Winter Transfers: Ranking the Biggest January Transfers on Potential Influence
The January winter transfer window was just as busy as expected, but several teams right around the world making key moves, sales and new acquisitions.
Every club will hope that their new transfer recruits will be able to deliver at their new team, and that they can live up to the hype and reputation that might follow them.
Because we're only a couple of days past the transfer window, it's hard to see which transfers will be the most effective at their new clubs—that will be something we will see whole lot clearer as the remainder of the 2012/13 season unravels.
But in terms of potential influence, we can certainly see just how key some of these winter transfer moves were in 2013; here's the 20 biggest January transfers based on their potential impact and influence at their new club this year.
20. Nacho Monreal, Arsenal
We kick off our list here with former Malaga defender Nacho Monreal whom the Gunners brought in over the transfer window to cover the injury to Kieran Gibbs and the incompetence of Andre Santos.
Monreal is no doubt a great player who will impact Arsenal heavily out on the left-hand side this season, but questions must be asked as to his longevity at the club.
The 26-year-old will most likely not start ahead of Gibbs when healthy (at least not just yet) and given that he can't play in the Champions League, Arsenal will still be left with Santos or Thomas Vermaelen out on the left-hand side in European matches.
Monreal was solid without being brilliant in his debut match last week, but on face value, it doesn't look like he'll move above Gibbs in the depth chart at the club.
Which must surely impact his potential influence on the North London club.
19. Yoan Gouffran, Newcastle United
Yoan Gouffran was one of Newcastle's key acquisitions over the winter transfer window as Alan Pardew tried desperately to resurrect their sputtering season and so far, the Frenchman has been impressive in few outings in the English Premier League.
Playing in midfield and really thriving off Moussa Sissoko, Gouffran has the potential to be a key player at Newcastle over the years, but he doesn't quite look to have found his ideal place in the club through his first two appearances with them.
The likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Sissoko will control the middle for Newcastle this season, with Gouffran seemingly chipping in when needed.
Pardew doesn't look like he wants to play him alongside Papiss Cisse at the top of the attack, which kind of leaves the Frenchman a little out of it here in my opinion.
Still a great pickup for a relegation-threatened club, though.
18. Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool
Liverpool made two big moves over the winter transfer window and struck gold with both of them—the latter of which being Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
Coutinho is a quality player who would fit nicely into the attacking midfielder's role at the Merseyside club at the moment, but the Brazilian sees his potential influence drop here because he won't necessarily slot straight in to Brendan Rodgers' starting lineup at the moment.
Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson seem to have a good thing going at the moment, and with the likes of Joe Allen and Fabio Borini waiting in the wings, it seems that Coutinho will have to be content to join those ranks for the time being.
Having said that, Rodgers clearly has the future in mind for Coutinho, and he will grow into the starting role entrusted upon him at some point in his Reds career. I just don't see that taking place—permanently—in the back half of the 2013 season.
17. Lucas Moura, Paris St. Germain
Although the deal was wrapped up over the summer transfer window, Brazilian international Lucas Moura only made his way to Paris St. Germain this winter—and under a large burden of expectation too.
With an enormous price-tag next to his name courtesy of the French club's big-spending habits, Moura is definitely going to step up in Ligue 1 for the Paris-based club this season, and he will definitely prove himself to be worth the extraordinary transfer fee.
However, just how much say he's going to have in the club now that David Beckham has joined their midfield remains to be seen. He should still see plenty of opportunities and thus will have some sort of an impact on the French club's season.
But in a side featuring the likes of Beckham, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, you wonder just how big his impact truly will be.
16. Alexandre Pato, Corinthians
Alexandre Pato has seemingly so much potential and yet he can just never quite deliver.
The 23-year-old's time at AC Milan was plagued by injuries and unfortunate circumstances that never quite allowed him to achieve his best; now it seems he has an opportunity to do just that at his new Brazilian club, Corinthians.
Pato scored after just four minutes of his Corinthians debut, suggesting that he will have a strong season with the club, and you've got to think that's a very real option.
He has got 57 goals throughout his professional footballing career, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but given his history of injuries and the fact that he hadn't played a game of football in over two months heading into this weekend, his potential influence is very hard to predict.
It could finally break out, or it could be more of the same.
15. Joe Cole, West Ham United
The prodigal son Joe Cole has returned home to West Ham after the winter transfer window was concluded, and the Hammers could not be more delighted to have him back in their midst.
The England international brings great leadership and skill to the London club, and with Sam Allardyce's side already in a strong position to stay alive in their first season back in the top class, Cole's presence could certainly have an impact going forward this season.
Andy Carroll ahead of him gives him a great target to work with, and a player he can thrive off in attack also—provided he's in the right places for that to happen.
Cole won't have a breakout season or anything at Upton Park; what he will have is another strong year of Premier League football that will greatly help the Hammers.
14. Mathieu Debuchy, Newcastle United
Alan Pardew's French Revolution at Newcastle United continued over the winter transfer window when he finally brought in Lille defender Mathieu Debuchy.
The club had been trying for some time to finalize a deal with the defender, who has looked very solid out on the right flank for the Magpies so far this year.
Newcastle have won back-to-back matches since the start of their transfer signings playing first-team football, and their good form looks set to continue with a solid squad on hand.
They're by no means out of relegation danger, however, which will ensure that Debuchy still has plenty of work for him to do on the right-hand side of the field.
His ability to get forward and help the attack without shirking his defensive responsibilities will prove to be very important to the Magpies throughout the rest of 2013.
13. Chris Samba, Queens Park Rangers
After sitting dead last heading into the winter transfer window, Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp decided to splash some serious cash and bring in some better quality players.
His most expensive transfer was that of defender Christopher Samba, who has looked very impressive at the back in his few times on the pitch for the London club this season.
Samba is a strong, physical presence at the back, who will no doubt be instrumental in keeping Rangers' opponents at bay this season—something that the club have done very well in their past few matches.
Their bigger problem seems to be scoring goals at the other end, which means that Samba's influence won't be as great as some other players in their squad. But that's to take nothing away from the defender either, who has already shown he will be very important for QPR's survival chances in 2013.
12. Lewis Holtby, Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur boss Dan Levy pulled off one of the biggest coups of the winter transfer window when he signed Lewis Holtby from Schalke for as little as he did.
The midfielder was originally meant to be coming in the summer transfer window at the end of the season, but due to a long injury to star midfielder Sandro, the North London club desperately needed to add in some attacking strength to the middle of the pitch as soon as possible.
And Holtby seemingly fulfills that need perfectly.
The German international has a great opportunity to shine at White Hart Lane this season, and with the likes of Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembele around him in midfield, you'd have to think that there are no shortage of weapons for Holtby to benefit from.
Spurs will definitely be stronger once Emmanuel Adebayor returns from international duty (which he should this week), and Holtby can truly show his full potential.
Which, in terms of influence, could be very, very high.
11. Willian, Anzhi Makhachkala
In the waning hours of the winter transfer window, cashed-up Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala pulled the trigger on Shakhtar Donetsk star Willian's buyout clause in his contract—a transfer fee estimated to be in the vicinity of €35 million (per Goal).
The Brazilian international had been lighting it up for Shakhtar throughout both the UEFA Champions League as well as the Ukrainian Premier League, and he will likely do the same for Anzhi throughout their next few Europa League matches.
The Russian side don't play domestically for a couple of months, however, which means that Willian's only real chances to impress come in the Europa League.
And whilst he's more than capable of doing that, and he likely will succeed, he is limited by the options and opportunities that he has there now and isn't as high on this list as he could be because of it. After all, he is without doubt the best player on their team now.
10. Didier Drogba, Galatasaray
Didier Drogba has a huge opportunity to impact Turkish club Galatasaray after having moved there over the course of the winter transfer window.
The former Chelsea striker netted the winning penalty in last year's Champions League final and will once again play European football with his new club.
He has good players behind him and clearly has the skills to succeed in Turkey—plus he has the proven experience of netting big goals on the biggest stages in the world.
If Drogba can get going for Galatasaray this season, expect them not only to be tough to beat in the Champions League this year, but also expect them to come back stronger again next season in the group stages of the European competition.
9. Loic Remy, Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers desperately need goals this season if they're going to stay alive in the English Premier League, and Loic Remy could well be the man to delver them for the London club.
Having made a move over the January transfer period, Remy has already found the back of the net for Harry Redknapp's side—something that is seemingly not that easy for QPR.
Thus Remy could have a huge influence in the back half of the season for Rangers, particular given the midfield strength he now has around and behind him.
It might only take one or two goals to go from a draw to a win this year, and that could well be the difference between elimination and survival for QPR.
If they're going to stay up, Remy is the man who must get going.
8. Mateo Kovacic, Inter Milan
Mateo Kovacic has a huge opportunity at Inter Milan to make an impact—likely to feature for the Italian giants in a holding midfielder's role when given the chance.
The reason Kovacic is so high on this list is the future that he has; only 18 years old at the moment and already with Champions League experience under his belt for Dinamo Zagreb.
As Inter Milan fight their way for a top-three finish in Serie A this season, any involvement that Kovacic can provide will be hugely important and significant.
Even if it's just providing cover for their regular stars for the moment, the teenager has a huge future ahead of him at the San Siro, that's for sure.
7. Diego Lopez, Real Madrid
With the news that Iker Casillas would be missing for two months of domestic and European action, Real Madrid knew they needed to work fast in the winter transfer window.
Antonio Adan wasn't where Jose Mourinho needed him to be in order to start him for a grueling La Liga and Champions League campaign; thus a deal for Sevilla goalkeeper Diego Lopez was reached, and thankfully as soon as possible for Madrid.
As far as potential influence goes, Lopez truly is a make-it or break-it type of player for Madrid in the next two months, with their success in various competitions seemingly dependent on whether or not he can pull off what Casillas could have potentially done at the back.
Manchester United in the Champions League and the desperation to resurrect something from the Spanish domestic competition—Madrid's next two months are very crucial.
Lopez will play a defining role in how the 2012/13 season turns out for them.
6. Wesley Sneijder, Galatasaray
Wesley Sneijder's move to Galatasaray over the winter transfer window truly was perfect.
Perfect for the club in that they get a world-class player on the cheap; perfect for the player in that he gets to feed his ego even more and play in the Champions League; perfect for everyone else in that we no longer have to read his name in various transfer speculation reports.
Seriously, though, Sneijder's move to the Turkish champions is a strong one, and given the depth of talent on hand at the club now, the Holland international could have a significant impact throughout the remainder of the 2012/13 season.
Galatasaray have players on hand to assist Sneijder's attacking brilliance whilst offering Champions League football as well—the perfect chance for the 28-year-old to prove to Europe just how much they missed out over the transfer window.
5. Moussa Sissoko, Newcastle United
Moussa Sissoko's move to Newcastle United over the winter transfer window is looking like one of Alan Pardew's transfer masterstrokes, and he's only played a handful of games.
The 23-year-old has two goals and an assist from his two appearances to date—both of which have seen the Magpies have win, and that shouldn't at all come as a surprise.
He creates a staggering amount of chances per game for his teammates, is a deadly finisher himself and gives Papiss Cisse something to work off in attack.
It will be his combination work with Yohan Cabaye that could prove most telling, however, with the pair thriving together in their two matches so far. If that can continue, then Sissoko could have a long-term influence on the direction of Newcastle United.
Starting with saving them from relegation.
4. David Beckham, Paris St. Germain
Few transfers over the summer transfer window created the same media storm that David Beckham did en route to French big-spenders Paris St. Germain.
The global celebrity and footballing "brand" will have a huge impact on the French club and all that comes with them, but his influence on the field will no doubt be overshadowed by his achievements off the field in the short time that he'll be there.
The reason why Becks isn't top of this list in terms of "influence" is pretty simple—starting with the fact that he's only there for five months. Then throw in the fact that whilst playing in the Champions League and in Ligue 1, Beckham will do more for the club off the field than on it—in terms of crowd attendance, media attention, shirt sales and the like.
His impact will be profound; his legacy will continue for years.
His influence on the field won't be anywhere near as potent, however.
3. Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Anyone wondering about the influence that Daniel Sturridge will have at Liverpool needs to simply look at the former Chelsea striker's performances at the Merseyside club so far.
Sturridge has scored three goals already in the Premier League from his four matches and is creating far more space for partner Luis Suarez at the top of the attack.
That's more than Andy Carroll did in all of last season.
Uruguayan international Luis Suarez has somewhat carried the team through the first half of the year; now with another striking option at the club, he is thriving and growing even more as a creative player rather than just a deadly dribbler and finisher in front of goal.
At 23 years of age, Sturridge looks to be a great long-term signing for the Reds and one that could lead them back into the league's top four in the near future.
2. Mario Balotelli, AC Milan
Two goals—one brilliant finish, the other a game-winning penalty in stoppage time at the San Siro.
And we thought Mario Balotelli was out of form.
In just his first game for new club AC Milan, Balotelli showed to the world that he can still be a world-class striker if given constant opportunities and confidence—something that he perhaps wasn't shown as much this year by Manchester City as in years gone by.
The defending Premier League champions made the right move to sell the Italian international given all of his off-field nuisances and the price that Milan were offering. Yet somehow, there's a sense that Super Mario might finally be about to explode on the world stage for the Italian giants.
He can't play in the Champions League this year because's already cup-tied, but with a tight Serie A race ongoing, Balotelli will no doubt have a huge impact on the club.
And given his age and experience already—should he hang around and perform consistently—the crazy Italian could very well have a profound long-term influence as well.
1. Demba Ba, Chelsea
But for me, there is no more significant transfer this winter in terms of long-term influence on the field than that of Demba Ba's move from Newcastle United to Chelsea.
And even if his influence simply puts more pressure on Fernando Torres to perform, that's still an influence that will serve the Blues well in the long-term.
Ba gives Juan Mata another target to hit, Torres another man to feed off and manager Rafa Benitez another player to turn to when times are getting tough.
He is a goalscoring machine who didn't cost the Blues any real money (at least not for them anyway), and will be huge in their bid to remain in the top four this year.
If given more than just the final 20 minutes of a match to do something, Ba could well shine for Chelsea. If not, his influence on the club might just be that he gets the Spanish waiter Benitez fired over the summer and Torres in some serious transfer problems of his own.
Which, for some fans, would be a pretty good influence this year.
Which winter transfers do you think will have the biggest influence?
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