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Top Ten January Transfer Window Signings

Biggest changes at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, but were they the best deals?

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It was quite an amazing January transfer window in the Premier League.

More than £210m was spent – a substantial increase on the record of £175m spent in January 2008.

Naturally, the focus will be on those who moved for the biggest fees, but who were the best ten signings of the January 2011 transfer window?

10. Bongani Khumalo (Supersport United to Tottenham Hotspur, £1.5m)

Bongani Khumalo isn’t perhaps the first name that people were anticipating reading on this list – with many believing Steven Pienaar is a more significant Spurs acquisition for January – but the £1.5m defender could well prove more useful to his new club than first appeared.

Tottenham captain Ledley King requires an operation on his troublesome groin injury. Jonathan Woodgate has almost recovered his fitness, but doesn’t tend to stay that way for long. William Gallas has a hip injury, while Younes Kaboul is due an operation on his knee.

Sebastien Bassong and Vedran Corluka have not shown the consistency needed to establish themselves as first choice defenders, while Michael Dawson is suspended.

Could Khumalo step into the breach?

While he has no experience in a top European league, the South Africa international has 19 caps for his country, and played all three group games at the 2010 World Cup.

The 24 year-old could make a more immediate impact than he thought for Tottenham Hotspur.

9. David Bentley (Tottenham Hotspur to Birmingham, loan)

David Bentley appears to thrive as the big fish in a small pond rather than the contrary.

He failed to break through fully at Arsenal, but shone at Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers.

A big money move to Tottenham didn’t go quite as he planned, as in 2 and a half years he only managed 42 appearances, but his early form for Birmingham is encouraging for Blues fans.

He gained the man of the match award on his debut in the second city derby against Aston Villa, and helped Birmingham turn around a 2 goal deficit against Coventry in the FA Cup to triumph 3-2, scoring his first goal for the club in the process.

Bentley undoubtedly has talent, but he still needs to learn to harness his ability to its best.

Now 26, he ought to be approaching his peak years. It is up to him to ensure that is an accurate description.

8. Carlos Vela (Arsenal to West Bromwich Albion, loan)

After an excellent start, West Brom are now dropping down the Premier League table fast.

They have now lost six of their last seven games, failing to score in any of their last three away matches, and something different is clearly needed.

Could Carlos Vela help matters?

The Mexican is clearly a talented finisher, having scored some beautiful goals for Arsenal in the Carling Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, but he requires regular Premier League football if he is to become the top class player that Arsenal hope.

West Bromwich Albion often play the 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 hybrid that Arsenal use, and Vela ought to be used to the system having played either up front or out wide himself.

This loan move could prove immensely beneficial for all parties concerned.

7. Hatem Ben Arfa (Olympique Marseille to Newcastle United, undisclosed)

Marseille playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa only had a brief chance to impress for Newcastle before he suffered a broken leg at the hands of Manchester City’s Nigel De Jong, but impress he did.

The Frenchman’s cultured style of play and intelligent movement off the ball won him plenty of plaudits, and the Magpies were keen to secure his signature as quickly as possible despite his injury.

Ben Arfa is capable of playing in attacking midfield as well as on the wing, and if the club is to enter a new era post-Andy Carroll, then he is likely to be one of the players the team is built around.

After all, Mike Ashley has promised Alan Pardew that all £35m from Carroll’s transfer fee will be invested in the team…

6. Luis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool, up to £22.6m)

It is not disparaging Andy Carroll that he is not on this list. It is simply that I believe he is still unproven.

Carroll had a glorious first half of the season for Newcastle United, with 11 goals and 6 assists in 20 appearances.

He could well become a wonderful player for Liverpool, but at the moment he cost more millions of pounds (£35m) than he has career goals (34), and until he has played games in a Liverpool shirt I reserve the right to hold off on judgement.

Luis Suarez though cost around two thirds of his price, and as he has proved with his performances for Uruguay and Ajax he can get you goals.

Many have pointed out that prolific goalscorers in the Netherlands don’t always get the same return in the Premier League, with examples of Afonso Alves, Mateja Kezman and even Dirk Kuyt cited, who is surely a right midfielder these days and cannot be expected to get the same goal return.

There is reason to believe that Suarez could be more in line with Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Denis Bergkamp or the Brazilian Ronaldo – though I am far from claiming he will make quite the stunning impact of Ronaldo at Barcelona.

Still, Tim Vickery, the South American football journalist for the BBC, gave a glowing endorsement of the Uruguayan’s ability to both score and create, and his trickery and finishing ought to see him succeed at Anfield.

5. Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea, £50m)

Liverpool fans are all too aware of Fernando Torres’ frequent troubles with injury, but on his day he is a wonderful player – as Chelsea well know.

Torres has scored 7 goals in 7 games against the Blues, and his 65 goals in 102 appearances for Liverpool are evidence of his incredible goal scoring ability.

Though he is mightily expensive at the reported price of £50m, if his muscle problems can be resolved and if Carlo Ancelotti finds a way of playing that suits all the players he has in his squad, it will appear a bargain.

It is only the fact that those questions remain however that he is no higher on this list, for on his day he is absolutely world class.

4. Curtis Davies (Aston Villa to Birmingham City £1.75m)

Birmingham City suffered a terrible blow when Scott Dann was ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious hamstring injury.

Dann had received praise from all quarters for his immense partnership with Roger Johnson in the Birmingham central defence, and it was clear that they would need another player to come in to fill his role.

At £1.75m, Curtis Davies represents little risk for Alex McLeish, but can offer a great reward if he proves a success at that price.

He has certainly shown he possesses a lot of talent despite losing his place in the Aston Villa side to the solid James Collins and Richard Dunne, but has all of the rest of this season to prove himself until Dann returns.

Still just 25, Davies’ cultured approach has won him plenty of admirers – most notably Fabio Capello, who has named him in England squads.

Though he is yet to be awarded his first cap, perhaps a successful stint at Birmingham City could see that change.

3. Edin Dzeko (VfL Wolfsburg to Manchester City, £27m)

Prior to the signing of Edin Dzeko, Man City had only managed one headed goal all season – Joleon Lescott’s effort against Aston Villa on December 28th.

Dzeko will help correct that, but he is not just a target man.

The Bosnia international’s talent stretches far further than that, and his 66 goals in 111 games for Wolfsburg have contained finishes of finesse and class as well as tap ins and – of course – headers.

As well as being hugely prolific, Dzeko is intelligent with his movement, possesses brilliant technique, and his 6’4″ frame adds another facet to the Manchester City forward line that they clearly need.

Now all that awaits is to see if he can strike up a partnership with Carlos Tevez and/or Mario Balotelli.

2. David Luiz (Benfica to Chelsea, up to £26.5m)

David Luiz might be glad that the huge signing of Fernando Torres has taken some of the pressure off of his own huge fee, but the Brazilian international might soon be making a big name for himself at Stamford Bridge.

Luiz has just 4 appearances for his country, but each has come in the new Mano Manezes era for the Selecao after the disappointing 2010 World Cup.

In the first three of those games against the USA, Iran and Ukraine, Brazil kept clean sheets, and only an injury time winner from Lionel Messi prevented them doing the same against Argentina.

The 23 year-old is 6’2″ and possesses great strength, as well as good skill on the ball.

Luiz was a firm reason that Benfica only conceded 20 goals in 30 games in their campaign for the Portuguese league title last season, but his desire to join a top European league could not be prevented.

With Chelsea struggling against the likes of Sunderland in fielding a makeshift defence due to injury, Luiz will ease the shakiness at the back that cost the club valuable points in November and December.

His adaptable nature makes him a capable partner for one of John Terry, Alex or Branislav Ivanovic at Chelsea, while in the event of Ashley Cole’s absence he can also play at left back.

Though expensive for a defender, he could prove invaluable.

1. Darren Bent (Sunderland to Aston Villa, £18m – £24m)

Many baulked at the price of Darren Bent when Sunderland sold him to Aston Villa for an initial £18m, but goals are an almost priceless commodity in football.

Darren Bent has provided them in spades at Premier League level, and few are disputing that price tag now.

Indeed, having scored the winner on his Aston Villa debut against Manchester City with his only touch of the ball in the opposition penalty area, Gerard Houllier was immediately vindicated.

Aston Villa managed to fend off suitors for the likes of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing in the January transfer window, and now have a midfield able to create plenty of chances per match.

Darren Bent will certainly convert his fair share of those.


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More Stories Bongani Khumalo Carlos Vela Curtis Davies darren bent david bentley David Luiz Edin Dzeko Fernando Torres hatem ben arfa Luis Suarez