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50 Best and Worst Transfers of 2013

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJanuary 2, 2014

50 Best and Worst Transfers of 2013

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    If you want to know which permanent European transfers in 2013 were success stories or have become case studies of what not to do in future transfer windows, then this slideshow is ideal for you.

    There will be the 25 worst transfers and then the 25 best transfers selected from the Bundesliga, English Premier League, Eredivisie, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A.

    The transfers will be ordered from the least expensive transfer fee to the most.

    No list is ever exhaustive, so don't hesitate to comment below with your own examples of best and worst European transfers in 2013.

Notable Worst Transfer Omissions

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    Nacer Chadli (Twente to Tottenham Hotspur for £7M): While he has not scored in the Premier League, he registered two assists against Dinamo Tbilisi and created goals for Spurs against Sheriff, Sunderland and Southampton. Has he underperformed? Of course, but his form is not bad enough to make the worst list. 

    Wilfried Bony (Vitesse to Swansea City for £12M): He hasn't been man-handling Premier League defenders like he was in the Eredivisie because he hasn't been fully fit.

    Andy Carroll (Liverpool to West Ham United for £15M): He hasn't been afforded the chance to succeed or fail due to a long-term injury. 

    Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina to Manchester City for £22M): His season has been stop-start due to persistent injuries. 

    Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad to Real Madrid for £27M): OK, he is not worth £27 million right now but keep in mind, even with his playing minutes sub-affected, Illarramendi is fourth at the club for tackles per league game (2.7). If he was a regular starter, his defensive output would be world-class.

WORST: Peter Odemwingie (West Bromwich Albion to Cardiff City for £2.3M)

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    "I was thinking it was a clear offside," then West Bromwich Albion player Peter Odemwingie said when he reflected on his goal against Cardiff City in 2012, as per Goal.com.

    Now playing for Cardiff, Odemwingie has become an offside specialist.

    He has seen the assistant referee flag him (16) more times than the amount of shots he has taken in the Premier League this season (14).

    Fraizer Campbell is devoid of consistency, Andreas Cornelius is being eased into Premier League football as management pray he does not suffer another ankle injury and Etien Velikonja couldn't even score against the Chelsea under-21s.

    This is why Odemwingie has been involved in so many games even though he has been one of the worst players in the Premier League.

    Cardiff owner Vincent Tan should send Odemwingie and Velikonja to FK Sarajevo.

WORST: Marcelo Guedes (PSV Eindhoven to Hannover 96 for £2.3M)

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Prior to Hannover 96 pinning their hopes on Marcelo Guedes emulating what Vinicius Bergantin achieved for the club, management may not have scouted Marcelo's performance for PSV Eindhoven in the 6-2 defeat to Twente.

    In Marcelo's next game, Valencia scored four and then NAC Breda notched up three goals.

    He was a liability at PSV.

    Mind you, Hannover did spend €1.3 million on Franca thinking he was 6'3" only to find out he was 5'11", so it could be possible they did not conduct a thorough statistical and subjective analysis of Marcelo.

    Against Mainz, he calmly passed the ball out of defence to Zdenek Pospech.

    One problem: Pospech does not play for Hannover and he passed the ball to Nicolai Muller who scored for Mainz.

    In the 4-1 defeat to Hoffenheim, with Hannover already down a man, Marcelo dared referee Tobias Stieler to send him off with some choice words, which resulted in a needless suspension.

    Marcelo might have brilliant physical tangibles but he lacks the concentration and discipline to be a top-flight centre-back.

    Kicker currently rank Marcelo as the third worst defender in the Bundesliga.

    His consistently poor performances were a factor in Mirko Slomka being fired.

     

     

     

WORST: Aleksandar Tonev (Lech Poznan Aston Villa for £2.5M)

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    What do goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Gerhard Tremmel have in common?

    They both made more passes in the Aston Villa-Swansea City game than Aleksandar Tonev.

    If Liverpool debutant Brad Smith is feeling blue after going missing against Chelsea, he should find some solace that he played better than Tonev, who made four of eight passes in 61 minutes of play against Swansea.

    Tonev is 550 minutes and counting without a Premier League goal.

    "The amount of promising attacking positions Tonev wastes on behalf of his side is astonishing," Bleacher Report world football tactics lead writer Sam Tighe said in an email interview. "His teammates appear visibly frustrated with his very presence at times."

     

    Allan Jiang is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via email interview.

     

WORST: Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea to PSV Eindhoven for £2.5M)

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    Jeffrey Bruma's fall from grace is quite startling.

    Hamburg would have been fools to sign him permanently after he was part of a team that conceded nine times to Bayern Munich (seven in 54 minutes).

    Losing 4-2 in the German Cup to minnows Karlsruhe (Hamburg loanee Hakan Calhanoglu played that game) did not help Bruma's cause either.

    If he played a few more games, he would have qualified to make the final Kicker player rankings and his performance score was 0.23 points worse than the lowest ranked player last season (Hamburg’s Tolgay Arslan).

    A 0.01 or a 0.05 difference between two players is normal but a 0.23 difference gives you an idea how out of depth Bruma was.

    When PSV Eindhoven signed Bruma permanently, it was a major risk considering his poor form, his heart defect and legitimate questions surrounding his mental fortitude.

    A negative trait in Bruma is he gives up during games. Embarrass him enough, he will lash out and get red-carded.

    He received back-to-back red cards for PSV this season. 

    He is as bad as former PSV defender Marcelo Guedes, but the only difference is Bruma is still 22 years of age.

    At the rate he is going, he will either retire young or be elongating his career in developing footballing nations such as the United States or Australia.

WORST: Danny Graham (Swansea City to Sunderland for £5M)

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    Danny Graham scored three goals in 18 Premier League games for Swansea City last season, so it was a bad move for Sunderland to buy him for £5 million in the January transfer window.

    It was one transfer window too late.

    The deal would have made sense after Graham scored 12 league goals in his first season at Swansea City but his track record did not justify the fee.

    Nowadays, he is a player riddled with doubt after going 13 league games without a goal at Sunderland, and was promptly discarded (temporarily) on loan to Hull City.

    When Graham was subbed on against Fulham, a club losing 4-0 at that present moment, he failed to cash in and even fellow sub Matty Fryatt scored. The game ended 6-0 to Hull.

    This season, Graham has scored one league goal in 18 games for Hull, meaning he has netted four goals in his last 49 league games since the 2012-13 season.

    He needs to re-gain his confidence in the Championship.

     

WORST: Stewart Downing (Liverpool to West Ham United for £6M)

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    West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce is an ardent believer in statistically analysing footballers.

    "Without the data we have today I think football would be a lot worse off," Allardyce said, as per Sky Sports. "Plus, data also helps you and your scouts recruit players."

    You cannot make a statistical argument for Stewart Downing being worth £6 million.

    Liverpool and League Only Downing 
    Games65
    Goals3
    Shots 123
    Assists5
    Chances Created120

     

    Downing should lower his shots per game (1.9) to about 0.5 as he is a woeful shooter.

    His Liverpool teammates were inefficient finishers and this season, it's the same story as Downing has only one assist from 27 goal-scoring chances created at West Ham.

    Sure, it's debilitated his assists count but it is now three successive seasons in a row where pro-Downing fans blame the striker.

    380 players in Europe's elite leagues have more league assists than Downing including Wolfsburg's Willi Evseev who has played six minutes.

    Bottom line: Downing is not productive enough to command a £6 million transfer fee.

WORST: Victor Anichebe (Everton to West Bromwich Albion for £6M)

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    Victor Anichebe is a below-average shooter (never reached 10 Premier League goals in one season) and he isn't a facilitator as he has never registered five assists or more in one season.

    Then there are his injury concerns which have limited him from ever making 30 league appearances or more in one season.

    West Bromwich Albion wasted £6 million on him.

    Saido Berahino is already a better player than Anichebe.

     

    League OnlyBerahinoAnichebe
    Games (Starts)15 (4)10 (5)
    Goals41

     

WORST: Jozy Altidore (AZ to Sunderland for £6M)

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    When Jozy Altidore scored 23 Eredivisie goals and 31 goals in total last season for AZ, perhaps his horror Hull City spell in the 2009-10 season was an anomaly.

    He had more yellow cards (four) than goals scored (one) on loan at Hull that season.

    Altidore was an afterthought at Villarreal in the 2010-11 season, being fourth choice behind Giuseppe Rossi, Nilmar and Marco Ruben.

    A loan to Bursaspor was not productive either.

    It is easy to criticise Sunderland in hindsight.

    At the time, Altidore ticked all the boxes: he was playing the best football of his life (even scored a brace against Ajax), his playing style fit the Premier League, he could create for his teammates and was an aerial presence.

    Yet this season, Altidore looks sluggish, is not composed in front of goals (one goal from 21 shots) and is an offensive burden at Sunderland.

    He is the footballing version of former basketball player Trajan Langdon: elite in a lesser league but found wanting at the highest level.

     

WORST: Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland to West Bromwich Albion for £6.5M)

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    When Benin faced an Ivory Coast side loaded with big-names (Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Gervinho, Emmanuel Eboue and Seydou Doumbia) in 2011, Stephane Sessegnon was fearless.

    Ivory Coast took a 3-0 lead but Sessegnon willed Benin back into the game with a brace to make it 3-2.

    The Ivory Coast ended up winning 6-2 but this was the type of steely determination West Bromwich Albion expected of Sessegnon this season.

    Though, he is going through the motions and is not getting it done (centre-back Gareth McAuley has the same amount of league goals as Sessegnon [two]).

    Then Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio knew he was getting rid of a deteriorating player in Sessegnon.

    "You can play badly but the body language was not of a player who wants to give his best," Di Canio said, as per Louise Taylor at The Guardian. "After our communication, and I had exposed myself, he trained in some ways which were not good."

     

WORST: Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund to Wolfsburg for £6.7M)

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    Ivan Perisic's fluctuating form is why he was played as an impact sub by Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp.

    Not being a regular starter dented Perisic's pride and he was outspoken in his belief of being mistreated by Klopp.

    "I heard a few statements and it's nothing dramatic. I already know that Perisic is not satisfied. It would be strange if he was, that is a fact," Klopp said, as per beIN Sport. "But the timing of the statement is not OK."

    Dortmund sought suitors in the January transfer window and Wolfsburg paid a significant fee based more on hope than productivity. 

    Perisic went on a nine-game goalless run in league-play for Wolfsburg until the Dortmund game.

    He scored twice in an eight minute interval as Wolfsburg took a 3-1 lead after 26 minutes (Dortmund later bounced back and the game finished 3-3).

    Typically, Perisic stayed true to himself and has not done much since, scoring twice in 16 league games this season.

     

WORST: Luis Alberto (Sevilla to Liverpool for £6.8M)

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    One baffling tactical substitution by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers against Chelsea raises questions over Luis Alberto's future at the club. 

    With the Reds down 2-1 and Rodgers being forced to sub out Joe Allen, who had strained his abductor, Alberto was left on the bench as left-back Brad Smith was given a run.

    Smith made two of his four passes in 36 minutes of play and had one of the worst Premier League debuts in recent memory.

    Rodgers has opened up Smith to vitriolic social media hate while Alberto would be within his rights to request a loan away.

    Alberto wants to play in any midfield position for the betterment of the team, yet Smith is called up to play out of position in an important game against Chelsea.

    Liverpool could end up selling Alberto for a transfer loss if Rodgers does not want to use him.

     

     

WORST: Demba Ba (Newcastle United to Chelsea for £7M)

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    In the 54 Premier League games Demba Ba played for Newcastle United, 51 of them were starts.

    Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is using Ba as a super-sub, a role foreign to the centre-forward as he had never made six league appearances or more off the bench since the 2009-10 season until this campaign. 

    Last season, Ba scored 15 league goals, 13 of them in the first-half of the season for Newcastle. 

    When Romelu Lukaku returns from his loan spell at Everton, there is no reason to keep Ba.

WORST: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo to Liverpool for £7.7M)

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    Iago Aspas was a poor man's Luis Suarez at Celta Vigo where he thrived on carrying a team bereft of star quality.

    Aspas put the club on his back and was the key reason the club stayed in La Liga (they finished one point above Mallorca, the last relegated team).

    He scored and created more league goals last season (19) than Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic (18), Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa (17), Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez (17), Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann (13) and Malaga's Isco (10).

    The worry for Liverpool is Aspas not being a spark for them when they have called his number.

    The drastic change from having the offense catered to him to being a bit-part player has drained his confidence.

     

WORST: Josuha Guilavogui (Saint-Etienne to Atletico Madrid for £8.4M)

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    Atletico Madrid have shot themselves in the foot again.

    Manager Diego Simeone does not rate Josuha Guilavogui to even put him in a midfield rotation, so there was a clear breakdown in communication between administration and Simeone.

    Signings like Guilavogui, who is being paid to warm the benches, give you an idea why Atleti's finances are so dire.

WORST: Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon to Norwich City for £8.5M)

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    A reoccurring theme is Ricky van Wolfswinkel letting the pressure get to him.

    Playing for the Netherlands in the 2009 Toulon tournament semi-final against Chile, he was the only player to miss his penalty in the shoot-out.

    When Van Wolfswinkel—a supposed penalty specialist—was at Sporting Lisbon, he came up short from 12 yards out against Pacos de Ferreira, Beira-Mar and Estoril.

    With the exception of Robert Snodgrass, Norwich City do not have a player who can consistently create goal-scoring chances for Van Wolfswinkel to poach goals.

    Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is tied with Van Wolfswinkel in the Premier League scoring charts (one goal).

    Norwich should have made a concerted push for Hertha Berlin's Adrian Ramos, who is physically gifted, technically superb, can dribble, head the ball, score and take over games.

    Van Wolfswinkel is one-dimensional and when the ball is not played to him on a consistent basis, he drifts out of games.

     

WORST: Alessandro Matri (Juventus to AC Milan for £9.2M)

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    AC Milan management preach economic efficiency yet they waste £9.2 million on Alessandro Matri.

    Juventus went unbeaten in Serie A during the 2011-12 season while carrying Matri, as he was outscored by 15 players in the league including then Siena player Emanuele Calaio. 

    Matri showed potential at Cagliari but it was clear he was not an elite No. 9 after his tenure with Juventus.

    Why did you think they signed Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente?

    Matri has scored one Serie A goal this season from 22 shots.

    "It reminds me of when we signed Inzaghi in 2001," Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said, as per FIFA.com. "I hope Alessandro can follow in his footsteps."

    Key word being hope—it was misguided hope. 

    It is going to take some epic wheeling and dealing from Milan to recoup the money spent on Matri.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

WORST: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace to Manchester United for £10M)

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    You know £10 million is a transfer record for most clubs around the world.

    Manchester United can afford to spend that amount of money to not even play Wilfried Zaha.

    It is reckless spending and United have stagnated Zaha's development.

    He should have just stayed at Crystal Palace as he would be playing Premier League football right now.

     

WORST: Christopher Samba (Anzhi to Queens Park Rangers for £12.5M)

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Christopher Samba was Queens Park Rangers' Premier League insurance yet management did not know he was unfit.

    "It is the hardest league and you need to be fully fit and really ready to compete," Samba said, as per Sky Sports. "From my personal point of view, I don't think I was well prepared to come back to the Premier League."

    This was evident in the 3-2 defeat to Fulham where Samba imitated Titus Bramble.

    Samba used to be a rock at the back for Blackburn Rovers but he hastened QPR's inevitable relegation.

WORST: Paulinho (Corinthians to Tottenham Hotspur for £17M)

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Your expectations for Paulinho should be high because he is a Brazilian international and a FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze Ball recipient.

    What has he done well this season for Tottenham Hotspur?

    His defensive positioning is suspect and his tackling is mediocre as he only completes 56 percent of his tackles.

    At times he is a quasi-striker (former Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas even deployed Paulinho in a deep-lying forward role), only scoring two Premier League goals from 50 shots with a shooting accuracy of 41 percent.

    Paulinho showed promise against Stoke City but was then assaulted on the field by Charlie Adam.

    The result: ligament damage.

     

WORST: Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sevilla to Monaco for £17.2M)

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Geoffrey Kondogbia lacks the pit-bull attitude of Jeremy Toulalan, does not have the work ethic to match Mounir Obbadi and isn't a conductor of play like Joao Moutinho.

    When Kondogbia does start, he looks half the player he was at Sevilla. 

    It is as if he arrived at Monaco and thought: "I've made it!"

    In October, Kondogbia aimed to improve his poor form, as per Ligue1.com: "The summer arrival has, however, had a heart-to-heart with coach Claudio Ranieri during which the Italian assured Kondogbia he has faith in him, despite his underwhelming form to date."

    Kondogbia has yet to live up to his word.

    If he continues plodding along throughout 2014, he will be a front-runner for the Ballon de Plomb [1] this time, next year (derisive award given to either the worst and/or most disappointing Ligue 1 player).

     

    [1] In case you wanted to know, the 2013 Ballon de Plomb nominees are Alou Diarra, David Bellion, Florian Marange, Florian Thauvin, Joey Barton and Jordan Ayew.

     

WORST: Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea for £18M)

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    In combined Premier League/UEFA Champions League play, Andre Schurrle has scored three goals from 35 shots, which shows you how inefficient he is.

    He needs to be more composed in front of goals and has to look up to find his teammates more.

    These are fundamental footballing basics Schurrle has yet to grasp.

    When he was at Bayer Leverkusen, he took one more shot than Stefan Kiessling, who was one of the best No. 9s in Europe last season (scored 25 league goals).

    Kiessling had the same amount of assists as Schurrle (seven) and created more goal-scoring chances.

    If Chelsea wanted such a raw prospect, they should have signed Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting from Mainz, who would have been cheaper than Schurrle.

     

     

     

WORST: Roberto Soldado (Valencia to Tottenham Hotspur for £26M)

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    Andre Villas-Boas logic: sign an elite goal-poacher in Roberto Soldado only to allow Andros Townsend and Paulinho to be shoot-first midfielders. 

    While it has inconvenienced Soldado, he has to put away chances. 

    Of his five league goals, four are penalties, so he has only scored one goal in open-play from 39 shots.

    Unacceptable. 

    The positive for him is that Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood, who replaced Villas-Boas, has re-inserted Emmanuel Adebayor into the starting XI. 

    This has lessened Soldado's work-load and will give him more opportunities to score. 

     

     

WORST: Marouane Fellaini (Everton to Manchester United for £27.5M)

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    When Marouane Fellaini has attempted to tackle in the Premier League, there is a 56 percent chance of him either fouling the opposing player or missing his tackle. 

    His shooting accuracy in the Premier League is below 50 percent (40; no goals from 13 attempts).

    In the UEFA Champions League, he concedes 4.7 free-kicks per game while only making 1.7 tackles per game. 

    Subjectively speaking, he is clumsy, constantly out of position and does not look like a world-class midfielder. 

    Fellaini could have been £4 million cheaper as United missed his release clause expiration date.

    To make matters worse, he is currently recovering from wrist surgery

    Fellaini is a classic panic-buy gone wrong. 

WORST: Erik Lamela (Roma to Tottenham Hotspur for £30M)

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    There are so many variables to take into consideration when judging Erik Lamela's lethargic start to his Tottenham Hotspur career.

    He does not speak fluent English, Spurs do not have another Argentine player at the club, his brother was kidnapped (as per Football Italia) and Lamela wasn't wanted by former Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas (as per The Daily Mail).

    However if Spurs manager Tim Sherwood persists with a 4-4-2, Lamela will be on the outer looking in under two successive managers.

     

WORST: Willian (Anzhi to Chelsea for £30M)

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    People say Willian played well against Liverpool. My goodness, how low has the bar been set?

    Conceding six free-kicks (did make four tackles), not scoring a goal, not creating a goal and giving away the ball 28 percent of the time he attempted a pass is not the definition of a good game.

    If Chelsea want unproductive attacking players who run around such as Willian, their next transfer target should be Lass Bangoura of Rayo Vallecano. 

    The way Willian took his goals against Norwich City and Southampton should be of a regular occurrence but it hasn't been happening. 

     


    25 Worst European Transfers of 2013

    Peter Odemwingie (West Bromwich Albion to Cardiff City for £2.3M)
    Marcelo Guedes (PSV Eindhoven to Hannover 96 for £2.3M)
    Aleksandar Tonev (Lech Poznan Aston Villa for £2.5M)
    Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea to PSV Eindhoven for £2.5M)
    Danny Graham (Swansea City to Sunderland for £5M)
    Stewart Downing (Liverpool to West Ham United for £6M)
    Victor Anichebe (Everton to West Bromwich Albion for £6M)
    Jozy Altidore (AZ to Sunderland for £6M)
    Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland to West Bromwich Albion for £6.5M)
    Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund to Wolfsburg for £6.7M)
    Luis Alberto (Sevilla to Liverpool for £6.8M)
    Demba Ba (Newcastle United to Chelsea for £7M)
    Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo to Liverpool for £7.7M)
    Josuha Guilavogui (Saint-Etienne to Atletico Madrid for £8.4M)
    Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon to Norwich City for £8.5M)
    Alessandro Matri (Juventus to AC Milan for £9.2M)
    Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace to Manchester United for £10M)
    Christopher Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala to Queens Park Rangers for £12.5M)
    Paulinho (Corinthians to Tottenham Hotspur for £17M)
    Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sevilla to Monaco for £17.2M)
    Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea for £18M)
    Roberto Soldado (Valencia to Tottenham Hotspur for £26M)
    Marouane Fellaini (Everton to Manchester United for £27.5M)
    Erik Lamela (Roma to Tottenham Hotspur for £30M)
    Willian (Anzhi Makhachkala to Chelsea for £30M)

Notable Best Transfer Omissions

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    Alex Grimm/Getty Images

    Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich for £31.5M): By far, the best deal when compared to Ozil, Neymar, Cavani and Bale. 

    Gotze would have made the list if he played a couple more games at the standard he is playing at right now.

    Currently he is one of the most efficient players in Europe (four league goals from 15 shots; three UEFA Champions League goals from eight shots). 

    But this slideshow will not project what happens in the future. As of now, he narrowly misses out. 

     

    Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid to Arsenal for £42.5M): Has to be world-class week in, week out to justify his transfer fee.

    Where was he against Chelsea? Quiet against Napoli. Registered an assist against Manchester City but Bacary Sagna created more goal-scoring chances that game. 

    Does Ozil lead Europe's elite leagues in assists? Nope. Does he lead in goal-scoring chances created per game? Again, no. 

    Pound-for-pound, there is no doubt Borussia Monchengladbach got a better deal for Max Kruse, who has scored and created a combined 13 league goals than Arsenal did for Ozil (scored and created combined 11). 

     

    Neymar (Santos to Barcelona for £48.6M): £48.6 million or wait one year and get him on a free transfer when he wanted to join the club. 

    "But Real Madrid could have signed him!" Was he going to replace Cristiano Ronaldo?

    Trust Barcelona to spend £48.6 million on another forward despite desperately needing to reinforce the back line. 

    Came up big in El Clasico and needs to play at that standard every match.  

     

    Edinson Cavani (Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain for £55.6M): Lorient's Vincent Aboubakar is one league goal behind Cavani and cost £55.6 million less.

     

    Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid for £78M): In 45 minutes against Atletico Madrid, Gareth Bale had one shot on target and did not create a goal-scoring opportunity.

    Shrunk in his first El Clasico whereas Neymar rose to the occasion. 

    Bale can pad up his stats against irrelevant teams but he must perform in the important games. 

BEST: Kelvin Leerdam (Feyenoord to Vitesse on a Bosman)

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    Kelvin Leerdam's goal-scoring instinct is incredible having netted seven times in the Eredivisie this season.

    Defensively, he's OK but there are still positioning issues he needs to sort out if he wants to play at the highest level. 

    He would be perfect as a wing-back in a 3-5-2. 

BEST: Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano to Valencia on a Bosman)

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    During the 2011-12 season for Rayo Vallecano, Javi Fuego intercepted 221 passes. 

    He is a natural ball-hawk who bosses the midfield, so Valencia hit the jackpot when they secured him on a Bosman deal. 

    This season, Fuego has upped his pass completion percentage to 87.4 in La Liga, a career-high since the 2009-10 season. 

BEST: Jose Canas (Real Betis to Swansea City on a Bosman)

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    Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

    Jose Canas seemed like another regular La Liga midfielder as his highest pass completion percentage in the past two seasons was 83.2.

    Well, it's now 91.1 for Swansea City, so Michael Laudrup saw something in Canas the stats could not project.

    It seems like he has extra time when in possession despite the Premier League's speed and opposing teams trying to shut him down knowing he sets the tempo for the Swans.

BEST: Vincent Aboubakar (Valenciennes to Lorient on a Bosman)

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic (15), Edinson Cavani (12) and Vincent Aboubakar (11) are the only players to have scored 10 Ligue 1 goals or more this season. 

    Aboubakar was a Bosman signing for Lorient yet he is right behind Cavani in goals scored. 

    This is a perfect example of a talented player in Aboubakar, who was inconsistent at Valenciennes, being the right fit at a club that trusts him. 

     

BEST: Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan to Arsenal on a Bosman)

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Mathieu Flamini arrived at Arsenal from Marseille on a free transfer.

    He left Arsenal for AC Milan on a free transfer and then came back to the Gunners on a free transfer.

    Flamini is the midfield enforcer Arsenal have missed.

    He efficiently recycles possession well (completes 92 percent of his passes in league play) and will be vital as the team strives to win the Premier League.

BEST: Hugo Campagnaro (Napoli to Inter Milan on a Bosman)

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    In Hugo Campagnaro's first season at Inter Milan, he has managed to keep his fouls per game to 0.6 while still being an uncompromising tackler. 

    He has won back possession 58 times while only giving away six free-kicks. 

    Campagnaro is an exceptional defender and is at home as a right-sided centre-back in a back three. 

BEST: Mounir Obbadi (Troyes to Monaco for £1M)

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Writing for Bleacher Report, Andy Brassell included a wonderful anecdote about a modest Mounir Obbadi still shocked he can even call himself a Monaco player: " 'Toulalan, Moutinho, Obbadi—spot the mistake.' So read a text message that Monaco midfielder Mounir Obbadi sent to his friend, and former coach at Troyes, Jean-Marc Furlan."

    Obbadi scored a priceless winner against Nantes, he works hard off the ball and he is a reliable passing outlet.

    The £17.2 million-valued Geoffrey Kondogbia watches on wondering if he will ever displace Obbadi from the starting XI.

     

BEST: Vitorino Antunes (Pacos Ferreira to Malaga for £1.1M)

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Vitorino Antunes is a resilient left-back who is a robust tackler.

    He does not dawdle in possession because it's a hoof up the field and away from the penalty box.

    Malaga need this kind of defence-first attitude because they do not score enough goals (19 in 17 league games), so Antunes will play a sizable role in Malaga staying above the relegation zone.

     

BEST: Alexandru Maxim (Pandurii Targu Jiu to Stuttgart for £1.3M)

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    Alexandru Maxim was world-class in a very open game against Hoffenheim (the match ended 6-2 to Stuttgart) as he scored two and created another two. 

    He has tapered off since and would have been concerned when he started on the bench with Stuttgart lining up in a 4-4-2 against Wolfsburg. 

    He is a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 but the 4-4-2 allows wunderkind Timo Werner to play up front with Vedad Ibisevic.

    For the right price, Stuttgart could be willing to sell Maxim, a player with vision and a set-piece specialist.

BEST: Aron Johannsson (AGF Aarhus to AZ for £1.7M)

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    Christian Hofer/Getty Images

    Lose Jozy Altidore?

    No problems, AZ have adequately replaced him with Aron Johannsson, a former Icelandic youth international who has pledged his allegiance to the United States national team.

    Johannsson has scored 11 goals for AZ and is taking advantage of a creative pass-first midfielder in Maarten Martens.

BEST: Henri Bedimo (Montpellier to Lyon for £1.7M)

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    Henri Bedimo isn't just a proven defender but he has been racing forward and creating goal-scoring chances for his teammates.

    He has the same amount of league assists this season (five) as Paris Saint Germain's £35 million-valued Lucas Moura.

    Talk about smart business from Lyon.

BEST: Simon Kjaer (Wolfsburg to Lille for £1.7M)

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    Simon Kjaer's partnership with Marko Basa, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama's heroics and a tough midfield triumvirate of Florent Balmont, Rio Mavuba and Idrissa Gueye are reasons why Lille have the best defensive record in Ligue 1.

    Kjaer went form being one of the most highly touted defenders to a fallen star.

    He has resuscitated his career with Lille, a team that took a calculated gamble on him.

     

BEST: Max Kruse (Freiburg to Borussia Monchengladbach for £2.1M)

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Max Kruse, a £2.1 million signing, is performing on par with £42.5 million-valued Mesut Ozil this season. 

    League OnlyKruse Ozil
    Goals84
    Shots Per Goal5.45
    Assists57
    Shots Created Per Game2.93.0
    Pass Success %84.487.1
    Dribbles Per Game4.41.7

     

    It is a testament to how strong the German national team is to have a reserve such as Kruse being one of the best players in Europe this season. 

    With the ball at his feet, Kruse is a complete attacker. 

    He is class whether he is taking penalties, threading through-balls or going past countless defenders. 

     

BEST: Curtis Davies (Birmingham City to Hull City for £2.3M)

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Curtis Davies is quietly building up a case for him being one of the best defenders in the Premier League right now.

    With no big names in the back line, a Davies-led Hull City have only conceded 25 goals in 20 games. 

    He is Hull's unsung hero.

     

BEST: Diego Lopez (Sevilla to Real Madrid for £2.9M)

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Even after one great save after another, Diego Lopez is not a loved figure at Real Madrid as the majority of their fanbase want Iker Casillas back.

    Casillas, who was outstanding in the 2-2 draw against Juventus, making 10 saves, could leave if Lopez continues to be the No. 1 for Real in La Liga.

    What Real president Florentino Perez will probably do is sell Lopez, an elite keeper who will make the club a handy profit, in order to reinstate Casillas.

    Lopez was always a short-term option.

BEST: Emmanuel Riviere (Toulouse to Monaco for £3.4M)

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    Are Monaco's players making Emmanuel Riviere better than he really is or is this a new and improved version that is here to stay long-term?

    Riviere, who was a serviceable forward at Toulouse and Saint Etienne, is just one league goal behind Falcao despite making four less starts.

    Mind you, having the likes of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho in the same starting XI will make most strikers look good.

BEST: Raffael (Dynamo Kyiv to Borussia Monchengladbach for £4.2M)

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    In Raffael's last 10 Bundesliga games, he has found the back of the net six times and has created three goals.

    He is world-class in Borussia Monchengladbach manager Lucien Favre's No. 9-less 4-4-2.

    Raffael and Max Kruse, the "2" in the 4-4-2, have the license to do as they please which is why they are such a potent partnership.

BEST: Jose Callejon (Real Madrid to Napoli for £8.4M)

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    For a while, Jose Callejon was known as the guy who unknowingly gave Jose Mourinho a piggy-back ride in one of the Portuguese's more exuberant celebrations.

    Callejon went from being an undisputed starter at Espanyol to a rotation player at Real Madrid.

    When he was given a chance, he showed he had quality to be a great player.

    He once scored five times in one UEFA Champions League campaign.

    Now at Napoli, he is one of the most lethal wide attacking players in Serie A, already netting eight times this season.

BEST: Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal to Fiorentina for £8.4M)

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    Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    Fiorentina rolled the dice on Giuseppe Rossi's fitness and now he is worth £30 million plus.

    Rossi had suffered successive anterior cruciate ligament injuries and Fiorentina managed to convince Villarreal to relinquish a world-class talent but one with an uncertain future.

    Fiorentina would take on an injured player and hope he overcame the odds.

    He did.

    He has scored 14 Serie A goals this season, relying on high football IQ, well-timed runs and composure in front of goals.

BEST: Carlos Tevez (Manchester City to Juventus for £10M)

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    Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

    Carlos Tevez's divorce from Manchester City worked out for both parties. 

    Juventus received a world-class No. 9 at a reduced price, City didn't need to deal with the regular Tevez soap opera and he was given a chance to re-boot from a psychological perspective. 

    His partnership with Fernando Llorente, a big-man, small-man combo, is constantly improving. 

BEST: Mehdi Benatia (Udinese to Roma for £11.3M)

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    Mehdi Benatia is a top-five defender this season. 

    He has already intercepted 50 passes and won 50 headers.

    Last season, Roma conceded 1.5 goals per league game. This season, it has plummeted to 0.4.

    Benatia has been a big reason why Roma have conceded the least amount of goals in Serie A. 

     

BEST: Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea to Liverpool for £12M)

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Then Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas thought Daniel Sturridge was England's answer to Hulk.

    The Blues had a world-class No. 9 at their club yet they were either playing him out wide or sitting him on the bench.

    Eventually Liverpool took advantage.

    He has scored 19 times in 26 Premier League games since joining the club.

BEST: Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven to Roma for £15M)

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Manchester United could have used £27.5 million to sign a complete midfielder in Kevin Strootman, who can pass the ball like a Barcelona player, is gritty in the tackle and is box-to-box.

    He would be perfect in United's midfield but since Roma are flying high, they are not going to relinquish such an important player in Strootman unless it's for £50 million.

     

     

BEST: Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla to Manchester City for £16.4M)

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    If Alvaro Negredo started every Premier League game, he would probably have 15 goals. 

    He has scored five times in the UEFA Champions League despite four of his six appearances being off the bench. 

    He is making the impact at Manchester City that Tottenham Hotspur expect from Roberto Soldado.

BEST: Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester City for £30M)

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    The Yaya Toure-Fernandinho midfield partnership is so dynamic.

    Toure already has 10 goals in league-play while Fernandinho has won back possession 100 times in 18 Premier League games.

    Since Fernandinho is so fit, he makes darting runs into the attacking half which is why he is a goal-threat as Arsenal and Swansea City found out. 

     


    25 Best European Transfers of 2013

    Kelvin Leerdam (Feyenoord to Vitesse on a Bosman)
    Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano to Valencia on a Bosman)
    Jose Canas (Real Betis to Swansea City on a Bosman)
    Vincent Aboubakar (Valenciennes to Lorient on a Bosman)
    Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan to Arsenal on a Bosman)
    Hugo Campagnaro (Napoli to Inter Milan on a Bosman)
    Mounir Obbadi (Troyes to Monaco for £1M)
    Vitorino Antunes (Pacos Ferreira to Malaga for £1.1M):
    Alexandru Maxim (Pandurii Targu Jiu to Stuttgart for £1.3M)
    Aron Johannsson (AGF Aarhus to AZ for £1.7M)
    Henri Bedimo (Montpellier to Lyon for £1.7M)
    Simon Kjaer (Wolfsburg to Lille for £1.7M)
    Max Kruse (Freiburg to Borussia Monchengladbach for £2.1M)
    Curtis Davies (Birmingham City to Hull City for £2.3M)
    Diego Lopez (Sevilla to Real Madrid for £2.9M)
    Emmanuel Riviere (Toulouse to Monaco for £3.4M)
    Raffael (Dynamo Kyiv to Borussia Monchengladbach for £4.2M)
    Jose Callejon (Real Madrid to Napoli for £8.4M)
    Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal to Fiorentina for £8.4M)
    Carlos Tevez (Manchester City to Juventus for £10M) 
    Mehdi Benatia (Udinese to Roma for £11.3M)
    Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea to Liverpool for £12M)
    Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven to Roma for £15M)
    Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla to Manchester City for £16.4M)
    Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester City for £30M)


    25 Worst European Transfers of 2013

    Peter Odemwingie (West Bromwich Albion to Cardiff City for £2.3M)
    Marcelo Guedes (PSV Eindhoven to Hannover 96 for £2.3M)
    Aleksandar Tonev (Lech Poznan Aston Villa for £2.5M)
    Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea to PSV Eindhoven for £2.5M)
    Danny Graham (Swansea City to Sunderland for £5M)
    Stewart Downing (Liverpool to West Ham United for £6M)
    Victor Anichebe (Everton to West Bromwich Albion for £6M)
    Jozy Altidore (AZ to Sunderland for £6M)
    Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland to West Bromwich Albion for £6.5M)
    Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund to Wolfsburg for £6.7M)
    Luis Alberto (Sevilla to Liverpool for £6.8M)
    Demba Ba (Newcastle United to Chelsea for £7M)
    Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo to Liverpool for £7.7M)
    Josuha Guilavogui (Saint-Etienne to Atletico Madrid for £8.4M)
    Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon to Norwich City for £8.5M) 
    Alessandro Matri (Juventus to AC Milan for £9.2M)
    Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace to Manchester United for £10M)
    Christopher Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala to Queens Park Rangers for £12.5M)
    Paulinho (Corinthians to Tottenham Hotspur for £17M)
    Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sevilla to Monaco for £17.2M)
    Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea for £18M)
    Roberto Soldado (Valencia to Tottenham Hotspur for £26M)
    Marouane Fellaini (Everton to Manchester United for £27.5M)
    Erik Lamela (Roma to Tottenham Hotspur for £30M)
    Willian (Anzhi Makhachkala to Chelsea for £30M)


    Statistics via WhoScoredFFT Stats ZoneSquawka and Transfermarkt.

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