January 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the mid-season transfer window. Gerard Brand names the finest signings from each season.
1. 2012: Gary Cahill (Bolton to Chelsea, £7m)
It's obviously hard to assess signings so soon, but in an unusually quiet window it seems Andre Villas-Boas got the best deal. For just £2.5m more than they raised through the sale of Alex to PSG, Chelsea got a ball-playing centre-back who doesn't lose concentration – and has already started establishing a partnership with club captain John Terry at international level. David Luiz must be weeping bitter tears.
Honourable mention: Darron Gibson (Manchester United to Everton, £500,000) Goalkeeper Tim Howard, defender Phil Neville, striker Louis Saha… Moyesy completes the set with a refugee Old Trafford midfielder who isn't everyone's cup of tea but is a full international for half a million quid. Nice work.
2. 2011: Luis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool, £22.8m)
Signed just hours before Andy Carroll and for considerably less, the Uruguayan has consistently been Liverpool's most dangerous player, very much the chalk to his "strike" partner's cheese. Not exactly to everybody's taste – ask Patrice Evra or indeed any Ghanaian – Suarez has nonetheless had his importance to Liverpool underlined by the effects of his involuntary eight-match absence.
Honourable mention: Stephane Sessegnon (PSG to Sunderland, £6m) After a slow start playing as lone striker last season, the Beninese playmaker has shown signs of brilliance this term, and will undoubtedly thrive under the revival techniques of O’Neill.
3. 2010: Younes Kaboul (Portsmouth to Tottenham, £9.5m)
The French defender re-joined Spurs after a spell at Portsmouth during the period when it seemed every half-decent footballer in Europe had a short spell at Fratton Park. Harry Redknapp – who had taken Kaboul to Pompey – re-signed him for Tottenham as a "late developer" who was "much improved" from his first London spell – and so it has proved. Spurs fans will always remember his late winner at Arsenal after being 2-0 down.
Honourable mention – Victor Moses (Crystal Palace to Wigan Athletic, £2.5m) The England under-21 international jumped ship just after Palace entered administration to join lowly Wigan, and has impressed among a bad bunch this season and last. People forget he is only 21 with a bright future ahead of him, with Spurs and Liverpool alerted to his interest recently.
4. 2009: Matthew Etherington (West Ham to Stoke City, £2m)
Overlooked at Upton Park by Gianfranco Zola, the hollow-eyed left-winger joined Tony Pulis’s Stoke during their first Premiership campaign. In a team frequently criticised for a mosh-pit approach, Etherington was named Player of the Year in 2010, just beating Rory Delap’s arms to top spot, as well as helping the Potters cement a place in the top-flight. At 30, and with Stoke proudly claiming the oldest Premier League team with an average age of 63, he may have another few decades at the peak of his game.
Honourable mention: Wilson Palacios (Wigan to Tottenham, £12m) A strange choice you may think, but without Palacios in the heart of midfield during the 2008/09 season, Spurs could have remained mired in the relegation battle that had caused them to junk Juande Ramos for Harry Redknapp in the October. Another player that signified Wigan’s “top flight feeder club” tag, Palacios helped Spurs turn things around and finish eighth.
5. 2008: Brede Hangeland (FC Copenhagen to Fulham, £2.5m)
Plucked out of Denmark for footballing pocket money, Hangeland has proved himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League in recent seasons, popping up with six goals last campaign (that’s the same number as Andy Carroll has scored at Liverpool – yes, we compare every goalscoring record with Andy Carroll’s). In every window, winter or summer, the Norwegian is linked with Arsenal, but they always prefer a less able alternative.
Honourable mention: Gary Cahill (Aston Villa to Bolton Wanderers, £5m) A massive mistake on the part of Martin O’Neill, who soon bought Curtis Davies for double the price. Cahill helped keep Bolton up, broke into the England team and made Wanderers a £2m profit even though Chelsea bought him in the last six months of his contract.
6. 2007: Chris Samba (Hertha Berlin to Blackburn Rovers, £450k)
One of the major transfer targets of the January 2012 window, the big Congolese defender is the bulwark of a beleaguered Blackburn back line. Brought in on trial by Mark Hughes, Samba has since racked up more than 150 Premier League appearances, representing a fantastic piece of business: half a million for half a decade of consistent defending from a giant who would throw himself about in the Gaza strip if asked.
Honourable mention: Ashley Young (Watford to Aston Villa, £9.65m) Misled many with his primary-school-girl stature, before tearing apart most Premier League full-backs since. A massive gamble that paid off handsomely when Manchester United more than paid Villa's money back.
7. 2006: Patrice Evra & Nemanja Vidic (Monaco/Spartak Moscow to Man U, £5.5m/£7m)
Both players took a while to get going at Old Trafford in a back four under rapid transition: Evra’s first game saw him substituted at half-time in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City. Six years and four league titles later, their combined price tag has looked like a snip, with Fergie’s hit and miss scouts this time getting it bang on – especially as Fernando Torres has lost the ability to make the Serbian centre-back resemble an Easter Island statue.
Honourable mention: Pedro Mendes (Tottenham Hotspur to Portsmouth, free) Besides Ben Thatcher's target-practice, Portuguese Pedro's Pompey pomp is remembered for a few zingers (including two against Manchester City) that kept Portsmouth up and gave Harry his Houdini tag.
8. 2005: Mikel Arteta (Real Sociedad to Everton, loan)
The Spaniard arrived at Goodison on loan and helped Everton to Champions League qualification with their highest finish since 1987. Everton bought him for £2m then immediately crashed out of not just the Champions League but also the consolation UEFA Cup campaign, both at the first hurdle. After six fabulous years and endless speculation, Arteta now resides in Arsenal’s infamous re-building plans.
Honorable mention: Michael Dawson (Nottingham Forest to Tottenham, £8m) After impressing at Forest, the centre-half formed a formidable partnership with Ledley King and was awarded the Player of the Year award during 2009-10 as Tottenham reached the Champions League. Spurs have got plenty of worth from £8m, and at 28 years old may get plenty more.
9. 2004: Dave Kitson (Cambridge United to Reading, £150k)
The less-than-strawberry blonde striker hit the ground running at the Madjeski, contributing to Reading’s Championship title with 18 goals in the 2005/2006 season. Decent top-flight form followed before a £5.5m move to Stoke just weeks after the Royals' relegation – an astonishing 3,600% mark up. A shrewd piece of business on both buying and selling fronts, as Kitson scored a grand tally of no goals in 18 appearances during the 2008/2009 season. Lethal.
Honourable mention: Jason Roberts (West Brom to Wigan, £1.4m) A hit-and-miss Hawthorns stint ended in a move to a Wigan team working their way up the Football League thanks to Dave Whelan’s millions. Roberts’ 21 league goals helped Wigan gain their third promotion in nine years.
10. 2003: Christophe Dugarry (Bordeaux to Birmingham City, loan)
Recently inducted into the Blues' hall of fame, the Frenchman scored five goals in his first half-season to save Birmingham’s debut Premier League season. He joined on a free that summer but was gone by the following February. You may ask how a striker with six goals in 30 games can get into Birmingham’s hall of fame, but it’s either him or Peter Enckelman.
Honourable mention: Jimmy Bullard (Peterborough to Wigan, £275k) The original prankster’s first three years at the Latics included two promotions after first getting his break at Peterborough under Barry Fry, from whom we assume he learnt his mischievous ways. He has since buzzed around different clubs without settling, while Wigan have been boring ever since.