Van Dijk, Fernandes, Aubameyang: Every January signing over £30 million since 2000 ranked


The 2020 January transfer window hasn't exactly been the most exciting.

Sadly, there's not been the thrills and spills that have seen players like Virgil van Dijk and Philippe Coutinho move for big bucks, but that's to be expected given the broader global situation.

Besides, the coffers in the Premier League aren't exactly spilling over as they have been in years prior with many clubs keeping their purse strings as tight as possible until the summer.

January transfer window

As a result, given the lack of contemporary excitement, we've dipped our toe into the pool of nostalgia and looked back on January transfer windows that rated a little higher for entertainment.

Besides, given the winter window's penchant for panic buys, there have been plenty of examples where clubs have paid through their nose in order to get the player they so badly desired.

Rather conveniently, Transfermarkt have drawn up the most expensive of those January purchases in the 21st century and we couldn't resist assessing how successful or not those signings turned out to be.


Most expensive January buys

We'd be here forever if we put all of the mega-money signings under the microscope, so we're settling on those totalling over £30 million, which brings us to a cohort of 26 players.

But who are they and how do they compare? Well, wonder no longer as we organise the good, the bad and the ugly of the January window's biggest ever signings down below:

26. Shoya Nakajima to Al-Duhail - £31.1 million

This is a strange one. Considering Nakajima picked up a record transfer fee for a Japanese player, it's head-scratching that he only ever played seven times in the Qatari league before returning to Porto.

25. Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United - £30.2 million

For all the fanfare, wages reportedly as high as £500,000-per-week and the iconic number 7 jersey, it's criminal that Sanchez only scored three league goals and wanted to leave on his first day of training.


24. Jackson Martinez to Guangzhou Evergrande - £37.3 million

A transfer so terrible that Chinese Super League clubs have reassessed their overseas signings in general with Martinez flopping terribly for Evergrande, notching just four goals from 16 appearances.

23. Willian to Anzhi Makhachkala - £31.1 million

One of the last, desperate wheezes from the bizarre project at Anzhi in the early 2010s with Willian making only 11 Russian Premier League outings, scoring once, before moving on to Chelsea.

22. Lucas Paquetá to AC Milan - £34.1 million

For all the flicks, tricks and promise of his early days in Italy, Paquetá looked more and more like an expensive flop under Marco Giampaolo, recording just one goal contribution in 1,199 minutes at one stage.


21. Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid - £53.4 million

One of the heftiest transfer fees on the list and it's pretty hard to justify when you consider Costa's highest goal tally for a season on his Atletico return was seven, culminating in the termination of his contract.

20. Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Arsenal - £30.2 million

What looked to be a shrewd signing for the Gunners simply turned into part two of Mkhitaryan's struggles in England. Constantly out of his depth and rightfully being moved on to AS Roma.

19. Andy Carroll to Liverpool - £36.6 million

Carroll's time at Anfield isn't as bad as some make it out to be, lest we forget that he scored in the FA Cup semi-finals and final, but just six Premier League goals from 44 games is still pretty indefensible.


18. Julian Draxler to Paris Saint-Germain - £32.0 million

If you think this is harsh, bear in mind for a moment that there's a massive leap in quality between 19th and 18th, even though Draxler's PSG career has largely blown hot and cold across his 151 games.

17. Krzysztof Piątek to AC Milan - £31.1 million

A tale of two half-seasons. Piątek hit the ground running at the San Siro, notching 11 goals from 21 games in his first six months, only to be shown the door after a disappointing start to the 2019/20 campaign.

16. Fernando Torres to Chelsea - £52.0 million

Generous? Perhaps, but Torres never lost his eye for an important goal with the Blues and even notched 22 strikes in the 2012/13 campaign. It doesn't justify his bonkers transfer fee, though.


15. Paulinho to Guangzhou Evergrande - £37.3 million

Paulinho's second spell in China hasn't been as spectacular as the first, but that has a lot to do with injuries and the global situation because the former Barcelona man remains inspirational for Evergrande.

14. Dejan Kulusevski to Juventus - £31.1 million

If this seems harsh it's because we don't want to get ahead of ourselves too soon, but make no mistake that Kulusevski has been one of Juventus' best performers this season at just 20 years old.

13. Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona - £129.0 million

The criticism Coutinho has received at Barca so often borders on hyperbolic and we're delighted that Ronald Koeman has given him a second chance, but 24 goals do little to justify the biggest fee on the list.


12. Alex Teixeira to Jiangsu Suning - £44.4 million

Again, leave your prejudices about the Chinese game at the door, because Teixeira has been doing the business on the pitch for Jiangsu, scoring 72 goals and winning the 2020 Chinese Super League.

11. Christian Pulisic to Chelsea - £56.9 million

If we were talking about the backend of his first season alone, then Pulisic would undoubtedly be in the top ten, but we just haven't seen enough consistency from him across the bulk of his Chelsea career.

10. Leandro Paredes to Paris Saint-Germain - £35.5 million

If you know, you know. Sure, Parades has had his sticky moments in Ligue 1, but he's proven his importance to the PSG midfield on numerous occasions and so often makes the French champions tick.


9. Oscar to Shanghai SIPG - £53.4 million

Sure, it would be lovely to see Oscar back in the European game, but make no mistake that he's busy balling in the Chinese game, scoring 44 goals from midfield. He's also bagged the league and cup titles.

8. Cédric Bakambu to Beijing Guoan - £35.5 million

Maybe we're being lenient on the standard of the Chinese Super League, but considering how many top European stars have struggled there, it's hard not to reward a player who's racked up 53 goals in just 74 games.

7. Lucas Moura to Paris Saint-Germain - £35.5 million

It's easy to forget just how staggering Moura's stats in the French capital really were, collecting 46 goals, including 19 strikes in the 2016/17 season, as well as a mind-blowing 16 major honours.


6. Juan Mata to Manchester United - £39.7 million

Truth be told, Mata probably should have left Old Trafford a couple of years ago, but his contribution through some of United's toughest season is unquestionable and if nothing else, he's a top, top bloke.

5. Edin Dzeko to Manchester City - £32.9 million

One of the most underrated strikers in recent Premier League history, Dzeko seldom gets the praise he deserves for an astonishing City spell that reaped 75 goals and made the 2011/12 title possible.

4. Aymeric Laporte to Manchester City - £57.8 million

John Stones and Ruben Dias might be the 'soup of the day' right now, but Laporte's influence on City's two Premier League titles under Pep Guardiola can't be underestimated.


3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal - £56.7 million

Forget his woeful 2020/21 campaign for a second and remember that Aubameyang has scored 60 goals during his two full seasons in England, bagging a Premier League Golden Boot in the process.

2. Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United - £48.9 million

What an impact. Fernandes has taken United by storm in his first 12 months, winning four Player of the Month awards and notching the second-most Premier League goals in 2020 despite playing in midfield.

1. Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool - £75.3 million

Could anybody else have possibly finished top? Van Dijk was instrumental in Liverpool's Champions League and Premier League triumphs to the extent that he came within a whisker of winning the Ballon d'Or.


The good, the bad and the ugly

From Nakajima and Sanchez to Fernandes and Van Dijk, it goes to show that blowing a hole in your wallet in the New Year can go one of two ways.

This year, with money proving tougher to come by, it seems as though football clubs are more paranoid about getting a Mkhitaryan on their hands than rolling the dice to try and bag a Laporte.

But even if the 2021 window continues to leave us cold, we can always keep our fingers crossed that the drama will return in the years to come because, ultimately, we all love a panic buy from time to time.

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