January Transfer Window: The Top 20 Best Deals in the Premiership

Jonathan Woo@woo_jonathanwooCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2011

January Transfer Window: The Top 20 Best Deals in the Premiership

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26:  Fernando Torres of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on January 26, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The January Transfer Window is closed, and after 31 days of rumours, reports and last-minute blockbusters, there is plenty to say about this past month.

    With the money thrown around by Manchester City and Liverpool, the asking prices for the world's top talent soared.

    Highlighted by the deadline deals of Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll and David Luiz, it took until the final moments in January to create an enormous amount of buzz, especially in the Premiership.

    The transfer talk swirled for a full four weeks, but clubs will have to set their sights on the summer transfer season.

    For now, here are the top 20 deals in the Premier League in January.

David Wheater to Bolton (from Middlesbrough)

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    MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22: David Wheater of Middlesbrough in action during the npower Championship match between Middlesbrough and Sheffield United at the Riverside Stadium on August 22, 2010 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Ge
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    In a move that looks to provide a potential anchor for Bolton's defense, one that has given up 35 goals this season, the club inked David Wheater from Middlesbrough for a reported £2.5 million.

    The 6'5" Englishman is a quintessential big man to play in the centerback position and will come into the Premier League as one of the tallest defensemen in the division.

    Wheater's move to Bolton will be the first permanent move of his career. He's spent the last six and a half seasons with Boro, completing three loan spells to Doncaster, Wolverhampton and Darlington.

    In 140 league matches with Boro, Wheater has scored nine times. He figures to be a nuisance for opposing set plays, as well as a legitimate threat on the offensive.

Obafemi Martins to Birmingham (on Loan From Rubin Kazan)

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    KHIMKI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 24: Obafemi Martins of Rubin Kazan in action during the Russian Football League Championship match between CSKA Moscow and Rubin Kazan at the Khimki Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Khimki, Russia. (Photo by Vladimir Pesnya/EuroFoot
    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    After the birth of his child, Obafemi Martins requested a loan switch to England to be closer to his family, where he landed with Birmingham, a club on the brink of relegation and the Premiership's worst offensive team (21 goals).

    The Nigerian will provide a great deal of pace for the Blues, although Martins' scoring touch has never been his strong suit.

    The 26-year old can play in either a striker's role or on the wing, but creating width seems to be an ideal tactical move for the Nigeria international.

    By no means is Martins' move an earth-shattering one, but this simple loan spell could be enough to distance themselves from the bottom three.

Stephen Ireland to Newcastle (on Loan From Aston Villa)

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Stephen Ireland of Aston Villa shows his frustrations during the UEFA Europa League  Play Off, second leg match between Aston Villa and SK Rapid Vienna at Villa Park on August 26, 2010 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by L
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    If the level of recent success and reputation of the club is any sign of direction for Stephen Ireland, many may see the 24-year as a case of regression.

    After being pushed out by more talented players at Manchester City, Ireland was on the cheaper end of the deal that saw James Milner switch from Aston Villa to City, with the Irishman doing the opposite.

    An unsuccessful stint with Villa, which accounted to 12 total fixtures with no goals, Ireland was loaned to Newcastle for the rest of the season, where the club hopes he can regain form to push for more valuable playing time next year.

    While it was a relative no-brainer for Villa to see the attacking midfielder to the Magpies until summer, Newcastle should welcome the move after their star striker Andy Carroll left for Liverpool.

Curties Davies to Birmingham (from Aston Villa)

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Curtis Davies of Aston Villa during the UEFA Cup Play Off second leg match between Aston Villa and SK Rapid Vienna at Villa Park on August 26, 2010 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    In efforts to boost Birmingham City's position away from the relegation zone, they picked up former Aston Villa centerback Curtis Davies fresh off first half loan spell with Leicester City. The Blues signed him to a three and a half year deal after tagging him from Villa on a reported £3.5 million fee.

    Birmingham are tied with Wigan on points, but better goal difference has the Blues clear of relegation, but they will need all the help they can acquire to steer clear. 

    Davies' rapid change of scenery is strange to most, but his promise seemed to have dipped, as his Villa career went on as defenders like James Collins, Richard Dunne, Carlos Cuellar and Ciaran Clark performed with better chemistry and confidence.

    Subsequently, Davies should have less pressure to perform at St. Andrews.

Roque Santa Cruz to Blackburn (from Manchester City)

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    BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23:  Roque Santa Cruz of Blackburn Rovers gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park on January 23, 2011 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffith
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    After spending two seasons with Blackburn, Roque Santa Cruz made a switch to Manchester City for a pricey £17.5 million, and he has hardly lived up to that price tag.

    A year and a half later, the Paraguayan returns to Blackburn, but on loan from City who have struggled to find suitors to sweep up their financial misfortunes.

    Santa Cruz seldom saw the pitch in City colors, having been outclassed by the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and, most recently, Edin Dzeko.

    The Paraguay international comes back to Rovers, where he experienced a fair amount of success having scored 29 goals with 10 assists in 70 fixtures for the club.

    He is still a big target in the final third and is capable of a striker's duties. His consistency is a totally different question.

Gael Kakuta to Fulham (on Loan From Chelsea)

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    MOSCOW - OCTOBER 19:  Gael Kakuta of Chelsea in action during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Spartak Moscow and Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on October 19, 2010 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    One of the bright up-and-comers for Chelsea has been patiently waiting for the spotlight to shine his way for the defending champions, but his time with the Blues will have to be put on hold.

    Gael Kakuta heads to Fulham on loan for the rest of the season, where a -1 goal difference has the Cottagers sitting at a lowly 15th place in the EPL.

    The 19-year-old Frenchman has made 16 total appearances for Chelsea in the last two seasons, hardly producing highlight reel material behind a wall of perennial superstars. But the 5'8" left winger figures to have plenty of chances for a Fulham club looking to close an 12-point gap between them and Tottenham, who claim fifth place and the lone qualification position for the Europa League next season.

    A worthy signing that could potential pay more than expected.

Carlos Vela to West Brom (on Loan From Arsenal)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21:  Carlos Vela of Arsenal strikes the ball during the Carling Cup third round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on September 21, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Seeing as how Carlos Vela saw the pitch during cup competitions, it seemed fitting that the Mexican would find another club for the rest of the season.

    West Brom experienced a thrilling start to the season, but their form of late has dipped as they sit three points out of the relegation zone and in some dire need of goal scoring abilities.

    Apart from Peter Odemwingie, who has eight league goals, no one else on the club has netted more than three.

    The 21-year-old striker has shown to be clever with the ball, but his finishing skills need polishing, and he will get his chances with the Baggies.

Daniel Sturridge to Bolton (on Loan From Chelsea)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09:  Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their fifth goal during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 3rd round match between Chelsea and Ipswich Town at Stamford Bridge on January 9, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by S
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Bolton have the forward with the power and the strength in Johan Elmander. Now the club gets a striker and winger with pace in Daniel Sturridge on loan from Chelsea.

    The young Englishman has made spot starts for the Blues in league matches, but hasn't received the consistent time on the pitch to see his form rise.

    His move to Bolton likely will see his playing time increase, and competing alongside or in a substitute role with Elmander should provide the spark for which manager Owen Coyle is searching.

    Sturridge, although given a gift of a goal, scored on his debut as a substitute, netting the decisive winner in extra time against Wolves.

    The Trotters were close to European qualification earlier in the season, but after dropping to mid-table, can Sturridge be the pick-me-up needed to boost the club back into European contention?

Hatem Ben Arfa to Newcastle (from Marseille)

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    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11:  Newcastle forward Hatem Ben Arfa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Blackpool at St James' Park on September 11, 2010 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by St
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Although Hatem Ben Arfa has been sidelined for months now with a double leg break, it didn't keep Newcastle from securing what was a loan spell from Olympique Marseille into a permanent four and a half year deal on a reported £5 million free.

    The 23-year-old, despite any injuries, is still a highly talented and highly rated winger and midfielder. But with just four appearances with Newcastle, many were unable to witness such promise.

    Still, Ben Arfa is supposedly on track for a full recovery, and with the transfer of Andy Carroll out of St. James' Park, the Magpies will need all the talent they can maintain.

Jean Makoun to Aston Villa (from Lyon)

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Aston Villa's new signing Jean Makoun is paraded to the fans prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park on January 22, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (P
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Aston Villa may have been one of the more active clubs in January's transfer window.

    Somewhat opposite of the Stephen Ireland loan out to Newcastle, the club signed defensive midfielder Jean Makoun from Olympique Lyon for a reported £5 million fee.

    The Cameroonian is more of a tactician given his short, 5'8" stature. But his delivery from the middle third could take some pressure of more potent finishers who can stretch the field.

    But don't expect too many goals from the 27-year old. Going into his ninth season at the professional level, Makoun has scored 24 times in 304 total appearances.

John Carew to Stoke City (on Loan From Aston Villa)

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    WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 30:  John Carew of Stoke in action during the FA Cup Sponsored by E.ON 4th Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City at Molineux on January 30, 2011 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/
    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Stoke City will have plenty of powerful options in the final third for the remainder of the season. After securing Kenwyne Jones last summer from Sunderland, the Potters reached a loan deal with Aston Villa that will see the Norwegian John Carew to the club until this summer.

    Between Carew and Jones, Stoke will have a deal of strength and power from an aerial standpoint, but the club still lacks the clever finisher in the final third.

    Look for the Potters to capitalize on set pieces as a primary stream for goals.

Robbie Keane to West Ham (on Loan From Tottenham)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21:  Robbie Keane of Spurs runs with the ball during the Carling Cup third round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on September 21, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    West Ham has had a lack of scoring options for some time, despite the powerful presence of Carlton Cole and Frédéric Piquionne.

    But on a loan deal with Spurs, the Hammers were able to secure a clever finishing striker in Robbie Keane until the summer. Quite timely, the 30-year-old Ireland international scored for West Ham on his debut in a 3-1 win over Blackpool.

    Although he often times shows the consequences of his older age, a determined Keane is a goal-scoring Keane. And the fifth worst scoring offense in the Premier League will need any and all goals if West Ham is to climb out of the bottom three.

Sulley Muntari to Sunderland (on Loan From Inter Milan)

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    MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11:  Sulley Ali Muntari of FC Internazionale in action during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 11, 2010 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Image
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    One driving force in Sunderland's acquisition of Sulley Muntari from Inter Milan was Asamoah Gyan. The two Ghanaians will frequently share the field together, and that chemistry for a club inching closer to a Europa League qualification may pay off very well.

    Muntari gives the Black Cats a decisive presence in the midfield, as he plays with good strength and experience, something the club will have to rely on as the EPL season winds to its conclusion.

    With the club lacking that holding midfielder who can distribute and command tempo, the 26-year-old Muntari should enable a more consistent and focused attack.

Steven Pienaar to Tottenham (from Everton)

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    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Steven Pienaar of Spurs looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park on January 22, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Michael R
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Perhaps the best bargain of this winter's transfer window, Spurs secured Everton's Steven Pienaar for an inexpensive £2.5 million fee. In return, Tottenham receives an experienced controlling midfielder with good vision and delivery skills from just about anywhere on the pitch.

    But just like the rest of Tottenham's midfielders, Pienaar has had his own share of injuries in the past.

    Pienaar will give Spurs extra options as a starter or as a substitute. But in the right circumstances, Harry Redknapp could have Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon play further up the field, dropping Pienaar into a central role for better distribution.

    A good, bargain acquisition for the fifth place club.

Andy Carroll to Liverpool (from Newcastle)

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    NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 11:  Andy Carroll of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on December 11, 2010 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Nevermind the reactionary £35 million fee that Liverpool reportedly dished out to acquire one of England's brightest young strikers, the Reds landed a super talent with a handful of skills to be reckoned with for years to come.

    Nevermind the loss of Fernando Torres. The introduction of Luis Suárez and Carroll should put some smiles on the faces of Liverpool supporters in the post-Torres era. The amount of talent, goal-scoring abilities and upside that these two youngsters provide can arguably be equated to what Torres had been giving them in recent memory, as his form rarely reached what many remembered in the 2007-2008 season.

    With Carroll, the Reds get a young striker with power, strength and great aerial abilities. Though any striker will be hard-pressed to match the pace of Torres, Carroll is deceptively fast and can whisk away defenders with some relative ease.

    The future at Anfield, from a striker's point of view, looks sharp and bright.  

Darren Bent to Aston Villa (from Sunderland)

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Darren Bent of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring the opening goal on his debut during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park on January 22, 2011 in Birmingham, England.
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Aston Villa's pricey bid of £24 million to snatch Darren Bent from Sunderland has already paid some dividends in the form of his decisive goal over Manchester City nearly three weeks ago.

    Bent gives the club a monument of determination and, simply, a goal-scoring touch in the final third, something that Gabriel Agbonlohar has failed to deliver through much of the season.

    The 26-year old Bent has already scored twice in three appearances for Villa and is quickly establishing himself as a invaluable pick-up in January.

    With the club sitting in a disappointing 14th place with 13 fixtures to go, a bottom table finish should be seen as unacceptable given the talent on the squad. Bent immediately turns this roster into a top eight team.

David Luiz to Chelsea (from Benfica)

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    LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 28:  David Luiz of Benfica gestures during the Portuguese Liga match between Benfica and Vitoria Setubal at Luz Stadium on August 28, 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Patricia de Melo/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Since late in the fall, Carlo Ancelotti made it clear that his club needed to acquire a standout defender during the transfer window in order to reclaim position and climb back to the top of the table in the Premiership.

    Over the course of the final week in January, negotiations with Benfica's David Luiz had gone sour, as many believed no deal could be made. But the two sides finally reached an agreement: a reported £21.5 million fee would see the 23-year-old center back to Stamford Bridge, and in return, Chelsea would send their 22-year-old midfielder Nemanja Matic to Benfica to complete the deal.

    In light of Chelsea's issues on the back end, they found their man: a young, physical, no-nonsense defender with great upside for many years to come.

    The Blues' two new signings, Fernando Torres and Luiz, have yet to debut for their new club, but one would figure with the immense amount of talent rooted there, Chelsea look mighty dangerous.

Luis Suárez to Liverpool (from Ajax)

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    AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 19:  Luis Suarez of AFC Ajax celebrates scoring during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between AFC Ajax and AJ Auxerre at the Amsterdam ArenA on October 19, 2010 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Ge
    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    For weeks, the rumours swirled around Luis Suárez and a move to Liverpool.

    With Fernando Torres moving out, the Reds needed a second sure-fire name complete with a goal-scoring touch and a calculated future. The Uruguay international should provide just that.

    In Suárez and Andy Carroll, Liverpool's new owners have secured what appears to be a couple of young, enthusiastic and ultra-talented strikers to lead the club into the post-Torres era.

    Bringing in the 24-year-old Suárez (£22.8 million) and the 22-year-old Carroll (£35 million) may take some time to develop some chemistry, but the two youngsters have the individual tools to be successful at Anfield.

    With Liverpool currently in seventh in the table, these blockbuster signings could be what brings the Reds back to Champions League promise.

    As fate would have it, Suárez scored in his Liverpool debut as a substitute.

Edin Dzeko to Manchester City (from Wolfsburg)

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Edin Dzeko of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the City of Manchester Stadium on January 15, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Manchester City made no secrets of their intentions of signing Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg, and the club got their man on £27 million fee.

    The Bosnian has not made a great impact with his finishing skills; rather, he's made obvious his clever on-ball footwork and superb vision of the field. Although Carlos Tévez often will play in a second striker's role, Dzeko definitely has displayed the tools to do so as well.

    As it stands, both Dzeko and Tévez have shown the ability to roam the field and be successful and influential in a multitude of ways.

    The 24-year-old striker should only develop more chemistry with his teammates as the second half of the EPL season wears on, and with the litany of superstars up and down Roberto Mancini's squad, maintaining position to qualify for the Champions League should hardly be in doubt. 

Fernando Torres to Chelsea (from Liverpool)

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20:  Fernando Torres of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on November 20, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    It was the deadline, blockbuster deal of the transfer window that saw Chelsea pry Liverpool's star striker away from Anfield for a reported British record £50 million and inking the Spaniard to a five and a half year contract.

    The move immediately makes Chelsea's attacking front, unquestionably, the most potent final third in the Premier League, arguably in Europe. Living up to that very high expectation will be the center of attention for the remainder of this season, as Chelsea look to climb back to the top of the table to defend their crown, as well as the next few years.

    In whatever way manager Carlo Ancelotti positions Torres, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda, it figures to be a deadly combination of power, pace, strength and intangibles.

    The 26-year-old Torres is still one of the most praiseworthy strikers when his form is best, which he has not achieved in over two seasons. But the change in venue may do the Spanish international wonders.

    Mark your calendars for Feb. 6 when Chelsea host the Reds at Stamford Bridge.