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No Bargains in the January Sale?

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Since it was introduced in 2003, the January transfer window has failed to shake off many of its critics. Many thought the period would be used by clubs to grab stars from their rivals in their promotion pushes, or desperate owners struggling to keep their clubs from the horror of relegation. They were not wrong.

This January alone saw £225 million change hands in the Premier League, with a massive £115 million being exchanged between solely Premier League clubs, and just £5 million being spent on developing talent from the Football League. But is all of this ‘panic-buying’ worth it?

The most prominent transfer this winter saw Chelsea fork out £50 million for Fernando Torres. Liverpool fans were outraged as Chelsea supporters celebrated what they thought could be a title-saving signing. However, as the Reds travelled to Stamford Bridge, it was the Liverpool faithful who were smiling. £50 million, 18 appearances, 1 goal – the figures just don’t stack up.

However, Chelsea were not the only team left feeling blue – Manchester City may have been left feeling slightly hard done by too. Roberto Mancini entrusted Edin Džeko with a £27 million price tag, but with only two goals in 15 league appearances, it seems the Bosnian isn’t the star striker that so many hoped he would be.

Not all of the big-money transfers which eclipsed the previous January record deal (£15 million which Arsenal paid for Andrey Arshavin in 2009) were entirely wasteful though. Luis Suarez’s £22.8 million move to Liverpool has seen him produce a goal tally twice that of Džeko, and Darren Bent’s move south certainly didn’t send him performances in the same direction, with an impressive nine goals in 16 games.

However, probably the most fruitful transfer this winter did not involve a Premier League club; neither did it see more than £300,000 change hands. Kris Commons, the highly-rated ex-Nottingham Forest forward, returned to his roots as he made the switch from Championship side Derby County to Scottish Cup winners Celtic. Since his small-money move, the Scot has hit 14 goals in 21 games, scoring on his Celtic, League Cup, Scottish Cup, Old Firm, and Celtic Park debut games.

Fernando Torres’ goal-scoring record of one goal in 18 games, is somewhat outshone by Commons’ conversion rate of 12 goals in 18 games.

It isn’t just proven goal-scoring talent that clubs are willing to pay millions for either, as Liverpool demonstrated with the signing of Andy Carroll. At the age of just 22, and with only 41 Premier League appearances to his name, Carroll was snapped up for £35 million by Reds manager Kenny Dalglish. However, after scoring only two goals since his move to Liverpool, Carroll needs an impressive session in 2011-12 to earn his £35 million price tag and fulfil the potential which the club’s board clearly see in him.

With the current transfer window beginning to show movement and clubs returning to prepare for the new season, it remains to be seen whether those last-minute January deals will be worth more than the paper they’re written on.

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