Its hard to escape the fact that the 2015 winter transfer window was a lousy one for Premier League clubs. The usual swirl of rumours bombarded us in the paperswhile the anticipatedblockbuster of adeadline day ended up as limp as Harry Redknapps pre-knee-surgery walk.Thats not to say that some good business wasnt done, but the absenceof the usualbig money deals we all know and love has proven a big disappointment. When Carlton Coles potential move to West Bromwich Albionis the biggest headline in the final minutes of the window, you really get the idea that somethings wrong.However, there have been anumber of transfers taking place that could eventually pay dividends for some of Englands top 20. And a number of clubs have to be given credit for the way they went about their business.Its time to take a look at what could turn out to be the topten deals that took place over the course of the month thoughloan deals arent included.
#10 Ryan Bertrand to Southampton - 10m
Though the fee was undisclosed, rumour has it that Southampton signed Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand for around10m just prior to the transfer deadline. The Blues have proven time and again over the last few years that they drive a hard bargain in the transfer market, butthe deal for the 25-year-old isgood business on the part of the Saints too.
Bertrand has slotted in brilliantly so far this season in place of Luke Shaw,and has cost them nearly a third of the fee they received for the now-Manchester United star last summer. Having made the move to St. Marys on loan at the start of the season, Southampton have secured themselves the long-term answer to their issues at full back in Bertrand.
Their new signing hasmade 22 Premier League appearances for the club so far this season, scoringtwice, though he faces a three match ban after being sent off in the 1-0 weekend home defeat to Swansea City.
#9 Victor Valdes to Manchester United - Free
Though it sparked rumours that David De Gea was being readied for his Manchester United exit (why?!), the signing of Victor Valdes represents good sense from manager Louis van Gaal.
The former Barcelona stopper boasts a wealth of experience, has won everything there is to win at club and international level and it appears he is happy enough with his role as a second choice goalkeeper. He may have spent nearly a year attempting to recuperate from damage to his knee, but having run the rule over the 32-year-old, Van Gaal clearly feels enough quality remains for him to keep De Gea on his toes.
Valdes is an able deputy to his fellow countryman and though he is yet to make his debut, he is certainly an upgrade on the former understudy Anders Lindegaard.
#8 Carles Gil to Aston Villa - 3m
Poor old Aston Villa had mustered only 11 Premier League goals in their 23 matches prior to the transfer window closing. Its the worst goalscoring record in the division by a country mileand suggests an alarming absence of creativity.
Paul Lambert is under growing pressure at Villa Park, but the arrival of 3m attacker Carles Gil could provide some antidote to the Birmingham outfits multitude of problems. Gil has shown enough in his opening matches to suggestthat he can make things happen, and his wonderful curling effort in the FA Cup win over Bournemouth gave an insight into the joys the Spaniard could provide in the future.
Unfortunately for him, hes already under pressure to come up with some genius because Villa are on a slippery slope down the table. Their 5-0 defeat at Arsenal on the Sunday prior to the deadline reinforced the fact that goals and goals at big times are needed.
#7 Wilfried Zaha to Crystal Palace - 3m
When you think about it, if Crystal Palace actually did land Wilfried Zaha for the reported £3m – just two years after selling him for nearly £15m – it’s an excellent piece of business.
The word is that Manchester United still owed £4m of that transfer fee to the Eagles prior to his departure, with the amount waived after the deal was completed. Nevertheless, Palace have got a player back who they rated very highly, with the current issues surrounding him being that he's low (ish) on confidence and craving game time.
Palace proved in the first half of the season (while Zaha was on loan) that they are prepared to play the exciting winger, and it usually goes without saying that regular playing time makes footballers feel that little bit better about themselves. New manager Alan Pardew is a self-confessed fan, and Zaha – still only 22 – has plenty of years ahead of him to get things right.
He is far from the finished article, but Palace fans are certainly glad to have him back.
#6 Michael Keane to Burnley - 2m
In Sean Dyche’s only bit of winter business, Burnley signed Manchester United centre back Michael Keane for around £2m after a successful loan spell with the relegation battlers in the first half of the season.
Keane has slotted in well enough for the Clarets since arriving, making 17 appearances in all competitions prior to the transfer window closing. It’s a big enough outlay for Burnley, but considering his performances at Turf Moor to date, the move makes sense on both the player’s and the club’s part.
Whether they end up getting relegated or staying in the Premier League, you get the feeling Keane is in this for the long haul. That’s just what Burnley need.
#5 Jermain Defoe to Sunderland - 3m
The wages Jermain Defoe is said to be pocketing from Sunderland following his move from Toronto FC are substantial, to say the least. But when all things are considered and matters are weighed up, Sunderland have enough reason to justify paying Defoe the reported £11m package over his three-and-a-half year contract.
Why, you ask? It’s simple enough. Defoe scores goals.
Sunderland are averaging less that a goal per Premier League game this season, but that amount is expected to look a little healthier by the time the former Tottenham and West Ham striker’s campaign is over. He’s already helped himself to one in the 2-0 win over Burnley, and more are expected to come.
In turn, these goals should ensure that the Black Cats remain in the Premier League come May. And that’s worth a whole lot more than what the 32-year-old is pocketing.
#4 Darren Fletcher to West Bromwich Albion - Free
One of the best value deals of the transfer window was Darren Fletcher’s free transfer from Manchester United to West Bromwich Albion.
Simply put, Fletcher is a brilliant example to the players around him. He will slot into a team fighting to ensure their safety, start regularly and even throw himself in the frame for the club’s captaincy. The likelihood is that he will get it at some point before his two-and-a-half-year contract (with the option for another year) is done with.
The Baggies will be a team on the up over the course of the next few years if Tony Pulis’ record is anything to go by, and Fletcher is the perfect man to go on to the pitch and carry out the manager’s instructions. He’s experienced, just 31 years old, hungry to impress and just has a huge desire to play the football he hasn’t been getting over the last few years.
West Brom are on to a winner with this one.
#3 Gabriel to Arsenal - 11.2m
Top class defenders don’t come cheap nowadays. But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has done well in the winter window to land Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal – a Brazilian centre-half who has all the bare essentials to be moulded into a world beater.
£11m is modest considering the money in the Arsenal accounts nowadays. Gabriel has the opportunity to come in and learn the ropes in the second half of the season while also providing the plug to an obvious gap in the Gunners’ defensive line. Wenger sought out the statistics in the lead up to signing the 24-year-old, and stats don’t lie.
Only two other players made more interceptions in La Liga this season than Gabriel, and given he’s a keen tackler and likes to get on the front foot, he’ll come in as solid alternative to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
Arsenal needed a player like this, but now it’s his time to prove he’s worth the fee.
#2 Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea - 26.1m
The biggest deal of transfer deadline day came from Stamford Bridge, after the long-protracted move of Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea was finally completed. The Blues managed to offload Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg for around £24m, giving them the necessary funding to bring the Colombian in from Fiorentina.
Cuadrado proved at last summer’s World Cup just how much of a pacey threat he can be, and his famed work ethic makes him a typical ‘Jose Mourinho style’ of player. While it may take him a number of months to settle in to English football, Chelsea hold hope that Cuadrado can slot in and do a job straight away.
It’s the second largest incoming deal of the transfer window overall, but given Cuadrado is just about to enter the peak years of his career, there’s a big old chance that he will begin to prove he’s worthy of all those millions Chelsea put down for him.
#1 Wilfried Bony to Manchester City - 28m
Some would argue that Manchester City have paid a little bit over the odds for new forward Wilfried Bony. But there’s enough reason to believe that the reigning Premier League champions will get their money’s worth from the Ivorian over the course of his four-and-a-half year contract.
The transfer fee could rise as high as £28m – and it likely will – but City have carried out some excellent business here because Bony provides a viable alternative to what they already have up top. Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic have failed to inspire over the course of the season so far, so there could even be a regular starting berth in the team for the former Swansea hitman.
Of course, you’d hope that would be the case anyway considering the amount of money City threw down. But Bony was the highest scoring player in the Premier League in the calendar year 2014, and he’s set to join up with a number of infinitely creative players. Be prepared for City to get even stronger.