Since its introduction in the 2002/03 season, the January transfer window has traditionally blown hot and cold in terms of signing success.
For all the Luis Suarez-esque signings, Harry Redknapp car window interviews and over excitement at Sky Sports News, there’ll be £35m splashed on Andy Carroll, a Danny Drinkwater loan move and… more over excitement at Sky Sports News.
However, sometimes sides do get it right. Let’s take a look at every Premier League club’s best ever January transfer window recruit.
Aston Villa paid a club record fee of £9.65m to prise Ashley Young away from Watford in 2007. The winger would go on to establish himself as a key cog in what was a purple patch in Villa’s recent history, as they regularly challenged for Europe under Martin O’Neill.
Young’s 17 assists during his first full season at Villa was bettered only by Cesc Fabregas, and he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award the following campaign, before departing for Manchester United in a £17m deal in 2011.
Arsenal were not renowned for their lavish spending under Arsene Wenger, but during the Frenchman’s final transfer window in charge they broke the club’s transfer record to bring in Borussia Dortmund’s Aubameyang for £56m.
The forward would quickly emerge as an irreplaceable member of the Gunners team during his first two full seasons with the club, topping the scoring charts on both occasions. Aubameyang signing new contract in September 2020 was treated with more excitement than most new arrivals.
Pipping Dale Stephens to the post for the honour of Brighton‘s best January buy is Tariq Lamptey, who arrived on the south coast on deadline day in 2020.
The Seagulls landed one of the most exciting young full-backs in English football for just £4m, and he has instantly taken to life in the top flight with his quality going forward and dogged defensive ability – and has the potential to be an asset for Brighton for years to come.
Burnley have a pretty strong history in the January transfer window, with Keiran Trippier, Charlie Austin and Michael Keane all arriving at Turf Moore in the first month of the year.
But the best recruit of them all is James Tarkowski, who joined from Brentford in 2016 and has blossomed into a full England international under Sean Dyche’s tutelage – with Burnley turning down a £30m bid from West Ham for the defender in the summer of 2020.
Chelsea signed Ivanovic for £9.7m in 2008, and he would go on to spend nine years at Stamford Bridge.
A figure of defensive dependability, he established himself as one of the Premier League’s top right backs during his time with the Blues, and proved comfortable filling in at centre half. During nearly a decade with the club, Ivanovic won nine major trophies.
Wilfried Zaha agreed a deal to join Manchester United in January 2013. Two years later on the final day of the 2015 January transfer window, the winger made his loan move to Palace permanent in a £6m deal – £4m less than United had paid for him two years previously.
Zaha has been Palace’s talisman and man for the big occasions ever since his return and was named the club’s player of the year three years on the trot between 2016 and 2018.
Everton have a history of being shrewd in January, signing John Stones from Barnsley for just £3m in 2013. However, buying Seamus Coleman for just £60,000 in 2009 is one of the best bits of business in the club’s history.
The full-back has been a figure of consistency since moving to Merseyside, bombing up and down the right flank and making over 300 appearances for Toffees. Now the club captain, Coleman has been a terrific servant for Everton.
Brede Hangeland pips Clint Dempsey to the honour of being Fulham‘s best January addition, joining from Copenhagen to team up with former boss Roy Hodgson in 2008.
The centre back helped the Cottagers pull off the great escape that season and was a mainstay in the Fulham side during a real golden period in the club’s history, which included their remarkable run to the 2010 Europa League final.
Leeds made Pablo Hernandez’s move from Qatari side Al-Arabi permanent in January 2016, and he soon became one of the most accomplished players in the Championship.
He played an integral part in Leeds’ promotion pushes in 2018/19 and 2019/20, chipping in with nine goals and nine assists as Marcelo Bielsa’s side went up as champions in 2020.
In January 2014, Championship outfit Leicester paid £450,000 to sign Riyad Mahrez from French second tier side Le Havre.
The Foxes won the Championship that season, pulled off a miraculous survival job the following year, and then went and won the Premier League, Mahrez scooping the PFA Player of the Year in the process after pitching in with 17 goals and 11 assists. He moved to Manchester City in 2018 for £61m.
Liverpool have a strong recent history in the January transfer window, with Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez both joining the Reds in the first month of the year.
It was the sale of the latter that paved the way for the signing of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75m in 2018. The centre half has proved to be one of the final pieces of the jigsaw for Jurgen Klopp’s side, with Van Dijk influential in the Reds’ Champions League and Premier League triumphs.
Manchester City are rarely shy in any transfer window, and in 2011 they paid £27m to secure the signature of Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko.
The forward would go onto play a pivotal role in City’s maiden Premier League title triumph in 2012, scoring the equaliser during the Citizen’s famous last gasp final day victory over QPR. Dzeko scored 72 goals in 189 appearances for City, before departing in 2016.
Manchester United‘s January 2020 signing of Bruno Fernandes has proved the catalyst for the transformation in fortunes at Old Trafford – but his arrival is eclipsed by the 2006 addition of Nemanja Vidic.
The Serbian joined the Red Devils for just £7m from Spartak Moscow and would go on to forge one of the Premier League’s all-time great central defensive partnerships with Rio Ferdinand as United won five top flight titles in seven years – and the Champions League to boot.
Mike Ashley granted Alan Pardew a rare foray into the transfer market in 2018, and the Spaniard signed Moussa Sissoko from Toulouse for just £1.5m. Taking inspiration from his new Newcastle boss, Sissoko penned a lengthy six-and-a-half-year deal at St. James’ Park.
He would go on to captain the side and make over 100 appearances for the Magpies, who then turned a tidy profit on the midfielder after selling him to Spurs for £30m in 2016.
Sheffield United pulled off the biggest signing in the club’s history in 2020 when they secured the signature of Sander Berge, the highly-rated midfielder joining from Genk in a £22m deal.
He’s looked a class apart for the Blades during what has been a pretty miserable 2020/21 campaign – and he’s got a great chant. Oliver Norwood crashes in at a close second.
Third tier Southampton paid £1.2m to bring Jose Fonte in from Crystal Palace in 2010. The Saints went on to win back to back promotions and establish themselves as a solid top flight outfit.
Fonte twice claimed Southampton’s player of the year award and earned his maiden senior international call up for Portugal (at the age of 30), going on to win Euro 2016 with his country.
Jermain Defoe has signed for Tottenham twice – and both occasions were in the January transfer window.
The forward joined from West Ham for £7m in 2004, and again from Portsmouth for £15m in 2009. He concluded his Spurs career in 2014 with 143 goals in 362 appearances.
Jake Livermore joined West Brom from Hull in 2017 in a £10m deal and captained the side to promotion back to the top flight during the 2019/20 campaign.
The midfielder’s displays with the Baggies have also seen him earn international recognition, being capped four times by England during his time at the Hawthorns.
While fellow great January signing Jermain Defoe traded West Ham for Tottenham in 2004, Bobby Zamora moved in the opposite direction.
The forward became a bit of a cult hero at Upton Park, scoring three times in the 2004/05 playoff semi finals and netting the winner in the final as the Hammers secured a return to the Premier League.
Wolves paid £1.5m to secure the services of Plymouth striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in 2008, and he topped the Championship scoring charts in consecutive seasons to fire his side to the top flight in 2009.
Always a reliable second tier striker, the forward scored 25 times during Wolves’ promotion winning campaign, and concluded his Molineux career with 62 goals in 193 appearances.