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The worst ever January transfer window signings

With the winter transfer market having opened, we thought it would be the perfect time to look back at five of the worst January signings.

Savio Nzereko – Brescia to West Ham  (£9m) – 2009

Before David Moyes began to work wonders at West Ham, the poor old Hammers had a long history of signing forward flops.

Former boss Gianfranco Zola may have been a world-class player in his day with Chelsea, but his record as a manager is pretty dubious, and it was he who instructed his club to fork out £9 million on a promising young German youth international who played for Serie B side Brescia.

Arriving as a replacement for fan favourite Craig Bellamy, Nzereko proved a spectacular flop, often resembling a supporter who had been randomly picked from the crowd to adorn a claret and blue kit.

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After 10 appearances and unsurprisingly no goals, he was sold to Fiorentina at a £7 million loss, just six months after he had signed.

He never made an appearance for Fiorentina as things spiralled ever downhill for the forward, who made headlines after being arrested for faking his own kidnapping in Thailand. The once promising youngster has since endured a nomadic career across a series of unheralded sides across Europe, including the likes of Chernomorets Burgas, FC Atyrau and Vaslui – quite the fall form grace.

Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea (£50m) – 2011

When Liverpool forked out a then British record transfer fee of £50 million to sign Spanish striker Fernando Torres from Liverpool, The Blues thought they were signing one of Europes deadliest strikers.

However, the version of Torres in a Chelsea shirt was a pale imitation of the forward who had terrorised defences on Merseyside, with the record arrival enduring some horrible moments including this infamous cock-up.

To be fair to Fernando he did enjoy some fine moments, including scoring a crucial Champions League semi-final goal against Barcelona that booked the Stamford Bridge club a final appearance they would ultimately win.

But there’s just no dressing it up, the Spain international was a major disappointment at Chelsea, scoring just 20 league goals across three-and-a-half seasons in the capital, before being offloaded to AC Milan in 2014.

He struggled at the San Siro once again, before a brighter period back with boyhood club Atletico Madrid and short spell in Japan before his retirement.

Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool (£35m) – 2011

With £50 million in their pocket from the sale of the aforementioned Torres, we all thought Liverpool had gone a bit mad when they splashed £35million on a big pony-tailed Geordie by the name of Andy Carroll.

As time went by the masses were proved completely correct, as the striker proved about as useful as a chocolate teapot at Anfield.

After 44 appearances and a measly six goals, he was offloaded on loan to West Ham in 2012, before moving to the Hammers in a permanent deal the following season.

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He failed to reach double figures for league goals in any season during his seven campaigns at West Ham as injuries hindered his ability to make an impact.

Now 32, Carroll was last seen being used as a late battering ram after signing for Championship side Reading.

Kim Kallstrom – Spartak Moscow to Arsenal (loan) – 2014

Arsenal and former manager Arsene Wenger had a habit of making left-field January signings, with the arrival of Sweden international Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow on a six-month loan deal probably ranks as their most bizarre.

The player arrived at The Emirates suffering from a long-standing back injury which meant he spent almost his entire time in London on the physio’s table.

Kallstrom played a total of just 138 minutes for the Gunners during his stay, although he did score a penalty in the club’s FA Cup semi-final win against Wigan, something he summarised as ‘the greatest 15 minutes of my life’ as he recalled his short spell with the club.

“I walked in, hit the penalty, we won a trophy and then I walked out again.

“Who’d have thought it, the guy with the broken back?”

 – Kim Kallstrom

Kostas Mitroglou – Olympiacos to Fulham (£13m) – 2014

Fulham found themselves caught in the midst of a relegation dogfight in January 2014 and in search of a prolific striker to fire them out of trouble.

The west Londoners turned to Kostas Mitroglou in their time of need, smashing their transfer record after paying Olympiacos £13 million for his services.

However, the striker struggled for form and fitness and after making just three goalless appearances, Fulham were relegated to the Championship.


Rather than blame the wasted money spent on an unfit forward, however, former owner Mohamed Al-Fayed had a rather different take on Fulham’s relegation, blaming the removal of the infamous Michael Jackson statue he had erected outside of Craven Cottage.

To the frustration of Fulham fans, Mitroglou returned to Olympiacos and proceeded to bang in the goals back in Greece, before impressive spells at both Benfica and Marseille, scoring 52 times in just 86 appearances for the former.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal to Manchester United (Swap deal) – 2018

Cast your memories back to January 2018 and there were celebrations in Manchester, the Red Devils having secured the ‘bargain’ signing of the piano-playing Chilean dynamo that was Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez had been one of the Premier League’s finest footballers after scoring 80 goals in just 166 appearances for Arsenal, with their divisional rivals capitalising on his contract situation to bring the forward to Old Trafford.

The unwanted Henrikh Mkhitaryan was sent to the Gunners in part-exchange, a deal that had many of a Mancunian persuasion claiming daylight robbery.

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Instead it proved a gargantuan mistake as Sanchez struggled for form across 18 months with the club, scoring a paltry sum of three league goals and looking a shadow of his former self.

His record-breaking wages upset the apple cart and made him hard to move on after he fell out of favour, the Red Devils eventually offloading Sanchez to Inter Milan in 2019 whilst still paying a high portion of his lucrative salary.

Read – Narratives: The stories set to dominate before the January transfer window SLAMS shut

Read Also – A position each top six side needs to strengthen in January

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