Back in the day, the first time you'd get to see what a new player was like, was when he turned up for his debut. You might have seen him play against your team last year - but generally, it was difficult to really scout a new face.
Not since the advent of the television age, mind - and with YouTube, it's even easier. The chances are that you've heard of the guy you're getting at the very least - you might even have watched him extensively before or signed him on Football Manager.
But it doesn't always work out how you plan. We asked our Twitter followers for the players that they couldn't believe their luck at signing - did they work out, too?
Esteban Cambiasso, 2014. 🦊The heartwarming tale of a humble Champions League winner who'd dreamed since he was a boy of proving himself at a club that hadn't been in the top flight for a decade.And oh, it was lovely. #lcfc pic.twitter.com/ZrHOaKOcdtJanuary 27, 2021
His one season in English football was as classy as you'd expect. Did he still have it? Hell yeah, he still had it.
Andy Cole, Christmas 2001. Remember seeing someone at Ewood with 'Cole 9' on their shirt before he was confirmed and thinking it was the most insane, reckless and arrogant act I would ever see in my entire life. I was 10.January 27, 2021
Let's hope he didn't do the same for Robert Lewandowski in 2010.
Peter Whittingham. Honestly, thought we'd signed a gem for that kind of money considering how highly rated he was at the time. Didn't disappoint. RIP Whitts, you absolute legend both on and off the pitch.January 27, 2021
Cardiff paid £350,000 Whittingham and got 457 games out of him. That's under £800 a match. Fantastic value.
@HerefordFC signing of John Mills and Pablo Haysham in the summer of 2015. Worked out quite well - 3 consecutive titles/promotions and took 20,000 to Wembley while in the 9th tier of English footballJanuary 27, 2021
Sir John Mills, as one Hereford fan on the FFT team knows him.
Batty re-signing, and all was well in the world again... pic.twitter.com/cqYUMJ78CzJanuary 27, 2021
Kids today will never understand quite how great David Batty was, for a number of reasons. The first being that David Batty never gives interviews anymore.
Jay-Jay. His debut was possibly the most disappointing performance I have ever witnessed (given how excited I was about it). Overall, it turned out pretty well - although Djorkaeff was better for #bwfcJanuary 27, 2021
The early 2000s were an incredibly exciting time to be a Bolton fan. Who are you going to sign this window? Jay-Jay Okocha? Youri Djorkaeff? Rivaldo? Fernando Hierro? Never put anything past Big Sam.
Easy answer to this: Jay-Jay Okocha signing for #hcafc - was past his prime but still supremely talented https://t.co/3wEE66ZGg4January 27, 2021
More Jay-Jay Okocha love, this time from a Hull City fan. You can't help but get excited if you sign that guy.
Worked out pretty damn well for that season until he ditched us. pic.twitter.com/KQ8MfHvc8KJanuary 27, 2021
He came back though, Alan!
Juan Sebastian Véron. A genius with the ball, who did a lot better for us than many people want to give him credit for. However, in the end he simply wasn’t positionally disciplined enough to fit into the system Sir Alex wanted to play most games so was moved on. Fabulous player.January 27, 2021
Good to see some love for Veron from Manchester United fans. A fantastic player at his peak.
Neves or Patricio. Both incredible signals of our ambition https://t.co/eWSagGI66QJanuary 27, 2021
Two seventh-placed finishes and half of Portugal uprooting to the Midlands. It was a success, we reckon.
Fernando Torres, and yeah... pic.twitter.com/ChFJNJFYb3January 27, 2021
Scientists are still trying to explain the demise of Fernando Torres.
pic.twitter.com/4mz3pCjtZkJanuary 27, 2021
The career of Edgar Davids is really quite incredible. Played at the absolute pinnacle of the game in sunglasses, was a poster boy for Nike and when you thought he was retiring back at Ajax... he turns up at Selhurst Park... before going to manage Barnet. Blimey.
I remember being hyped for Giovani dos Santos to Spurs. Less said about the turn out the better thoughJanuary 27, 2021
He looked good at Barcelona. He did not look good at Tottenham.
Nicolas Anelka. Not very well pic.twitter.com/UuoWl3UzyfJanuary 27, 2021
After scoring his first goal for the Baggies, Anelka performed a quenelle salute, which earned him a five-match ban due to its antisemitic connotations. Then he announced he was terminating his contract, much to West Brom's surprise.
At least it was a free transfer, though.
Freddy Eastwood. Genuinely. https://t.co/aSexHjOI0aJanuary 27, 2021
Those four goals in his first month, though... they were good.
ShaqiriAfter the Liverpool 6-1, I thought his signing would really push us on to towards the Top 6Instead, the recruitment after this was a shambles & we eventually got relegated 😭 (Not his fault) https://t.co/VwPYCbPdPAJanuary 27, 2021
Xherdan Shaqiri being decent but having little input in Stoke staying up is a little like Xherdan Shaqiri being decent but having little input in Liverpool winning the title. Hard to quantify if he's been a good signing anywhere he's gone, really.
Arshavin. Turned out so and so. Started brilliantly. Ended in a whimper.January 27, 2021
OK, so Andrey Arshavin didn't achieve what many Arsenal fans thought he would do. But he did score four goals at Anfield and host a bizarre Q&A on his website where he revealed that he liked bears, considers astrology a science and went 20 years without going to the dentist. Hard to know if he was value for money.
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