The best signings in 10 seasons of the January transfer window
Since the transfer window was brought into effect by FIFA during the 2002/03 season, football fans throughout the UK have been glued to their televisions, computer screens and mobile phones, hoping for news of a blockbuster signing that will transform the fortunes of their club.
With the clock ticking, cash-rich football clubs approach the looming deadline with all the subtlety of a chronic gambler let loose on a free bet site and there has been a disgusting amount of money squandered on poor quality transfers over the years.
Now in its tenth season, here are the best signings from each of the window’s so far. Disagree? Let us know your best transfers in the comments section below!
2002-03 – Stephen Clemence
Tottenham Hotspur to Birmingham City – £900,000
Clemence, who barely kicked a ball in anger for 18 months at Spurs joined Birmingham for under a million pounds and went on to make 135 league and cup appearances, scoring nine goals, in four-and-a-half seasons at St. Andrews. Nobody could argue his signing was a great piece of business by then-manager Steve Bruce.
After finding himself in-and-out of the Birmingham side he became an integral part of the team during the 2006-7 season and helped the club win promotion back to the Premier League. He was awarded both the club’s and players’ player of the year awards that season before joining Leicester City in the summer of 2007.
2003-04 – Moritz Volz
Arsenal to Fulham – Nominal fee
German full-back Volz had already spent the first half of the 2003-04 season on loan at Fulham but joined the club on a permanent transfer from Arsenal during the January window. He soon became a cult figure at Craven Cottage due to his committed and passionate performances on the pitch.
Volz was a bargain signing, making 144 appearances in all competitions for his club and scoring four goals. He is best remembered for scoring the 15,000th goal in the Premier League, which came against local rivals Chelsea on December 20, 2006.
2004-05 – Michael Dawson
Nottingham Forest to Tottenham Hotspur – £4 million
Dawson arrived at White Hart Lane in a deal which also included Forest team-mate Andy Reid and made his debut towards the end of the season. After three productive seasons he found first-team opportunities difficult to come by during 2008-09. However, 2009-10 was the turning point in his Spurs career.
Dawson was appointed captain midway through the season and helped his side to a fourth placed finish – Tottenham’s highest in 20 years and guaranteeing Champions League football. He made England’s World Cup 2010 squad after being drafted in to replace the injured Rio Ferdinand and was the only uncapped player among those selected by Fabio Capello.
Still only 28, with over 200 first team appearances to his name and contracted to the club until 2015, Dawson has plenty of time to go onto be one of Spurs’ all-time great players.
2005-06 – Patrice Evra
AS Monaco to Manchester United – £5.5 million
Now an integral part of the Manchester United side, it is difficult to remember Evra being kept out of the side by Mikael Silvestre after he arrived from Monaco. Despite playing just 24 league matches during the 2006-07 season, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year. He went on to be named in the teams for the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons.
He played all 38 Premier League matches for United during the 2009-10 season and 35 during the 2010-11 campaign. Now in his seventh season at Old Trafford and fast approaching 300 appearances, Evra regularly captains the side and is undoubtedly one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most shrewd moves in the transfer market.
2006-07 – Clint Dempsey
New England Revolution to Fulham – £2 million
Fulham offered MLS $4 million to sign Dempsey in January 2007, the largest amount ever offered for a MLS player at the time. But Dempsey proved to be worth the money and his £2 million transfer fee has been a snip. The attacking midfielder has made over 200 appearances, scoring almost 50 goals, an incredible display of consistency in five-and-a-half seasons at the club.
During the 2010-11 season, Dempsey became the first American to score 10 goals in a Premier League season. He beat Brian McBride’s previous record of nine. He is also Fulham’s all-time top goalscorer in the Premier League, beating the records set by McBride and Steed Malbranque last season.
2007-08 – Gary Cahill
Aston Villa to Bolton Wanderers – Undisclosed fee
After forcing his way into Villa’s first team during the 2006-07 season Cahill’s move to Bolton came as something of a surprise. However, he became an integral part of the Wanderers side during his five seasons at the Reebok Stadium and broke into the England side in September 2010. Consistent performances in a struggling team meant he was always on the radar of bigger clubs.
Cahill had been linked with a move from Bolton for the past 18 months or so but his valuation of £20 million had seen those interested in him, notably Manchester United and Chelsea, bide their time until his contract was due to expire. That time came this January and, after almost 150 appearances for Bolton, scoring 15 goals, Cahill joined Chelsea in a £7 million deal.
2008-09 – Matthew Etherington
West Ham United to Stoke City – £2 million
After making almost 200 appearances for West Ham, Etherington joined Stoke in January 2009 where he has enjoyed a resurgence in his top flight career. During the past couple of seasons he has played in the majority of Stoke’s matches in the Premier League and he was awarded player of the year at the end of the 2009-10 season. During the 2010-11 season, Etherington scored the opening goal in City’s 5-0 thumping of Bolton in the FA Cup semi-final, securing a final appearance for the first time in the club’s 148-year history.
Since joining Stoke, Etherington has been on the fringes of a full England cap having represented his country at under-16, under-18, under-20 and under-21 levels and has made over 100 appearances for Tony Pulis’ side.
2009-10 – Adam Johnson
Middlesbrough to Manchester City – £7 million
Johnson made an immediate impact at Manchester City after joining them from Championship side Middlesbrough. In his first start for his new club and only his second appearance, he was named man of the match against Bolton Wanderers. His first goal was a stoppage time equaliser against Sunderland and his performance earned him public praise from England manager Fabio Capello.
Johnson failed to make Capello’s final World Cup squad in the summer of 2010 but was arguably spared an embarrassing tournament. Despite the open chequebook policy at City, Johnson made 43 league and cup appearances during the 2010-11 season and has featured 18 times in all competitions this season. A class, perhaps even underrated player who arrived for a relatively modest fee.
2010-11 – Darren Bent
Sunderland to Aston Villa – £18 million
With a remarkable goalscoring record throughout his career, averaging a goal almost every two games, it came as no surprise that struggling Aston Villa secured Bent’s services a year ago. With 36 goals in 63 league and cup appearances for Sunderland, Steve Bruce would not let him go cheaply and he arrived at Villa Park in an £18 million (rising to £24 million) transfer deal.
Bent went on to repay a chunk of that fee on his debut when he scored the winning goal against Manchester City. He scored nine goals in 16 appearances as Villa edged away from the relegation zone and finished the 2010-11 season in ninth place. Bent has been linked with a move away from Villa during this January transfer window, with Liverpool looking to add firepower to their side.
2011-12 Papiss Demba Cisse
SC Freiburg to Newcastle United – £10 million
A speculative choice at this stage, of course, but Cisse has all the makings of being a great transfer window signing for Newcastle United. The Senegal striker scored 22 league goals in his first full season at Freiburg, finishing as the Bundesliga’s second top goalscorer behind Mario Gomez. His scoring prowess set a single-season goal record by a SC Freiburg player and he also set the record for the most goals scored by an African in a single Bundesliga season. The player he beat? Former Leeds United legend Tony Yeboah, who managed 20 goals at Eintracht Frankfurt in 1993.
Cisse will undoubtedly be helped on Tyneside by his Senegal compatriot Demba Ba and the duo could take their fearsome international strike partnership to club level at the Sports Direct Arena.