Transfer deadline day: Premier League all-time January XI

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring for Arsenal

It’s that time which comes but twice a year, making it very much football’s answer to the pagan solstice festivals. 

Indeed, whereas those of ancient polytheist belief would all gather to worship a collection of curiously-assembled rocks or a gigantic wicker man, Premier League supporters find themselves bi-annually latching onto Jim White’s every word as Sky Sports’ yellow-tied mouth-piece gives a running commentary on all the deadline day transfer action. 

So with the winter deadline upon us once again, what better way to celebrate than looking back through some of the best last-minute mid-season arrivals in Premier League history? And what better format to keep things a little interesting than an XI covering every position?

Here’s GIVEMESPORT’s January deadline day XI…

Goalkeeper: Asmir Begovic – £3.38m, 2010

You won’t often find top-quality goalkeepers moving mid-season because they’re so difficult to replace but Stoke did well to react to Portsmouth’s dire financial situation and land Asmir Begovic on the last day of the 2010 winter transfer window. Tony Pulis publicly deemed the Bosnian shot-stopper one of the best young goalkeepers in the country and he wasn’t far off – by the time he left for Chelsea aged 28, Begovic had kept 45 clean sheets in 160 Premier League outings for the Potters.

Right-Back: Tariq Lamptey – £2.97m, 2020

Perhaps we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here, but Tariq Lamptey is already looking like some find for Brighton. Seemingly aware of the competition he’d face from Reece James at Chelsea, the then-teenage full-back took the bold step of leaving the Blues for the Seagulls last January. Fast forward to the current one and Brighton have handed him an improved contract amid interest from Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Centre-Back: Michael Dawson – £6.3m, 2005

On the final day of the 2005 January transfer window, Tottenham snapped up Andy Reid and Michael Dawson in a double-deal from Nottingham Forest. Reid wouldn’t quite make the grade at Spurs despite having a wand of a left foot, but Dawson would go on to make 324 appearances for them and even serve as Lilywhites captain. A modest investment that provided a steady, long-term return for the north Londoners. 

Centre-Back: Jonathan Woodgate – £12.15m, 2003

This XI just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a major signing from the very first January Deadline Day and thus Jonathan Woodgate takes pride of place at the heart of defence. £12.15m was pretty big money for a centre-back in those days, but the former Leeds man was a class act for Newcastle and within 18 months he’d been snapped up by none other than Real Madrid. The Bernabeu switch didn’t work out for him but Woodgate would enjoy a latter-career renaissance at Spurs.

Jonathan Woodgate in action for Newcastle

Left-Back: Nacho Monreal – £9m, 2013

Despite not exactly setting the world alight during his first few seasons, Nacho Monreal really came into his own the longer he stayed at Arsenal and would eventually make 251 appearances for the club before signing for Real Sociedad in January 2020. In that time, the Spaniard won three FA Cups with the Gunners, while also reaching a League Cup and Europa League final, and even captained Arsenal on occasion. 

Central Midfield: Mikel Arteta – Loan, 2005

Despite impressing during a two-year stint at Rangers, Mikel Arteta couldn’t get into the Real Sociedad team and David Moyes jumped on the opportunity to sign him on loan midway through Everton’s surprise push for Champions League qualification. The Spaniard provided the extra quality they needed to seal fourth place and signed permanently in the summer for £2.52m. In total he made 209 appearances for Everton, registering 70 goal involvements, before leaving for Arsenal where he’d become club captain and eventually their manager. 

Central Midfield: Luka Milivojevic – £13.59m, 2017

No transfer-related XI would be complete without a mention of Sam Allardyce and Luka Milivojevic was a textbook Big Sam signing, plucked from relative obscurity to add height, mettle and quality to a Crystal Palace side in danger of dropping out of the Premier League. The Serbian arrived during Allardyce’s only transfer window at Selhurst Park and played a key hand in keeping the Eagles up, before netting a whopping 22 times over the next two seasons as Palace’s resident penalty taker.

Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring

Right Midfield: Lucas Moura – £25.56m, 2018

You can always count on Daniel Levy to sniff out a deadline day opportunity and that’s exactly what he did in 2018 when Tottenham moved for Lucas Moura – a versatile and elite forward, but one that had slumped down the pecking order at PSG. If there’s one criticism of the Brazilian, it’s that he’s never established himself as an undroppable member of Tottenham’s starting XI. Nonetheless, there has always been a decent supply of goals and assists relative to his game-time and who can forget his role in the greatest night in Spurs’ modern history – a second-half hat-trick against Ajax to seal an iconic comeback and the Lilywhites’ place in the 2019 Champions League final. 

Left Midfield: Andrey Arshavin – £14.85m, 2009

While Andrey Arshavin’s proverbial Arsenal star seemed to burn away as quickly as it had lit up, very few mid-season signings have come in and had such an immediate impact at a top Premier League club. The Russian winger would unforgettably net four goals against Liverpool shortly after his arrival and his first two-and-a-half Premier League campaigns resulted in 22 goals and 23 assists. The output dried up very quickly after that, but the Gunners had already got their money’s worth. 

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Alexey Smertin - Chelsea

Can you name this obscure former Premier League player?

Striker: Luis Suarez – £23.85m, 2011

Liverpool brought in two centre-forwards to combat the abrupt departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea and while Andy Carroll’s towering target man style just didn’t suit Liverpool, Luis Suarez would establish himself as one of the biggest talents to grace Anfield in the Premier League era, which really takes some doing. For two straight seasons when he either scored or assisted an incredible 71 Premier League goals, the Uruguayan was virtually unplayable and almost fired Liverpool to a shock title in 2013/14. 

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – £57.38m, 2018

Considering how many big-money strikers have moved in January and massively flopped, you have to give a lot of credit to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for looking worth every penny of Arsenal’s massive investment – until this season, at least. 57 goals from his first two-and-a-half Premier League campaigns is pretty special, not to mention scoring twice to seal the Gunners last season’s FA Cup. 

Deadline Day XI

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