Deadline Day Rewind: The Premier League’s Best and Worst Signings of the Past 3 Seasons

Every year, fans and news outlets alike get extremely animated at what is essentially just an expensive version of those American ‘Black Friday’ videos you see on YouTube; hilarious if you’re not a part of it to begin with, then you realise what is actually happening in a wider context and you start to feel a little bit sad.

Nevertheless, we all indulge in it, despite our best instincts.

So I am going to look back fondly on Deadline Days gone by, and assess which transfers, in the cold light of day, were actually worth all the commotion.

As well as the ones… that weren’t.




Anthony Martial to Manchester United

At the time, much was made about United splurging a potential £58 million on the French youngster.

Fans of all clubs questioned van Gaal, as he broke the transfer record for a teenager, in a seemingly desperate attempt to inject some creativity into the side.

Fears were temporarily allayed as he scored on his debut, coming on in the 65th minute against Liverpool. His blistering start continued, with Martial adding another 2 goals just a week later against Southampton.

Since then, the Frenchman has gone from strength to strength earning a promotion to the full French squad, and received the 2015 Golden Boy award.

Whilst the fee is certainly very high, for one so young, and with a potential world-record sell on value, Manchester United can certainly justify forking out that money at the last minute.



Michael Hector to Chelsea

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t remember this one.

Signed from Reading for around £4 million, the Jamaican defensive midfielder was then immediately loaned straight back to the Royals for the remainder of the season.

Undoubtedly, signing for the Blues was an opportunity that Hector couldn’t refuse, especially with the reigning champions offering him a healthy raise.

Putting in a solid, but unspectacular season on loan at Reading, he returned over the summer to train with Antonio Conte.

Clearly, he didn’t do enough to impress the Italian, as he has now been sent on loan to German side Eintracht Frankfurt.

After a disastrous debut, where he was sent-off in the German Cup, it’s not looking as though this loan is likely to spark a push for the Chelsea first team.




Sadio Mane to Southampton

Whilst the Senegalese international has now moved on to Merseyside, his debut in English football came following his £11.8 million move to the Saints from Red Bull Salzburg.

Mane made an instant impact on his debut, winning a penalty against Arsenal in the League Cup, a tie which Southampton went on to win.

Probably the highlight of his first season came on the final day home match of the season, where Sadio scored three goals in 2 minutes 56 seconds, smashing Robbie Fowler’s Premier League record for the fastest hat-trick.

After two great seasons on the coast, Mane moved to Liverpool recouping a healthy £34 million.

Managing to make a financial profit, after profiting on the pitch for two years, Mane’s transfer to Southampton is definitely one of the best deadline deals in recent memory.



Radamel Falcao to Manchester United (on loan)

Admittedly, not a permanent transfer, but it is difficult to argue that Falcao’s deadline day move to United was anything other than a complete disaster. Somehow he managed to pass his medical, despite the numerous injury problems that plagued his time at the Red Devils.

Perhaps the motivation of his £265,000 a week wages spurred him on, or maybe the prospect of a potential £43.5 million move to United, should they have chosen to take the option.

Claiming he would fight to become a legend at the club, sadly the Colombian didn’t even nearly reach those heights.

The low point for Falcao’s United career came in a cup tie against Preston North End, where the once prolific striker, who had tormented the defences of Barcelona and Real Madrid, failed to register a shot on target.

Unsurprisingly, after just 4 goals, United decided not to exercise their buy option.

How the mighty have fallen… and continued to fall.




Mesut Ozil to Arsenal

In the context of the time, Ozil’s £42.5 million move to Arsenal was seismic.

Smashing their previous transfer record, this was a total change in tact from Wenger as he made Mesut the most expensive German of all time.

Following their dismal start to the season, Ozil was the tonic the Gunners needed; and his instant impact was evident as he assisted (a theme common throughout his Arsenal career) Olivier Giroud after just 11 minutes, away to Sunderland.

His first season continued on this trajectory, as he was short-listed for the Ballon d’Or award, and named in UEFA’s Team of the Year.

Although he went through a slightly lean spell, where the German came under much criticism, he came out the other side much stronger.

Bulked up physically, and having adapted to the physical style of the Premier League, Ozil has now fully flourished in the central role at Arsenal.

Not only for the quality of player, but also the intent his transfer signalled for the club in general, Ozil’s move to Arsenal was definitely the best Deadline Day buy of 2013.



Tiago Ilori to Liverpool

Signed for a rumoured £7 million, the young Portuguese centre-back looked to be a decent piece of business.

So much so that the FA were apparently in talks with the player’s representative to switch nationality and represent England at Senior level.

Yet playing time was hard to come by for Ilori, and he was only named on the bench for the first time on January 5th 2014.

Fifteen days later he was loaned to Granada until the end of the season, where he registered only 9 appearances; with his debut arguably being the worst of them all, as he was part of a team who lost 1-0 away to lowly Espanyol.

The following season, he was loaned out again, this time to French side Bordeaux, where he started 12 times.

Clearly, he didn’t impress the management at Liverpool enough as he was loaned out yet again the following season to Aston Villa.

Given Villa’s well documented defensive woes last season, the fact that Ilori failed to even make an appearance, with his deal actually cancelled in January, is a sad indictment of the state of Ilori’s career in English football.


Written by Adam Pritchard

Follow Adam on Twitter @DukeArsenal

Check out his fantastic football blog, Starting At Ten

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