Like a scorned husband who’s forgotten his missus’ birthday only to find that the local florist is closed and the only option is a packet of crisps and a smile, clubs hard-pressed for time often make panic buys during the waning moments of the January transfer window.
A phenomenon not unique to the marquee clubs and their padded pockets, no Premier League side is immune to poor purchases.
With the 2017 winter window set to slam shut, here’s a look at the 10 worst January signings in England’s top flight:
10) Kim Kallstrom (Spartak Moscow to Arsenal, loan)
What were they thinking? A point adrift of the top in 2014 and desperate for both a defensive midfield presence and a striker, Arsenal instead made a temporary move for 31-year-old midfielder Kim Kallstrom.
By the numbers: On the heels of a month sans football as per the Russian winter break, Kallstrom arrived in London with a damaged vertebrae and a Sunday-league gut. Two months later, Kallstrom appeared in his first of four matches for the club before scurrying back to Spartak.
9) Scott Parker (Charlton Athletic to Chelsea, £10m)
What were they thinking? Rescued from Charlton’s sinking ship, Scott Parker was lured to Stamford Bridge on a four-and-a-half-year deal for a then-astronomical £10 million.
By the numbers: Languishing on Claudio Ranieri’s bench behind fellow recent signings Arjen Robben and Tiago Mendes, Parker made a scant 15 appearances before heading off to Newcastle in the summer for £6.5 million. On the plus side, Chelsea was kind enough to have a replica Premier League winner’s medal made for the 18-time England international.
8) Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina to Chelsea, £23.3m)
What were they thinking? Blessed with equal parts panache and pace, Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado arrived in west London in 2015 from Fiorentina with heaps of hype.
By the numbers: Four starts later and firmly entrenched in Jose Mourinho’s doghouse, Cuadrado was loaned to Juventus the following August. Miraculously still on Chelsea’s books, Cuadrado has become one of Serie A’s best wingers under Max Allegri pairing six goals with nine helpers. The 28-year-old has also been useful as a wing-back in a 3-4-3.
7) Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough, £13m)
What were they thinking? As Luis Suarez and Vincent Janssen would later prove, signing a player based on Eredivisie exploits is like playing the lotto. Afonso Alves resembled the latter when arriving at Middlesbrough from Heerenveen on an obscene £13-million fee in 2008.
By the numbers: 45 goals in 39 Dutch appearances was a deft delusion as Alves scored ten goals for Boro – three of which came on the final day of the campaign against Manchester City – before moving to footballing hotbed As-Sadd SC as the north Yorkshire lot conceded a £5-million loss.
6) Savio Nsereko (Brescia to West Ham, £9m)
What were they thinking? At the time a yo-yo side looking to cement a Premier League spot, West Ham made a costly move in 2009 for German Under-20 international Savio Nsereko which was meant to be a statement signing.
By the numbers: A statement indeed, as Nsereko made just one start at Upton Park before moving to Fiorentina and six subsequent loan spells. Not one of Gianluca Nani’s better signings, though considering the slew of atrocious moves the Irons made this past summer, it was just a drop of Lucozade in a bucket of slop.
5) Kostas Mitroglu (Olympiacos to Fulham, £12.4m)
What were they thinking? In lieu of a stellar spell with Olympiacos, Fulham baited Greek international purveyor of the flavour saver Kostas Mitroglou to Craven Cottage on a not-inexpensive £12.4-million move.
By the numbers: To Mitroglou’s credit, the first half of 2014-15 was a notable stretch for the striker. Fourteen goals in a dozen matches, including a Champions League hat-trick, motivated then-Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen to make the move. By the time Mitroglou arrived in the SW6, Felix Magath had replaced Meulensteen, and the hefty-hipped striker made just one start before heading back to Piraeus on loan in the summer.
4) Oumar Niasse (Lokomotiv Moscow to Everton, £13.5m)
What were they thinking? With just 21 first-team run-outs for Lokomotiv Moscow, Roberto Martinez lured Oumar Niasse to Goodison Park to complement Romelu Lukaku. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go to plan.
By the numbers: After starting twice for Everton upon his opulent arrival, Niasse would play just another 19 minutes. Things would go from bad to brutal for Niasse. Banished by Martinez’s successor, Ronald Koeman, the Senegalese international was forced to train with the Under-23’s before moving to Hull on loan this January.
3) Chris Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala to QPR, £12.5m)
What were they thinking? Desperate to avoid the drop, then-Rangers gaffer Harry Redknapp signed hulking centre-half Chris Samba from nouveau-riche Russians Anzhi Makhachkala for a lucrative £12.5-million fee.
By the numbers: In what would amount to one of the window’s weirdest signings, a rotund Samba made the Premier League switch before Anzhi tried to buy him back in the same window. The Russians wouldn’t have to wait long, as Samba returned to Dagestan with just ten appearances for red nose Redknapp and Co.
2) Andy Carroll (Newcastle to Liverpool, £35m)
What were they thinking? With £50 million from the sale of the Fernando Torres burning a hole in Liverpool pockets and a vacancy up top, the Reds sent £35 million to Tyneside to make Andy Carroll the eighth-most expensive signing, ever.
By the numbers: The fee was double what the Merseysiders originally offered for the ponytailed merchant of timely goals, and that initial shrewdness would prove prescient as Carroll was quickly shipped out by Brendan Rodgers with a scant half-dozen tallies to his name.
1) Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea £50m)
What were they thinking?: Even with Roman Abramovich’s near-bottomless portly piggy bank, the then-British record £50-million move in January 2011 for Fernando Torres is akin to blowing one’s nose with a £20 note while sporting a tissue for a pocket square.
By the numbers: Despite bagging 36 goals for Chelsea – 16 of which came in continental competitions – his form with the Blues was nothing short of horrendous, on the heels of a dazzling spell with Liverpool when he scored once every two outings.