Liverpool look set to strengthen in January, something many previous champions haven’t bothered to do…
2018/19: Manchester City
City needed a defensive midfielder and they got one – of sorts – in the shape of 21-year-old Ko Itakura from Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale. The 21-year-old cost in the region of £1million, was immediately loaned to Groningen and never played for Guardiola’s side before being sold to Gladbach for about £5m. He also impressed at the World Cup. But to absolutely no surprise, Ante Palaversa did not make the Croatia squad. The loan thing does not always work: the £7million midfielder was sent to four different clubs before City accepted a considerable loss by moving Palaversa along to sister club Troyes in summer 2022.
2017/18: Manchester City
Pep Guardiola broke the club’s transfer record to sign Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for £57million at the end of January before City sauntered to the title, with the French centre-back making nine starts in 14 games along the way. City also raided MLS for Jack Harrison, who came from New York City, and Erik Palmer-Brown from Kansas City. Harrison has since joined Leeds for good and Palmer-Brown is another who City offloaded to Troyes.
Antonio Conte was just fine, thank you very much.
Despite being caught amid a most unexpected title race, the Foxes still found time to plan for the future with their winter business. They signed versatile Ghana international Daniel Amartey from FC Copenhagen for around £6million, with the 21-year-old making one start and coming off the bench four times down the home straight. Amartey followed Demarai Gray through the door at the King Power after the winger moved to Leicester from Birmingham for £3.7million. Gray also made one start, on the final day when the title had already been wrapped up, in addition to 11 substitute appearances.
The winter of 2015 saw Jose Mourinho send Mo Salah to Fiorentina with around £23million stuffed in his holdall in exchange for Juan Cuadrado. The winger had starred for Colombia at the previous summer’s World Cup and it was hoped he could have more of an impact than Salah had managed. “This is a great club and honestly it is like a dream to join the Chelsea family and to know that the manager believes in me,” Cuadrado said before reality hit home. The 26-year-old failed to impress in 12 appearances including four starts during Chelsea’s title-winning campaign before being packed off to Juventus shortly after the start of the following season.
2013/14: Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini thought it unnecessary to strengthen a squad which won the title on the final day of the season after Liverpool folded in heart-breaking/hilarious fashion.
2012/13: Manchester United
In January 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson convinced Wilfried Zaha to swap Crystal Palace for Manchester United once he’d finished the season back on loan with his hometown team. But when he came to move north, it was David Moyes who greeted him at Old Trafford. Zaha managed not a single Premier League start at Old Trafford before being returned to Palace via a loan spell at Cardiff.
2011/12: Manchester City
Roberto Mancini was quite happy with his lot despite a little wobble over Christmas and Carlos Tevez behaving like a d*ck.
2010/11: Manchester United
Ferguson wrapped up the signing of Anders Lindegaard from Aalesunds for around £3.5million in November 2010 before registering the Denmark goalkeeper the following January. “Anders is one of the brightest young keepers in the game,” said Ferguson before Lindegaard came to England and spent most of the rest of his career as a bench warmer.
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) June 9, 2019
Carlo Ancelotti saw no need to tap up Roman Abramovich on Chelsea’s way to a domestic Double during his first season in charge.
2008/09: Manchester United
Zoran Tosic joined United in January 2009 for around £7million from Partizan Belgrade but the winger found it tough going in a squad about to complete its third consecutive title. He later told The Athletic: “I was put straight into the first-team squad and the levels were so high that it felt like another sport. Nobody lost the ball, except me. I was trying my best but it wasn’t enough. This wasn’t the football I knew.” Ritchie De Laet, who signed from Stoke a week later, presumably felt the same.
2007/08: Manchester United
En route to a Premier League and Champions League double, Ferguson made a quick pitstop to sign Manucho, a 24-year-old forward United had taken on trial for three weeks, from Petro Athletico in Angola. He managed 16 minutes in the Premier League with United during a 5-0 win over Stoke.
2006/07: Manchester United
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Alan Smith both sidelined, leaving Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha as United’s only fit strikers, Ferguson went to Helsingborgs to see if 35-year-old Henrik Larsson fancied keeping busy during the Swedish off-season. Three goals in 13 appearances suggests it wasn’t a hugely successful loan spell but Ferguson recognised Larsson’s impact in the dressing room: “On arrival, he seemed a bit of a cult figure with our players,” said the manager after the striker returned home. “They would say his name in awed tones. Cult status can vanish in two minutes if a player isn’t doing his job, yet Henrik retained that aura in his time with us. He’s been fantastic, his professionalism, his attitude, everything he’s done has been excellent.”
Jose Mourinho saw no need to strengthen a squad on the way to consecutive Premier League titles.
Chelsea were seven points clear in the title race when Jiri Jarosik arrived from CSKA Moscow. After signing whatever was put in front of him, the Czech midfielder made 14 appearances during the second half of the season before being loaned to Birmingham six months later and then sold to Celtic.
Arsene Wenger put his strikers on their toes with the signing of Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla. Neither party revealed the price but Jose Maria del Nido, the Sevilla president, said: “This offer was out of this world. Barcelona made an offer for Reyes on Sunday and it was only slightly over half of what Arsenal offered.”
2002/03: Manchester United
Ferguson chose not to unsettle the dressing room while they went toe-to-toe with Arsenal for the title.
Despite being two-footed by trialist Kolo Toure, Wenger wasn’t put off from giving ASEC Abidjan around £150,000 for a defender who would become an Invincible a couple of years later.
2000/01: Manchester United
United were heading for a third straight title and Ferguson needed not bother with any winter recruits.