Worst January deals
The winter window is a tempting time to do business, potentially giving a club an edge in the race for silverware, survival or the chase for Europe.
There’s a reason why Premier League managers try to avoid doing too much business at the turn of the year, though. More mistakes tend to be made in January, with 14 examples to be found in this slideshow...
14. James Beattie (Southampton to Everton £6m, 2005)
After averaging just under a goal every other game in his last three full seasons at Southampton, Beattie delighted Everton fans by moving north for £6m in January 2005. The 6ft 1in centre-forward never really settled on Merseyside, though, with injuries and suspension – brought about after he head-butted Chelsea’s William Gallas – disrupting his debut campaign.
Beattie improved in 2005/06, scoring 10 goals in 32 Premier League appearances, but he only found the net twice in 33 games the following year. The Toffees cut their losses in summer 2007, selling the striker to Sheffield United for £4m.
13. Kim Kallstrom (Spartak Moscow to Arsenal loan, 2014)
This was a truly bizarre acquisition, even if it didn’t cost Arsenal a transfer fee. The Gunners desperately needed a striker in the mid-season window in 2013/14 (and, as ever, a centre-back and defensive midfielder wouldn't go amiss) – but instead Arsene Wenger opted to bring in an ageing, injury-prone attacking midfielder on a four-month loan deal.
Unsurprisingly, Kallstrom’s debut was delayed due to fitness problems, Arsenal having gone ahead with the deal despite discovering back issues in the Swede’s medical. He finally made his bow against Swansea in late March, one of only four appearances for the north Londoners before returning to Spartak Moscow at the end of the campaign.
12. Julius Aghahowa (Shakhtar Donetsk to Wigan £3.5m, 2007)
Benin striker Aghahowa was linked with a move away from Shakhtar Donetsk after scoring 16 goals in 33 appearances in 2004/05. No transfer was forthcoming, though, so he stayed in Ukraine for another two years, contributing just four goals in his last 38 Shakhtar appearances.
Wigan presumably ignored that part of his CV, splashing £3.5m on a centre-forward whose acrobatic celebrations had become much less frequent. Sure enough, Aghahowa failed to find the net in 20 Latics matches before joining Kayserispor 18 months after arriving.
10. Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina to Chelsea £23.3m, 2015)
League leaders from the off, Chelsea didn't need to do much in January 2015; indeed, it was mostly Jose Mourinho confirming the exits of fringe players like Andre Schurrle, Mark Schwarzer, Fernando Torres and Ryan Bertrand, the latter two formalising existing loan deals. The only incoming signature was sealed on 2 February 2015: fleet-footed Fiorentina flanker Juan Cuadrado.
Having given the Colombian just four starts, Mourinho said "He'll be amazing next season" – and indeed he did impress, but on loan at Juventus, who signed him permanently in summer 2017. The kicker? As part of the £22.3m deal that had taken Cuadrado to Chelsea, the Blues had loaned Fiorentina a winger called Mohammed Salah...
9. Michael Ricketts (Bolton to Middlesbrough £3.5m, 2003)
The name Michael Barrington Ricketts often appears in discussions about one-season wonders in the Premier League, and it’s certainly true that the one-time England international was never able to replicate his 15 goals for Bolton in 2001/02.
That tally helped keep Sam Allardyce’s men in the top flight, but Ricketts was on the move a few months later, joining Middlesbrough for £3.5m. He struck just once in his first half-season – back at the Reebok, on the final day – and could only double his tally the following campaign, despite playing 23 times in the top flight.
11. Jean Makoun (Lyon to Aston Villa £6.2m, 2011)
“I've left a very good club in Lyon, a side which has played Champions League football, but I’m very excited by this new challenge at Aston Villa,” Makoun said after his move to England in 2011.
He probably regretted his decision after just a few weeks: the midfielder was stunned to learn that a red card in his fourth Premier League appearance against Blackpool brought with it a three-game suspension, and his Villa career came to a premature end after subsequent showings against Wolves, Everton, Newcastle and Hereford.
8. Benni McCarthy (Blackburn to West Ham £2.25m, 2010)
South African striker McCarthy arrived in east London in pretty poor form, with 14 top-flight outings for Blackburn in the first half of the season having yielded just a single goal.
Gianfranco Zola’s men were in desperate need of some additional firepower as they attempted to pull themselves clear of the bottom three, but McCarthy wasn’t the man to provide it: after 14 appearances and zero goals in all competitions, the forward left the club with a £1.5m pay-off in April 2011.
7. Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough £12.5m, 2008)
Signing strikers from the Dutch top flight is a hit-and-miss business. For every Ruud van Nistelrooy there is a Vincent Janssen, for every Luis Suarez a Mateja Kezman, and for every Robin van Persie a Siem de Jong.
Afonso Alves, unveiled by Middlesbrough in truly bizarre fashion, was another member of the "miss" masses. Having bagged 45 goals in 39 Eredivisie games for Heerenveen, he scored just 10 in 42 during 18 months in a Boro side that eventually succumbed to relegation.
6. Savio Nsereko (Brescia to West Ham £9m, 2009)
As of January 2018, Savio’s last four clubs have been Atyrau (Kazakhstan), Lietava Jonava (Lithuania), Beroe Stara Zagora (Bulgaria) and Pipinsried (Germany), which probably says more about his true level of ability than his £9m move to West Ham at the start of 2009.
The Hammers handed the former Germany U20 international their No.10 shirt at Upton Park, but he failed to live up to expectations and made just a single Premier League start (he appeared in nine other games from the bench) before being shipped off to Fiorentina seven months later.
5. Jean-Alain Boumsong (Rangers to Newcastle £8m, 2005)
This was an odd acquisition on many levels, with Graeme Souness's Newcastle paying Rangers £8m for Boumsong’s services just a few months after he’d been available on a free. Indeed the transfer was closely examined by the 2007 Stevens inquiry, although it found no irregularities.
The 27-time France international actually started his career at St James’ Park well, but basic defensive errors soon began to creep into his game. Juventus, having been relegated to Serie B just a few months previously, took Boumsong off the Magpies’ hands in August 2006, though he never featured in Serie A once the Old Lady made it back.
4. Guido Carrillo (Monaco to Southampton £19.1m, 2018)
Having £75m burning a hole in your pocket can do strange things to a football club. After selling Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool, relegation-threatened Southampton fancied a statement signing to show fans they were still ambitious – that, and securing more firepower having averaged only a goal a game under Mauricio Pellegrino by the end of January.
It turned out that Carrillo wasn't the answer. A big-money acquisition who'd helped Monaco to the Ligue 1 title in 2016/17, the Argentine striker ultimately started just seven games (five in the league) and never scored for the Saints as they narrowly survived. Incoming manager Mark Hughes played him just twice from mid-March, and he was farmed out on loan to Leganes last summer.
3. Chris Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala to QPR £12.5m, 2013)
Harry Redknapp considered Samba the perfect man to shore up Rangers’ leaky backline in 2012/13, talking him up as a “proper centre-half” and “just what we need” after a £12.5m deal (on £100,000 per week wages, obviously) was sewn up on deadline day.
Things didn’t work out as planned, though, for manager, club or player: Redknapp resigned days later, QPR were later relegated and Samba – who told fans to "get over" the fact he was paid so much at Loftus Road – was forced to go crawling back to Anzhi in the summer.
2. Fernando Torres (Chelsea to Liverpool £50m, 2011) and Andy Carroll (Newcastle to Liverpool £35m, 2011)
There were already signs that Torres was on the wane when he swapped Anfield for Stamford Bridge in January 2011, but Chelsea learned the hard way; a hefty fee of £50m bought just 20 Premier League goals across three-and-half seasons, and gave Liverpool fans the chance to gloat.
Or at least it would have done had the Reds not splurged most of the proceeds on Andy Carroll, who managed 11 goals in 58 appearances and was entirely unsuited to the Reds’ style of play throughout his miserable 18 months on Merseyside.
1. Kostas Mitroglou (Olympiacos to Fulham £12.4m, 2014)
There’s putting all of your eggs in one basket, and then there’s Fulham signing Mitroglou for a club-record fee in early 2014. Granted, the Cottagers did also bring in Johnny Heitinga and Lewis Holtby on deadline day, but Olympiakos’s prolific marksman was identified as the player who could score the goals to keep Rene Meulensteen’s men in the Premier League.
Except he couldn’t. Unfancied by Meulensteen’s successor Felix Magath, Mitroglou started just one game in English football as the Cottagers tumbled into the Championship.
Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).