Football Features

January 2019 transfer window: What happened to last year’s most expensive signings?

By Ben Green

Published: 18:17, 28 January 2020 | Updated: 9:08, 31 January 2020

It has been a relatively subdued transfer window this month but last year, clubs across the globe pulled off some major business.

Over £600m worth to be more precise. Just north of £400m has been couriered across the planet this time round, but there is still time for that figure to rise steeply across Europe. And it’s usually across the final week where clubs hit panic mode and try to get late deals over line… no matter the price.

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In years gone by, we’ve seen some megalithic transfer swoops materialise on deadline day in particular; Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being three significant cases in point. But, it’s not just those final few hours where the big bucks are spent.

In January 2019, just shy of £300m was spent on the 10 most expensive transfers, but who were they? Have they justified their exorbitant price tags? And how have they fared across the last 12 months?

10. Amadou Haidara

From: Red Bull Salzburg

To: RB Leipzig

Fee: £16.2m 

The brilliance of Red Bull Salzburg’s shrewd scouting network has been well-documented. Betwixt the departures of Erling Braut Haaland and Takumi Minamino this month, and Sadio Mane six years ago, there was Haidara last year. Billed as the heir to Naby Keita’s midfield throne in Saxony, it’s fair to say the 21-year-old had a lot resting on his shoulders upon moving to Germany. 

He joined the club with a cruciate ligament injury and missed the first few months, but came back and immediately caught the eye. It was expected that Haidara would push on this season and really transform into the midfield force many were expecting of him, but he has thus far been restricted to just four Bundesliga starts. And although he has impressed during those cameo appearances, the recent arrival of Dani Olmo is all but guaranteed to jeopardise his chances of holding down a regular starting berth.  

9. Dominic Solanke

From: Liverpool

T0: Bournemouth

Fee: £17m

For all the praise lavished on Michael Edwards for his attentive eye in the market, this piece of transfer activity is arguably up there with the very best of Liverpool’s signings over the last few years.

Despite starting in only five Premier League matches for the Reds, the European champions received just under £20m for Solanke’s signature and, well, he only just netted his first Bournemouth goal this month, against Luton in the FA Cup.

Indeed, the England international has struggled to live up to the burgeoning reputation that followed him during his time in the Chelsea academy. One goal and one assist in 35 games for the Cherries is not the stuff of a £20m marksman. As such, Koppites are doffing their collective caps to the club’s transfer guru.  

8. Jonny Otto

From: Atletico Madrid

To: Wolves

Fee: £18m

The three-capped Spain international initially joined Wolves on a season-long loan, but such was his immediate impact at the Molineux that Nuno Espirito Santo wasted no time in making the 25-year-old a permanent fixture in the West Midlands.

During his time in the Premier League, Jonny has established himself as an elite-level full-back, able to charge up the pitch in buccaneering fashion but also willing to crunch into tackles when out of possession. He is indispensable to Espirito Santo’s well-oiled system and can play on either flank, such is his versatility.

Having signed for a similar price to that of Solanke, Jonny’s transfer is proving to be a real masterstroke from the Molineux makers and shakers.

7. Miguel Almiron

From: Atlanta United

To: Newcastle

Fee: £21m

The Paraguayan’s move to Tyneside was met with ironic exultation, in that it took the club 14 years to break their transfer record of Michael Owen from Real Madrid in 2005. Not only did this particular deal set a new standard at St James’ Park, but it also proved a watershed moment across the Atlantic as Almiron became the most expensive export from Major League Soccer. 

Since his move to English soil, the 25-year-old has looked a solid enough acquisition without necessarily producing anything too spell-bounding. He netted his first goal for the Magpies last month and has since scored three more, but with just one assist to his name in 36 appearances, the Toon Army will certainly be hoping that their playmaker can translate his balletic gait into more tangible rewards.  

6. Paco Alcacer

From: Barcelona

To: Borussia Dortmund

Fee: £22.7m

The Spaniard was explosive during his temporary stint at Borussia Dortmund for the first half of last season, scoring 12 goals in 14 Bundesliga games, which naturally prompted the club to snap him up on a permanent deal from Barca in the January window for just over £20m.

His 26 goals in 47 games for Lucien Favre’s side certainly looks impressive on paper, but there have been question marks over his suitability to the Swiss tactician’s system and he is surely living on borrowed time now that Haaland has pitched up and taken the German top-flight by storm.

5. Krzysztof Piatek

From: Genoa

To: AC Milan

Fee: £30.9m

Having netted a quite ridiculous 19 goals in only 21 appearances for Genoa last season, the Rossoneri quickly sought to prise the Pole away from the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and threw over £30m at the Griffin to do so.

He managed to transmit his goalscoring form over immediately, netting 11 goals in 21 games for Milan, but this campaign he has failed to kick on and, following the arrival of a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he now looks destined to leave the San Siro in the coming days, with a flurry of interest emanating from these shores. 

4. Lucas Paqueta

From: Flamengo

To: AC Milan

Fee: £31.4m

The dream was the new Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka partnership, but the reality has been far from it. As mentioned, Piatek appears on the cusp of leaving Milan, while it’s a similar situation for the player many were hoping would bring back a Brazilian panache to the San Siro.

The 22-year-old has started just eight Serie A games this season as Milan have once again struggled to pose a significant threat to Juventus’ domestic dominance, and recent reports from Sky Italia suggest Paqueta asked Stefano Pioli to be omitted from his recent squad for the Brescia match as rumours of a departure gather pace.

3. Leandro Paredes

From: Zenit St Petersburg

To: Paris Saint-Germain

Fee: £34.7m

This time last year, PSG were desperate for a central midfielder, and as talk of Idrissa Gueye and Abdoulaye Doucoure moving to the Parc des Princes diminished, Thomas Tuchel got his hands on Argentine ace Paredes.

The 25-year-old hasn’t quite had the desired impact in the French capital since relocating from Russia, despite acclimatising almost immediately last season, and has since fallen down the midfield pecking order to Gueye, who was eventually signed from Everton in the summer. 

2. Paulinho

From: Barcelona

To: Guangzhou Evergrande

Fee: £44.2m

Quite how Paulinho has prompted two clubs to shell out circa £40m on him on two separate occasions is anyone’s guess really, especially when you consider the inconsistent performances he used to produce at White Hart Lane all those years ago for Spurs.

That considered, the Brazilian has consistently impressed in his national colours and looked a shadow of his former self during his time at the Camp Nou, putting in some very combative and dynamic showings as Barca cantered to a domestic double in 2017/18. He has since returned to China where he continues to flourish.

1. Christian Pulisic

From: Borussia Dortmund

To: Chelsea

Fee: £58m

Signed last year perhaps in preparation for the storm that lay in wait, with a two-window transfer embargo looming and the seemingly eventual departure of talisman Eden Hazard. Pulisic remained on loan at Dortmund for the rest of the campaign but linked up with his new teammates in the summer.

Under Frank Lampard’s watch this season, the American has looked a very competent threat on the wing, despite some initial teething problems. He hasn’t quite remedied the Hazard void just yet but, given time, the Hershey-born player can become the creme de la creme of Premier League wide-men.

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