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The most expensive January transfers ever


The January transfer window often brings out the worst in clubs.

Mid-season panic can throw savvy recruitment strategies out of the window due to the allure of a pricey new asset potentially salvaging or galvanising a club’s campaign.

While some have nailed their major January deals, others have whiffed in a big way. Nevertheless, as clubs, especially in the Premier League, continue to attain bottomless pits of cash for winter spending, the January window has emerged as an incredibly busy period for transfer dealings.

The window’s ten most expensive deals have all been completed since 2017, and here’s a reminder of those lucrative moves.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang had an excellent scoring record at Arsenal / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Arsenal secured a major coup midway through the 2017/18 campaign by prising Aubameyang away from Borussia Dortmund for a then club-record fee.

The striker’s impact was immediate, and despite appearing for the Gunners during their most tumultuous period in a generation, Aubemeyang proved to be incredibly prolific in north London.

The Gabonese international scored 92 times for Arsenal in 163 games before the evolution of Mikel Arteta’s project saw him depart to Barcelona on a free transfer.

Diego Costa

Costa returned to Atletico after falling out with Antonio Conte / Denis Doyle/GettyImages

Atletico Madrid must’ve thought they were getting the monster they sold to Chelsea in 2014 by reuniting with Diego Costa four years later for almost double the fee they sold him to the Blues.

Costa was nothing short of a menace at Stamford Bridge and he twice played a leading role in Premier League title triumphs.

However, a falling out (to put it lightly) with Antonio Conte meant he became surplus to requirements. Atletico brought him back in January 2018, but Costa was a shadow of his former self.

Aymeric Laporte

Laporte lifted five Premier League titles in Manchester / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Manchester City weren’t exactly desperate for reinforcements on the way to their ‘Centurions’ campaign in 2017/18. Nevertheless, the club opted to bolster their backline by paying a premium to bring Laporte to Manchester.

A classy defender whose left-footed preference rendered him immensely valuable, Laporte was, for a time, regarded as one of the very best centre-backs in the Premier League. He was particularly brilliant in his first full season at the club as City retained their crown.

Laporte concluded his Premier League career with five titles before venturing off to the Saudi Pro League.

Christian Pulisic

Pulisic has since left Chelsea for Milan / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Once touted as a generation-defining talent by a few optimistic Americans. Pulisic initially made a splash in Europe with Borussia Dortmund before he joined Chelsea for £57.6m in January 2019, eventually joining the Blues ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Outside of a remarkable run of form after the Premier League returned from its COVID-induced break in the summer of 2020, Pulisic’s time at Stamford Bridge was rather forgettable as he scored 26 times in over 140 appearances.

The American international moved on to AC Milan ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

Oscar

Oscar switched west London for Shanghai / Di Yin/GettyImages

The former Brazilian wonder kid seemed destined for a long and successful career in west London after he joined Chelsea from Internacional for a fairly modest fee of £19m in 2012.

Oscar put up impressive numbers in his first three seasons with the Blues before things started to go south by 2016. The creative midfielder lost his starting berth under Antonio Conte, and he didn’t blink when the riches of the Chinese Super League came calling.

Mykhailo Mudryk

Mudryk is yet to prove himself in the Premier League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Mykhailo Mudryk looked nailed-on to join Arsenal in the 2023 January transfer window. Fabrizio Romano was plugging this deal like it was his son who was the subject of transfer interest.

However, the Mudryk saga took an unexpected late twist when Chelsea, not the Gunners, stumped up the requisite cash.

While the Ukrainian has shown some promise at the start of Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure, he’s still got a long way to go in justifying his hefty price tag.

Dusan Vlahovic

Vlahovic is the latest star to switch Florence for Turin / Emilio Andreoli/GettyImages

Juventus love prising away Fiorentina’s best. Roberto Baggio, Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa are among those who made the switch from Florence to Turin before Vlahovic followed the same path at the start of 2022.

The Serb’s impact was immediate as he scored on his debut against Hellas Verona. But Vlahovic’s time at Juventus hasn’t quite been as productive as his debut performance teased.

The striker has undoubtedly been hamstrung by Max Allegri’s pre-historic approach to winning football matches, and he continues to be linked with a move away from the club.

Virgil van Dijk

Van Dijk reached best centre-back in the world status after joining Liverpool / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

While the majority of the transfers listed so far haven’t quite worked out as planned, Liverpool have gotten everything they wanted and more out of Virgil van Dijk.

Few signings in modern history have been as transformative as the Dutchman’s move to Anfield.

Van Dijk’s arrival was swiftly followed by the addition of Alisson, and the pair laid the foundations for Liverpool’s success under Jurgen Klopp. The Reds have won all there is to win with Van Dijk patrolling their defence.

Enzo Fernández - Argentinian Soccer Player

Fernandez arrived at Chelsea in difficult circumstances / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Enzo Fernandez’s rise from European obscurity to £100m midfielder was as rapid as any seen before. While his Benfica career started with plenty of promise, his stellar 2022 World Cup campaign convinced Todd Boehly & Co that he was Chelsea’s midfielder for the future.

Undeniably gifted and still a critical presence in the national team, Enzo has done a whole lot of losing in west London. The dysfunction that has surrounded the club since the Argentine joined means the Premier League’s rarely seen the very best of him.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho was a woeful flop in Catalonia / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Sure, some might’ve said Barcelona overpaid the odds a little for Coutinho at the time, but the Brazilian had done a whole lot to suggest he was worth more than £100m.

The diminutive playmaker operated as Liverpool’s talisman following Luis Suarez’s departure. Coutinho put together an excellent 2016/17 season and that form continued in 2017/18 before Barca took the plunge midway through the campaign.

The transfer would prove to be one of the worst ever as Coutinho failed to reach the heights of his Liverpool spell. There were bright moments, sure, but the game-breaking talent Barca suspected they had signed never truly arrived and his signing contributed to the Catalan club’s crippling finances before they eventually got him off their books in 2022.

The most expensive January transfers ever

Rank

Player

Transferred to

Transferred from

Fee

1.

Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona

Liverpool

£142m

2.

Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea

Benfica

£106.8m

3.

Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool

Southampton

£75m

4.

Dusan Vlahovic

Juventus

Fiorentina

£66.6m

5.

Mykhaylo Mudryk

Chelsea

Shakhtar Donetsk

£62m

6.

Oscar

Shanghai SIPG

Chelsea

£60m

7.

Christian Pulisic

Chelsea

Borussia Dortmund

£57.6m

8.

Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City

Athletic Club

£57.2m

9.

Diego Costa

Atletico Madrid

Chelsea

£57m

10.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal

Borussia Dortmund

£56m

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