Late bursts of inspiration
The end of every transfer window finds managers desperately scouring the market for last-minute bargains. Completing deals on deadline day can be a risky business, but there have been several success stories since the mid-season window was introduced in 2003.
In this slideshow, we pick out the 14 best signings made by Premier League clubs on the winter window's deadline day (whether it was in January or early February).
14. Asmir Begovic
Portsmouth to Stoke – 2010 (£3.25m)
With Portsmouth hurtling towards relegation and administration in January 2010, Stoke were able to snap up Begovic for just £3.25m on deadline day. The goalkeeper had to wait until April for his maiden appearance, but by the start of the following campaign he’d been handed the No.1 jersey by manager Tony Pulis.
Begovic played 173 games for the Potters in his four-and-a-half seasons on the club’s books, during which time he established himself as one of the division’s best goalkeepers. Chelsea paid £8m to take the Bosnian to Stamford Bridge in 2015.
13. Andrei Arshavin
Zenit to Arsenal – 2009 (£15m)
This truly was a last-minute signing, with the Premier League forced to step in and check that the paperwork had been completed on time. Arshavin may have declined towards the end of his Arsenal career, but he was a crucial member of Arsene Wenger’s team in his first two-and-a-half seasons at the Emirates, winning the Premier League’s Player of the Month award in April 2009 after scoring four goals against Liverpool.
Arshavin returned to Zenit in 2013 having played 144 matches and scored 31 goals for Arsenal. He may have been inconsistent, but the Russian was thrilling to watch on his day.
12. Michael Dawson
Nottingham Forest to Tottenham – 2005 (£4m)
Dawson and former Forest team-mate Andy Reid both joined Tottenham on the final day of the January window in 2005. The central defender ended up staying at White Hart Lane for nine-and-a-half years, making 324 appearances and obtaining a League Cup winner’s medal in 2008.
Dawson was chosen as Spurs’ Player of the Season when they qualified for the Champions League in 2009/10, before starting both legs of the famous victory over Milan in the competition’s round of 16 the following campaign.
11. Charlie Adam
Out of favour at Rangers in 2008/09, Adam moved south of the border to Blackpool in the mid-season window. The midfielder, who signed permanently later in the year, was sent off on his debut against Doncaster, but there was a rare low point in a fantastic two-and-a-half-season stint at Bloomfield Road.
Adam netted 16 goals as the Tangerines won promotion to the Premier League in his first full campaign at the club, before scoring 12 times in the top flight. That haul wasn’t quite enough to keep Ian Holloway’s men in the division, but it did earn Adam a £6.75m move to Liverpool the following summer.
10. Ryan Bertrand
Chelsea to Southampton – 2015 (£10m)
A Champions League winner at Chelsea, Bertrand nevertheless found it difficult to nail down a starting spot at the club where he began his career. The left-back therefore jumped at the chance to join Southampton on loan in summer 2014, before signing a permanent contract with the south coast side a few months later.
Captured as a replacement for Luke Shaw, Bertrand has been one of Saints’ standout performances for much of his time at the club. As well as being named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2015/16, the defender has won 17 England caps since moving to St Mary’s.
9. Jack Butland
Birmingham to Stoke – 2013 (£4m)
Deadline day in 2013 was particularly kind to Butland, who sealed a move to the Premier League on the same day he was named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad. The Bristol-born shot-stopper spent time on loan at Birmingham, Leeds, Barnsley and Derby in his first two-and-a-half years as a Stoke player, before establishing himself as the Potters’ No.1 in 2015/16.
Injuries limited him to just five league appearances the following campaign, but Butland is back between the sticks at the bet365 Stadium and could be his country’s first choice at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
8. Wilfried Zaha
Man United to Crystal Palace – 2015 (£3.5m)
Ivory Coast-born Zaha came through the Crystal Palace academy, making his senior debut for the club in 2010. After starring in the Eagles’ promotion campaign in 2012/13, he joined Manchester United in the first season of the post-Alex Ferguson era.
The winger struggled to adapt to life at Old Trafford, though, and was loaned back to his boyhood club in summer 2014. The deal was made permanent a few months later, much to Palace fans’ delight; Zaha has won two Player of the Year awards since then, helping the south Londoners consolidate their position in the Premier League.
7. Nacho Monreal
Monreal was greeted with a mixed reception when he arrived at Arsenal in 2013, but he’s now a firm fans’ favourite at the Emirates Stadium. The Spaniard has been one of the Gunners’ most reliable performers in the last five years, excelling at both left-back and centre-half depending on the formation employed by Arsene Wenger.
Monreal has helped Arsenal win three FA Cups during his time in north London, and is closing in on 200 club appearances as of late January 2018.
6. John Stones
Barnsley to Everton – 2013 (£3m)
Little was known of Stones when he joined Everton for £3m midway through the 2012/13 campaign; five years on and he’s England’s foremost centre-back and a regular for the Premier League champions-elect.
The ball-playing defender had to wait until the following season for his Toffees debut, but he went on to become a pillar of the starting XI. Manchester City splashed out £50m on his signature in summer 2016, with Stones now an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s line-up at the Etihad Stadium.
5. Jermain Defoe
West Ham to Tottenham – 2004 (£7m + Bobby Zamora)
Defoe enjoyed two spells at Tottenham, first joining from West Ham in February 2004. Signed for £7m plus Bobby Zamora, the striker embarked on a four-year stint which began with a trademark debut strike in a 4-3 win over Portsmouth, and ended with 43 league goals in 139 games.
Defoe became an England regular after joining Tottenham, while he also won the club’s Player of the Year award for the 2004 calendar year. Although he left for Portsmouth in January 2008, the poacher was back at Spurs 12 months later, adding another 79 goals to his club tally over the next five seasons – leaving, again, in January.
4. Javier Mascherano
West Ham to Liverpool (initial loan) – 2007
Mascherano’s arrival at Liverpool was about as straightforward as Swindon's Magic Roundabout (Google it) – FIFA approved the initial 18-month loan deal but the Premier League took a little longer to rubber-stamp it.
The midfielder was worth the hassle, eventually signing permanently in February 2008 and going on to play a key role at the base of Rafael Benitez’s midfield. The Reds reached the 2007 Champions League final and came close to winning the Premier League title in 2008/09, with Mascherano playing a total of 139 games for Liverpool before joining Barcelona in 2010.
3. Mikel Arteta
Real Sociedad to Everton (initial loan) – 2005
Everton identified Arteta as a replacement for the Real Madrid-bound Thomas Gravesen in early 2005, but even manager David Moyes must have been surprised by how much of a success the Spaniard was at Goodison Park.
The midfielder, who initially joined Everton on loan before signing permanently ahead of the 2005/06 season, made 209 appearances for the Toffees and was twice named the club’s Player of the Season. Arteta’s invention and guile made him essential to Moyes’ side, but the opportunity to join Arsenal in 2011 was too good to turn down.
2. Dele Alli
MK Dons to Tottenham – 2015 (£5m)
Tottenham’s acquisition of Alli for £5m in 2015 went under the radar at the time, primarily because the midfielder was immediately loaned back to MK Dons for the remainder of the season. He didn’t take long to establish himself as a regular first-teamer at White Hart Lane, though; by the end of his first campaign at the club, Alli had played 46 games for Spurs in all competitions.
The England international was even better in 2016/17, and although his form dipped a little at the start of the following season, the 21-year-old must go down as one of the best ever January deadline-day signings.
1. Luis Suarez
Ajax to Liverpool – 2011 (£22.8m)
Suarez’s move to Liverpool on deadline day in January 2011 was somewhat overshadowed by the arrival of Andy Carroll for £35m a few hours later. It was the former who would become the Reds’ best player, though; although there were numerous controversies involving biting and allegations of racism, it’s impossible to deny that Suarez’s on-field contributions were largely fantastic throughout his three-and-a-half years on Merseyside.
The Uruguayan only managed four goals in his first half-season at Anfield, but he plundered 17 in 2011/12 and 30 in 2012/13. Suarez saved his best until last, though, firing in 31 league goals to win the Golden Boot and almost carry Liverpool to the title in 2013/14, before departing for Barcelona the following summer.
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).