Since the January transfer window was introduced by FIFA for the 2002/3 season it has attracted many critics. Steve Coppell was quoted as saying:
It brings on a fire-sale mentality, causes unrest via the media and means clubs buy too many players
Well he is often right, but our top five January purchases tell a different story…
5. Javier Mascherano (West Ham to Liverpool) – Loan
Under a cloud of financial irregularities at West Ham, and yet the most disgraceful thing was that he played just five times for the club and was left on the bench in favour of Hayden Mullins in the starting side.
In January 2007 Liverpool rescued the Argentinian from his nightmare, providing solidity in a side that finished as runners-up in the Champions League.
Eventually bought by the Merseysiders for £18.6million.
4. Patrice Evra (AS Monaco to Manchester United) – £5.5million
There are those (yours truly included) that dislike the French full-back. In fact, his whining and whinging place him in bronze medal position on the podium of Manchester United annoyances, only behind Darren Fletcher and Nani.
Having said that, since signing for £5.5million in the winter of the 2005/6 season, Evra has established himself as one of the best left-backs in world football.
Indeed, Evra is almost unique in world football in the way that he is able to attack with the ball, but also provide complete defensive security (Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole take note).
3. Kieron Richardson – (Manchester United to West Brom) – Loan
The second loanee on our list, and easily the most surprising.
Many readers will be aware that West Brom are the only Premier League team to be bottom at Christmas and survive, and will be the only ever team to do that with Bryan Robson in charge.
The loan signing of Richardson was the catalyst for this miracle escape. Kieron played in central midfield, scoring three goals in 12 appearances, including one on the final day when West Brom ensured survival.
Indeed, his form had been so impressive that he was picked for England against the USA at the end of the season, scoring two goals on debut.
2. Brede Hangeland – (Viking to Fulham) – £2.5million
Despite being linked with many English clubs in the summer of 2007, Hangeland waited until January 2008 to finally make his move to the English game. When he did so, Fulham were the lucky party, Roy Hodgson paying just £2.5million for his former centre back at Viking Stavanger.
It has seemingly turned out to be one of the greatest value for money signings in Premier League history. Hangeland is simply a rock, an immoveable force within a Fulham defence that has overperformed since his arrival.
The only criticism may be that the Norwegian has not established himself within the upper echelons of European football. Mr Wenger may fulfil this desire.
1. Nemanja Vidic – (Spartak Moscow to Manchester United) – £7million
If Hangeland is one of the best value for money defenders in PL history, then Vidic is one of the greatest full stop.
Signed for £7million from under the noses of Fiorentina, the Serbian has established a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the Old Trafford rearguard.
Sometimes statistics lie. Sometimes they speak the truth. Since his arrival, Vidic has won:
3 Premier League Titles
3 League Cups
3 Charity Shields
1 Champions League
1 World Club Cup
3 PFA Team of the Year performances
1 FIFPro World XI
1 Premier League Player of the Season
Special mentions go to Andrei Arshavin, Hugo Rodallega, Max Gradel, Mark Davies and Adam Johnson. All were considered for the list but just missed out.
As ever, if there are any others that you would like to nominate, do so below.