Who says you have to have your underpants pulled down in the winter window? Greg Lea recalls a clutch of mid-season transfer gems…
1. Christophe Dugarry to Birmingham, loan (2003)
“I’m happy with everything I have seen here. I spoke with Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Laurent Blanc and Fabien Barthez and they told me to sign as quickly as possible,” Dugarry said shortly after jotting on the dotted line from Bordeaux in January 2003.
Birmingham manager Steve Bruce labelled the initial loan signing as the biggest in the club’s history – and it paid off, too. The Frenchman scored five goals in 16 games as the Blues pulled away from the drop zone. The 1998 World Cup winner later joined on a permanent basis but scored only one more goal for Birmingham before hanging up his boots in 2005.
2. Mikel Arteta to Everton, loan (2005)
Many loan additions are intended as temporary stop-gaps to alleviate an injury crisis or boost a squad low on confidence, but Arteta’s move to Everton from Real Sociedad in January 2005 always felt like one made with the long-term in mind.
The Spanish schemer, who instantly became integral as the Toffees finished in the top four, put pen to paper on a five-year contract at Goodison Park in the summer; he was then named Player of the Year in his first full campaign at the club, and was generally excellent right up until his departure for Arsenal in 2011.
3. Emmanuel Adebayor to Arsenal, £3m (2006)
Many would attest – and with some justification – that Adebayor is more trouble than he’s worth. But it cannot be denied that he’s also a fabulous footballer on his day (or at least was).
While things eventually turned sour at Arsenal, the Togo international was excellent once he’d settled in north London following his £3m switch from Monaco in 2006. Twenty-four goals in 36 Premier League games in 2007/08 helped the Gunners to sustain a title challenge for the entire campaign, while his sale to Manchester City three years after arriving pumped a cool £25m into the club’s coffers.
4. Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic to Manchester United, £12.5m (2006)
Two mainstays of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2006-13 Manchester United vintage were January signings, Evra joining from Monaco for £5.5m and Vidic from Spartak Moscow for £7m.
Both turned out to be fantastic value for money: the duo turned out for a combined 679 United appearances, winning five Premier Leagues, three League Cups and the Champions League before their respective exits to Juventus and Inter in 2014.
5. Christopher Samba to Blackburn, £400,000 (2007)
Samba’s move to QPR in January 2013 didn’t turn out too well, but the £400,000 deal that took him to Blackburn in his younger years represented a significant steal. The no-nonsense centre-back first arrived at Ewood Park in 2007 and soon established himself as a mainstay at the heart of Mark Hughes’ first-choice backline.
Samba played at least 30 times in the Premier League in each of his four full seasons at the club before hooking up with Samuel Eto’o and Roberto Carlos at Anzhi Makhachkala in 2012 (who then signed him again in summer 2013, for the same £12m QPR had paid for his services a few months earlier).
6. Ashley Young to Aston Villa, £8m (2007)
Martin O’Neill may have been pushing it ever so slightly when he claimed that Young was in the same bracket as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in December 2008, but Aston Villa certainly got themselves a good deal when they secured his services for an initial £8m almost two years previously.
The former Watford winger spent four years at Villa Park before moving to Manchester United for £16m in 2011, landing the Midlanders a tidy profit.
7. Brede Hangeland to Fulham, £2.5m (2008)
Now limited to a backup role at Crystal Palace, there was a time when Hangeland was considered one of the best centre-halves in England and regularly linked with Chelsea and Manchester United.
The deal that first brought him to the Premier League was one of Fulham’s best bargains: captured for just £2.5m from Copenhagen in 2008, the towering Norwegian made 271 appearances over a six-year spell and played a big part in Roy Hodgson’s side’s remarkable run to the 2010 Europa League Final.
8. Luis Suarez to Liverpool, £22.7m (2011)
£22.7m is a hefty fee, sure, but who could argue that Suarez wasn’t worth every penny? The acquisition of Andy Carroll for £35m a few hours later somewhat overshadowed the former’s transfer from Ajax, but it soon became apparent that Suarez was the star striker in the making.
Eighty-two goals were plundered in 133 appearances for the Reds, 31 of which came in 2013/14 when the brilliant Uruguayan almost carried Liverpool to a first league title in 24 years.
9. Gary Cahill to Chelsea, £7m (2012)
The signing of Bolton centre-back Cahill in January 2012 was far from the most glamorous in Chelsea’s recent history, but it was certainly one of Roman Abramovich’s better investments.
The £7m man was key in the Blues’ unlikely Champions League triumph that year and missed only two games as Jose Mourinho’s men won the Premier League at a canter last term.
10. Riyad Mahrez to Leicester, £400,000 (2014)
Leicester’s unlikely title tilt means Mahrez will surely stay put until at least the end of the season, but the Foxes could make a profit of over £30m – if recent reports are to be believed – by cashing in.
Mahrez was landed in January 2014 from Ligue 2’s Le Havre for just £400,000; at the midway stage of the 2015/16 campaign, the Algeria international has contributed 13 goals and seven assists and arguably been the Premier League’s outstanding player. If that’s not value, what is?
11. Dele Alli to Tottenham, £5m (2015)
Alli has been one of the revelations of the season since making his debut in August, but he actually became a Tottenham player back in the 2015 winter window when MK Dons accepted the north Londoners’ £5m bid for his services.
After being loaned back to his boyhood club for the remainder of last term, the 19-year-old has become an essential part of a side who many are tipping for a title challenge, and has been widely backed to be part of England’s travelling party for the European Championship in France next summer.