Has it really been a year?
While 2019’s version of the January transfer window has been short on all things stimulating thus far, last term’s offering was an engrossing period rife with significant additions.
With the past year providing a considerable sample size, here’s a look at the 12 biggest signings of last season’s Premier League winter window ranked in descending order from pitiful to prodigious:
12. Guido Carrillo
Monaco to Southampton for reported £19.1-million fee
It’s perfectly reasonable to think Southampton sent a scout to the principality, only for him to make it no further than the hotel casino. How else can the Saints justify Carrillo as the club’s record signing? With just 15 league starts in three seasons at Monaco, the Argentine was gifted a massive opportunity to fill a gaping hole in attack at St. Mary’s. Instead, the rangy 27-year-old made just seven Premier League appearances before getting pawned off on loan to Leganes, where he leads the team with five La Liga goals.
11. Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal to Manchester United in swap deal
Remember that tireless fella who used to dart around the pitch like a rogue firehose? Well, the Alexis Sanchez who arrived at Manchester United has been a shadow of the one who dazzled with Arsenal, registering just a trio of goals in 23 league outings for the Red Devils. Sanchez’s opulent wages also have an impact off the pitch, and with more than three years left on his current terms, the 30-year-old may prove an immovable object.
10. Cenk Tosun
Besiktas to Everton for reported £27-million fee
One of a countless number of regrettable signings for an Everton side that recruited the likes of Davy Klaassen, Nikola Vlasic, and Sandro Ramirez, Tosun hasn’t quite lived up to the billing with a scant seven league tallies for the Toffees. A far cry from the player that scored for fun with Istanbul giants Besiktas, Tosun, 27, can at least relish in the fact that he’s currently managed by impassioned Portuguese boss Marco Silva and no longer by the smug, tactically inept Sam Allardyce.
Roma to Chelsea for reported £17.5-million fee
Somewhere between Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko on the spectrum of unpleasant and inexplicable recent Chelsea signings, full-back Emerson screams of an Antonio Conte craving that doesn’t make it on Maurizio Sarri’s menu. The 24-year-old left-sided Brazilian has played just 13 minutes in the league this season whilst relegated to Europa League duty. For a not-so-inexpensive £17.5-million fee, you’d expect more from a player whose skills in passing and possession should meet the gaffer’s fancy.
8. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Manchester United to Arsenal in swap deal
It’s not that Mkhitaryan has been stellar at Arsenal, it’s just that when compared to Sanchez’s contractual standoff and subsequent move to United, the Armenian has been a pleasant addition at the Emirates. A few weeks shy of his 30th birthday, Mkhitaryan is unlikely to be a part of Unai Emery’s plans going forward. But as one of a few players in the first team capable of filling a wide position, the former Bundesliga Player of the Year has a role in north London for the time being.
7. Olivier Giroud
Arsenal to Chelsea for reported £17.5-million fee
A versatile target who’s capable of doing the dirty work, towering World Cup winner Giroud was signed from rival Arsenal to help fill the void left by Diego Costa’s move to Atletico. Useful under Conte, the currently injured Giroud doesn’t seem to fit Sarri’s preference for compact No. 9s who make fluid runs. With Alvaro Morata routinely threatening to plunk those seated in Row Z at Stamford Bridge with a wayward strike, Chelsea could do worse than keep Giroud in the team.
6. Ross Barkley
Everton to Chelsea for reported £15-million fee
Considering how often English talents are overvalued, Barkley’s move from boyhood side Everton to Chelsea has proved to be a bargain. Competing for time with Mateo Kovacic in Sarri’s 4-3-3, Barkley overcame a slow start to enjoy a prosperous 2018-19 campaign to date. Three goals and three assists in 17 league affairs is a decent return for a player whose career progress was significantly hamstrung by hamstring issues.
5. Theo Walcott
Arsenal to Everton for reported £20-million fee plus add-ons
A symbol of Arsenal’s failed British core, Walcott, 29, bid adieu after 12-plus years in north London to help quell Everton’s dearth of fit wingers. For the former England star, it was a swift start with an assist on his debut versus West Brom followed days later by a brace against Leicester City. Walcott has started all but two of Everton’s league matches this season and will continue to do so until the gaffer shows an increased faith in summer signing Bernard and pacey youngster Ademola Lookman.
4. Lucas Moura
Paris Saint-Germain to Tottenham for reported £25-million fee
Suspend disbelief for a moment and recall a time when Tottenham signed players. Spurs preceded a stagnant summer with a characteristically mercurial dip in the winter window, with Paris Saint-Germain afterthought Moura the only notable addition to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad. One year on, the Brazilian has been a vital part of Tottenham’s trophy chase, scoring the late equalizer against Barcelona in the Champions League to secure the north London side’s progression to the knockout stage. An important piece in a short squad.
3. Aymeric Laporte
Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City for reported £57.1-million fee
Were it not for No. 1 on this list, former Athletic Bilbao standout Laporte would be given far more consideration as the Premier League’s best center-half. Laporte, 24, is eligible to play internationally for both Spain and France, and has combined well with John Stones whilst attracting the affection of Pep Guardiola for some silky skills with the ball at his feet. Goes to show that spending in excess of £200 million on a back-four can result in success. A true rags-to-riches story.
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal for reported £55.4-million fee
Coined a bad seed at Borussia Dortmund, Aubameyang has been anything but at Arsenal, often playing out of position to accommodate Alexandre Lacazette’s central preferences. Joint-top the scoring charts alongside Harry Kane on 14 league goals, the French-born Gabonese international became the first player in Premier League history to score with 10 consecutive shots on target, and his goal haul since making the north London switch is second only to Mohamed Salah in England’s top tier. Worth every penny.
1. Virgil van Dijk
Southampton to Liverpool for reported £75-million fee
Those who smirked when the lavish fee for Van Dijk was announced have long since turned reticent as the ponytailed purveyor of timely tackles and aerial duels stakes a claim as the world’s best center-half. Through no fault of his own, the Oranje doyen has been paired with a motley crew of Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren, and Joel Matip, only to thrive with all three as Liverpool put in a bid to end a 29-year wait for league honors. Van Dijk is looking to become the first defender since 2005 (John Terry) to nab the PFA Player of the Year, and the first since David Ginola in 1999 to do so with a coif that would make Rapunzel blush.