The January transfer window is always a bizarre time in football. Without the time enjoyed over the summer to scout and properly watch targets, and with the added pressure of continued competition, clubs are invariably pressed to take more gambles than usual with purchases.
This is why some of Europe's top clubs splash out on eye-catching transfers during the single month of activity. But this is only one side of the coin. It is undoubtable that the window also encourages some moves which leave observers scratching their heads.
Using Arsenal's bid for injury-stricken Sweden international Kim Kallstrom as the figurehead, the following are some of the window's most puzzling, vexing, confusing, mundane, but most of all, underwhelming transfers that occurred during the first month of 2014.
Having lost Shane Long to Hull City, West Bromwich Albion fans could at least console themselves with the thought of a proven, established striker coming in with the funds left by the Irish hitman. The most distinctive feature of his replacement so far, however, is a rather extravagant hairstyle.
Espanyol youngster and France Under-21 international Thievy Bifouma could one day be a world beater. He has yet to show it consistently in Catalunya though, and it is unlikely he will during a loan spell in West Brom (via official website) that appears to be a miscalculation from the Baggies management.
Where does one turn in order to replace a player of Radamel Falcao's calibre? Monaco certainly did not lack the funds to dip into the transfer market, and there was fierce speculation on who would fill in for the injured Colombian striker.
The eventual choice of the principality club raised some eyebrows. Bulgaria international Dimitar Berbatov was quietly ushered in on a free transfer (ESPN FC), a big gamble for Monaco given the calibre of talent they were earlier linked with.
Since bursting onto the football scene with Porto in his early 20s, Helder Postiga has moved to eight different clubs in six countries. One thing in common in all those transfers has been a disappointing lack of goals from the man who, nonetheless, also racked up an impressive international career with Portugal.
Unable to score regularly anywhere apart from his national team, Postiga was therefore a surprise choice for Lazio in the transfer window. The Rome club may have high hopes after sealing a loan move from Valencia (UEFA.com), but history shows that the Portugal star is rarely prolific at club level.
From Antonio Nocerino to Pablo Armero, West Ham United made a good number of eye-opening transfers over the last month. One name on the list, however, draws attention for all the wrong reasons.
It could just be coincidence that Roger Johnson, signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan (BBC Sport), has suffered relegation in each of the last three seasons. Having experienced the drop with Birmingham City and Wolves twice, Hammers fans may not like the omens that the defender brings with him.
A rapidly-ageing team and a lack of firepower up front have been Inter's principal problems so far in 2013/14. But the Italian giant's response during January, even backed by the riches of Erick Thohir, was less than spectacular.
While the signing of Hernanes did grab some headlines, a low-key move for Danilo D'Ambrosio of Torino (Official website) was Thohir's only other purchase in his first transfer window as president. With the likes of Jonathan, Javier Zanetti and Hugo Campagnaro all ahead in the full-back pecking order, D'Ambrosio is unlikely to make much of an impact this season.
It is a brave new world for Valencia, who just before the winter break announced the hiring of Argentine coach and former Barcelona striker Juan Antonio Pizzi to take the reins from Miroslav Djukic. The ex-San Lorenzo chief, however, did not exactly set the world on fire in his first transfer window.
The signing of Philippe Senderos from Fulham, as reported by Sky Sports, added defensive depth to the Che line-up, but with Valencia adrift of the European qualifying places it was hardly a move to inject new life into the Mestalla.
David Ngog is still a young man, only turning 25 in April of this year. His career to date, however, suggests that he will not be the player who will rain goals down on South Wales.
Swansea City moved in the transfer window to sign the striker from Bolton, for an undisclosed fee (Official website). But his record so far does not look encouraging for the Swans, currently mid-table in the Premier League. In 210 professional appearances, a paltry 38 goals do not make for a prolific scorer.
Norwich City manager Chris Hughton clearly marked out the defence as the key issue to work on as the club tries to avoid relegation to the Championship. While Jonas Gutierrez appears an astute signing, however, the same cannot be said of fellow new boy Joseph Yobo.
Perhaps the Canaries boss knows something that other observers do not, in bringing in the former Everton man on loan from Fenerbahce (BBC Sport). But the signing of a 33-year-old centre-back who in the last 18 months made a grand total of 19 league appearances, does not inspire full confidence in the decision.
Languishing in 11th place in Serie A, a Milan side newly coached by Clarence Seedorf needed to make a big statement in the January window. Bringing in a Championship player from west London was certainly gutsy, but undoubtedly a strange decision.
Queens Park Rangers enigma Adel Taarabt was the chosen man, moving to the San Siro on loan until the end of the season (BBC Sport). The Morocco international is undoubtedly capable of magical moments, but his rather lethargic style does not seem to be what the Rossoneri most need.
It is no secret that Atletico Madrid, despite a wonderful start to the season, will need a similarly explosive last five months to keep pace with the Liga giants. This fact makes one of their key signings over the transfer window look rather low-key.
Coach Diego Simeone moved to bring in compatriot Jose Sosa on loan from Metalist (AS), following three rather unspectacular years in Ukraine. The extra exposure could give the midfielder a boost ahead of the World Cup, but it is hard to see what Atletico gain from his workmanlike talents.
Right at the top of the Premier League, it is a matter of fierce debate whether Arsenal needed to reinforce their squad during the January window. Their one foray into the transfer market meanwhile turned out to be rather underwhelming.
Sweden international Kim Kallstrom is a solid performer, although not exactly one to get the Emirates fans worked up. But a cruel twist of fate made the signing look even more ill-judged; the midfielder arrived from Spartak Moscow with damaged vertebrae (BBC Sport), and will miss the lion's share of the rest of the season.