January might be a time when most people are slowly emerging from a food-induced Christmas coma, but the best football scouts in the world will be hoping to get their New Year’s fill in the transfer market. With little time to sleep on the job, those with a nose for talent and an eye for a deal will be scouring the world trying to bag themselves a bargain.
Although the Premier League season is in full swing and the frontrunners are already starting to show their hands, a few slick signings in January have the power to make or break a club’s season. Indeed, while Chelsea are currently running away in the betting stakes at Sun Bets with odds of 4/6, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal are nipping at the London club’s heels.
The Premier League’s top four are all within a gnat’s wing of each other in terms of points and outright betting odds (you can still get 11/2 on Liverpool winning), but that could change in the New Year. Maybe Liverpool will find another Luis Suarez. Arsene Wenger might shock the world and pull another Thierry Henry out of the hat.
History has taught us that January can be an historic time in the transfer market and, while we might not see any major moves this season, previous years have turned up some corkers. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best New Year newbies that have graced the Premier League in recent seasons.
Luis Suarez – Ajax to Liverpool in 2011 for £22.5 million
He might have developed a reputation as a dirty player during his time at Liverpool, but in between biting and spitting he managed to score 69 goals for the Anfield club. Although he wasn’t able to carry them to a Premier League title during his three years on Merseyside, he did help his side win the 2012 Football League Cup. Not only that, but after he won the 2014 PFA Players’ Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year and Premier League Golden Boot, he earned Liverpool a £50 million+ profit when he was sold to Barcelona.
Patrice Evra – Monaco to Manchester United in 2006 for £7 million
When Evra first joined United, it looked as though Alex Ferguson had made an uncharacteristic misstep in the transfer market. In fact, during his first game for the club, he was substituted off at half time. Those early teething troubles were soon forgotten though after Evra became a veritable rock in the defence. 379 games and 10 goals later, Evra helped United clinch five Premier League titles and a Champions League victory during his nine seasons at the club which is an impressive record by anyone’s standards.
Mikel Arteta – Real Sociedad to Everton in 2005 for £2 million
Before transfer fees for relative unknowns started to balloon out of control, Toffees boss David Moyes was able to pick up Spanish playmaker Arteta for just £2 million. Although he wasn’t a marquee name to many Premier League diehards, the midfielder had some silky skills in his locker and helped bring a much needed ounce of flair to Everton’s attacks. In fact, such was his influence that he managed to help his new club reach fourth in Premier League and qualify for the Champions League in his first season.
Christophe Dugarry – Bordeaux to Birmingham City on a loa
When money is tight and you desperately need something to turn your season around, the January transfer window is always a good place to find a player on loan. Maybe they need some minutes on the pitch after an injury, maybe they’ve fallen out with the manager. Whatever the reason, loan players can often provide a touch of class without breaking the bank. That’s exactly what Frenchman Dugarry did for Birmingham in 2003.
With the midlands club on the brink of relegation, World Cup winner Dugarry was drafted in to save the day. Under normal circumstances the international probably wouldn’t have signed for Birmingham. However, with his career coming to an end and a chance to play in the Premier League on offer, Dugarry made the move and proceeded to net five goals in six games.
That strike rate in the final throes of the season helped Birmingham avoid the drop and will likely go down as one of the shrewdest January signings of all time. Although Dugarry later left for a lucrative contract in Qatar, City fans will always remember the time a Frenchman saved them from the drop.
So there you have it. Although a new player won’t always have as much impact as the ones we’ve picked out, recent history has certainly shown us that a smart signing can turn the tide in a club’s favour. Will we see more of the same when the Christmas cheer starts to fade? Who knows, but it will certainly be fun to find out.
Daniel Smyth is a freelance writer with almost a decade’s worth of experience penning articles on everything from poker and casino games to sports betting. Today, Daniel writes for a broad range of websites on topics such as football, MMA and boxing.