12 brilliant transfers that prove you CAN get value in January

Riyad Mahrez, Leicester

Who says you have to have your underpants pulled down in the winter window? Greg Lea recalls a clutch of mid-season transfer gems

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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.

Mikel Arteta, Everton

3. Emmanuel Adebayor to Arsenal, £3m (2006)

Many would attest – and with some justification – that Adebayor has been more trouble than he’s worth down the years. But it surely cannot be denied that he was also a fabulous footballer. 

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.

Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal

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.

After tough starts, 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.