January is typically a time for us all to reign in the spending. After an expensive festive period, getting value-for-money is a must. Football managers are not excluded from this.
Whilst the January transfer window is not the most traditional time to splash out, it can be a period where bargain deals are available.
Regardless of your position in the league table, January negotiations can have a significant bearing on the rest of the season. Whether your side needs an influx of players to stave off the threat of relegation or just freshening up to ignite that charge towards the top end of the table, there are players out there who can come in and make a difference.
The transfer window certainly served up some intriguing deals. Whilst the spending levels might not have been up on previous years, there have certainly been some economical deals.
With this in mind, I considered which clubs have got the best value for their spending. Which players can make a difference in the run-in? Who can go on and prove to be worth the outlay?
Here are my top eight:
Things have not been going particularly well for Giuseppe Rossi as of late.
Having ruptured his anterior cruciate ligaments in October 2011 and re-injuring them again last April, Rossi has been out of the game for well over a year.
In addition, his club side Villarreal were relegated—partly due to their dependence on the injured Italian striker. Before his injury, Rossi was one of the top forwards on the continent. Barcelona apparently were keen on adding him to their ranks, as Rossi was finally beginning to show the potential many had questioned following his time at Manchester United.
Fiorentina took Rossi off Villarreal’s hands this January as he approaches the end of his recovery period for a fee of around £8 million. He is not expected to feature until March, but it has been a signing that has excited supporters of La Viola.
Fiorentina are enjoying a good season in Serie A. They have a good crop of young players and a forward-thinking manager. If Rossi can get back to those levels he showed 18 months ago—which will no doubt take time—Fiorentina may have pulled off a real coup here.
Having not featured for the past few months, it’s easy to forget how wonderful a player Wesley Sneijder actually is.
After a trophy-laden spell at Inter Milan, things ended on bad terms.
Remarkably, Sneijder now finds himself at Turkish giants Galatasaray following an £8.4 million move. The switch represents probably the biggest transfer in Galatasaray’s history and Sneijder will become an instant hero amongst the fanatical supporters of Turkey’s biggest club side.
With Didier Drogba also joining on a free transfer, Galatasaray have certainly signaled their ambition to the Turkish league, as well as the rest of Europe.
They each have a few more years left in them at the top level. Both players have won copious amounts throughout their careers and that winning mentality can only inspire the current playing staff on to bigger and better things.
It will be intriguing to see how the marquee signings settle in an unfamiliar league and if they can help fire Galatasaray into the latter stages of the Champions League.
They have a winnable tie against Schalke 04 in the last 16—a tie in which both Sneijder and Drogba should feature.
Kovacic was obviously a player that Inter Milan were desperate for. Having outbid moneybags Manchester City for his signature, they can now relax safely in the knowledge that they have a serious young prospect on their books.
£11.2 million is certainly a lot for an 18-year-old, but the burgeoning Croatian playmaker looks like he has all the attributes to prove his worth.
Dubbed the next Luka Modric, Kovacic had been getting better and better for Dinamo Zagreb following an extended run in the first team. It alerted the attentions of Europe’s major sides, a move to one of the big-boys was always on the cards in January. His talent has excited Croatian football experts and now he is on the brink of a first-team start for the national team.
Perhaps the biggest compliment paid to the youngster came from former AC Milan and Croatian legend Zvonimir Boban.
“I’d say he has the potential to become a better player than I was,” he said.
Inter fans will certainly be hoping that is the case.
Some players just need a fresh start to reignite their form.
At Chelsea, Sturridge found himself down the pecking order and down on his luck. After excelling during his time at Bolton and for a brief period under Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea, the England international clearly needs regular first-team football in order to produce his best.
Sturridge has always had "it." His ability has always been without question, but during his time at Chelsea, tempestuous and selfish bursts were just as prevalent as his positive moments.
Liverpool have duly obliged in giving Sturridge his chance. His £12 million move already looks to have reinvigorated a player who many had such high hopes for.
In many ways, Liverpool is the perfect club for him to develop. Brendan Rodgers will not stand for greedy players as we all know and improvements in Sturridge’s overall game are already there to see.
Not to mention that in Luis Suarez, he has one of the best strikers in Europe to partner. With those two fit and firing, I would expect to see Liverpool moving ever closer to those Champions League places come the end of the season.
Signing a goalkeeper is probably more of an investment compared to signing players of any other position.
Jack Butland looks to be a wise investment. Stoke City may well have just nailed down their goalkeeping position for the best part of a decade. And what a goalkeeper he might prove to be.
Butland was an England International at the age of 19 with a mature head on his shoulders, which has lead to comparisons with another former Birmingham stopper—Joe Hart. And Butland will stay at Birmingham for the remainder of the season in order to play consistent first-team football.
For a club like Stoke, Butland’s signing ticks all the boxes. Butland is a ready-made replacement for Asmir Begovic, who many believe will leave this summer. In addition to the short-term benefits, the signing also has long term positives. If Butland does go on to reach the levels of Joe Hart, as many believe he may well do, then he will command a hefty fee from any potential suitors.
The supposed bigger clubs may well have missed a trick by not snapping up this young goalkeeper for just £3.5 million. Stoke City will no doubt reap the rewards.
Following the influx of signings at Newcastle United, the most impressive of the lot looks to be £1.8 million man Moussa Sissoko.
That’s right, just £1.8 million.
With his contract at former club Toulouse due to expire at the end of this season, the North East Club stepped in. Alan Pardew clearly has recruited scouts with a vast knowledge of the French game and has reaped the rewards. This latest acquisition could prove to be the most exciting product of that set-up to date.
Sissoko has been well regarded in France for a few years now, but has not really developed as rapidly as many expected. But the Premier League should allow him to blossom, as the English game looks to be well-suited to the Frenchman’s combative style.
In his two outings so far, he has not only demonstrated that he can physically cope with the Premier League, but his all-round technical ability is not too shabby either. Two goals and one assist in his opening two outings is certainly a testament to that.
At 23 years of age, the midfield powerhouse is only going to get better and better. An exciting prospect for Newcastle fans, a scary one for the rest of us.
After a season of having to watch out-of-form and out-of-favor forwards, Chelsea fans have no doubt been lamenting the departure of Didier Drogba. So in many respects, it is understandable that they have gone out and signed the closest thing to Drogba the Premier League has to offer in Demba Ba.
For a cut price deal it has to be said. Many clubs were linked with Ba, having been well aware of his £7 million release clause. But Chelsea eventually took the plunge and brought him in.
The Senegalese star has made an early impact at Chelsea, already endearing himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful with his excellent work-rate and dominating physical presence. He gives Chelsea the added dimension that they have been lacking since Drogba moved on.
Ba is currently in and out of the side, vying with Fernando Torres for a starting spot. But an extended run towards the end of the campaign would no doubt result in a flurry of goals for the former Newcastle hitman.
With Spurs locked in a tight battle for fourth place and with injuries beginning to tot up, you felt a signing might be needed.
In Lewis Holtby, they very well may have a player that can help see them finish in the top-four for the third time in four years. The German international has been a key performer throughout Schalke’s progression in the past few years times, operating in a variety of roles across midfield. His English roots—coupled with his overall quality—have meant that links with Premier League teams have been ever present.
Spurs agreed to sign Holtby in the summer after the expiration of his contract with the German club. But with Sandro out for the remainder of the season and Scott Parker coming back from long-term injury, a £1.25 million fee meant that Holtby could join up with the London outfit in January.
He has already impressed in his first two substitute appearances and the early signs are that he will become a regular fixture in Andre Villas-Boas’s first XI sooner rather than later.
Holtby will prove to be a fantastic bit of business for Spurs.
What do you think? Did your club make any smart signings in January? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball