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Luis Suarez, Nemanja Vidic, Riyad Mahrez... 10 Of The Best January Signings In Premier League History

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Luis Suarez, Nemanja Vidic, Riyad Mahrez... 10 Of The Best January Signings In Premier League History

It’s that time of the year again. The January transfer window is right around the corner and fans up and down the country are understandably excited about next month’s possibilities.

Struggling teams have the opportunity to bolster their squads with fresh blood, while potential bargains could be on offer with some players entering the final six months of their contracts.

While it is notoriously difficult to get business over the line in January, there have been some notable success stories.

Here we take a look at 10 of the best mid-season signings of the Premier League era.

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Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth to Tottenham, £15.7m – 2009)

A man who guarantees goals wherever he goes, Defoe certainly knows a thing or two about a January transfer – the former England striker has moved clubs midway through the season a remarkable seven times during his career.

Defoe first joined Tottenham from West Ham in 2004 but as that transfer was completed in February, we’ve included his return move to Spurs from Portsmouth in 2009 instead.

A prolific goalscorer throughout his career, Defoe racked up 143 goals in 362 games for Spurs across his two spells in north London, and is still sixth on the all-time top scorers list for the club.  

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Jermain Defoe is sixth on Tottenham's all-time top scorers list (Image: Alamy)
Jermain Defoe is sixth on Tottenham's all-time top scorers list (Image: Alamy)

Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow to Manchester United, £7m – 2006)

Vidic arrived at Manchester United in 2006 as a relative unknown but soon developed into a world-class defender under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Serbian centre-back flourished alongside experienced team-mate Rio Ferdinand, forming one of the most formidable defensive partnerships of the modern era.

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He would go on to win numerous pieces of silverware during his nine-year spell at United, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League, before moving on to Inter Milan in 2014.

Nemanja Vidic is widely viewed as one of the greatest defenders in Premier League history (Image: Alamy)
Nemanja Vidic is widely viewed as one of the greatest defenders in Premier League history (Image: Alamy)

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Patrice Evra (Monaco to Manchester United, £5.5m – 2006)

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In the same window that Vidic arrived at Old Trafford, Manchester United also secured the signing of French defender Evra from Monaco.

After a shaky start to life in England, Evra soon became first-choice left-back at Old Trafford and would go on to make 379 appearances for the club in all competitions, becoming captain in 2012.

Like Vidic, Evra won nearly every major trophy during his time at United including five Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Patrice Evra joined Manchester United in the same window as Vidic (Image: Alamy)
Patrice Evra joined Manchester United in the same window as Vidic (Image: Alamy)
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Branislav Ivanovic (Lokomotiv Moscow to Chelsea, £9m – 2008)

The second Serbian on our list, Ivanovic’s career at Chelsea almost ended before it had begun.

After signing from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008, Ivanovic failed to make a single appearance in his first six months at Stamford Bridge and came close to leaving the club before being persuaded to stay by team-mate Andriy Shevchenko.

It proved to be shrewd advice as Ivanovic would go on to have a remarkable career at Chelsea, winning nine major honours including three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League.

Branislav Ivanovic came close to leaving Chelsea before he'd even made a first-team appearance (Image: Alamy)
Branislav Ivanovic came close to leaving Chelsea before he'd even made a first-team appearance (Image: Alamy)

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Seamus Coleman (Sligo Rovers to Everton, £60,000 – 2009)

One of the best value for money signings in Premier League history, Everton spent just £60,000 to sign Coleman from League of Ireland club Sligo Rovers in 2009.

After a brief period on loan at Blackpool, Coleman returned to Goodison Park in 2011 and swiftly became first-choice right-back under David Moyes.

A consistent performer, Republic of Ireland international Coleman was made club captain in 2019 and has now racked up 363 appearances for the Toffees – that’s around £165 per game based on his original transfer fee.

Everton's Seamus Coleman is one of the greatest bargains of the Premier League era (Image: Alamy)
Everton's Seamus Coleman is one of the greatest bargains of the Premier League era (Image: Alamy)

Luis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool, £22.8m – 2011)

On a manic January deadline day in 2011, Liverpool forked out a whopping £35m to sign Andy Carroll from Newcastle, at the time a record transfer fee for an English player, and also £22.8m to sign Luis Suarez from Ajax. It is not hard to spot the better deal.

Carroll managed just six Premier League goals during his two-and-a-half years at Liverpool, while Suarez is now widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the club’s history.

The controversial Uruguayan scored 82 goals in 133 games during his time at Anfield and came close to winning the Premier League in the 2013-14 season, with Manchester City eventually pipping Liverpool to the title on the final day.

Suarez would later join Barcelona in a £60m move in 2014, having won just one major trophy in England – the League Cup in the 2011-12 campaign.

Luis Suarez almost inspired Liverpool to the title in the 2013-14 season (Image: Alamy)
Luis Suarez almost inspired Liverpool to the title in the 2013-14 season (Image: Alamy)

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Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea to Liverpool, £12m – 2013)

After failing to nail down a regular first-team place at Chelsea, Sturridge joined Liverpool in 2013 and made an immediate impact - scoring 11 goals in 16 appearances in his debut season.

He thrived alongside Suarez the following campaign in a deadly strike partnership dubbed the ‘SAS’, scoring 24 goals in 33 games as Liverpool narrowly missed out on the Premier League title.

Persistent injuries hampered Sturridge’s time at Liverpool and he was never again able to hit those same individual heights.

He was, however, part of the squad that won the Champions League in 2019 and would leave Liverpool shortly after the triumph in Madrid, having scored 68 goals in 160 games for the club.

Daniel Sturridge formed a formidable partnership with Suarez at Liverpool (Image: Alamy)
Daniel Sturridge formed a formidable partnership with Suarez at Liverpool (Image: Alamy)

Riyad Mahrez (Le Havre to Leicester, £450,000 – 2014)

Another strong contender for the best bargain in Premier League history, Leicester paid just £450,000 to sign Mahrez from second division French club Le Havre in 2014.

Mahrez’s family and friends were reportedly concerned that the winger would struggle in English football due to his slight frame, but they needn’t have worried.

After helping Leicester achieve promotion to the Premier League in his debut season, and then avoid relegation in the next, Mahrez made a major step up in the 2015-16 campaign.

He scored 17 Premier League goals as Claudio Ranieri’s side defied odds of 5000-1 to win the title in one of sport’s greatest upsets.

Mahrez would later join Manchester City in a deal worth £60m in 2018, making him the world’s most expensive African player at the time.

Riyad Mahrez played a key role in Leicester's Premier League triumph in 2015-16 (Image: Alamy)
Riyad Mahrez played a key role in Leicester's Premier League triumph in 2015-16 (Image: Alamy)

Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, £75m – 2018)

Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool smashed their record transfer fee to sign Van Dijk from Southampton for £75m in 2018.

However, any doubts about the fee were erased the following season when Van Dijk played a major role in Liverpool’s Champions League triumph - the Dutchman winning man of the match in the final against Tottenham.

Van Dijk enhanced his reputation the following year by playing every minute of every Premier League game for Liverpool as they ended their 30-year wait for the domestic title.

After recovering from a serious knee injury last season, Van Dijk has now returned to full fitness and remains one of the most highly-rated defenders in world football.

Virgil van Dijk has helped transform Liverpool's defensive record since arriving from Southampton (Image: Alamy)
Virgil van Dijk has helped transform Liverpool's defensive record since arriving from Southampton (Image: Alamy)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal, £56m – 2018)

Now this could be a controversial pick. With the relationship between Aubameyang and Arsenal breaking down in recent months, it’s easy to forget just how much of an impact the striker had when he first arrived at the Emirates in 2018.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker scored 10 goals in 13 games in his first season in English football and would go on to win the Premier League Golden Boot the following year in a tie with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

The Gabon international has now scored 92 goals in 163 games for Arsenal, including a brace in the 2020 FA Cup final against Chelsea.

However, Aubameyang looks increasingly unlikely to add to his tally for Arsenal and could be set for another January move this season after being stripped of the club captaincy over a disciplinary issue.

Do you agree with our selections? Let us know!

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Jermain Defoe, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Riyad Mahrez, Virgil Van Dijk, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Premier League, Football, Transfers, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Leicester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool

Rory O'Callaghan

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