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A brilliant XI of the Premier League’s best ever January signings

We’re often told that there’s no value to be found in the January transfer window, but we’re not having that one bit.

Some of the Premier League’s best ever signings have been made in the mid-season market, with the nonsense regarding no value often coming from managers who have been informed they will have no cash to spend.

With the January transfer window now open for business, we’ve put together a fantastic XI of the Premier League’s best ever winter window signings.

 

A brilliant XI of the Premier League’s best ever January signings:

Goalkeeper: Shay Given – Manchester City (2009)

It’s not overly common for first-choice goalkeepers to swap clubs in January, with Shay Given perhaps the best of the bunch to have moved mid-season.

The experienced Ireland international moved to Manchester City in a £7m deal in 2009, as the big-spending Blues began to splash the cash under their new Abu Dhabi owners. Given, who was twice named in the PFA Team of the Year at former club Newcastle, made 69 appearances in all competitions for the Citizens across two seasons.

Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea (2008)

The Serbian signed for Chelsea in the 2008 January transfer window, arriving from Lokomotiv Moscow for a fee of £9m. Ivanovic failed to make an appearance during his first six months in West London, but soon developed into a key figure in the Blues’ backline.

The defender made 377 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea and scored 34 goals, including a last-gasp winner in the Europa League final in 2013. Ivanovic won nine major trophies with the club, lifting the Champions League and three Premier League titles among his honours.

Ivanovic’s powerful frame and surging runs forward were a formidable weapon for Chelsea, with the domineering defender edging out Kieran Trippier (Newcastle) and Seamus Coleman (Everton) for the right-back role in our side.

Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic – Manchester United (2006)

The second Serb to feature in our back four, Nemanja Vidic signed for Manchester United from Spartak Moscow in 2006. Another to have endured a slow start, Vidic later evolved into one of Europe’s best centre-backs during a decorated career at Old Trafford.

He is one of just four players, and the only defender, to have won the Premier League Player of the Season award twice, alongside Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kevin De Bruyne.

Vidic formed an iconic centre-back pairing with Rio Ferdinand, as the Red Devils dominated the division under Sir Alex Ferguson. He won five league titles and the Champions League among his collection of silverware, with his full-blooded commitment to defending still appreciated in Manchester.

Iconic Duos: The Tank and The Rolls Royce, Vidic and Ferdinand

Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool (2018)

Liverpool broke their transfer record to sign Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, returning for the Southampton centre-back after a failed move six months earlier. Eyebrows were raised at the fee, but the Dutch defender proved to be a transformative signing in the Jurgen Klopp era.

Van Dijk’s arrival strengthened a previous weakness in the Reds’ rearguard, as Liverpool won the Champions League in 2019 and a drought-breaking Premier League crown 12 months later.

The 32-year-old has since completed a full set of major honours at Anfield, while being recognised as the finest defender in world football for much of his time on Merseyside. He is one of just three defenders to have won the PFA Player of the Year award in the Premier League era, after Paul McGrath and John Terry.

Left-back: Patrice Evra – Manchester United (2006)

Patrice Evra arrived at Manchester United in the same window as the aforementioned Vidic, with the £12.5m combined outlay on the defensive duo among the best business of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

Evra racked up 379 games in all competitions for the Red Devils and won 10 major trophies, forming part of the side that won three consecutive Premier League titles between 2007 and 2009.

The French full-back was an elite athlete and tenacious in his defensive work, while marauding up the pitch effectively to contribute in the final third. One of the best left-backs in Premier League history.

Midfield: Bruno Guimaraes – Newcastle (2022)

Newcastle spent big during the 2022 January transfer window, following the announcement of the club’s Saudi-backed takeover weeks earlier. The headline recruit was the £40m capture of Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon, with the midfielder making an instant impact as the Magpies climbed away from relegation trouble.

The following season saw Guimaraes star, as Newcastle secured Champions League qualification for the first time in two decades. The all-action midfielder has become a huge fans’ favourite in the North East, with recruiters at rival clubs questioning how he slipped through the net.

Midfield: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal (2021)

Arsenal took a chance on Martin Odegaard during the January transfer window, agreeing a deal to sign the out-of-favour midfielder on loan from Real Madrid in 2021.

Odegaard’s career had stalled in Spain, but the move to North London began to bring the best from the Norwegian. The loan was turned permanent six months later, with Odegaard having since developed into one of Europe’s best creative talents.

Appointed club captain under Mikel Arteta, he was named as Arsenal’s Player of the Season after scoring 15 Premier League goals from midfield in 2022/23.

Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United (2020)

Rarely has a January signing made such an instant impact.

Fernandes injected immediate quality into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s struggling side in 2020, as Manchester United went unbeaten across the remaining 14 games of the campaign to secure Champions League football. Fernandes scored eight goals and provided seven assists in that run, before setting a Premier League record the following season.

The Portugal international scored 28 goals in all competitions, breaking Frank Lampard’s record for a midfielder in a single season, and laid on 17 assists.

Fernandes has polarised opinion for much of his time in the Premier League, but he remains one of the most consistent chance creators in European football.

Forward: Luis Suarez – Liverpool (2011)

Liverpool’s search for a striker saw the Reds spend £22.8m to sign Luis Suarez from Ajax in 2011, with the forward’s three-and-a-half seasons with the club littered with genius goals and controversy.

Suarez bounced back from a slow start to evolve into one of world football’s finest in a red shirt, scoring 82 times in 133 games in all competitions.

His 2013/14 campaign remains one of the best individual seasons in Premier League history. Suarez struck 31 goals and provided 12 assists in just 33 league appearances, as Brendan Rodgers’ side narrowly missed out on the title.

Barcelona broke the bank to sign Suarez in a £75m deal in 2014, where the Uruguayan went on to win four La Liga titles and the Champions League in Catalonia.

Iconic Performances: Luis Suarez humiliates Norwich with four-goal haul

Forward: Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool (2013)

Liverpool took a punt on Philippe Coutinho in January 2013, signing the Brazilian playmaker for a fee of £8.5m after an underwhelming spell at Inter Milan.

Coutinho developed into a delight to watch at Liverpool, twice winning the club’s Player of the Season accolade. Full of flair and with a penchant for spectacular strikes from distance, Coutinho impressed under Brendan Rodgers before becoming the creative centre-piece of Jurgen Klopp’s side.

However, the midfielder soon began to angle for a move away and Barcelona broke their transfer record to sign Coutinho in January 2018, with his £142m exit remaining a record sale by a Premier League club.

Forward: Edin Dzeko – Manchester City (2011)

An underused and perhaps under-appreciated part of Manchester City’s modern history.

Edin Dzeko signed for the Citizens for a fee of £27m in January 2011, having fired Wolfsburg to a maiden German title in 2008/09, before topping the Bundesliga for goals the following season.

Dzeko spent three-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League and scored 72 goals in 189 games in all competitions, including a memorable four-goal haul at Spurs, and a crucial late equaliser in the win over Queens Park Rangers that secured the title in 2011/12.

Now 37, the Bosnian is still going strong in the colours of Turkish side Fenerbahçe.

Read – Premier League Transfer Rumour Mill: Arsenal baulk at £100m Toney

See more – 10 top players whose contracts expire in 2024

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