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Top Five Worst January Transfers

Happy New Year. As resolutions are broken and Christmas decorations come down, the sense of hope that the January transfer window offers a football fan is at least some comfort at a bleak time of year.

The window presents the opportunity for teams at both ends of the table to strengthen their squads for the long and bitter months ahead, as well as giving the media a chance to make wild claims such as Lionel Messi going to Russia.

Names such as Radamel Falcao, Demba Ba, Wesley Sneijder and David Villa are all floating around as well as some more likely movers (David Bentley, Wayne Bridge, Robbie Keane etc.) Evidence, however suggests the window is little more than speculation. In the past few windows, very few big transfers have been made. Last year’s window was used mainly for mid-lower table clubs to secure loan deals for squad players and to off-load bench-warming squad players onto lower clubs.

The reason clubs tend to avoid spending big in January is that new-recruits are often ineffective. It is difficult for a player to adapt to the style of an already bonded team mid-way through a season. Players are brought into make an instant impact, but would need time to gel with a set-up, and therefore can often be seen as a flop and replaced in the summer.

That’s not to say the winter transfer window is a complete waste of time; stars such as Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez were all able to adjust to their new surroundings and become vital players. However even they were not at their most effective in their first half season, but were fortunate enough to be given a chance the following year.

However not every team can afford to give players a second chance in this way. New recruits can lead to a well-earned break for first teamers and make a small contribution, but history has shown it is a mistake to break the bank in January. Here are my five biggest January signing flops;

Robbie Keane LiverpoolTottenham 2009 (41 games 10 goals)

After Keane’s dream transfer to Liverpool turned into a nightmare, the Irish forward returned to previous employers Tottenham on a £12m transfer. Returning to a former club is often a mistake, and Keane struggled to match a heavy price-tag. Weighed with expectation of days gone by, Keane found himself with less and less playing time, and was loaned out to Celtic and West Ham before being sold to LA Galaxy.

Darren Bent SunderlandAston Villa 2011 (48 games 20 goals)

Hit-and-Miss striker Bent had enjoyed the form of his life at Sunderland before being sold for a club record £24m to Aston Villa. The pricey transfer seemed initially to have paid off as Bent scored in his debut and scored 9 goals in 16 games in an impressive first half-season. That, however, was as good as it got for Bent, who could only manage 9 goals in his second season and has been largely overlooked this season. 

Andy Carroll NewcastleLiverpool 2011 (44 games 6 goals)

Liverpool, after just selling star-striker Fernando Torres, had a striker to find, money to spend and not very much time as they bumbled into this £35m transfer for the highly rated 21-year-old Andy Carroll. Carroll had played well for Newcastle, but £35m was a crazy sum to pay for a striker with only a half-season of premiership experience. Unsurprisingly Carroll struggled to make an impact, seemingly unable to adjust to the Liverpool style of play. He was later loaned out West Ham, but luckily for Carroll he didn’t face too criticism in the light of Torres’ poor form at Chelsea.  

Ricardo Quaresma Inter-Chelsea 2009(4 games 0 goals)

Once upon a time Quaresma was one of the highest rated wingers in Europe, but after an unhappy period at Inter, he was loaned out to Chelsea in 2009. A classic example of a quality player being wasted through the January window, the highly paid Quaresma was left to rot on the bench after not fitting in at Chelsea

Pascal Chimbonda SunderlandTottenham 2009 (3 games 0 goals)

Pointless is a word that comes to mind when recalling Chimbonda’s ill-advised return to Spurs in 2009.  The French defender had a productive first spell at spurs, but left after being deemed surplus to requirements. Chimbonda was strangely bought back by Harry Redknapp for £3m and then was only played 3 further times.

Will Mata