Most expensive January transfer signings in football history
Virgil van Dijk
The transfer window does not open until January 1, but Liverpool has already announced that terms have been agreed with Southampton and center back Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool will pay Southampton almost $100m for the Dutch international who moved to Southampton from Celtic for $18m in the summer of 2015.
Van Dijk becomes the 7th most expensive transfer in soccer history and supplants Benjamin Mendy Manchester City left-back as the world’s most expensive defender. Last summer Manchester City paid Monaco $70m to sign Mendy.
The signing also means that the five most expensive defenders in the world (David Luiz of Chelsea, John Stones, and Kyle Walker both Manchester City) are all playing in the Premier League.
Here, we highlights the 20 biggest January transfer window signings ever
Virgil van Dijk, £75m (Southampton to Liverpool)
The joint-seventh biggest signing in football history will be the most expensive January deal ever when it goes through on New Year’s Day. And to think Jurgen Klopp once scoffed at the fee Manchester United were expected to pay for Paul Pogba.
Oscar, £60m (Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG)
Receiving £57m for Costa was a quite ludicrous magic trick from Chelsea, but even they would be hard pushed to outdo the £60m they raked in for Oscar, practically a reserve, earlier this year. Jamie Carragher described it as “embarrassing” for the Brazilian, but he has 12 assists in 22 Super League matches, so who is laughing now?
Diego Costa, £57m (Chelsea to Atletico Madrid)
Three months, Antonio Conte might well discover that his Chelsea funds are unexpectedly boosted somewhat this January. The saga involving Diego Costa finally came to a close in September, but the £57m deal will finally go through next month.
Fernando Torres, £50m (Liverpool to Chelsea)
It still feels bizarre that Fernando Torres played eight more Premier League games for Chelsea than he did for Liverpool. The goal haul despite that – 20 at Chelsea and 65 at Liverpool – points to a career trajectory that suffered a sharp fall upon his move to Stamford Bridge in January 2011. And yet his four years with the Blues yielded a Champions League and Europa League trophy each.
Alex Teixeira, £38m (Shakhtar Donetsk to Jiangsu Suning)
The most expensive signing ever not involving any club from Europe’s top five leagues, Alex Teixeira’s move to Jiangsu Suning in 2016 was headline news in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp was widely criticised for failing to sign the Brazilian almost two years ago, but looking at Liverpool’s attack now, the decision was justified. The ‘like, want, need’ culture was exposed.
Lucas Moura, £38m (Sao Paulo to PSG)
With six substitute appearances to his name this season, it is safe to say that Lucas Moura has been shifted out to the periphery of the PSG squad. Neymar’s arrival has forced his compatriot out of even the matchday squad more often than not, with Lucas failing to recapture the form that saw Manchester United unsuccessfully fight for his signature in 2012. He is still only 25.
Juan Mata, £37.1m (Chelsea to Manchester United)
David Moyes can count on one hand the things he got right in his ten months in charge at Manchester United. After listing his record-breaking tribute to Jesus Christ in the club’s 81-cross 2-2 draw with Fulham in February 2014, and pointing out that he kept Phil Neville in employment, the Scot would reserve space for the signings of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata. Both have endured difficult spells at Old Trafford, but both exist as a reminder of the glorious past. That Mata is United’s highest-scoring current player is testament to the Spanish blogger.
Andy Carroll, £35m (Newcastle to Liverpool)
If only Kenny Dalglish had stopped at Suarez. The wonderful image of the former Liverpool manager standing proudly with the Uruguayan and Andy Carroll, his two January 2011 signings, exists to remind us all that transfers are rather difficult to master. Suarez shone, but Carroll was a big elbowy fish out of water.
Edin Dzeko, £31.5m (Wolfsburg to Manchester City)
Football is a fickle beast, and Edin Dzeko learned that lesson the hard way in 2015. The striker scored 72 goals in 189 games for Manchester City despite never being a regular starter, including a crucial 16 goals in the title-winning 2013/14 season. By January 2015 he was discarded for the aforementioned Bony.
Jackson Martinez, £31m (Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande)
Those in charge of recruitment at Guangzhou Evergrande are clearly fans of Portuguese football, but refuse to watch La Liga. That is the only way of explaining the £31m fee the Chinese Super League club paid for Jackson Martinez, who had scored three goals in 22 games at Atletico Madrid. His 94-goal haul over three seasons with Porto was all the more impressive, but his Atletico disappointment was all the more recent.
Julian Draxler, £30m (Wolfsburg to Paris Saint-Germain)
Aside from in the dreams of Arsenal fans, Julian Draxler is yet to truly find a footballing home. He enjoyed four years in the first team at boyhood club Schalke, but an eagerness to prove himself elsewhere saw him depart in 2015. He landed first at Wolfsburg, where he spent just one full season, before upping sticks once again to move to PSG. Twelve months into his Paris soiree, his time might be up again.
Wilfried Bony, £27.5m (Swansea to Manchester City)
But not every winter signing Manchester City makes is a success story. Wilfried Bony was the Premier League’s top calendar year scorer before it was cool, his relatively 20 goals for Swansea in 2014 persuading Manuel Pellegrini to part with £27.5m. Ten goals in 46 games suggest it didn’t go so well.
Gabriel Jesus, £27m (Palmeiras to Manchester City)
Manchester City might sign full-backs for the price of strikers, but they did a damn good job of purchasing a quite wonderful forward for almost one-third of a Virgil van Dijk just under a year ago. The 20-year-old has been beaten just once in 37 club games since, scoring 17 goals and assisting nine.
Goncalo Guedes, £25.5m (Benfica to Paris Saint-Germain)
“Manchester would have helped me too, but I’d feel more at home here than in England,” said Goncalo Guedes in February, explaining why he chose PSG over United. But the decision might well have backfired, and instead of being asked to track back and help defend against Swansea he has spent the entirety of his spell in Paris being marginalised. He has played 292 minutes in all competitions since January, and is now on loan at Valencia.
Dimitri Payet, £25m (West Ham to Marseille)
Dimitri Payet managed to stretch an entire Christmas period out over 2017. But it is safe to say his triumphant return to France has not gone to plan; he has scored just six goals in 34 games. Slaven Bilic’s voodoo doll is clearly working.
Darren Bent, £24m (Sunderland to Aston Villa)
Welcome to Aston Villa, where the record signing cost twice the amount of their next most expensive player. Gerard Houllier doubled Villa’s previous record fee, the £12m spent on James Milner, to sign Bent in January 2011, hoping that he would pull the club clear of relegation. The Villans were 17th, out of the drop zone on goal difference alone when Bent joined, and he finished top scorer with nine goals as they finished ninth. The club were finally relegated from the top flight the season after he left.
Juan Cuadrado, £23.3m (Fiorentina to Chelsea)
It was on February 2, 2015 when Chelsea conducted a piece of transfer business that hindsight has not been kind to. Juan Cuadrado arrived from Fiorentina for £23.3m, potentially rising to £26m, and Mohamed Salah headed to Florence on loan as part of the deal. Fifteen appearances over three seasons under two different managers later, and he had returned to Italy.
Luis Suarez, £22.5m (PSV to Liverpool)
How Liverpool will desperately hope their capture of Virgil van Dijk enjoys as much success as this piece of January business – albeit with slightly less biting and racism and stuff. Luis Suarez arrived on Merseyside and enjoyed a brief stint as the club’s record signing, scored 82 goals in 133 games, did a little cry at Selhurst Park then trotted off to Barcelona. Some things also happened in between, apparently.
Andre Schurrle, £22m (Chelsea to Wolfsburg)
It is the Chelsea way. The Blues parted with £18m to sign Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen in summer 2013, gave him 20 Premier League starts in 18 months, then sold him for profit in winter 2015. He did receive a Premier League title winner’s medal for his troubles.
Odion Ighalo, £20m (Watford to Changchun Yatai)
Is it a coincidence that Louis van Gaal was sacked within months of Manchester United being linked with a move for Odion Ighalo? It is impossible to say. But the striker managed to recover from the setback of missing out on his “dream” move to secure a £20million move to Chunghun Yatai in January 2017, complete with £190,000-a-week wages. He had scored three goals in 36 Premier League games before moving, and has 15 goals and seven assists in 27 games in China.
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