlehandedly, and gave the club the chance to bin off one of the worst strikers in Premier League history in Jozy Altidore, so they could hardly complain when he moved to Bournemouth on a free transfer in summer 2017.