Said Benrahma playing for West Ham in the Premier League. May 2021.

Revisiting the 10 most expensive January signings of 2021 one year on

The January transfer window is officially open and rumours about where players might end up have begun in earnest, with big names linked to the biggest clubs in the world… and Newcastle.

Differing from the summer transfer window, January is more a chance for clubs to make emergency signings rather than to allow teams to build up their squads.

As a result, a lot of the signings can be hit or miss and sometimes clubs have to pay over the odds in order to convince a team to let a player go mid-season.

So, we’ve turned back the clocks to the start of 2021 to have a look at the most expensive signings of January last year.

Nicolo Rovella

The record signing of the 2021 winter window is actually a relatively lesser-known name – Italian Under-21 international Rovella joined Juventus on an €18million deal, signing a three-year contract.

The midfield starlet, who has only recently turned 20, was immediately loaned back to Genoa and is continuing his development there.

A tidy deep-lying playmaker, Rovella is continuing his development under Andriy Shevchenko, in another loan back to the club where he made his name.

He’s been a near ever-present for the Serie A relegation-battlers in 2021-22 and there are even reports that Juventus are considering recalling him in January amid their own struggles.

Said Benrahma

Algeria international Benrahma originally arrived at West Ham in the summer of 2020, but it was originally on loan before the paperwork for a permanent switch was finalised midway through the 2020-21 campaign.

Having been prolific in the Championship for Brentford, Benrahma took some time to adapt to the Premier League and was bedded in patiently by David Moyes.

His debut campaign ended with a respectable return of five goals and three assists, and he looks like kicking on in his sophomore season – though he’ll be a big miss for the Hammers in January, away with his country for the upcoming Africa Cup Of Nations in Cameroon.

Sebastien Haller

In came Benrahma, out went Haller at West Ham – leaving Moyes a little light in terms of options up top behind Michail Antonio.

The Ivory Coast striker never quite delivered on his price tag, although he started well and served a reminder of his quality with a spectacular overhead kick in one of his final appearances.

Haller remains the club’s record signing at £45million, West Ham recouping less than half of that when he was sold on to Ajax.

An admin error meant that was omitted from the Amsterdam club’s Europa League squad, while he scored 11 goals in his first 19 Eredivisie appearances to help guide them to the title in 2020-21 – more league goals than he managed in 18 months at West Ham.

Since then he’s continued his meteoric rise, notching 22 goals before Christmas in 2021-22 and breaking Erling Haaland’s record to become the fastest player to 12 Champions League goals, having done so in six group-stage games.

READ: Biggest surprise of 21-22? Sebastien Haller is Europe’s hottest striker

Dominik Szoboszlai

Having established himself as one of Europe’s most exciting and in-demand youngsters at Red Bull Salzburg, Hungarian attacking midfielder Szoboszlai made the natural and unsurprising next step up to their sister club RB Leipzig in January 2021.

The €20million transfer fee makes him the most expensive Hungarian footballer in history, though he had to sit out the latter half of the 2020-21 campaign due to injury.

Szoboszlai eventually made his debut as a late substitute against lower league SV Sandhausen in the DFB-Pokal in August and scored within three minutes of his introduction.

The 21-year-old has since notched three goals and four assists in the Bundesliga for a Leipzig side that have struggled for results since influential coach Julian Nagelsmann left for Bayern Munich in the summer.

Amad Diallo

Ivory Coast winger Amad had barely kicked a ball at senior level for Atalanta when a £19million move to Manchester United was finalised on January 7, 2021.

While scouts have identified him as one of the most promising youngsters in Europe, he’s had to keep patiently progressing in youth football in 2021 – for United’s first team, he’s made just nine appearances (three starts), clocking up 331 minutes.

Transfer oracle Fabrizio Romano has suggested that the rising star may go out on loan this month.

Contracted until 2025, Amad is definitely one to keep an eye on going forward. He’s already caught the eye with some wonderful moments for United’s Under-23s and a brilliantly improvised header for the first team against AC Milan.

Krepin Diatta

Having been named as the best young player at the 2019 AFCON, Diatta’s rise continued with a series of impressive performances at Club Brugge, which eventually earned him a €16million move to Monaco.

He’s scored three goals in 29 appearances for the French club but suffered a cruciate ligament injury in November.

The winger’s injury means that he’ll miss the upcoming AFCON with Senegal, who still have the likes of Ismaila Sarr and Sadio Mane to call upon.


No, not that one – although the veteran Brazilian had a knack for surprising us with his transfer moves – this Paulinho is a Portuguese striker that arrived at Sporting Lisbon midway through their 2020-21 title push.

He only scored three goals that season, having arrived on a club-record €16million fee, but it was enough to help them over the line to their first Primeira Liga title since 2002.

READ: Fights, friction, failure: The story of Sporting’s 19-year wait for the title

Morgan Sanson

It hasn’t been the easiest year of Sanson’s career since he joined Aston Villa from Marseille for around £14million last January.

The Frenchman has suffered from a succession of injuries that have forced him to be just a bit-part player for Villa, playing in just 13 Premier League games since his move and starting back-to-back matches just once.

But under Steven Gerrard, there is a belief that Sanson can breathe life into his Villa career.

“I’ve sat down with Morgan face-to-face,” the Villa manager explained.

“I’ve said let’s get you up to speed from a physical and mental point of view the best way we can so you’re ready and there will be opportunities for him.”


*Copy, paste* – No, not that one.

This Pedro is the Brazilian striker who partners Gabigol for Flamengo, a strike force that came so close to the Copa Libertadores and fell just short of the mark, losing in the final to Palmeiras.

Pedro had one season in European football with Fiorentina after moving from Fluminense, but it didn’t quite work with only four appearances and he was loaned to Flamengo.

They made the deal permanent last January.

Dennis Man

Man arrived in Parma last summer for around €13million but failed to help keep the side in Serie A, dropping down to the Italian second flight with them.

He left Steaua Bucharest as one of their new generation of young Romanian talents and at 23 is a regular in the national team set-up.

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