You’ve heard it said a thousand times, “you never get value in the January window”. There are cases where that simply doesn’t ring true, of course, with last year’s capture of Bruno Fernandes a perfect example but, boy oh boy, there have been far more disasters. Here we look at five of the worst January transfers of all time.
5. Juan Cuadrado
Kicking off our list of the worst January signings of all time is Juan Cuadrado. The Colombia winger joined Chelsea in 2015 for £23.3m plus a six month loan of a young Mo Salah who would go on to do ok elsewhere. The powerful and pacey midfielder had been one of the 2014 World Cup stars – albeit outshone by teammate James Rodriguez – and he’d been consistently turning in good displays for Fiorentina.
Cuadrado’s record of a goal involvement every other game hardly translated to England though. Instead Cuadrado managed just 16 appearances – five starts – and weighed in with one assist. Despite spending a few years on the books at Stamford Bridge, the move only truly lasted a few months with the summer of 2015 seeing Cuadrado join Juventus on a loan deal. He eventually joined the Old Lady on a permanent basis in 2017 where he has been very successful. Given his hefty fee, he must go down as one of the worst January transfers in recent history.
4. Savio Nsereko
Savio Nsereko is far from a household name. There was a time when he was tipped to be a star though and West Ham definitely bought into the hype at £7.5m back in 2009. At that time, the German youngster, 20, had made an impressive start to his career with Brescia with. He was two footed, looked quick, skilful and had averaged a goal contribution every three games; not bad for a youthful winger.
What unfolded after his move to West Ham isn’t quite what we’ve just described. He made just 11 appearances. Since then he’s represented 15 clubs and he’s failed to deliver for any of them despite dropping into leagues that are far, far away from the elite of European football. If that doesn’t convince you of how poor he was then perhaps Jack Collison’s assessment of “bloody useless” will. That’s the view of a mediocre player too.
3. Chris Samba
There was a time when Chris Samba was a formidable centre back. It was not during his QPR days. Harry Redknapp sanctioned a move for the former Blackburn man-mountain in an attempt to help keep the R’s in the Premier League back in the 2012/13 season. Things got off to a decent enough start too with the £100k per week Samba contributing to a clean sheet on his debut.
Unfortunately, it would prove to be the only shutout Samba was involved in throughout his 10 appearance career for QPR. The club slumped to relegation and the player, who joined for £12.5m from Anzhi Makhachkala, headed back to Russia for a reduced fee just five months later. It’s not a transfer you hear Redknapp reminiscing over nowadays! Easily one if the worst January transfers.
2. Andy Carroll
We’re pretty sure there were a few readers expecting to see Fernando Torres feature on this list for his £52m move to Chelsea in the same window back in 2011. We disagree though and rank the other domino in that deal as one of the worst January signings of all time. Liverpool splashed £35m on Newcastle forward Carroll. Presumably they thought they were getting the second coming of Alan Shearer. They didn’t.
Carroll stayed on Merseyside for just 18 months before a loan deal took him to West Ham. That move became permanent a year later. He managed just six league goals in 44 appearances with a further five coming in other competitions. That works out at over £3m per goal. In fact, when you think about it, it’s a miracle they managed to recoup nearly half of the eye watering amount they paid for him.
1. Guido Carrillo
Hands up if you remember Carrillo’s Premier League career. If you do, then you are in the minority. After Southampton finally relented and sold Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool in 2018 they had some decent cash in the bank. Carrillo cost them a fairly hefty chunk of it; £20m to be precise. The Argentinian centre forward had hardly been prolific for Monaco with a goal average around the one in five mark before his move but Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino would have surely been expecting a damn sight more than what they got.
Carrillo played just 624 minutes for the South coast club across all competitions failing to score a single goal. After two loan spells with Leganes saw him notch 10 goals in 60 games, Southampton let him leave on a free transfer. He joined Elche and has scored once in seven appearances. A disastrous signing in every respect. Looking at his career before and after Southampton it really does make you wonder what Pellegrino was thinking. January transfers don’t come any worse than this, the worst of the bunch.