Do January Transfer Buys Actually Help a Team Improve?

The transfer madness will only heat up as January continues! - (Photo: Therallycap.wordpress.com)

Nearly every good professional soccer team wants to buy that perfect player that will help them finish out their season in style, and hopefully with a trophy!  No matter how the season has gone up to this midway point, there is that hope that just one single player could push them over the top to that level of real success.  And thus you see massive moves made for questionable players, and extremely high dollar amounts tossed around as feelings of desperation fill in.  This club simply must enhance their depth, or fill the void left by an injured player.  We must buy!!

But does a January transfer ever really help the club as much as they expect?

The answer delves into what the buying team expects.  While a new soccer player can come in and give a team a lift or make an immediate impact, there are many others that don’t.  Many soccer players can take months or a full year to adapt to a new club.  They must learn to play with new players, adapt to the new manager’s playing philosophy, and often have to learn an entirely new language in a new country.  How can we expect immediate return for the investment in such a scenario?

Expecting a January transfer to give your team a massive boost is beyond hopeful.  It is desperate.  But while such a feeling is often held by teams that prefer to do their buying in the summer, the winter transfer period has seen some incredible results on occasion.  One such buy was for Papiss Cisse, who came to Newcastle in early 2012.  He scored the winning goal on his debut and went on to net 13 goals in 14 matches, helping the team to 5th place and a spot in the Europa League.  But while his inclusion gave the team a boost, one must realize that Newcastle was already a very talented side that was in 7th place before the transfer.  Another worrying thing to consider is Cisse’s impact since.  In the 18 months since that incredible arrival, he has scored just 16 goals in 65 appearances.

But there have been other successful January buys.  Luis Suarez is a clear example, having arrived at Liverpool in 2011 for £22million.  While the team did jump from 12th in January to finish the league in 6th, Suarez did very little in the effort, scoring just 4 goals.  Though as he is now widely regarded as the world’s best striker, clearly this was a great buy.  However, at the time his arrival was dwarfed by the £35million purchase of Andy Carroll, which was one of the desperate flops of English Premier League history.  And then of course one can consider the reason for both those buys, which was the Liverpool sale to Chelsea of the £50million Fernando Torres, who has since scored just 42 goals in 153 appearances.  Desperation can force incredibly ridiculous purchases and buys.

But with the January transfer window wide open, teams will surely be looking about for their next great star.  While the big money buys often result in overall failures by incoming players to really help a team in the immediate, a wise choice can result in great success down the years.  However, there surely must be an understanding that a single player, no matter how great he is, can only boost a team’s whole performance by so much.  And so a buying club must be very careful in their decisions this time of year…


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