The most expensive January signings
The January transfer window is upon us once more, which means Premier League managers will be scouring the market for bargains in an attempt to improve their squads ahead of the business end of the season.
It's not always possible to find players going on the cheap at this time of year, though, with rival clubs generally keen to keep hold of their prized assets for a few more months at least. In this slideshow, we count down the 20 most expensive January transfers in Premier League history.
20. Craig Bellamy, West Ham to Man City, £14m (2009)
Before they had the necessary clout to capture the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure, Manchester City had to content themselves with picking up the best Premier League players who weren’t already representing a Champions League-challenging club.
Bellamy certainly ticked the boxes in January 2009, having excelled for West Ham in the first half of the campaign. The pacy forward made his mark at the Etihad Stadium, scoring four goals in 11 appearances in his first half-season, before netting a further 11 the following campaign – his last at the club – as City finished fifth.
19. Manolo Gabbiadini, Napoli to Southampton, £14.6m (2007)
Requiring an extra source of goals at the top of the pitch, Southampton broke their transfer record by acquiring Gabbiadini for £14.6m in 2017. The Italian had been struggling for game time at Napoli but hit the ground running on the south coast, scoring 12 minutes into his debut against West Ham and finding the net five more times in his next three appearances.
Two of those goals came against Manchester United in the EFL Cup final, which Southampton were unfortunate to lose. Gabbiadini’s found himself out of the team for much of 2017/18, however, with Charlie Austin and Shane Long climbing above him in the pecking order.
16= Andrey Arshavin, Zenit to Arsenal, £15m (2009)
Arsenal’s signing of Arshavin was left to the last minute, the club requiring an extension to the Premier League’s registration deadline after a snowstorm in London threatened to kill the deal. The Russian was eventually confirmed as a Gooner on 3 February 2009, kick-starting a four-year partnership which excited and infuriated supporters in equal measure.
At times Arshavin dazzled with his natural ability, but a failure to showcase his skill on a consistent basis was his undoing. The forward scored 30 goals – including four in a thrilling draw with Liverpool – in his four years at the Emirates Stadium, but returned to Zenit empty-handed in 2013.
16= Nicolas Anelka, Bolton to Chelsea, £15m (2008)
A Premier League veteran who represented six clubs in England’s top tier, Anelka’s most successful post in England – in terms of both goals and silverware – came at Stamford Bridge. Eleven strikes in 22 outings for Bolton in the first half of 2007/08 persuaded the Blues to spend £15m on the striker’s signature in January, but Anelka scored only twice in a difficult first few months in the capital.
He did end the campaign with an FA Cup winner’s medal, though, before finding his feet the following season, notching 25 goals in 54 matches as the Blues won the Premier League title and another FA Cup under Carlo Ancelotti. After scoring another 32 in the next two-and-a-half years, Anelka joined Shanghai Shenhua in 2012.
16. Jermain Defoe, Portsmouth to Tottenham, £15.75m (2009)
It didn’t take long for seller’s remorse to kick in at Tottenham, who flogged Defoe to Portsmouth for £7.5m in January 2008 before buying him back a year later for more than double the price. The England striker netted 64 goals in his first spell at White Lane and added another 79 to his tally over the next five years, climbing up to fifth place in Spurs’ all-time scorer list while helping the north Londoners to two top-four finishes.
Defoe departed again in 2014, this time for MLS side Toronto, but he was back in the Premier League with Sunderland a few months later. Now 35 years of age, the striker’s currently plying his trade on the south coast with Bournemouth.
15. Jose Antonio Reyes, Sevilla to Arsenal, £17m (2004)
Sevilla were reluctant to part with Reyes in January 2004, but a £17m offer from Arsenal – who were midway through the Invincibles season – proved too good to turn down. The Spaniard’s career in England didn’t get off to the best of starts, Reyes scoring an own goal in only his second appearance against Middlesbrough, but he later netted a brace to knock Chelsea out of the FA Cup and also played a part in the Gunners’ title triumph.
The winger came flying out of the traps at the start of the following campaign, scoring in his first six games and nailing down a place in Arsene Wenger’s starting XI. Homesickness kicked in thereafter, though, and Reyes’ inability to deliver on a regular basis saw him return to Spain in 2006.
13= Darren Bent, Sunderland to Aston Villa, £18m (2009)
Bent handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move to Aston Villa in January 2009, with Gerard Houllier eventually getting his man after Sunderland accepted an initial fee of £18m for the striker’s services.
Signed to score the goals that would drag Villa out of relegation trouble, Bent got off to the perfect start by netting the winner against Manchester City on his debut. Eight more strikes ensured Houllier’s men remained in the top flight, with the England striker then going on to score 16 times in his only two full seasons at Villa Park.
13= Nigel de Jong, Hamburg to Man City, £18m (2009)
Having shipped 30 goals in their first 20 games of 2008/09, Manchester City desperately needed to bolster their defence in the January transfer window. Left-back Wayne Bridge was acquired from Chelsea, but the more significant signing was that of midfield enforcer De Jong, who joined from Hamburg for £18m.
The tough-tackling Dutchman quickly made his mark, bringing some much-needed bite to Mark Hughes’ side. He was also an integral part of the team led by Roberto Mancini which won the FA Cup in 2010/11, before helping City to the Premier League title the following year.
12. Giannelli Imbula, Porto to Stoke, £18.3m (2016)
Stoke’s record signing has proved to be one of their worst in recent times, Imbula making just 23 Premier League starts before being loaned to Toulouse at the start of the 2017/18 campaign.
Hopes were high when the holding midfielder pitched up at the erstwhile Britannia Stadium in January 2016, but the former France Under-21 international struggled to settle and never looked comfortable playing in Mark Hughes’ system. Given his lack of impact in the Potteries, Imbula will almost certainly depart for nothing when his contract expires at the end of June 2018.
11. Morgan Schneiderlin, Man United to Everton, £20m (2017)
Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers were all permitted to leave Southampton in summer 2014, but Schneiderlin stayed put to help Ronald Koeman’s men qualify for the Europa League.
The Frenchman did move on the following year, joining Manchester United for around £25m. The midfielder found himself in and out of the team during his 18 months at Old Trafford, though, and therefore jumped at the chance to join Everton in January 2017. The Toffees haven’t yet seen the best of the £20m man, but Schneiderlin has impressed since Sam Allardyce took charge at Goodison Park.
9= David Luiz, Benfica to Chelsea, £21m (2011)
Currently in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, Luiz first joined Chelsea for £21m in the winter window of 2011. The centre-back quickly became a popular figure among fans of the Blues, but he also drew criticism from pundits for his adventurous approach to defending, which occasionally led to him making some costly mistakes.
Luiz helped Chelsea win the FA Cup and Champions League in 2011/12, before also getting his hands on the Europa League a year later; a big-money move to PSG followed, but the Brazilian returned to west London for £34m in 2016.
9= Nemanja Matic, Benfica to Chelsea, £21m (2014)
Eyebrows were raised when Chelsea allowed Matic to join Manchester United in the summer, but his £40m sale at least ensured the Blues made a sizeable profit on the midfielder. That was just as well given they were forced to pay £21m to re-sign him in January 2014, having previously made the Serbia international a makeweight in the deal to land David Luiz from Benfica.
Matic made 151 appearances in his second spell at Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and League Cup under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
8. Luis Suarez, Ajax to Liverpool, £22.8m (2011)
One of the greatest players to ever grace the Premier League, Suarez was a bargain at £22.8m in early 2011. He wasn’t an instant hit at Anfield, scoring four goals in his first half-season and 17 in 2011/12 but also wasting numerous opportunities inside the penalty area; the Uruguayan silenced the critics with 30 goals in all competitions the following year, though, before a sensational campaign saw him strike 31 times and almost carry Liverpool to the Premier League title.
Suarez was never far from controversy, serving lengthy suspensions for biting Branislav Ivanovic and racially abusing Patrice Evra, but his brilliance as a footballer was clear for all to see.
7. Juan Cuadrado, Fiorentina to Chelsea, £26.1m (2015)
The addition of Cuadrado to Chelsea’s ranks looked an astute one at the time; direct, speedy and versatile, the Colombian seemed like the type of player who would thrive under Jose Mourinho’s guidance. Yet with his side on their way to the Premier League title, the Blues boss was reluctant to tinker with his starting XI, which meant opportunities were few and far between for the former Fiorentina flyer.
Cuadrado duly returned to Italy in summer 2015, agreeing to join Juventus on a season-long loan. That move was late permanent, with the wide man departing Stamford Bridge after just 15 appearances for the west Londoners.
5= Edin Dzeko, Wolfsburg to Man City, £27m (2011)
Dzeko became Manchester City’s second-most expensive signing of all time in January 2011, with Robinho the only player to have cost the club more (at the time of writing, the Brazilian trailblazer is now down to 12th in the Premier League leaders’ list of record transfers).
Dzeko scored six goals and picked up an FA Cup winner’s medal in his first few months at the Eithad Stadium, before striking 19 times in 2011/12 as City topped the Premier League. The Bosnian’s best season in a sky blue shirt came in the club’s next title-winning campaign in 2013/14, when he contributed 26 goals in all competitions.
5= Gabriel Jesus, Palmeiras to Man City, £27m (2017)
Although the deal to bring Jesus to Manchester City was struck in August 2016, the Brazilian hot-shot remained at Palmeiras until January. The striker didn’t take long to adjust to life on the other side of the Atlantic, catching the eye in an eight-minute cameo appearance against Tottenham on his debut before shining in an FA Cup clash with Crystal Palace a week later.
Jesus ended the season with seven goals in 11 games; in 2017/18, he found the net 10 times in 25 outings before a knee injury sustained at Palace in December ruled him out of action for a couple of months. City’s investment on the youngster already looks like a wise one.
4. Wilfried Bony, Swansea to Man City, £28m (2015)
The muscular finisher at the end of Swansea’s smooth-passing machine, Bony fully justified a club-record £12m fee from Vitesse Arnhem, banging in 35 goals in 70 Swans appearances.
That caught the ever-alert eye of Manchester City’s recruitment department, who forked over £28m in January 2015. But rivalling Sergio Aguero proved beyond the Ivorian, who scored just six league goals in 18 months; after an equally disappointing season’s loan at Stoke, he rejoined Swansea in summer 2017 for a pleasingly identical £12m again.
3. Andy Carroll, Newcastle to Liverpool, £35m (2011)
After scoring 11 goals in 20 Premier League games, Carroll waved goodbye to boyhood club Newcastle in January 2011. Liverpool was his destination after Kenny Dalglish’s side agreed to pay £35m for the imposing centre-forward, who had only turned 22 a few weeks earlier.
Carroll never seemed a natural fit at Anfield, scoring just twice in his first nine outings and missing multiple matches through injury. The England striker managed to stay fit for much of the 2011/12 campaign, but a tally of just nine goals in 47 games essentially brought his Liverpool career to an end the following summer.
2. Fernando Torres, Liverpool to Chelsea, £50m (2011)
Torres became the most expensive signing in the history of the British game when Chelsea sent £50m to Anfield on deadline day in January 2011. The Spaniard handed in a transfer request at Liverpool to help seal a move down south, but he may have started to regret it after netting just once in his first 18 games for the Blues.
Although Torres was never able to recapture his Liverpool form at Stamford Bridge, he did manage to add to his medal collection as Chelsea won the FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League. By the time of his exit in 2014, the striker had scored 45 goals in 172 games for the west Londoners.
1. Virgil van Dijk, Southampton to Liverpool, £75m (2018)
The first transfer of the 2018 is also the priciest January deal of all time. Liverpool were frustrated in their pursuit of Van Dijk in summer 2017 as Southampton dug their heels in, but Jurgen Klopp’s failure to source an alternative defensive target suggested he would return for the Dutchman a few months later.
Van Dijk’s mediocre form in his first few games of 2017/18 can be put down to his desire to move on, but he’ll be under pressure to deliver at Anfield, where the natives will expect an immediate defensive improvement with the former Celtic man in the heart of their backline. At £75m, Van Dijk was a costly but crucial purchase.
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).