The January transfer window offers clubs and players the chance for a fresh start. While some recruitment executives and head coaches are not big fans of the winter window, it can be a crucial opportunity for clubs to strengthen their squads in weak areas and ensure they achieve their season objectives.
Some players have moved for a major fee in recent January transfer windows. Here are the ten most expensive transfers of the January transfer window:
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, 2018, an initial fee of £108m, potentially rising to £142m)
The transfer of Coutinho to Barcelona may go down as one of the biggest missteps a football club has ever made in the transfer market. The Brazilian joined the Catalan giants when he was in top form in January 2018
The fee was a big one, so much was expected of the former-Inter star, and Barcelona could not afford for the move to fail. Unfortunately, Coutinho struggled to produce his best form at his new club.
The Brazilian made just 106 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona, scoring 24 goals and producing 14 assists. The stats were certainly not those of such an expensive player. The attacking midfielder ended up joining Aston Villa permanently in the summer of 2022 after a loan spell with the Midlands and after having also spent time at Bayern Munich on loan too.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, 2018, £75m)
In contrast to Coutinho’s move, the transfer of the Dutch centre-back will go down as one of the best in the history of the winter window. Ironically, the transfer of Coutinho helped fund Van Dijk’s switch to Merseyside.
Van Dijk developed into one of the best centre-backs in Premier League history with Liverpool, helping the Reds to win their first Premier League title in three decades, as well as the Champions League, among other trophies, during a trophy-laden spell under Jurgen Klopp.
Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina to Juventus, 2022, £66m)
The Serbian forward made a £66m move to Italian giants Juventus in January 2022 after a highly prolific spell of scoring form for their bitter rivals Fiorentina. The move is the most expensive January transfer in Serie A history to date.
Signing Vlahovic was something of a coup for the Bianconeri, as his goalscoring exploits with the Viola attracted the attention of many of European football’s biggest clubs. He made a bright start to his Juventus career, with much more expected of him due to the hefty fee.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea, 2019 £59m)
Pulisic became the most expensive American player ever when he agreed to move from German giants Dortmund to Chelsea for £59m after impressing in the Bundesliga. The winger remained with BVB until the following summer.
Pulisic has only shown flashes of his ability in his Chelsea career so far. This transfer could go both ways in terms of success or failure.
Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Club to Manchester City, 2018, £57m)
Another January 2018 deal completed near the deadline, Laporte arrived at City from Basque club Athletic Club, where he had developed into one of the best young centre-backs in the Spanish top-flight.
Like Van Dijk, Laporte has played a vital role in his team’s success since his arrival. The French-born Spanish international has been part of a City team that has won the Premier League title on four occasions, among the other numerous trophies. He has undoubtedly proven to be one of the better signings on our list.
Diego Costa (Chelsea to Atletico Madrid, 2018, £57m)
Proving that the winter transfer window was one of the busiest in history, Diego Costa made a big-money return to Atletico Madrid, the club where he had come to the attention of many people.
The Spanish international was out of favour with the club from south west London when they snaffled £57m for the striker. The deal proved to be better for Chelsea than for Atletico, as Costa couldn’t recapture the scintillating goalscoring form of his first spell in the Spanish capital.
The forward scored 17 goals in 78 appearances in his second spell at Atletico before being released in January 2021. He moved to the Brazilian club Atletico-MG before completing yet another switch to Wolves in September 2022.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal, 2018, £56m)
The Gabon international had been highly prolific for Dortmund before his switch to Arsenal in January 2018. In fact, in the first half of the 2017/18 campaign, Aubameyang scored 13 goals and also produced three assists for BVB.
He was just what Arsenal needed at the time, a prolific frontman to add goals to a lacklustre attack. The forward added those much-needed goals to the Gunners team for two and a half seasons. He also captained the north London club to an FA Cup victory in 2020.
However, he enjoyed a strained relationship with Mikel Arteta, the team’s head coach, and in January 2021, he was allowed to join Catalan giants Barcelona on a free transfer. The veteran forward enjoyed a new lease of life in La Liga but returned to the Premier League in the summer of 2022 when Chelsea snapped him up.
Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 2020 £54m)
When Manchester United signed Fernandes in January 2020, he was one of the most promising attacking midfielders in the world game. The Red Devils are not known for their recruitment in January.
However, the Portuguese international hit the ground running and enjoyed an excellent vein of form in the opening 12 months of his United career. Fernandes became a vital member of the United squad.
Oscar (Chelsea to Shanghai Port, 2017, £52m)
Chelsea has a habit of selling high-profile players in the January transfer window. The sale of Brazilian attacking midfielder Oscar to Chinese club Shanghai Port was another example of the Blues recouping cash for an out of favour player.
Oscar arrived in China when Chinese clubs were paying hefty transfer fees and wages for European and South American talent. The switch made the attacking midfielders one of the highest-paid players in the world.
He helped his new team to win the Chinese Super League title in 2018, as well as the 2019 Chinese FA Cup.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011£50m)
Chelsea loves a January deal, don’t they? On January transfer deadline day 2011, the Blues splashed out £50m on the Spanish striker. The former Atletico Madrid star had been lethal in front of goal for the Merseysiders, scoring 81 goals and producing 24 assists in 142 appearances for the Reds.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, Torres’ career was on a slight downward spiral by the time he joined them in 2011. The Spaniard made 172 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 45 goals and producing 35 assists, which was far from the numbers he has achieved on Merseyside.
He later played for Milan and Atletico Madrid once again before finishing his playing career in Japan with Sagan Tosu in 2019.