Premier League: the five best ever January signings

With Juan Mata set to pack his bags and swap South West London for Manchester, the January transfer window has finally delivered the sort of blockbuster transfer the Premier League had been waiting for.

The Spaniard’s arrival could give United a huge lift, but Chelsea haven’t wasted time and sealed the signature of Mohamed Salah from Basel, having previously secured the services of Nemanja Matic.

As Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll have proved, spending in January can an ill-advised decision but at times, as the list below highlights, it can be a very smart move. Will Mata, Salah and Matic all feature in a similar list in a couple of seasons?

1) LUIS SUAREZ

It’s easy to forget that, when he’s not involved in diving, biting or racially abusing opponents, the Uruguayan is a marvellous player and arguably one of the most talented strikers the Premier League has ever seen. 

Signed for a mere £22.8m in 2011 – a particularly frugal figure considering that Liverpool spent £35 on Andy Carroll just a couple of hours later – Suarez’s talent and goalscoring record have too often been obscured by the amount of controversies the Uruguayan seems to find himself constantly entangled in.

After a summer during which Suarez  appeared on the verge of leaving Anfield, the former Ajax man has formed a fantastic partnership with Daniel Sturridge which will be crucial to Liverpool’s hopes of success this season.

2) NEMANJA VIDIC

Arrived at Old Trafford alongside Patrice Evra in 2006 but for a marginally higher fee - United paid £7m for the Serbian – Vidic took his time to settle into the Premier League, but is now widely regarded as one of the finest defenders the league has eve seen.

Vidic’s heart-on-the-sleeve attitude complemented Rio Ferdinand’s more technical approach to perfection, as the duo formed a formidable partnership which has led United to five league titles and a European Cup in the last seven seasons.

A fans’ favourite because of his brave approach, Vidic has battled fitness issues over the last couple of seasons but, on his day, he remains one the toughest and most uncompromising defenders in the European football.

3) PATRICE EVRA

Having arrived from Monaco for £5.5m, Evra’s debut was the stuff of nightmares, as he was substituted at half-time in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City. 

Almost seven years, five Premier League titles and a European Cup later, Evra is often mentioned as one of the best Manchester United left-backs of all time along with Denis Irwin.

For those whose allegiances lie in the red half of Manchester, the diminutive Frenchman is a cult hero because of his dedication to the club, and a figure likely to be sorely missed in the Old Trafford’s dressing room when, as seems increasingly likely, Evra will bring down the curtain on his Manchester United career at the end of the season.

4) BRANISLAV IVANOVIC

The tough tackling Serbian arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2008 with a sizeable – £9.7m – price-tag for a defender. He didn’t make an appearances during his first six months at Chelsea and was linked with a move away from the club. 

Having being omitted from the starting line-up by Felipe Scolari and, initially, Guus Hiddink, Ivanovic forced himself into the first team towards the end of the Dutchman’s tenure at Stamford Bridge and hasn’t looked back since. 

Ivanovic’s versatility has made him a crucial figure in Chelsea’s back four and the Serbian can now look back on a trophy cabinet boasting three FA Cups, a Premier League title, a Champions League and last season’s Europa League – which Chelsea won courtesy of his last minute winner.

5) MICHAEL DAWSON

After an impressive spell at Forest, Dawson moved to White Hart Lane in 2005 for £8m in an era when Spurs would have been pleased to challenge for a European spot, let alone the title itself. 

The 29-year-old formed a solid partnership with Ledley King and was awarded the Player of the Year award during the 2009-10 season as Tottenham reached the Champions League for the first time ever, and has since become synonymous with the North London club.

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