Picking a Best XI from the January Window Transfers
With the January transfer window having now firmly closed for business once again for the season, we take a look back at the most eye-catching bits of business done last month and select our best XI from those purchases.
And so this is our final 11—lining up in a 3-5-1-1 formation—chosen from the most impressive buys in the winter window…
Goalkeeper: Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers to Crystal Palace)
The struggling Premier League outfit managed to pick up the experienced Wales international on transfer deadline day, and it surely will not be too long before Eagles manager Tony Pulis gives the 27-year-old his chance to impress in goal at Selhurst Park.
Hennessey came through the ranks as a youngster at Manchester City before joining Wolves' academy in 2003 and in his eight years at Molineux, the shot stopper proved himself to be one of the most impressive young custodians in the country, while the Welshman has also been capped 41 times by his country in a seven-year international career to date.
Defender: Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea to Aston Villa)
What a coup for the relegation threatened Midlands giants to be able to lure the highly talented England international left back from Stamford Bridge to Villa Park, albeit only on a six-month loan deal.
The 24-year-old has appeared in over 50 matches for the Blues during the last four years, including even starting the 2012 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich, with Villa coach Paul Lambert beating off stiff competition from big guns such as Liverpool in order to land the marauding full back last month.
Defender: Kurt Zouma (St Etienne to Chelsea)
Without doubt one of the best pieces of business done across the whole of Europe last month, with the Blues landing the tough-tackling and no-nonsense France international centre back for only £12 million.
And despite being just 19 years of age, Zouma is already considered one of the most impressive young centre backs in the world, with les Bleus national team boss Didier Deschamps even declaring that the player will captain his country one day.
Defender: Adil Rami (Valencia to AC Milan)
The Rossoneri agreed a deal to take the experienced central defender on loan back in October, and already the 28-year-old has provided a calming influence to Milan’s otherwise rocky back line, while Rami even popped up with a goal against Torino on Saturday.
And the Frenchman, who only three years ago was helping Lille to win the Ligue 1 title before a €10m move to Mestalla, has already been a welcome addition to new Milan head coach Clarence Seedorf’s starting lineup at San Siro.
Midfield: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United to Paris Saint-Germain)
Eighteen goals and 15 assists in all competitions in his two-and-a-half seasons at St James’ Park represented an impressive return for the French playmaker, whose metronomic passing, devilish set plays and all-round class will now be on show at the Parc des Princes following his £19m move across the Channel.
And with seven strikes in just 19 Premier League outings for the north-east giants this season before he joined the Ligue 1 champions, the mega-rich Parisians have landed themselves one of the most cultured ball-playing midfielders on the Continent.
Midfield: Ever Banega (Valencia to Newell’s Old Boys)
The Argentinian side may just have pulled off the loan capture of the entire January transfer window if they can somehow transform the gifted 25-year-old into the player that first persuaded los Che to splash out €20m in order to sign him from Boca Juniors six years ago.
This is after all not only a player who captained Boca at just 19 years of age, but who also then went on to win the Copa Libertadores title with the Buenos Aires-based giants within only months of making his first-team debut for the club.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic (Benfica to Chelsea)
A fee of £21m may seem steep for the Serbia international, especially when you used to own the player in the first place, however, the 25-year-old won’t take long to convince those sceptics of his worth to the west London club.
And that is because the Blues have re-signed a vastly superior midfielder to the one they foolishly allowed to depart Stamford Bridge three years ago, with Matic not only being voted the best player in the Portuguese league last season, but he also came second in the voting for the prestigious FIFA Puskas award.
Midfield: Diego (Wolfsburg to Atletico De Madrid)
This is the second time that the former Brazil international has joined Atleti on loan from Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg, but the attacking midfielder has all the necessary attributes and skills to enable him to slip seamlessly straight back into the high-flying Liga side’s starting lineup.
In fact, the 28-year-old has already netted on his first match back for Diego Simeone’s men in their 4-0 thrashing of Real Sociedad at the Vincente Calderon on Sunday night and with a glittering CV that includes the Portuguese league, Intercontinental Cup, UEFA Europa League and Copa America, Diego was one of the captures of the January window.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea to Wolfsburg)
After months of protracted negotiations, the Bundesliga side eventually sealed a five-year deal for the ginger-haired Belgium at a cost of £17 million, which, judging by the lacklustre form he displayed at Chelsea in the first half of this campaign, may seem excessive.
However, anyone who saw the wide man perform while on a season-long loan with fellow German outfit Werder Bremen back in 2012-13, when the 22-year-old managed to register an eye-catching 10 goals and 11 assists in 34 matches, will know full well that Wolfsburg have just signed one of the most promising young midfield talents on planet football.
Playmaker: Juan Mata (Chelsea to Manchester United)
The Premier League champions splashed out a club-record £37.1m to bring the diminutive Spaniard to Old Trafford, and the 25-year-old has already started to live up to his reputation as the king of the assists by setting up striker Robin van Persie for the opener against Cardiff City last Tuesday night within just six minutes of his debut.
And if the twinkle-toed playmaker can create anywhere near as many as the 38 goals that Mata laid on for Chelsea team-mates in his first two campaigns in west London, then the Red Devils will feel it has been money well spent.
Forward: Hernanes (Lazio to Inter Milan)
The Brazil international’s arrival at San Siro could be just the fillip that the under-performing Nerazzurri are in need of after a woeful first half of the campaign, especially with the technically accomplished 28-year-old known for his goalscoring abilities after netting 40 times in his three-and-a-half seasons in the Italian capital.
And do not forget either that this is a player who was voted Brazilian Footballer of the Year back in 2008 while with Sao Paulo.