7 Riskiest January Transfer Window Moves

By (Featured Columnist) on February 3, 2014

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Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Every club would love to arrive at the January transfer window with the first team set in stone and maybe needing just one more piece to complete the puzzle. But reality does not work that way; the month is marked by panicked teams looking to turn around their fortunes with impulse often taking priority over sense. 

The seven transfers included in this list could turn out to be the buys of the season. But each one has an inherent risk involved. 

It could be due to failings in the purchasing club and their wish to quickly cover up weaknesses or a result of a player's chequered past and/or present. For whatever the reason, all of these transfers are big gambles.

Will they pay off? For that, we will have to wait and see.

7. Ignacio Scocco to Sunderland

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Daniel Jayo/Associated Press

Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet focused transfer attentions on his native continent of South America—more specifically Argentina—in the last window. Newell's Old Boys defender Santiago Vergini and Boca Juniors keeper Oscar Ustari were both signed by the Uruguayan over the course of January. 

Most eye-catching of all was the acquisition of striker Ignacio Scocco; with Sunderland in dire need of goals, the former Internacional man will be under great pressure to succeed. 

Scocco was in awesome form during a one-year stint with hometown club Newell's with which he helped lift the 2013 final title and reach the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores. A previous spell in Europe with AEK Athens, however, was middling at best. Even at Inter, the Argentine failed to make an impact, scoring just three goals in 17 games.

6. Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC

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Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Throughout his time in the Premier League, Jermain Defoe has carved out a reputation as a decent striker who lacked the talent or the push to establish himself as a real talent. Now, however, the former West Ham, Tottenham and Portsmouth man looks forward to a lucrative new role in MLS. 

A reported wage of £90,000 a week, according to Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph, will make the England international the highest-paid player in the entire league. But the jury will be out on whether Defoe can help turn around a team that in 2013 had the third-worst record in MLS. 

5. Pablo Osvaldo to Juventus

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Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

There is no doubting Pablo Osvaldo's ability on the pitch, but the Argentine has also cultivated a reputation of being extremely difficult to work with which means the jury is still out on his loan switch to Juventus, via BBC Sport.

With Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente, Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco all in their ranks, Juve will not have to rely too heavily on the Argentine-born Italy international. But his move is still a risk. 

A previous stay in Italy with Roma yielded plenty of goals but also a heap of controversy, as detailed in Goal.com's look at the striker. Should the Old Lady, with a healthy lead in Serie A, put in danger squad cohesion by adding this potentially dangerous element into the mix? 

4. Hernanes to Inter

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Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

Walter Mazzarri's Inter have been in disappointing form throughout 2013/14, and 22 games into the Serie A season lay a lowly sixth. The answer for the Italian giants to the current malaise has been to further expand the Nerazzurri's massive South American contingent even further. 

Lazio midfielder Hernanes has been drafted into the middle of the pitch, costing Inter an estimated €18 million to seal the deal, via Goal.com. It is hard to see, however, what the Brazil international can offer a team wallowing in mediocrity. 

Hernanes is capable of breathtaking moments of skill, but all too often, he loses himself on the pitch. He will have to show the consistency and the commitment that so far has been sorely lacking in Inter all season. 

3. Keisuke Honda to Milan

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Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

While their neighbours turned toward South America to try and rescue their season, Milan looked toward the Far East. Keisuke Honda, formerly of CSKA Moscow, put pen to paper to sign a free-transfer deal with the Rossoneri at the start of January. 

Honda is well established as one of Japan's brightest talents, but the move to Italy represents a new step up for the forward. He has scored goals in his native country, the Netherlands and Russia; now, he will have to do so in one of the world's toughest leagues, for a team that looks a shadow of its best. 

2. Juan Mata to Manchester United

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Jon Super/Associated Press

Bringing ex-Chelsea favourite Juan Mata to Old Trafford is not quite David Moyes' final hand as Manchester United coach. But spending a club-record £37 million on the Spain international, via David Bond and Ben Smith of BBC Sport, means the manager is staking his maiden season on the effect Mata will have on the demoralised Red Devils. 

Many observers will argue that with plenty of attacking talent already in the ranks, Moyes should have focused on other positions. A shaky defence and midfield without any great punch come to mind as areas in need of investment. 

United, with Mata in tow, went down to Stoke this weekend and both club and player will need to improve—and fast—to avoid their Premier League season ending in mediocrity. 

1. Dimitar Berbatov to Monaco

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Sang Tan/Associated Press

It was a deadline-day transfer few were expecting. Needing a top-quality replacement for the injured Radamel Falcao, Monaco delved into the market to bring Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov to the principality until the end of the season. 

The Bulgaria international, 33, is a wonderful talent. And let's face it, the Cote d'Azur is the perfect setting for a player who always looks like he is stepping on and off a yacht. But is his enigmatic, lethargic attitude to football the right fit for a team that have succeeded this season thanks to the energetic displays of El Tigre? 

Whatever happens, the next few months in Monaco are bound to be entertaining with the ex-Manchester United star present. 

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