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The Premier League’s worst-ever January signing XI

January has arrived and with it the opening of the mid-season transfer window, a time where managers often panic and fans incessantly demand new arrivals in a bid to boost their side’s prospects.

It’s often said that it is difficult to find value in the winter window and history tells us caution must be taken when approaching deals, with this list of far from stellar signings having proven market mistakes.


Here is the Premier League’s worst-ever January window XI:

Goalkeeper: Mark Bosnich

Keeping goal in our worst-ever January XI is former Australia international Mark Bosnich, who made the move from Manchester United to Chelsea on a free transfer back in 2001

Bosnich had formed part of a failed succession plan to Peter Schmeichel at Old Trafford with the shot-stopper having failed to convince, though his fortunes worsened further following a switch to the capital.

Described as a ‘terrible professional’ by Sir Alex Ferguson, Bosnich made just five league appearances for Chelsea before being sacked after testing positive for cocaine, the Australian’s extra-curricular activities prematurely ending his Premier League career.

Centre-back: Jean-Alain Boumsong

Newcastle were on the hunt for a domineering defender during the 2005 winter window, their centre-back search taking the Magpies north of the border and to Scottish side Rangers.

Jean-Alain Boumsong had spent just six months at Ibrox but had impressed since signing from Auxerre on a free transfer, enough to prompt Newcastle into splashing an eye-catching £8m on the Frenchman.

The 27-year-old initially began ok, but mistakes soon began to creep into his game and he swiftly became a much-maligned figure on Tyneside, spending just 18 months with the Magpies before leaving for a Juventus side languishing in Italian football’s second tier following the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

Centre-back: Vegard Forren

Vegard Forren’s performances for Molde had attracted suitors across Europe, with Liverpool having offered the defender a trial before a decision to sign for Southampton in 2013.

The £4.2m fee was regarded as shrewd business by the Saints who had beaten off competition from the likes of AC Milan, Lazio and the Reds for the centre-back’s signature, though it proved a huge waste of money as Forren failed to make any form of impact.

The Norwegian failed to make a single appearance for the club before returning to Molde, later returning to English football with Brighton but again failing to make an appearance.

Forren is now back with Molde where he has made almost 400 appearances in all competitions over three spells with the Tippeligaen outfit.

Centre-back: Chris Samba

Chris Samba had won plenty of admirers during a memorable Premier League career at Blackburn, the giant defender having starred for a Rovers during their time as an established top-flight outfit.

Samba left the club to sign for big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala in 2012 before returning to English football just a year later, QPR boss Harry Redknapp adamant the Congo international was the man to stop their slide towards relegation.

Samba arrived in a £12.5m deal and was handed an absurd £100,000-a-week contract, though it proved a massive mistake with the defender – described by Redknapp as a ‘monster’ upon his signing’ – struggling for form and fitness.

QPR finished the season bottom of the division and Samba’s popularity further diminished following a jibe in the direction of the club’s supporters, telling fans to ‘get over’ his sizeable pay-packet amid criticism of his signing.

Samba jumped ship shortly after relegation was confirmed, returning to Anzhi after just six months at Loftus Road.

Midfield: Jean Makoun

The late Gerard Houllier had plenty of highlights during his time in Premier League management, but a short stint at Aston Villa is far from his greatest legacy.

Houllier spent just a single disappointing season at Villa Park and was responsible for the signing of former Cameroon international Jean Makoun, an experienced and combative midfielder brought in from former side Lyon to aid the club’s fight against relegation.

Makoun had experience at Champions League level and his £6m capture seemed a sensible signing, though just three games into his Aston Villa career he was sent off for a wild challenge on Blackpool’s DJ Campbell and never recovered.

Makoun was banned for three games and struggled to win favour following his return, whilst the departure of Houllier amid health reasons saw his prospects worsen still under new manager Alex McLeish.

After just nine appearances the midfielder spent loan spells at Olympiacos and Rennes, joining the latter on a permanent basis following a forgettable career in English football.

Midfield: Hossam Ghaly

Trouble often seemed to follow Hossam Ghaly throughout his career and after spending three seasons with Feyenoord he brought a fiery personality to the Premier League in 2006.

Tottenham won the race for his signature and signed the Egyptian to bolster their midfield ranks, though his career with the north London side ended in disgrace just 18 months after his arrival.

Ghaly removed his shirt and threw it in the direction of manager Martin Jol following his substitution against Blackburn, heading straight down the tunnel in a very public ending of his Spurs career.

Ghaly later signed for Birmingham in a £3m deal but was sent packing back to Spurs after just a matter of days, manager Steve Bruce – who was awaiting a work permit to formally complete the deal – enraged by the midfielder’s attitude and criticism of his new teammate’s abilities.

Midfield: Kim Kallstrom

January is often described as a time for panic buys as side’s desperately bid to arrest their faults, with Arsenal’s signing of Kim Kallstrom certainly amongst the strangest winter window deals.

Arsene Wenger’s desire for additional midfield talent saw the north London side agree a loan deal for the Sweden international, before pressing ahead with the move despite the red flag of a back injury discovered in Kallstrom’s medical.

The midfielder proceeded to make just four appearances in all competitions before returning to Spartak Moscow, though did return to Russia with an FA Cup winners’ medal.

Right-wing: Savio Nsereko

Perhaps the worst winter window signing of all-time and a contender for the Premier League’s most bizarre buy, West Ham splashing out £9m to sign Savio Nsereko from Brescia in 2009.

The youngster had starred for Germany at youth level and arrived with a burgeoning reputation, but quickly lost his way amid the bright lights of English football in a period to forget at Upton Park.

Nsereko made just 10 goalless appearances – including only one start – before being sold to Fiorentina at a huge loss, his latter career involving a series of unsuccessful loan spells and controversies, including twice going ‘missing’ and being arrested after allegedly faking his own kidnapping.

Left-wing: Alexis Sanchez

A signing that had promised so much, yet ultimately delivered so little.

Manchester United thought they had secured themselves a bargain after landing Alexis Sanchez in a swap deal for the unwanted Henrikh Mkhitaryan, capitalising on the Arsenal star’s contract situation in a deal that evoked memories of Robin van Persie’s inspired switch to Old Trafford.

Sanchez had established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League after scoring 80 goals in 166 appearances for the north London side, though his move to Manchester would result in one of the division’s most spectacular falls from grace.

Sanchez was handed a record-breaking deal but the division’s highest-paid player struggled for form and fitness, scoring just three league goals over an 18 month spell and looked a shadow of the player who had tormented defences at Arsenal.

His lacklustre showings saw him offloaded to Inter Milan on loan before a permanent switch to the San Siro, the Red Devils hugely relieved to get his astronomical wages off their books.

Forward: Kostas Mitroglou

Fulham must have thought they’d hit the jackpot after securing the club-record signing of Kostas Mitroglou from Olympiakos in January 2014, the forward arriving to help the struggling side with a proven goalscoring pedigree.

Mitroglou had scored 17 goals in just 19 appearances for the Greek side over the first half of the season, before arriving at Craven Cottage in a £12m deal amid high expectations.

Fitness issues plagued the Greek international and there was a change of manager for the west London side before he had even made his debut, Felix Magath replacing Rene Meulensteen as the club’s board pressed the panic button.

It was a change that helped little as Fulham were relegated at the end of the season, Mitroglou making just three goalless appearances before rejoining Olympiakos on loan.

Forward: Andy Carroll

Deadline day of the 2011 winter window must rank amongst the most exciting in Premier League history, the headlines occupied by British transfer-record deals involving Liverpool and Chelsea.

Fernando Torres had informed the Reds he wanted out of the club with Chelsea preparing a mega-money bid for the Spanish striker, with Liverpool’s recruitment team publicly panicking by identifying Andy Carroll as his replacement.

The giant Geordie was a vastly contrasting player in style to Torres and a 22-year-old with just 14 goals in the Premier League, but at the end of an incredible day of activity became the most expensive British footballer of all-time.

The fee was an eye-watering £35m for the forward, who proceeded to score just six league goals for the Reds before moving on to West Ham where injury issues again plagued his time with the Hammers.

The towering target-man is now in his second spell at Newcastle, having failed to hit double digits for league goals in any season in the decade since his record-breaking move.

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