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The Spoiler’s “best January window signings” XI

Proof that some of the best bargains can be found after Christmas

<i>The Spoiler’s</i> “best January window signings” XI

After yesterday’s worst January transfers XI, The Spoiler feels the need to show a little more positivity, without showing any more imagination. Hence, the best January window signings XI hath been declared. See what we did there?

David James (West Ham to Manchester City), 2004 – £2m
Calamity James wasn’t as good at City as he has been at Pompey, but Scott Carson (Leeds to Liverpool, 2005) was the only other suitable candidate. Despite profiting £2.5m on the latter, Carson only managed four league games for the Reds.

Patrice Evra (Monaco to Man Utd), 2006 – £5.5m
He wasn’t an instant hit at Old Trafford (he was subbed on his debut at half time in a 3-1 defeat to rivals Man City), but has since proved his worth. In his first full season at the club he became United’s first choice left-back ahead of Argentine Gabriel ‘why-won’t-you-let-me-go-to-arch-rivals-Liverpool’ Heinze, and has been a mainstay in a side that has won two consecutive league titles and a Champions League.

Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow to Man Utd), 2006 – £7m
Vidic signed at the same time as Evra and endured a similarly disappointing start in Manchester. However, he found his feet in the Premier League the following season, establishing one the best central pairings in Europe with Rio Ferdinand. He’s pretty handy in the air, goes in against Premiership’s toughest strikers like a bulldozer and drinks puppy blood for breakfast. Probably.

Ryan Nelsen (DC United to Blackburn), 2005 – free
Nelsen was signed on a free after the MLS season and soon enough helped shore up Blackburn’s defence. Two years after he signed, he was handed the club captaincy and remains one of their best players (although we aren’t sure how impressive that is considering they haven’t won a league game since September).

Stephen Warnock (Liverpool to Blackburn), 2007 – £1.5m
Back when Mark Hughes had a budget to work to, he was picking up more bargains like he was at a Woolworths closing down sale. Warnock goes down with Roque Santa Cruz, Ryan Nelsen and David Bentley as one of Sparky’s best pieces of business (not that we are implying £19m for Jo was £15m too much). Although Warnock now plays at left back (we have him in our team at right back), he has played on the opposite side before and is in fact right footed. Warnock was unable to hold down a first team place at Liverpool but has made that adjustment at Blackburn, and was rewarded for his efforts with an England cap earlier this year.

Kieran Richardson (Man Utd to West Brom), 2005 – loan
Charley from Big Brother’s cousin only made 12 appearances for the Baggies, but his performances in those games played a huge part in their successful bid to stay up. With Sheffield United claiming over £30m compensation from West Ham over the Carlos Tevez affair and the Blades subsequent relegation, Richardson’s two goals in West Brom’s final three games of the season should not be undervalued.

Steve Sidwell (Arsenal to Reading,) 2003 – Undisclosed
After a year at Reading he was voted the best player in England outside the Premiership by Four Four Two, and he played a huge role in their Championship winning side of the 2005-2006. Despite jumping ship for Chelsea in 2007 where he couldn’t get in the team, he made over 175 appearances for Reading, scoring 30 goals in the process.

Nigel Reo-Coker (MK Dons to West Ham), 2004 – £500,000
He was made captain under Alan Pardew, led his side to the Premiership through the play-offs in 2005 and the FA Cup final in 2006, and managed 120 league starts before West Ham made a tidy £7m profit on the tough-tackling midfielder last year. Probably would have made a few more appearances too if he wasn’t getting booked every other game.

David Bentley (Arsenal to Blackburn), 2006 – undisclosed
Blackburn had loaned Bentley the previous summer but made the deal permanent in January 2006 after he impressed in the first half of the season. His first match after permanently signing wasn’t bad either, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-3 victory over Manchester United. He produced 20 goals and even more assists in his three years at Blackburn before he was sold for £18m in the summer. We aren’t sure how much Blackburn paid for the midfielder (why don’t Arsenal disclose their transfer fees?), but you can bet it was a few bob less than what they sold him for.

Jermaine Defoe (Spurs to Portsmouth), 2007 – £7.5m
Defoe became the first Pompey player to score in all of his first five games at the club, including an equalizer on his debut in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. He has continued to score this season and has an impressive record of 15 goals in 26 league games for Portsmouth, leading to speculation that Harry Redknapp is desperate to bring him back to Spurs next month.

Emmanuel Adebayor (Monaco to Arsenal), 2006 – undisclosed
Adebayor scored on his debut against Birmingham but was by no means an instant success, bagging just three more in his first term. He scored the winning goal away to rivals Manchester United in 2006, but it wasn’t until last season that he showed his quality on a consistent basis, now boasting 56 goals in 122 appearances.

[Research: Danny Harris]

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