Coming into a new club mid-season is not a very comfortable experience but these players made themselves right at home.
The January transfer window doesn’t contain the usual hustle and bustle that is reserved for the summer before a new season begins. It is often viewed as an inflection point, where clubs tend to plug gaps in their squad for the particular campaign. It is for this reason, that January transfers are mostly loan deals and players moving out of clubs, either on their own volition or due to a lack of regular game time.
But, over the last few years, clubs have bucked the usual trend and have spent big on players. But, while some transfers have proven to be sour grapes, a few others have turned out to be masterstrokes for the respective clubs.
In this article, we will focus on five such January transfers who have made a huge impact for their respective clubs.
5. Aymeric Laporte– Manchester City
Aymeric Laporte signed for Manchester City from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018 for a fee reported to be €65m. He immediately slotted into the backline, as he perfectly filled the role of the prototypical centre-back envisioned by Pep Guardiola – combining defensive resilience with consummate quality on the ball.
In his first season with City, Laporte featured in only 13 games but lifted the Premier League and the Carabao Cup titles with the Citizens. The 2018-19 campaign proved to be Laporte’s most productive to date, as he notched three goals in 35 Premier League appearances and led the Citizens to a domestic sweep of the Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Community Shield – making it the first time a club lifted all four trophies in English football in a single season.
Although the 2019-20 season saw him sidelined for a major part with a knee injury, Laporte returned to the heart of City’s defence and continues to be an integral part of their scheme of things, despite the arrival of Ruben Dias and the resurgence of John Stones.
4. Casemiro- Real Madrid
Casemiro has been an integral part of the Real Madrid squad ever since his arrival as a budding youngster from Sao Paulo in January 2013, for a meagre €7m. The Brzilian started off with Real’s ‘B’ Team in the Segunda Division and later graduated into the first-team that season.
After a loan stint at Porto where he proved his world-class potential, Casemiro returned to Los Blancos and has since been an inextricable presence in Real Madrid’s midfield.
For his efforts, Casemiro has won 14 trophies so far with Real, including two La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League crowns. The Brazilian has featured in 263 games for the club and has elevated himself to become one of the best in the world in his position.
3. Bruno Fernandes– Manchester United
Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left, Manchester United have been facing a topsy-turvy time and their transfers have been a reason for the same with plenty of hit-and-miss players being signed.
But, the signing of Bruno Fernandes has proven to be a masterstroke from the Red Devils and the Portuguese has single-handedly put Manchester United back in the hunt for trophies. Fernandes completed the switch from Lisbon to Manchester for a fee of €55m (£47m), which is expected to rise close to €80m with add-ons.
Since his signing last January, Fernandes has been the man with the Midas touch. The midfielder had the fourth-most goal involvements across Europe in 2020 (48, surpassed only by Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Robert Lewandowski). He has also scored more goals in 2020 than Harry Kane, Karim Benzema and Jamie Vardy.
Fernandes also won the Premier League Player of the Month award four times last year, which made him the first and only player to win four POTM awards in a calendar year.
2. Marcelo– Real Madrid
Signed from Fluminense in the first month of 2007 for a fee of €6.5m, Marcelo had the daunting task of succeeding at arguably the most demanding and unforgiving club on the planet. If that weren’t enough, he also had the huge task of filling in for Real Madrid legend and fellow countryman Roberto Carlos’ legacy as one of the best left-backs of all-time.
Marcelo has won everything there is to win in club football, lifting 22 trophies with the Madrid-based club. His incredible trophy haul with Los Merengues includes five La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League crowns and a plethora of other domestic honours.
Marcelo has played in 517 games for Real Madrid, scoring 38 goals and providing many assists. One of the best January transfers of all time, he has also captained the side on multiple occasions.
1. Virgil Van Dijk– Liverpool
The man who epitomizes Liverpool’s resurgence as a top European club, Virgil van Dijk does it more than any others and his effect since then has been palpable.
The Dutchman signed for the Reds in a deal worth £75m, a world-record fee for a defender at the time. Van Dijk came in with the pressure of justifying his huge price tag and also some controversy in the wake of his transfer to Merseyside.
But, since his arrival, the Dutchman has risen to become one of the best centre-backs in world football and has been the face of Liverpool’s rise back to the top. He has since shored up the Reds’ backline and the results are there to see.
The UEFA Champions League triumph in 2019 and the long-awaited Premier League crown in 2020 give ample evidence to the turnaround that has been masterminded by Jurgen Klopp and his team with Van Dijk being at the heart of it. In the two seasons before his arrival, Liverpool conceded 1-1.5 goals/game in the Premier League.
Since his arrival, that number has decreased to 0.57 and 0.86 in the last two campaigns respectively, an indicator of the vast improvement that his inclusion has brought to Liverpool. Defence does win you titles, perhaps!