The sight of Mohamed Salah netting a sixth goal for Chelsea against Arsenal at the weekend gave the first slightest of hints that the £11m Chelsea invested in the Egyptian may have been wise. Given that in his first two months in England he has spent just 36 Premier League minutes on the pitch, his purchase has hardly been the most productive and has resultantly proven a rather unnecessary move on the Blues' part. Salah was already proving himself on the Champions League stage for Basel and José Mourinho hadn't needed Juan Mata, so why would he need Salah, or why would Salah need Chelsea?
The January transfer window is best used as a time to address deficiencies a squad has shown in the first half of the season by signing players that are Premier League ready and can slot straight into the team. This winter, however, the teams in England's top flight failed - for the large part - to have any success in this regard and the school of January signings have had very little impact indeed.
Salah has obviously been deemed inferior to the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, André Schürrle, Oscar and Ramires in Chelsea's attacking midfield positions despite having scored in both fixtures against the Blues in the Champions League group stages earlier this season, though he has looked lively when called upon. But £11m worth of 'lively'? Probably not. Salah looks just like the kind of player who would need a pre-season in England to acclimatise, and may as well have finished the campaign he started in Switzerland, much like Kurt Zouma, another of the January signings, was allowed to do at Saint Etienne.
Chelsea's other import Nemanja Matic provides arguably the Premier League's only true success story when it comes to 2014's January signings. The Serbian has the eighth highest rating (7.67) in the Premier League since the turn of the year (of players with 10+ appearances), having already established himself as a crucial member of the Chelsea team. Amongst those ahead of him in this list are the likes of Luis Suárez, Eden Hazard, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard, all of whom have vast experience in the top flight, so credit where credit's due for Matic managing to settle in so quickly.
He sits in front of the back four alongside Ramires, breaking up play, averaging the 7th most tackles and interceptions per game in the Premier League (5.7) and distributing with an 83.7% pass success to allow Mourinho's front 4 to do the attacking, safe in the knowledge that they have Matic behind them holding the fort. He is key to starting attacks, and his passes saw him register two assists in the rout of Arsenal last week. Chelsea now have a Premier League-high 18 players with at least 1 assist this season, and Matic has got on board in that sense, too, though even with his success they still look like they could end the season trophyless.
Hull's January exploits were widely questioned, as they spent a hefty £14m on the misfiring Nikica Jelavic and the inconsistent Shane Long. The duo are already the Tigers' joint-highest scorers in the Premier League (3 goals each) and have filled a void that needed filling at the club. Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo proved inadequate at the top level and Steve Bruce recognised and addressed a need for replacements who were already up to speed with the demands of the Premier League. However, Hull are now in 12th place rather than 10th when their new forwards were signed and remain in a relegation battle. The team has has only seen a slight increase in goals scored, averaging 1.11 goals per game compared to 1.05 before Long and Jelavic joined. There have been improvements, but doubts rightly remain as to whether they were worth the money.
The January transfer window was similarly fruitless Fulham. Their significant investment as they panicked about avoiding the drop has yet to provide much return. Record signing Kostas Mitroglou has featured just twice, yet to score from 7 shots and yet to make a single key pass. Given that he was playing - and scoring - in the Champions League only this season, he will presumably be on the move again in the summer once Fulham's likely relegation is confirmed. Lewis Holtby has shone at times but looks unlikely to have enough effect to keep them up, while William Kvist and Johnny Heitinga seem wholly redundant signings that have merely disrupted the rhythm their teammates had gathered.
Juan Mata's move to Manchester United was meant to solve their problems in attack, but forced to play out wide he has had little success. 3 assists in his first 3 games doesn't tell the whole story; one was a 5 yard pass to Ashley Young who scored from 20 yards and another fell rather fortunately to Robin van Persie two yards from goal. An average rating of 7.01 reflects an increase in playing time compared to earlier in the season at Chelsea, but also a significant downturn in performance levels from previous campaigns. A sound investment for the future Mata certainly may prove to be, but a necessary and sufficient solution to United's problems this season he is not.
Aiden McGeady has had little impact since joining Everton, West Ham's Italian imports Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borrielo haven't proved the masterstroke marque signings that Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez were back in 2006, and David Ngog and Kim Källstrom have provided predictably little at Swansea and Arsenal, respectively. Crystal Palace's contingent of January signings may have improved things but still not sufficiently to survive, while Newcastle have only scored 4 goals in 8 games with Luuk de Jong on the pitch since his arrival.
Hopes are always high amongst fans that a key player will be added in the January transfer window and results will improve in the second half of the season as a result. This year, however, more than ever before, it has proved a colossal waste of both time and money for almost everyone involved.
Have there been any true successes from the January transfer window? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below