Rants and musings from the magazine team
10) Jean-Alain Boumsong (Rangers to Newcastle, £8m, 2005)
The epitome of the errors in judgement brought about by the January transfer window, Boumsong was Graeme Souness's first big signing at St James' Park, designed to plug a leaky Newcastle defence missing Jonathan Woodgate.
But the Frenchman was not a miracle worker - or, in fact, any good at all - and he instead set about exacerbating the problem, striking up a wonderfully comic partnership with Titus Bramble.
This was panic buying at its finest. Having moved to Rangers on a free the previous summer, Boumsong hadn't even had a full season in the SPL to prove his lack of talent before Souness jumped in with a bid.
A delighted Rangers managed to negotiate the Toon up several million pounds (and swerved a swap deal with Bramble) before biting off their ex-manager's arm at £8m.
The transfer raised a few eyebrows, starting with the FA Cup watchers who saw Yeading's DJ Campbell give Boumsong nightmares on his Newcastle debut.
It would later raise serious questions, as one of the 17 transfers Lord Stevens felt unable to sign off in his report into alleged financial irregularities.
Souness denies any financial wrongdoing - "I cannot understand why my name features in this report. I volunteered full information to Quest as a witness and I have heard nothing further from them."
But even the granite-jawed Graeme would have trouble denying footballing wrongdoing when he rested his defence on the flappable Frenchman.
9) Emmanuel Adebayor (Monaco to Arsenal, £3m, 2006)
Four years ago Arsene Wenger brought in a lanky Togolese striker from Monaco for an initial £3m and soon had football fans across the country shaking their heads at that ‘gift’ of his.
Quickly nicknamed 'Baby Kanu' - a pleasing nickname for a player who idolised the Nigerian – he scored 21 minutes into his debut against Birmingham and would carry on for the next three years.
His first (half-)season saw him bag four in 12, but he was cup-tied for the Gunners' run to the Champions League final.
He scored 12 more in his first full season but really shone following Thierry Henry’s departure to Barcelona in summer 2007.
In 2007/08 he fired 30 goals in all competitions while giving Arsenal a much-needed physicality up front, while also collecting the Match of the Day Goal of the Season and BBC African Player of the Year awards.
It was his high-water mark. Despite signing a new contract amid rumours of £30m interest from Barcelona and AC Milan, within 12 months he had moved to Manchester City.
The Arsenal fans may dislike him - a situation not helped when Adebayor raced the length of Manchester to celebrate a goal against the Gunners in front of the Gooners – but Wenger remains grateful to Adebayor for easing them through the post-Henry transition.
Oh, and for adding £25m to the Gunners’ rainy-day coffers.
8) Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough, £12m, 2008)
Remember Mateja Kezman, the Serbian striker who was banging them in left, right and centre in the Eredivisie before a £5.5m move to Chelsea, where he promptly proceeded to be almost entirely useless every week?
Gareth Southgate obviously didn’t.
Seeing a chance to sign the next Samba sensation – Alves is the third highest-scoring Brazilian in Eredivisie history, behind PSV legends Ronaldo and Romario – Southgate happily handed Heerenveen an extravagant £12m for their 26-year-old one-season-wonder.
He didn't score in his first eight games, and though hopes were raised by a hat-trick in the bizarre 8–1 final-day battering of Man City, his first full season at Boro brought a mere four goals. In 31 appearances.
And while Chelsea’s tale has positives (the Blues still won the league and Kezman was sold for a profit), Middlesbrough’s does not.
Boro were relegated and Alves was shipped out to Qatar side Al-Sadd for an undisclosed fee.
7) Ashley Young (Watford to Aston Villa, £9.75m, 2007)
Eyebrows shot up in January 2007 when Martin O'Neill broke the club record to spend nearly £10m for a young forward from struggling Watford.
Bemused fans questioned the judgement in such a large outlay on a single, largely unproven player when Villa’s paper-thin squad was being stretched to its limit.
O’Neill saw no need to publicly defend his purchase and quietly went about his business with a hunch that he had picked up a gem.
And over the subsequent three years, the softly-spoken Ulsterman has been proved right.
Young’s dynamic creative displays have seen him brought into the England fold and are one of the main reasons why Villa are once again looking capable of breaking into the Champions League quadropoly.
His performances have also seen him frequently linked with a switch to Chelsea for three times what he cost Villa, giving O’Neill plenty of opportunity for another hunch or two.
6) Savio Nsereko (Brescia to West Ham, £9m, 2009)
This one had madness written all over it.
At a time when West Ham were struggling financially, the £14m that the Eastenders received from the sale of Craig Bellamy to Man City would have gone a long way towards bolstering a thin squad with several new players.
As it was, Gianfranco Zola instantly blew a potential £9m of it on the unknown Savio Nsereko, a 19-year-old forward at Italian Serie B side Brescia – a club for whom he had only made a handful of appearances.
Upton Park honchos desperately tried to assuage bemused fans by first namechecking the host of top European clubs West Ham beat to his signature, then insisting Savio was a great talent in whom Zola saw a lot of himself.
While the former seemed instantly unlikely, the latter became apparent almost as quickly.
Despite an impressive performance against Man City (which seems to be a given for many of the flops on this list) his 10 appearances underwhelmed.
Rather than give him the time Zola publicly insisted he required, he decided to accept an undisclosed (but presumably paltry) bid from Fiorentina after only six months at the club.
West Ham retain 50 percent of his transfer rights, though, so they'll make some money should he fulfill his promise.
5) James Beattie (Sheffield United to Stoke £3.5m, 2009)
Christmas parties notwithstanding, James Beattie has become a hero in Stoke.
In his first half-season at the club the £3.5m man was instrumental in the Potters' Premier League survival.
Beattie repaid every penny of his transfer fee with some wonderful performances and some vital goals.
He helped his side to wins against Bolton, Man City, West Brom and Wigan and finished the season a firm fan favourite with an impressive seven goals in 16 games.
What’s more, he proved just how useful the January transfer window can be to a manager who can remain savvy rather than panic-stricken.
4) James Beattie (Southampton to Everton £6m, 2005)
Surely not the same James Beattie that single-handedly saved Stoke?
Not the same James Beattie that once scored 23 goals in a single season for Southampton?
Yep, the very same. Indeed it would seem that ‘Beats’ prefers red-and-white stripes.
While he has notched over 100 goals in the 300-odd games he has played for Southampton, Sheffield United and Stoke, his spell in the blue of Everton was one to forget.
In more than 80 games in all competitions for the Toffees, Beattie managed to hit the back of the net on a mere 15 occasions, scoring just twice in 33 appearances in his second full season with the club.
The worst part is that he was signed for a then club record fee of £6m, costing the Merseysiders a whopping £400,000 per goal.
3) Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg to Arsenal £15m, 2009)
Proof to all miserly managers out there that, more often than not, you do get what you pay for.
Renowned for his bargain-spotting, Arsene Wenger rarely dips into his pocket for anything other than lollypops to lure Europe’s finest youngsters to the Emirates.
When someone did finally show him how to write a cheque, however, the result was fantastic.
After an impressive Euro 2008, Andrei Arshavin had been flirting with a move to North London throughout the summer, but it was Spurs, not the Gunners, linked with the Russian star.
Tottenham’s £16m bid was too low for Zenit, so Spurs went elsewhere.
But Arsenal played a waiting game (as did Sky Sports News' Bryan Swanson, stationed in the snow on the Ashburton Grove roundabout), finally signing him for £14m.
When the smelling salts finally woke Wenger, he woke to delighted fans and a phenomenal player.
A fast, tricky dribbler with pinpoint passing and an eye for goal, the Russian has reinvigorated the Gunners' attack and he has 12 goals and 10 assists to his name in his 29 league outings so far.
His stunning one-man four-goal demolition of Liverpool at Anfield in April last year has Arsenal fans anxious for another Wenger spending spree this January.
Although, strictly speaking, Arshavin was actually registered in February...
2&1) Patrice Evra (Monaco, £5.5m) & Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow, £7m) to Manchester United, 2006
An injury to Gabriel Heinze halfway through the 2005/06 season prompted Sir Alex to sign this pair.
Not many had heard of Monaco’s Evra, despite his side reaching the 2004 Champions League final, and fewer still had heard of Spartak Moscow's Vidic.
While many were initially concerned at the readies Fergie forked out to bring them to Old Trafford – not helped by shaky initial showings – their respective fees now resemble bargains, as they have established themselves as two of the finest and most consistent defenders in Europe.
Imposing, old-fashioned centre-back Vidic and relentlessly-overlapping full-back Evra have added a wealth of quality to a back line that has become one of the most prominent and successful in European football.
They have helped United to secure three successive Premier League titles and reach two Champions League finals – winning Europe’s elite club competition in 2007/08.
When you consider that their combined cost was less than Newcastle’s ill-fated Boumsong-Bramble partnership, their signings seem like a work of genius, and prove why Sir Alex has won every trophy going as a club manager and Graeme Souness has not.
----------------------------------------------FourFourTwo.com: More to read...The Tuesday 10: Goals of the DecadeThe Tuesday 10: Goalscoring goaliesThe Tuesday 10: Freaky injuriesThe Tuesday 10: Brazilians in EnglandThe Tuesday 10: North London derbiesThe Tuesday 10: Best footballing beardsThe Tuesday 10: Best World Cup AbsenteesThe Tuesday 10: Golden oldiesThe Tuesday 10: The best computer football games everThe Tuesday 10: Controversial celebrationsThe Tuesday 10: Dives worse than Eduardo'sThe Tuesday 10: Football lyrics in rockThe Tuesday 10: Changing the course of historyThe Tuesday 10: Football forfeitsThe Tuesday 10: Goal celebrations
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