Due to the short length and timing of the January transfer window, many clubs make rushed, impulsive transfers that they soon come to regret.
The winter transfer window never leads to the bevy of activity that we see in the summer. The month-long window gives clubs little time to find replacements for sold players and can hinder team chemistry.
Although we have seen some fantastic January signings, history indicates that January transfers lead to more busts than booms.
For this reason, we’ll look at the top 10 worst transfers in the January window over the past decade.
10) Cenk Tosun – Everton from Besiktas – ₤27 million – 2018
After scoring 14 goals in the first half of the season to help Besiktas win their Champions League group, Sam Allardyce nabbed Tosun from Turkey for a hefty fee.
The striker was never able to find his form for a reeling Toffees side following the sacking of Ronald Koeman. The former Besiktas man scored a respectable 5 Premier League goals in 2018 but has only netted 4 ever since.
All in all, Tosun has only scored 11 goals for Everton in 58 appearances. In his three years, he has also been loaned to Crystal Palace and suffered a gruesome ACL tear last March. He now finds himself far behind in the pecking order under Carlo Ancelotti.
At the time of the transfer, Allardyce labelled the Turk “the best in Europe” at his price. I think most Everton fans would gladly take their money back.
9) Badou Ndiaye – Stoke City from Galatasaray – ₤14 million – 2018
Ndiaye is the first on this list of Stoke City transfer flops that ultimately led to their relegation. With the club staving off relegation, caretaker manager Paul Lambert entrusted Ndiaye to provide a spark.
Despite featuring consistently, Ndiaye fell short of expectations and Stoke City were relegated. Following early-season criticism from fans, Ndiaye was loaned back to Galatasary for the 2018-2019 season.
The Senegalese midfielder has since made the rounds in Turkey, also struggling in loan spells with Trabzonspor and Fatih Karagumruk. Ndiaye not only failed to maintain Stoke’s first-tier status but also failed to show he’s second-tier calibre.
8) Oumar Niasse – Everton from Lokomotiv Moscow – ₤13.5 million – 2016
Everton’s second-biggest transfer at the time, Niasse arrived at Everton with high expectations.
After failing to score in 152 minutes of football in his first season, Niasse was demoted to the U-23s and had his locker removed for the 2016-2017 season. New manager Ronald Koeman had already seemingly given up on the Senegalese striker, saying “he needs to leave Everton”.
Niasse was loaned out to Hull City in the second half of the 2017-2018 and found some success in the early stages of the 2018-2019 season back on Merseyside. However, the striker’s confidence disappeared, as he became the first player to be charged by the FA for diving, receiving a two-match ban.
Everton released Niasse this past summer, finishing his tenure with 9 goals in 42 appearances to his name.
7) Saido Berahino – Stoke City from West Bromwich Albion – ₤12 million – 2017
Berahino burst onto the scene for West Brom as a 21-year-old in the 2014-2015 season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions. The Burundi-born player even earned a call-up to the England national team, although he never made a full appearance.
However, a dip in form and attitude problems allowed Stoke to swoop in and sign Berahino for ₤12 million. Mark Hughes’ gamble on Berahino’s ability turned out to be a disaster, with the striker scoring just 5 goals for the Potters.
Berahino laid claim to a remarkable milestone while at Stoke, going a full two years without scoring a goal. Further details of his off-the-field troubles ensued, including a suspension due to a failed drug test and a drink-driving arrest.
At 27, Berahino should be enjoying his prime years, but now plies his trade for Belgian side Zulte Waregem.
6) Giannelli Imbula – Stoke City from Porto – ₤18.3 million – 2016
Finally on the list of Stoke transfer flops is French midfielder Giannelli Imbulla. Imbulla joined the side for a club-record ₤18.3 million following an impressive stint with Marseille.
Many hoped that Imbula could add a different element to Mark Hughes’ side, but the midfielder failed to consistently feature. His inconsistency led to loan spells abroad the following three years.
Former teammate Glen Johnson summed up Imbula’s time in Stoke with a story detailing the Frenchman’s ego. According to Johnson, Imbula subbed himself off in a preseason match after not being passed the ball, preceded to throw a tantrum on the sidelines, then reentered the game ten minutes later.
Imbula, just 28 years old, now finds himself without a club.
5) Guido Carillo – Southampton from Monaco – ₤19 million – 2018
With Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino fighting to keep his job, the Spaniard signed Carillo to remedy the Saints’ goalscoring woes.
Southampton’s record signing at the time, Carillo never scored in 7 appearances at the tail end of the 2017/2018 season. Southampton shipped the Argentinian to Spain the following two seasons, where Carillo struggled with Leganes.
Ultimately, Southampton terminated his contract in September, failing to ever see Carillo celebrate a goal for the side. Talk about a transfer flop.
4) Wilfried Bony – Manchester City from Swansea City – ₤25 million – 2015
Searching for a strike partner to Sergio Aguero, Manchester City signed Bony for ₤25 million from Swansea City in January 2015.
Bony became a goalscoring machine at Swansea and Manuel Pellegrini hoped the Ivorian could replicate his form in blue. However, the gears never turned for Bony in Manchester, scoring just 6 goals in 36 league appearances for Manchester City in the following calendar year.
Bony, an expert poacher on his day, was never fit alongside Manchester City’s highly technical players. He was later loaned out to Stoke City, before being sold back to Swansea ₤12 million – less than half of what City had paid for him.
Despite returning to Wales, Bony continued to struggle and was released by Swansea in 2019. He now plays for Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia.
3) Alexis Sanchez – Manchester United from Arsenal – Swap for Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 2018
As the Chilean’s contract wound down, Manchester United took advantage and secured Sanchez’s services in a swap for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Joining the Red Devils as one of the league’s best players over the past several seasons, much was expected of the former Barcelona man. Ed Woodward and co. seemed to think so as well, shockingly awarding Sanchez a contract worth upwards of ₤500K per week.
Sanchez never came close to living up to his billing, scoring just 5 goals in his time in Manchester. The transfer was an instant mistake, with Sanchez later telling his agent after his first training session, “Can you not rip up the contract to go back to Arsenal?”.
After a fairly successful loan spell under Antonio Conte, Inter Milan signed Sanchez on a permanent basis over the summer. The signing ended one of the ugliest partnerships in recent memory and relieved Manchester United of Sanchez’s astronomical wages.
2) Andy Carroll – Liverpool from Newcastle – ₤35 million – 2011
The 2011 January transfer window may go down as the craziest of all-time. Despite the stellar signing of Luis Suarez, Liverpool felt the need to beef up their attacking options.
Carroll starred for Newcastle in the first half of the 2010 season, scoring 11 goals and leading Liverpool to shatter their transfer record. Carroll also shattered the transfer record for a British player, a record he would hold for five years.
Unfortunately, Liverpool soon regretted their impulsive purchase to offset the loss of Fernando Torres. The big man scored just 6 league goals for the Reds and was sold to West Ham for ₤15 million just two years later.
So much anticipation surrounded the English striker, but this transfer is one that will forever live in infamy.
1) Fernando Torres – Chelsea from Liverpool – ₤50 million – 2011
Only one transfer can beat Carroll’s, and that’s the transfer that led to Carroll signing for Liverpool in the first place.
Torres, one of the best players in the world at Liverpool, smashed a Premier League transfer record signing for rivals Chelsea. Jose Mourinho anticipated an unstoppable partnership between the Spaniard and Didier Drogba.
Torres scored just one goal in 18 appearances in his first season, foreshadowing the failure of his time in London. The Atletico Madrid youth product became the centre of more memes than highlights and ultimately never topped more than 8 league goals in a season in a Chelsea shirt.
Few transfers in Premier League history came with the sort of hype that this one did. Perhaps none of them ended with more disappointment.