Ranking the Top 10 Bundesliga Transfers in the January Window
January may have come and gone like a flash in the pan, but as we make our way into February with more European football just around the corner, it's worth taking a note of just what happened over the course of the Bundesliga's January transfer window and which signings were the most important.
Each of the 18 clubs in Germany's top flight took part in the annual ritual, and as such, a number of high-profile players made way for pastures new, and even more young stars could yet break through once they're at a club that's willing to give them a chance.
Here are the top 10 Bundesliga transfers of the January transfer window.
Lesser Known Deals
Before we begin our list, it's worth noting some younger or lesser known players who made their way to the Bundesliga last month in the hope of brighter fortunes.
Carlos Gruezo is an 18-year-old midfielder who joined Stuttgart on loan from none other than Barcelona in Ecuador. The strong central midfielder came up through the ranks at Barcelona as well as the youth teams for Ecuador and may well be the next big thing from the south American nation. If he gets enough game time at Stuttgart, we may not have to wait around to find out.
Werder Bremen also pulled off something of a coup last month with the discreet signing of Polish international Ludovic Obraniak. The old club have been struggling for form this season, and in the former Bordeaux attacking midfielder, they may finally have someone who can help them score goals as well as pick up some vital points.
Another club that seem desperate for solutions are Hamburg and in what could be a smart little signing, they have picked up former Benfica forward Ola John. The left-sided striker didn't have the most successful time in Portugal, but he is certain to get plenty of game time at the Northern club, where he may just find the kind of form that made him so popular at FC Twente in Holland.
Those That Didn't Go Through
When it comes to players who may or may not have made certain moves over the course of the January transfer window, each rumour and suggestion must be taken with a pinch of salt.
It's with such a pessimistic tone that we point to Julian Draxler who was touted as the next big German star to make the move to Arsene Wenger's Arsenal and help them continue their push for an elusive Premier League title. Yet the transfer never came, and at Schalke young Draxler remains.
In a similar case, Bayern Munich's own prodigy Toni Kroos was expected to make his own majestic transfer to England with Manchester United supposedly interested in striking a deal in light of the youngster's contract slowly expiring in Bavaria.
Alas Kroos was never going to leave Bayern, even if they'd consider striking a deal with United, and so he remains in Munich as one of Pep Guardiola's most trusted midfielders.
To then complete the trio of players expected to leave Germany's top flight, we have Dortmund's star forward Marco Reus who was touted with a move to, again, Manchester United. Some far-fetched tales of a minimum-release clause were enough to send rumours flying, yet here we are in February with Reus still very much a Dortmund player.
10. Andres Guardado
We kick off our list with an unexpected loan move from Bayer Leverkusen in the form of Andres Guardado from Valencia.
The 27-year-old left-back has been out of favour at the Spanish club for some time, since joining from Deportivo La Coruna, yet he now arrives at Leverkusen with the hope of staking a genuine claim to the left-back position—or at the very least some healthy competition to Emre Can.
In Sami Hyypia's prefered 4-3-3, Guardado could in fact find himself playing in either defence, midfield or even on the left of the attack. He's a useful player who will undoubtedly fill in where needed for his new club.
9. Milos Jojic
Dortmund sport's manager, Michael Zorc, summed up the transfer of Milos Jojic in one sentence when he stated, per BBC Sport: "We are delighted to have a player who can be used in different positions in midfield."
Following Dortmund's incredibly unfortunate run of injuries throughout the first team, this January window was crying out for Jurgen Klopp to bring in some genuine talent to beef up the squad.
In Jojic, Dortmund have a midfielder who can play across their middle five—whether that be central midfield or even out on either wing. The Serbian international brings with him eight goals and seven assists this season—despite only being 21 years old—and some welcome potential to a side in desperate need of hope.
8. Dong-Won Ji
In one of the odder transfers during this window, Dong-Won Ji's move from Sunderland's bench to Dortmund, and then on to Augsburg, came with a few puzzled looks.
Yet with a goal against his new parent club on the first game back, Ji's transfer is slowly being considered one of the more thought-provoking of the window. With bags of talent—and at just 22 years old—this move could end up being a bargain.
7. Artjoms Rudnevs
With two goals in his opening two games for Hannover, Hamburg fans will be cursing their lurk once again as the Latvian goalscorer settles in nicely with life at his new Bundesliga club.
Although Rudnevs was far from a success at his former club, with just 12 goals in 41 appearances, he has started well at Hannover and could be a useful addition to a side that struggle to score anywhere near the number of points conceded.
6. Ja-Cheol Koo
When free from injury, South Korean midfielder Ja-Cheol Koo was an ever present member of the impressionable Augsburg side that overcame all dismissive expectation and finished two points above certain relegation last season.
Yet this year's campaign hasn't been too kind to him following his return to Wolfsburg. As such, the player was then courted by Thomas Tuchel of Mainz, a coach who prides himself on his attention to detail and has now made the permanent move to the mid-table club, where he should find plenty of first-team football.
It's the perfect solution for a 24-year-old midfielder still trying desperately to prove his worth in Germany's top flight.
5. Jan Kirchhoff
With no end in sight for young Jan Kirchhoff's current spell on the injury table at Schalke, it may come as a surprise that a player who may not be back until the end of the current campaign could be considered one of the best signings in this year's winter window.
Yet Kirchhoff will eventually find his feet, and when he does, we'll quickly remember just how brilliant he was at Mainz before he made the premature move to Bayern.
Whether at centre-back or a hard-tackling defensive midfielder, the young German international has the potential to be one of the best in the Bundesliga, and if Schalke can harness that at the Bavarian club's loss, then we have a very, very good deal on our hands. Let's hope for this young man's sake that he finds his feet in Gelsenkirchen before too long.
4. Sidney Sam
Although Sidney Sam's move to Schalke won't go through until the summer, it was confirmed in January and is very much a turning point in the shape of sides at the start of this new year.
As the wide man returned from injury this weekend, his side pulled back from a goal down against plucky Stuttgart and recorded their first win of 2014. Yet it is his club to be, Schalke, that have now won two on the trot and sit just six points behind Bayer Leverkusen in fourth place.
The momentum has changed hands, and come the end of the season, we may well have Schalke on top with Leverkusen's star wide man on his way to add insult to injury.
Diego's last-minute move from Wolfsburg to Atletico Madrid may come as something of a surprise to those who don't follow the side, yet for regular Bundesliga fans this transfer had Dieter Hecking's handiwork written all over it.
Without Diego in the side, the Wolves simply look more balanced as players such as Daniel Caligiuri can now come in to the side and offer a little more defensive nouse, whilst Kevin De Bruyne takes up his new mantle as playmaker in chief. To put it simply: Wolfsburg are a more structured side without Diego, and that is certainly a good thing.
2. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski climbs high on this list through the same clause as Sidney Sam, as a player who has yet to actually make his move from one club to the next but concluded the deal itself in January.
The Polish striker may still be fighting hard for Borussia Dortmund from now until the end of the season, yet his impeding transfer to Bayern Munich is a move that will undoubtedly help set the tone for the fate of future championships to come. He has been pivotal in any success for Jurgen Klopp's side for a number of years, and he is now set to do the same for Pep Guardiola in Bavaria.
Lewandowski is quite simply one of the best players in the Bundesliga right now, and next season he'll be joining the best club in the league. When it comes to symbolic deals, they don't come much bigger than this.
1. Kevin De Bruyne
At No. 1 we have the unquestionable talent that is Kevin de Bruyne. For a reported fee of around £17 million, pr BBC Sport, Wolfsburg dug deep to ensure they got their man amongst a long list of potential alternatives for the young midfielder.
As we mentioned previously, the club didn't wait around to offload former star Diego, and as we look at Hecking's side now—with the former Chelsea prodigy lodged in his favoured No. 10 role—it comes as little surprise to note that de Bruyne comes to Wolfsburg as the Brazilian's direct replacement.
Alongside Luiz Gustavo, another top transfer the club made in the summer from Bayern, de Bruyne represents a new, committed project from the hierarchy at Wolfsburg. They want to be one of Germany's top clubs again, and they believe they can achieve such a goal with this young star in charge.