Ranking the 20 Worst Transfers of the January Transfer Window
This article profiles the 20 worst transfers of the January transfer window. Naturally, there is no exact science to this process and indeed, Bleacher Report fully expects that a number of the players named and shamed within these slides will go on to prove us wrong over the coming months.
However, at the time of writing, these are the deals done over the last month that appear to be either too expensive, unnecessary, too risky or downright daft.
Is there someone we have missed? Have we done a disservice to your club’s latest superstar? Comment below and let us know who you would (or would not) have included among this selection.
20. Mohamed Salah
I have written extensively about Mohamed Salah over the last three years and I am under no illusion about his supreme natural gifts.
This is a player destined for the top of the sport.
My only fear, however, is that Chelsea is not the environment for such a talent and that, years from now, Salah may look back on this move with regret.
The club have been busy stock-piling some of the world’s finest players and now have a glut of excellent stars, none of whom can be too confident of getting near the first team. Is Salah destined to follow the pathway of Victor Moses and Christian Atsu, two more terrific young African wingers, who were bought by the club only to be sent out on loan when other options materialised?
Similarly, personnel to fit into the three positions behind the striker (in Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 formation) can be found in abundance at Stamford Bridge. For Salah to establish himself at Stamford Bridge, he will need to compete with the lies of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Andre Schurrle, the aforementioned Moses and Atsu.
Poor old Gael Kakuta looks like slipping even further down the pecking order!
19. Kevin De Bruyne
Unlike some of the dross featured within these slides, Kevin de Bruyne is a talented player who can look forward to a good, solid career.
However, it’s hard to argue that, at £17 million, he was good value for money. While Chelsea, who bought him for £7 million, have done a fantastic bit of business, Wolfsburg may be questioning the wisdom of their dealings.
De Bruyne struggled to assert himself at Chelsea, looked underwhelming in one too many fixtures and, ultimately, fell out with Mourinho. He was accused by the manager, according to the Daily Mail, of being a poor trainer and will need to rebuild his reputation at the Volkswagen Arena.
I fear that the boots of departing playmaker Diego may be too big for the young Belgian to fill.
Elderson is an accomplished left-back who has come on leaps and bounds over the last 18 months, both in his performances with Portuguese side Braga and the Nigerian national side.
His high-profile switch to Monaco during this January window was met with immediate celebration among Nigerian fans, many of whom delighted at one of their stars earning the right to test himself on the Riviera.
Joy turned to apprehension as Super Eagles fans learned of the presence of one Layvin Kurzawa.
Kurzawa, a French youth international, has been the outstanding left-back in Ligue 1 this season.
I wrote the following about the youngster in a recent feature with Bleacher Report:
...[he] has scored three times, set up two goals, averaged 1.3 shots per game and has been named Man of the Match on five occasions—more than once every four games.
It will take a massive effort from Elderson to unseat this supremely talented young defender.
17. Yohan Cabaye
Obviously, Yohan Cabaye is a fine player who will be a great loss to Newcastle United. He can, on occasion, be an inspirational figure in the heart of midfield, while he has often acted as the creative hub of Alan Pardew’s side.
His departure, to Paris Saint-Germain, means far more of a downside to the Magpies than an upside for PSG.
First of all, the French giants aren’t short of talent in the heart of the midfield. To establish himself, Cabaye will need to see off the likes of Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi, Javier Pastore and Marco Verratti.
Even the prodigious Adrien Rabiot has received some game time and has made the most of the opportunities to have headed his way.
Secondly, the key ambition PSG should have is progress in the Champions League. Retaining the Ligue 1 title, despite the presence of some accomplished teams in the division, should be a given for a team with their resources and at this stage of their development.
It is in the European competitions where the capital club need to make a major statement of intent.
Is Cabaye the right man for this objective? While he has some European experience, with both Lille and Newcastle, does he have enough quality (and, at 28, enough room for growth) to truly influence the elite end of European competition?
16. Roger Johnson
West Ham are desperate for defensive cover. Sam Allardyce is scouring the market for that centre-back who can bring a resiliency to the defence that has, for too long, been absent.
Who does he turn to?
Johnson isn’t a dreadful player and was once a solid EPL stopper when in partnership with Scott Dann. In the intervening years, however, he has looked mediocre at Wolves in the Championship and has also endured relegations.
With Winston Reid recovering from injury, it’s hard to see Johnson impressing in the top flight like he once did.
15. Konstantinos Mitroglou
I am sticking my neck out here because I fully believe that Mitroglou is a fine forward who has a combination of qualities that set him apart as one of Europe’s most exciting strikers.
The reason he has made this list is more to do with timing and context than anything intrinsic about the player himself.
To adapt to the Premier League is one thing; to adapt having come from the Greek top flight—a division of much lower quality than the EPL—is another.
Mitroglou, however, doesn’t have time. Fulham are rock bottom of the division with 19 points, four behind Crystal Palace in 17th place. Goalscoring hasn’t been their key deficiency; while they have scored 22, more than three other clubs, their defensive record (conceded 53) is easily the worst in the division.
If the Cottagers do survive, I believe it will be the likes of Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and William Kvist who ensure their safety rather than the £11 million Greek international.
14. Michael Essien
It is often forgotten just what a fine player Essien has been. The midfielder was a powerful, dynamic presence, a true all-rounder, when Chelsea recruited him from Lyon in 2005.
Since then he has won Premier League titles, FA Cups and a Champions League title to go with the honours he won in France but has largely seen his career savaged by injury.
At 31, Essien is surely, profoundly, past his best.
This makes his switch from Chelsea to Milan quite a strange one.
The Rossoneri do have a fine track record for reinvigorating and preserving ageing talent, but one must doubt whether Essien can ever be worth the trouble.
As new boss Clarence Seedorf seeks to impose himself on the club, giving a one-and-a-half-year contract to the Ghanaian is a questionable move. With the likes of Philippe Mexes, Kaka and Nigel de Jong on board, the club aren’t short of experience and it’s not easy to see exactly where Essien fits in.
13. Jordan Ayew
The loan deal that takes Ghanaian Jordan Ayew to Sochaux until the season’s end could go one of two ways.
The Black Stars prodigy has fine natural ability and is capable of changing the complexion of a contest with a moment’s magic. However, in recent seasons, this talent has been on display far too rarely.
He has endured his fair share of disputes and controversy with the national side and has also seen his influence wane at Marseille.
A loan to Sochaux might have been just what the doctor ordered—the jolt to get his career back on track.
But whilst it could be a glorious return to form, it could also be an inglorious failure.
When the going gets tough in Franche-Comte, is Jordan Ayew really the kind of character new boss Herve Renard wants populating his dressing room?
And what of Ayew? If he cannot impose himself in Montbeliard, can he really expect to be the superstar many had anticipated he would become at OM?
12. Adel Taarabt
The jury is still out on whether Adel Taarabt is a jester or a genius. Joey Barton seemed to think he was the former (via the Guardian), while I have always harboured hope that the Moroccan playmaker might reveal himself, beyond all doubt, to be the latter.
His loan move to Milan is a strange one. Players who tend to struggle at QPR and Fulham in consecutive seasons don’t usually get snapped up by European giants, but that is exactly what has happened to Adel.
The hope is that the presence of glorious playmakers past and present such as Clarence Seedorf, Kaka and Keisuke Honda might inspire the former Tottenham man to achieve what was once anticipated of him.
Many of us are close to giving up hope, and if he fails, the "Enigmatic One" is unlikely to receive this kind of opportunity again.
11. Jermain Defoe
You could argue that Tottenham haven’t done too badly from the Jermain Defoe deal. While they may be a little short of goals during the final months of the season, they have made £6 million from a 31-year-old whose contract was drawing to a close.
Defoe himself hasn’t done too badly, either; he has received a lucrative four-year-deal worth between £68,000-per-week and £90,000-per-week, according to BBC Sport.
He will need to score an awful lot of goals and sell an awful lot of shirts to represent a good investment for Toronto FC, though. A "bloody big deal" maybe, but it remains to be seen whether it was a wise one.
10. Antonio Nocerino
Nocerino is not a bad player and indeed is, on paper, a good addition for West Ham.
However, I fear that this acquisition, albeit on loan, might have a similar destabilising effect to that of Javier Mascherano who was a deadline-day recruit, along with Carlos Tevez, back in 2006.
Few doubted Mascherano’s qualities, but he played only five times for West Ham, unsettling captain Nigel Reo-Coker just enough to help plunge the Hammers into a relegation battle.
Sam Allardyce’s side might just be on the way up again now, but will the addition of Nocerino, an Italian international midfielder who was part of the Euro 2012 squad, destabilise the indefatigable Mark Noble in the heart of the park?
9. Marco Borriello
As with the acquisition of Nocerino, the arrival of Italian international striker Marco Borriello brings with it great risk.
The gamble is not a fiscal one, as the former Milan man has been recruited on loan, but rather one of aptitude and suitability.
I doubt whether 31-year-old Borriello, having never played outside Italy before, can adapt to the Premier League quickly enough to impact West Ham’s relegation battle.
When a forward has the weight of past experience and precedent against them, can the gamble to bring them in—and the potential destabilisation of a tight unit—really be justified? As Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe pointed out: "Marco Borriello has been at 10 different clubs for a reason."
It seems an awfully long time ago that Fabio and his brother Rafael were both considered as the future of Brazilian football. Since then their fortunes have deviated remarkably.
Rafael was a domestic champions last season, a key man in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, while Fabio, unable to unseat either Patrice Evra or Alex Buttner, was sent on loan to QPR.
Having endured one relegation last term, he could be set for another with Cardiff City this season.
Looking unfit and unfocused, Fabio isn’t your typical hardened relegation battler—while his loan deal meant that he avoided the ignominy of a stint in the Championship with the Rs, he may not be so lucky in South Wales.
7. Peter Odemwingie
Mark Hughes swapped Kenwyne Jones for Peter Odemwingie as two dissatisfied forwards received the chance of a fresh start.
I believe that Cardiff City, who received Jones, got a much better deal.
Odemwingie is three years older than the powerful Trinidadian and while Jones could continue to be an anonymous figure, the Nigerian might actually contribute more bad than good.
The striker fell out, very publicly, with fans at West Bromwich Albion and Lokomotiv Moscow and could, potentially, be a very divisive figure at Stoke if not handled correctly.
Having scored four league goals in the last two-and-a-half years, one has to ask the question whether he could ever be truly worth it?
6. Ignacio Scocco
For a second transfer window in a row, Sunderland’s business was characterised by a haphazard trawl around the globe to recruit anonymous players from foreign lands, many, if not all of whom, have no experience in the Premier League.
Several of the players recruited in such a way under Paolo Di Canio during the summer have been sent away on loan, while Gus Poyet has brought in a whole new batch of players to fight the good fight against relegation.
Lee Cattermole must be lost!
Of this lot, Ignacio Scocco (signed for £3 million according to Sky Sports) has the most potential of being a flop.
The striker is short, Argentinian and has spent his career in Mexico, Greece and the UAE to date. At 28, he doesn’t have a great scope for development and may struggle to make an impact.
5. Nikica Jelavic
Hull needed strikers, I completely understand that.
Their top scorer in the league so far is Robbie Brady, who has bagged three in 11 starts. Beyond him, Yannick Sagbo (two goals) and Danny Graham (one goal) have been largely disappointing.
Sone Aluko was looking good, particularly with an excellent winner against Newcastle, but injury has, for the second season in a row, derailed his campaign.
However, while £7 million for Shane Long represents a promising investment, £6.5 million for goal-shy Nikica Jelavic is a lot harder to defend.
The Croatian has been struggling for goals for a long time and whilst he appears to have many of the qualities required in an EPL striker, it is a concern that he has only scored seven league goals since the summer of 2012.
It will be interesting to see how many goals per games Jelavic gets over the coming months compared to someone like John Guidetti, who Stoke loaned from Manchester City.
Ah, "Andow 88"—you have to be pretty special to opt for that name and number on your back.
Few players, only those whose talent and charisma assume such an intimate familiarity, would choose such a branding, and yet Anderson, who hasn’t been good since 2008—and that’s a generous estimate—has chosen exactly that.
The Brazilian midfielder has thoroughly flopped at Manchester United, partly because of the club’s desire to establish him in a position that wasn’t his own, and also because of the weight and fitness issues that have so often undermined his vast potential.
Fiorentina could prove to be a fresh start for the Brazil international, but by the same token, it’s hard to see Anderson…oh, sorry..."Andow"...thriving in a midfield that excels at swift, intricate passing moves.
He is certainly not an adequate replacement for Borja Valero, who is out with a thigh straight according to Football Italia.
3. David N'Gog
Michael Laudrup must be the only man out there who still believes that David N’Gog is of Premier League quality.
The striker looked ill-prepared for life at the top level when he joined Liverpool in 2008. The following three years did little to change the perception and he became a figure of amusement at Liverpool.
Having scored 14 goals in 81 appearances for Bolton, with 48 of those appearances coming in the Championship, one must question whether N’Gog has shown anything that might indicate he can thrive at the top level.
At least, as the cousin of former Newcastle "star" Jean-Alain Boumsong, he won’t hold the family prize for "worst-ever January transfer."
2. Philippe Senderos
It’s hard to imagine that Valencia were totally invested in their recent acquisition of Philippe Senderos. The fact that the Spanish side used a photo of Senderos’ erstwhile Fulham colleague Brede Hangeland in their promotional material (according to the Daily Mail), following the deal, can’t have been very welcoming for the Swiss international.
Anyone who has watched Fulham in recent seasons may suspect that Los Che were probably more likely to have been pursuing Hangeland than his hapless colleague.
Senderos said, as reported by David Wright of the Express, that his Valencia move represents a "great challenge;" here at Bleacher Report, we aren’t convinced the club will share his optimism.
1. Kim Kallstrom
No guessing games here...
There won’t be too many arguing with this one—Arsene Wenger has been heavily criticised since the window ended, with Kim Kallstrom coming as the window’s only addition.
The calls for a striker to support Oliver Giroud and...erm...Nicklas Bendtner fell on deaf ears, while Wenger did little to nothing to counterbalance the loss of Theo Walcott, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Kallstrom is an experienced and respected international, but as observed by Bleacher Report’s Allan Jiang, he arrives at the Premier League too late in his career.
The fact he has turned up injured, with "damaged vertebrae" according to BBC Sport, adds the element of comedy present in all of the best "worst transfer" honours.