10 of the best January transfers you've probably forgotten about
Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution to Fulham, 2007)
Fulham had already enjoyed success in the American market, having brought Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride over from MLS to become first-team stalwarts. But while they were merely reliable and effective, Clint Dempsey had something special. Signed for £2m from New England Revolution in 2007, he became an iconic player for the Cottagers over the course of six seasons.
Dempsey was spiky yet skilful, and neither the physical nor technical demands of the Premier League intimidated him. The attacker adapted quickly and became a valuable member of the Fulham squad, but truly came into his own in later years.
His chipped winner against Juventus on Fulham's run to the 2010 Europa League Final has passed into club folklore, and he scored 36 goals in his final two seasons before joining Tottenham in 2012 for £6m.
David Bentley (Arsenal to Blackburn, 2006)
His career may have descended into farce towards the end, culminating in a premature retirement at the age of 29 having fallen out of love with football, but that shouldn’t detract from how good David Bentley was for a while. Suggestions that he could have been the heir to David Beckham at right midfield for England weren’t quite as absurd as they now seem.
Yet with opportunities at Arsenal limited, he’d ended up on loan to Blackburn in 2005. After a positive start at Ewood Park, Mark Hughes made the deal permanent in January 2006, and Bentley scored a stunning hat-trick in a 4-3 win over Manchester United two days later.
He was an excellent crosser of the ball, and his whipped deliveries into the box were a constant menace. Unfortunately everything started to unravel once he moved to White Hart Lane in 2008.
- BIG INTERVIEW Bentley – “I joined Spurs thinking Ramos would be another Wenger – but it was a nightmare”
Yakubu (Maccabi Haifa to Portsmouth, 2003)
Portsmouth were well on course for promotion to the Premier League when January rolled around, and already had a prolific striker in Svetoslav Todorov, but Harry Redknapp has never been able to resist a deal. Yakubu was scoring regularly for Israeli side Maccabi Haifa and attracting interest from far bigger clubs after his Champions League exploits earlier in the season, including a hat-trick against Olympiakos.
So it was something of a surprise when he showed up on loan at Portsmouth, scoring within four minutes of his first start against Grimsby. After seven goals in 14 appearances, the stocky Nigerian joined permanently in the summer of 2003. Over the next nine years The Yak established himself as arguably the most reliable striker in the Premier League outside of the top four clubs.