Of the two transfer windows of the football season, the January window is notorious for being the hardest to acquire a “gem”. The January transfer window generally sees players requesting transfers only when said players are unsettled/out of form or a mixture of both. Simply put, it seldom happens that a player on top of his game would seek a January transfer. Of course, like every ‘rule’, there are exceptions.
5th. Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution – Fulham)
The United States international joined Fulham for an MLS record $4million in January 2007. Dempsey also became the most expensive US import into the Premier League. His goal against Liverpool on the final day of the season kept the Cottagers in the top flight. He spent the next five seasons at Craven Cottage, chipping in with close to 200 appearances and 50 goals as well as the spectacular chip to seal victory over Juventus in the Europa League in 2010. Joined Tottenham in August 2012 before moving back to the MLS – to Seattle Sounders – a year later. He is now back on loan at Fulham.
4th. Ashley Young (Watford – Aston Villa)
Before taking up a second career as a wannabe Olympic diver, Young was one of the hottest prospects in English football. The then 22 year-old was signed for Aston Villa by Martin O’Neill for £8million from Watford in January 2007. Young led Villa’s line, scoring 30 goals in helping the Birmingham outfit to three sixth placed finishes in a row whilst establishing himself in the England squad and signing for Manchester United for £18million two summers ago.
3rd. David Luiz (Benfica – Chelsea)
The Brazil vice-captain has been a stalwart of the Chelsea rearguard since the last day of the January 2011 transfer window. He was arguably at his best during the Blues run to win the 2011-’12 Champions League. Chelsea faced Napoli in the Champions League’s round-of-16, following a 1–3 loss at the Stadio San Paolo: Luiz put in a stunning performance to help his team win the tie with a 4–1 extra time win, being subsequently chosen by UEFA as the “Man of the match”, an accolade he also received in the first leg of the quarterfinals against former team Benfica (1–0 away win). He would miss the semi-final against Barcelona through injury but returned for the final against Bayern Munich in the Bavarians own back yard of the Allianz Arena. Bayern were limited to a single goal in a 1-1 draw as Luiz scored his penalty in the shoot out and Chelsea lifted the “Cup with the Big Ears”.
2nd. Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow – Manchester United)
Sir Alex Ferguson fought off competition from Liverpool, AC Milan and Fiorentina to land the signature of the Spartak Moscow centre half. Vidic signed for Manchester United despite having already agreed to sign for Fiorentina. Since Fiorentina had to wait in order to complete the signing due to not having any free non-EU positions on its roster at the time, United stepped in and hijacked the transfer. The £7million proved to be money well spent as Vidic slotted in immediately at the heart of the Red Devils back four, winning five Premier League titles, the Champions League and twice being voted Player of the Season. Such has been Vidic’s form that he has been United’s captain since 2011.
1st. Luis Suarez (Ajax – Liverpool)
To put the Uruguayan atop such a list even six months ago would be almost unthinkable. Suarez was seen by many as a pariah for his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic which earned him a ten match ban. Throughout the summer, the 26 year-old spoke of his desire to leave Anfield. Whilst he has many flaws as a human being (he left Ajax while also serving a ban for biting), Suarez’ class as a footballer is also undoubted. The records have tumbled since Suarez’ comeback to football. Despite having missed the first six games of the season he is the Premier League’s leading scorer and should he stay fit, he will almost certainly lead Liverpool to Champions League qualification as well as a tilt at a first league title since 1990. Such has been the quality of many of Suarez’ goals that it is hard to believe that he was once labelled a poor finisher.