15 Of The Best January Transfer Window Signings Ever

The January transfer window regularly offers European clubs the opportunity to strengthen their squads mid-season for title challenges, cup runs or relegation battles. Some of the best signings made in football history occurred in this period.

Also known as the winter transfer window, it offers lots of last-minute dramas. It sees desperate clubs try to save their season with panic buys.

However, the January transfer window has recorded lots of success; with some clubs making astute recruitments to salvage their seasons.

Some of these players turned the fortunes of their clubs around and went on to become very successful.

On the other hand, some transfers didn’t go well. Notable examples being Andy Carroll to Liverpool, Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Juan Mata to Man Utd, Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona among so many others.

In this list, FootballOrbit runs through 15 of the best January transfers in history.

1. Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow to Manchester United — 2006)


Arguably the best January transfer window signing ever. Nemanja Vidic was a relatively unknown centre-back when he joined Manchester United from Spartak Moscow in 2006 for just £7m.

He went on to form a solid defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford and eventually became the club’s captain.

The Serbia international won 5 Premier League titles, 3 League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup during his 8-and-half-year spell at Man Utd.

Furthermore, Vidic is one of the only 4 players to win the Premier League Player of the Season award twice — alongside Thierry Henry, Kevin De Bruyne and Cristiano Ronaldo.

2. Luis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool — 2011)

In January 2011, Liverpool signed Luis Suarez from Ajax in a €26.5m (£22.8m) deal. He helped the Reds win the League Cup in his first full season.

The Uruguayan then won the Golden Boot in 2013/14 with 31 goals in 33 Premier League appearances as Liverpool almost won the Premier League title.

As a result, he equalled the goalscoring record for a 38-game Premier League season and won his first European Golden Shoe.

Eventually, Suarez left for Barcelona in 2014 for a bargain price of €82.3m (£64.98m).

3. Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla to Arsenal — 2004)

Reyes — 15 of the best january transfer window signings ever

After breaking through at Sevilla as a 16 year old, Jose Antonio Reyes joined Arsenal in January 2004 on a £10.5m fee.

He hit the ground running immediately and his goals in the last two games of the season crucially helped the Gunners win the Premier League title unbeaten.

Moreso, Reyes helped Arsenal win the FA Cup and Community Shield as well as reaching the UEFA Champions League final in 2006.

4. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool — 2018)

After lots of transfer speculations, Virgil van Dijk eventually joined Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for £75m — then a world record transfer fee for a defender.

He helped them reached back-to-back Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, winning the latter.

The Dutchman was also named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season in his first full season.

He was instrumental as Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a Premier League title in 2019/20.

In addition, Van Dijk helped the Reds win the FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.

He is already a legend at Anfield.

5. Dimitar Berbatov (CSKA Sofia to Bayer Leverkusen — 2001)

Bayer Leverkusen cleverly signed Dimitar Berbatov from CSKA Sofia for just €1.3 million in the 2001 January transfer window.

At that period, the club also had great players like Lucio, Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto and Juan.

Berbatov helped them reach the Champions League final in 2002, losing to Real Madrid.

The Bulgarian went on to score 69 goals and provided 32 assists in 154 Bundesliga games.

After 5-and-a-half years with Leverkusen, he joined Tottenham in July 2006 — spending two years before moving to Manchester United.

6. Philippe Coutinho (Inter Milan to Liverpool — 2013)

After failing to establish himself at Inter Milan, Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool for just £8.5 million in January 2013.

A classic Brazilian number 10, Coutinho flourished at Liverpool. He possessed great dribbling ability, pace, vision, passing and had a penchant for scoring spectacular long-range curling shots.

Although he failed to win any trophy at Anfield, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2015.

Ultimately, Coutinho joined Barcelona in January 2018 for a club record fee worth €160m — making him the world’s 2nd most expensive player at the time.

But this time around, his move during the January transfer window terribly failed as he badly flopped at Barca.

7. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borrusia Dortmund to Arsenal — 2018)

Aubameyang — best january transfer window signings ever

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal for a then £56 million club-record fee in January 2018.

The speedy striker quickly hit the ground running, becoming the fastest player in Arsenal history to score 50 league goals (79 games).

Additionally, he was the Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer in 2018/19.

Aubameyang helped the Gunners win the FA Cup in 2020, scoring braces against Man City and Chelsea in the semi-final and final respectively.

The Gabonese also guided Arsenal to the Europa league final in 2019 — where they eventually lost to Chelsea.

8. Marcelo (Fluminense to Real Madrid – 2007)

Regarded as one of the greatest left-backs of all-time, Marcelo joined Real Madrid from Brazilian club, Fluminense, as an 18-year-old in January 2007.

His trickery, technique, speed, dribbling skills, crossing ability, precise passing and eye for the final ball made him a very dangerous threat when overlapping.

At Madrid, Marcelo went on to become a legend. He won 5 UEFA Champions League titles and 6 La Liga titles, among other honours.

The Brazilian became Real Madrid’s most decorated player — with 25 trophies won.

9. Branislav Ivanovic (Lokomotiv Moscow to Chelsea — 2008)

Ivanovic — 15 of the best January transfer window signings ever

Early on in Branislav Ivanovic’s Chelsea career, he was regarded as a terrible failure.

He arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow for £9 million in the 2008 January transfer window amid big expectations, yet wasn’t even fit enough to play Premier League football.

He made his Chelsea debut after a whole 8 months! He later admitted that he almost quitted during that turbulent period.

But after fully settling down at Stamford Bridge, he became one of the best full-backs in the world, and eventually became a club legend.

The Serbian was capable at both right-back and center-back, and helped Chelsea win 9 major trophies.

Ivanovic’s finest hour came in the 2013 Europa League final against Benfica, when he scored a dramatic late winner in a man-of-the-match display.

10. Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United — 2020)

In January 2020, Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon for a fee reportedly worth up to €80m (£67.6m).

He quickly justified the huge price tag, registering 45 direct goal involvements (28 goals & 17 assists) in his first calendar year at Old Trafford.

The Portuguese star is still one of the best players for the Red Devils.

11. Gonzalo Higuain (River Plate to Real Madrid — 2007)

Gonzalo Higuaín started his career with Argentine club, River Plate, before joining Real Madrid in January 2007 for €12 million.

The transfer proved to be a masterstroke as the Argentine established himself as one of the best strikers in Europe.

Higuain won several domestic honours with Real, including 3 La Liga titles.

Overall, he scored an incredible 107 goals in 190 league appearances.

12. Patrice Evra (Monaco to Man United — 2006)

Patrice Evra helped Monaco reached the UEFA Champions League final in 2004. His performances earned him a £5.5m move to Manchester United in January 2006.

The fee proved to be a bargain as the Frenchman became one of the best full-backs in the world at his prime.

He was very brilliant at both ends of the pitch and really loved bombing forward.

Evra went on to win 14 trophies at Man Utd, including 5 Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League.

13. Gary Cahill (Bolton to Chelsea — 2012)

In January 2012, Cahill joined Chelsea from Bolton Wanderers for just £7 million.

The English centre-back was known for his technical ability, good tackling, positioning as well as his powerful heading in both defence and attack.

Cahill won the UEFA Champions League in his debut season at Chelsea.

Later, he went on to win the Europa League (twice), Premier League (twice), FA Cup and League Cup.

14. Papiss Cisse (Freiburg to Newcastle — 2012)

At Freiburg, Papiss Cisse set the record of most goals scored by an African player in a single Bundesliga campaign.

In January 2012, he joined Newcastle on a £9.3m fee — linking up with fellow Senegal striker Demba Ba.

What a signing it was!!! Cisse scored 13 goals in his first 14 matches to help Newcastle finish 5th in the Premier League.

Subsequently, he became a fans favourite and regularly scored important goals.

15. Emmanuel Adebayor (Monaco to Arsenal — 2006)

Like Evra, Emmanuel Adebayor was part of the Monaco team that reached the Champions League final in 2004.

The Togolese striker later joined Arsenal in January 2006 for £3 million.

His pace, strength, technique, finishing and ability to link-up brilliantly with teammates saw him became one of the best strikers in the Premier League.

Unfortunately, Adebayor ruined his Arsenal legacy when he joined Manchester City and ran almost the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Gunners’ supporters after scoring for his new club.

The iinfamous sprint became one of the most controversial goal celebrations in football history.

Notable Mentions

¶Javier Mascherano (West Ham to Liverpool — 2007)
¶Nicolas Anelka (Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea — 2008)
¶Tomas Rosicky (Sparta Prague to Borussia Dortmund — 2001)
¶Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City — 2018)
¶Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Heerenveen to Ajax — 2009)
¶Nemanja Matic (Benfica to Chelsea — 2014)

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