10 Biggest Signings of the January Transfer Window so Far

Laura GreeneFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

10 Biggest Signings of the January Transfer Window so Far

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    The winter transfer window has been open for three weeks and, true to form, it has yielded more speculation than actual shopping thus far.

    Prepare yourself for a flurry of activity on deadline day. As midnight approaches, clubs will place all their bets on the trusty office fax machine and groups of supporters will hang around in cold car parks, waiting for a glimpse of their new signing. Or some bloke in a car.

    But several sides have already delved into the market, perhaps spending over the odds in a bid to get new players.

    In this slideshow, we look at the biggest deals of the January window so far. Criteria for making the list includes: a) making a big-money move; b) being a terrific piece of business; and c) being a proven, well-known player.

    Arranged from least to most expensive, read on for more.

Keisuke Honda, AC Milan

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    Age: 27

    Transfer Fee: Free 

    From: CSKA Moscow

    To: AC Milan 

    AC Milan got quite the bargain when they signed up Keisuke Honda. With his contract expired at CSKA Moscow, the Japanese No. 10 arrived on a free transfer—a move that Honda called "his destiny."

    As seen on the BBC Sport website, the former Japanese Footballer of the Year said:

    I knew one day my dream would be realised. When I was 12, I wrote in an essay that one day I would play in Serie A as a number 10.

    My career was destined to be here and my heart was set on Milan.

    The 27-year-old has won 52 caps for his country and helped CSKA to win the Russian Premier League, two Russian Cups and the Russian Super Cup.

    He also seems to have slipped seamlessly into life at his new club, now coached by Clarence Seedorf. In his home debut for the Rossoneri, Honda scored against Spezia Calcio in the Coppa Italia. 

    Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani said on BBC Sport: "Honda is the first Japanese player to wear the Milan shirt. He will be given the number 10 shirt, worn by Ruud Gullit, Savicevic, Boban, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Boateng."

Aiden McGeady, Everton

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    Age: 27

    Transfer fee: Undisclosed

    From: Spartak Moscow

    To: Everton

    Aiden McGeady signed a four-and-a-half year deal with Everton on January 11, after spending almost four years in the Russian Premier League with Spartak Moscow.

    If the 27-year-old can recreate the performances that he displayed in his younger days with Celtic, the Toffees will have spent very wisely.

    According to BBC Sport, Everton could have got the player for free if they had waited until the summer, but they paid an undisclosed fee to make his move immediate. 

    The Republic of Ireland international was a product of the Celtic youth academy, where he broke into the first team and racked up almost 200 appearances. Named the club's Young Player of the Year three times at Celtic Park, McGeady also won four Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups. He was also voted SPFA's Players' Player of the Year in 2008.

    Transfermarkt puts his transfer fee at £1.7 million which, if correct, is a steal for the Merseyside club.

Jucilei, Al Jazira

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    Age: 25

    Transfer fee: £5.2 million

    From: Anzhi Makhachkala

    To: Al Jazira (Abu Dhabi)

    When Jucilei parted ways with Anzhi Makhachkala on January 13, it looked like he might be destined for a move to a well-established Europe side.

    The 25-year-old has two Brazil caps and was recently linked with a move to Serie A with both Napoli and Inter Milan, as seen in Tuttosport (via Sambafoot.com), but ended up making a switch to the Arabian Gulf League with Al Jazira.

    Jucilei is the latest in a long line of players to be sold by Anzhi—where significant budget cuts have forced a sale of the club's top players—including Samuel Eto'o, Willian and Lassana Diarra, who all moved on in the summer.

    The Brazilian came to the Russian Premier League in 2011, at a time when owner Suleyman Kerimov was pouring money into the side. He made 100 appearances before getting a move to Abu Dhabi.

    Signed in the same week as former Manchester City and Lokomotiv Moscow striker Felipe Caicedo, Al Jazira obviously have ambition and money to burn. In Jucilei, they have got a solid midfielder who still has many years ahead of him. 

Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC

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    Jag Gundu/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Transfer fee: £6.4 million

    From: Tottenham Hotspur

    To: Toronto FC

    Jermain Defoe won't technically start playing for Toronto FC until February; however, he has already agreed a deal to join the club.

    It felt a little surreal when it was reported that rapper Drake had convinced the striker to make his move. Also, before you could say "Due South," there were mocked-up pictures of Defoe dressed as a Mountie—staring out of almost every tabloid in England, seen here by the Mirror's John Cross.

    But don't let that put you off, as this is a genuinely good buy for the Major League Soccer side.

    The former West Ham and Portsmouth striker played more than 250 games for Tottenham Hotspur, where he is fifth in the club's all-time goalscorers.

    Defoe's first-team chances have been limited this season, with new signing Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor ahead of him in the pecking order. 

    With one eye on the 2014 World Cup, Defoe is expected to go straight into Toronto's starting XI when they take on Seattle Sounders on March 15.

    Spurs manager Tim Sherwood recently told the Guardian:

    Jermain has been immense. He is one of the best strikers this league has ever seen.

    His scoring record for club and country is second to none and long may that continue. I see him still having a future for England in the World Cup in the summer. He needs to wait until his legs have gone and they're far from gone at the moment.

Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

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    Jag Gundu/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Transfer fee: £6.5 million

    From: Roma

    To: Toronto FC

    The first thing that happened when Michael Bradley's Toronto deal was announced was a good deal of collective head scratching.

    It didn't make much sense.

    Why would the U.S. Men's National Team midfielder swap high-flying Roma for Toronto? Furthermore, why would he choose to make this move at the age of 26 when a number of European clubs would likely be interested?

    A lack of playing time at the Serie A club pointed towards a potential exit, but the MLS seemed like it might be a move to consider in a few years' time. However, Bradley chose to join Toronto and it's a huge coup for Ryan Nelsen's side.

    The former Heerenveen, Borussia Monchengladbach and Chievo man has 71 caps for the USA and, according to ESPNFC's Jeff Carlisle, is set to earn an annual salary in the region of $6.5 million.

Nikica Jelavic, Hull City

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    Paul Thomas/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    Transfer fee: £6.5 million

    From: Everton

    To: Hull City

    Hull City splashed out on two strikers last week when they added Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long to their current squad.

    Jelavic had failed to play a full 90 minutes for Everton this season and was on the bench 10 times—a certain Romelu Lukaku preferred ahead of him in manager Roberto Martinez's plans.

    The Croatian striker's Premier League career got off to a good start with Everton, where he registered seven top-flight goals after making a switch from Glasgow Rangers. However, he's failed to find the back of the net since March 2013.

    His transfer fee, officially undisclosed—as seen in the Guardian—is understood to be £6.5m, rising to £7.5m if Hull stay in the Premier League.

    Upon signing, Jelavic told the Daily Mail's Colin Young that he had to leave Goodison Park to keep his World Cup dreams alive:

    I have to look after myself. The World Cup is coming up and the best thing was to move. We missed the last World Cup so this was a big chance after a long time to go again, especially now it’s Brazil and it was something big for every one of us when we qualified and very emotional.

    The change of manager at Everton did not help me. I started the season but Romelu (Lukaku) came in, he was on fire and I'm pleased for him.

    After the conversation with Steve Bruce, he convinced me to move here. He was straight and honest and when you have a manager who believes in you from the first day, you're going to give him your best. I don’t know much about Hull but I have signed for three and a half years so I can learn.

Shane Long, Hull City

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    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Transfer fee: Thought to be in the region of £7 million 

    From: West Bromwich Albion

    To: Hull City

    Hull City finally got their man on January 17 when Shane Long signed a three-year deal with the club.

    Steve Bruce had been eager to bring the forward to the KC Stadium over the summer, only for a move to break down on transfer deadline day, as reported by the Daily Mail.

    The 27-year-old had 18 months remaining on his deal at West Brom, who were unhappy to see the back of him. The club's sporting director Richard Garlick told BBC Sport this week:

    We began talking to Shane about a new contract last spring and, during the ongoing negotiations, we made two offers which would have significantly increased his salary. 

    Shane effectively only has 18 months left on his deal and with him no closer to accepting our terms and then Hull making an acceptable offer, we felt it was in the club's best interests to accept the bid.

    It's a good piece of business for Hull, who needed more firepower. Long is an experienced top-flight player who put away 22 goals in 97 appearances for West Brom. The 27-year-old has 37 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

Lacina Traore, Monaco

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    Transfer fee: £8.8 million

    From: Anzhi Makhachkala

    To: Monaco

    After spending 18 months on the books with Anzhi Makhachkala, Lacina Traore was sold to Ligue 1 side Monaco on January 4.

    The 6'8" striker looked set to be on his way out of the club after making just five appearances in the Russian Premier League this season.

    Ahead of his switch to the Stade Louis II, the Ivorian had been linked with a move to Liverpool—as reported by David Kent in the Daily Mail

    Despite putting pen to paper with Monaco, it looks like we will still see Traore in the Premier League this season—the 23-year-old has been granted a work permit and looks to be joining Everton on loan.

    Toffees manager Roberto Martinez said in the Guardian this week:

    Lacina is a player who I really like and is someone who would fit in really well in the role we want the player to come in.

    He is a very talented footballer. He is only 23 and has already had a couple of moves [totalling] nearly £30m but every work permit is a difficult one and we will try our best.

    Formerly of Anzhi, Kuban Krasnodar and CFR Cluj, Traore scored 18 goals (in all competitions) with each club.

Kevin De Bruyne, Wolfsburg

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    Peter Steffen/Associated Press

    Age: 22

    Transfer fee: Thought to be in the region of £16 million

    From: Chelsea

    To: Wolfsburg

    It seems like Kevin De Bruyne never really got a fair crack of the whip at Stamford Bridge. In the two years that he was contracted to Chelsea, the 22-year-old only made nine appearances (in all competitions).

    Returned to Genk on loan after becoming a Blue and shipped out to Werder Bremen for the 2012/13 season, he arrived back last summer to find little place for him in Jose Mourinho's plans. 

    It can't have helped matters when Mourinho, asked about De Bruyne and Juan Mata's lack of playing time back in September, said this (via BBC Sport):

    I try to be honest with Juan and say that he's going to play Tuesday, because of what he did in training and because of what he did in the matches he played.

    With Kevin, it's the same. He's not selected because I didn't like the match he played against Swindon and I didn't like the way he was training.

    With regular playing time needed to cement a place at the 2014 World Cup with Belgium and with his Chelsea prospects dwindling, De Bruyne put pen to paper with Wolfsburg on January 18. 

    The 22-year-old should be able to demonstrate why he was voted Bundesliga Young Player of the Year last season, with consistent play at the Volkswagen Arena.

    Perhaps one day, Chelsea may rue letting him go. 

Nemanja Matic, Chelsea

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    Age: 25

    Transfer fee: £20.8 million

    From: Benfica

    To: Chelsea

    In monetary terms, the biggest deal of the winter transfer window so far is Nemanja Matic's £20.8 million move to Chelsea.

    On January 15, the defensive midfielder put pen to paper with the Stamford Bridge team—inking a contract that will run until 2019.

    It's not the first time we've seen Matic at Chelsea. The Serbian rejoined the club that sold him to Benfica two-and-a-half years ago for £4.4 million.

    Matic established himself as a key player in Portugal, where he made 97 appearances and gained valuable experience in the Champions League and Europa League.

    He's already taken to the field for Chelsea, coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 3-1 home win against Manchester United.

    Commenting on the transfer, Blues manager Jose Mourinho told the Guardian:

    I am very pleased that Nemanja is returning to Chelsea. He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I am sure he will become a very important member of the squad and help us to achieve our ambitions.