EVERY current Premier League club’s best ever winter transfer
Leicester: Riyad Mahrez (Le Havre, £400k, 2014)
Pound for pound, one of the finest transfers in English football history. In 2011, Mahrez was playing in the fourth division of French football with tiny Quimper. Five years later he was a Premier League champion with Leicester and named PFA Player of the Year.
Having cost the Foxes a mere £400,000 a few months before their promotion to the top flight, Leicester sold him to Manchester City in a deal that could eventually rise to £75m. Ker-ching.
Honourable mentions: Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater
Liverpool: Luis Suarez (Ajax, £22.7m, 2011)
Suarez’s signing on deadline day was somewhat overshadowed by the addition of £35 million Andy Carroll just hours later. But while one turned out to be all bark and no bite, the other became a Kop legend and so nearly led the Reds to a long-awaited Premier League title.
Controversy was rarely far from conversations about the Uruguayan, but Suarez’s blistering form in 2013/14 – 31 goals in 33 Premier League games – ultimately dominated all else and led to his deserved £65m Barcelona transfer after the 2014 World Cup.
Honourable mentions: Virgil van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho, Javier Mascherano
Manchester City: Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg, £27m, 2011)
Manchester City have made a number of fine January signings over the years – Aymeric Laporte, Nigel de Jong, Gabriel Jesus, Robbie Fowler and David James (don’t laugh) spring to mind – but it’s Dzeko who takes the crown as the best of the bunch.
Roberto Mancini splashed for what was then City’s second-biggest transfer of all time, but 72 goals in four-and-a-bit seasons – including major roles in two title wins – made the burly Bosnian worth every penny.
Honourable mentions: As above
Manchester United: Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow, £7m, 2006)
Has there been a better January signing in Premier League history? After joining Manchester United from Spartak Moscow, the Serbian went on to win five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the Champions League.
He was also voted into the PFA Team of the Year four times, won the Premier League’s Player of the Year gong twice and was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI twice for good measure.
Honourable mention: Patrice Evre
Newcastle: Papiss Cisse (Freiburg, £9.3m, 2011)
Cisse had an huge act to follow when he took on Alan Shearer’s iconic No.9 shirt at Newcastle in 2011 – but the Senegalese certainly gave it a good effort.
The striker hit 13 goals in his first 14 games for the Magpies alongside compatriot Demba Ba, helping the Magpies to a memorable fifth-placed finish under Alan Pardew. His good form continued the next season, but the goals began to dry up when Ba left for Chelsea in early 2012. The odd moment of magic still meant he remained a cult hero on Tyneside. Petr Cech knows that all too well.
Honourable mention: Tino Asprilla
Southampton: Jose Fonte (Crystal Palace, £1.2m, 2010)
Southampton were struggling to make an immediate escape from League One when Fonte arrived from Championship side Palace in 2010, having made a relatively slow start after already been hit with a 10-point deduction.
The following season was different: with their new stopper in tow the Saints finished second, and by 2012 were a Premier League side once more after consecutive promotions. Fonte soon established himself as one of the top flight’s most reliable centre-halves – leading to a distinctly unsuccessful transfer to West Ham in 2016 – and even won the European Championship with Portugal.
Honourable mention: Ryan Bertrand
Tottenham: Dele Alli (MK Dons, £5m, 2015)
Jermain Defoe was terrific in two spells for Spurs, having signed for them in the winter on both occasions, but Premier League bargains don’t come much better than Alli.
The teenager didn’t have a Championship appearance to his name before linking up with Mauricio Pochettino’s side that summer, but had helped his local team to League One promotion and dazzled with a string of maturing displays.
It was alarming just how easily he found his step up to the top flight. Alli was a huge part of Tottenham’s title assault in his first season, scored 18 times in his second and then directly contributed to another 19 Premier League goals in his third. What would he fetch now?
Honourable mention: Jermain Defoe
Watford: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Rennes, £8m, 2016)
Doucoure didn’t even play for Watford in his first half-season at Vicarage Road, instead spending it straight out on loan at partner club Granada. He played only six minutes over the first 18 games of 2016/17 too, and can’t have been thrilled even when he became a regular – Watford lost seven of their last eight games of the campaign.
But in 2017/18 the Frenchman was reborn; colossal as the Hertfordshire side’s player of the season, when he weighed in with seven goals. This term the goals may have dried up, but Doucoure has contributed five assists and is generally far more respected for his passing and box-to-box work anyway. Links with Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and PSG won’t go away.
Honourable mention: Fernando Forestieri
West Ham: Marlon Harewood (Nottingham Forest, £500k, 2003)
Before Harewood eventually became something of a journeyman – he played for 11 different clubs in the last decade of his career – the striker was a West Ham hero and regular goal-getter in both the Championship and Premier League after signing in November 2003.
He scored 22 times in 2004/05 as the Hammers won promotion back to England’s top flight, and bagged an impressive 16 the season after as Alan Pardew’s side finished ninth and were runners-up in the FA Cup. Not bad for half a million.
Honourable mentions: Nigel Reo-Coker, Demba Ba, Dean Ashton
Wolves: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Plymouth, £1.5m, 2008)
Now plying his trade with Southern League Premier Central side Barwell, Ebanks-Blake was once one of the Championship’s most prolific scorers during his early days with Wolves.
Signed from fellow second-tier rivals Plymouth in January 2008, the former Manchester United youngster bagged 37 goals in his first season-and-a-half as Wolves returned to the Premier League for only the second time in their history.
He wasn’t quite as prolific in the top flight – just 12 goals in 87 appearances – but played regularly as the West Midlanders retained their top-flight status for two seasons running and then joined Ipswich in 2013.
Honourable mention: Helder Costa