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Premier League: Liverpool ace Luis Diaz joins long list of January signings who made instant impacts

Luis Diaz continued the superb start to his Liverpool career by coming off the bench and scoring in their Champions League semi-final win over Villarreal on Tuesday night.

The Colombian, who arrived at Anfield in January after completing a £50million switch from Porto, changed the game for Jurgen Klopp’s side after they had initially fallen two goals behind in Spain.

Diaz was a constant threat when he was introduced at the half-time break and completed the comeback by turning home their second on the night, meaning Klopp’s substitution worked wonders.

Luis Diaz continued the superb start to his Liverpool career against Villarreal on Tuesday

But where does the Colombian rank amongst the Premier League's 10 best January signings

But where does the Colombian rank amongst the Premier League’s 10 best January signings

His winter recruit has produced a sting of impressive displays since rocking up on Merseyside, so could he go down as the Premier League’s best ever January purchase?

Sportsmail has drawn up a list of the 10 top January transfers, based on instant impact made in their first half-seasons…     

10. Robert Huth (Leicester)

When Huth arrived at the King Power in February 2015, Leicester were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table after losing 13 of their last 17 matches.

Nigel Pearson’s men looked certain for the drop, and even signing the German defender on loan from Stoke did not look to have made a difference early on.

However, after failing to win in his first five appearances, Huth then played a key part in the Foxes’ incredible run of seven wins in nine matches to steer them away from relegation in remarkable fashion.

Robert Huth's 2015 arrival helped Leicester enjoy a run which kept them in the Premier League

Robert Huth’s 2015 arrival helped Leicester enjoy a run which kept them in the Premier League 

The German then followed it up by playing a part in their historic title success the next year

The German then followed it up by playing a part in their historic title success the next year

They conceded just seven goals during that period having shipped 13 in the nine games that preceded it, while also keeping five clean sheets.

Huth’s experience and resolve at the back inspired them to a 14th-place finish in the end, and after securing a permanent transfer that summer, the next season he and Leicester went on to write one of the greatest sporting stories of all time by winning the Premier League. Not a bad January loan move.  

9. Nikica Jelavic (Everton) 

The Croatia striker sealed a £5million move to Everton in January 2012 and brought an impressive reputation with him having scored 17 goals in 28 appearances for Rangers that season.

And Jelavic backed up the hype by hitting the ground running at Goodison Park, netting nine goals in 13 Premier League matches, helping David Moyes’ side take 27 points from their last 15 games and seal a seventh-place finish.

Unfortunately for the Toffees, that proved the highlight of an otherwise underwhelming two-year spell for him on Merseyside.

After only bagging seven league goals in his next 45 games, Jelavic was offloaded to Hull in January 2014 and never reached the same heights again. 

Nikica Jelavic looked a superb buy when he scored nine goals in 13 games for Everton in 2012

Nikica Jelavic looked a superb buy when he scored nine goals in 13 games for Everton in 2012

8. Papiss Cisse (Newcastle)

Jelavic wasn’t the only striker to take the Premier League by storm after rocking up in January 2012, as the Magpies stumbled upon a revelation of their own when they forked out £9.3million to sign Cisse that month.

The Senegal forward had scored 39 goals in 67 games for Bundesliga club Freiburg, but no one anticipated him having the seismic impact he ended up having at St James’ Park.

In his first 14 league outings Cisse developed a formidable strike partnership with fellow January arrival Demba Ba, producing a return of 13 goals as Newcastle finished as high as fifth in the table.

His staggering form in front of goal, which included a wonderstrike away at Chelsea, played a crucial role in the club securing Europa League qualification, though like Jelavic his fortunes soon plummeted.

Cisse was never able to replicate the heroics of his debut half-season, netting a mere 24 goals in his next 103 league appearances before heading to China in 2016.   

Papiss Cisse was a revelation after joining Newcastle from Freiburg back in January 2012

Papiss Cisse was a revelation after joining Newcastle from Freiburg back in January 2012

His breathtaking start to life at St James' Park included a wonderstrike away at Chelsea

His breathtaking start to life at St James’ Park included a wonderstrike away at Chelsea

7. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

The Borussia Dortmund star was considered one of Europe’s top forwards when Arsenal came calling in January 2018, having registered 141 goals in 213 matches for the German club.

And following his club-record £56million switch to the Emirates, it didn’t take Aubameyang long to live up to the billing in north London.

In his first 14 outings he fired home 10 goals and played a key part in their run to the 2018 League Cup final, where they were beaten by Manchester City.

Aubameyang proved an instant success for Arsenal, but over the next two seasons he reached even dizzier heights, bagging 60 goals in 95 games and winning the FA Cup in 2020.

The final year-and-a-half of his Gunners career were a disappointment, however, and after falling out with boss Mikel Arteta he was sold to Barcelona in January of this year.  

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lived up to the billing after signing for Arsenal in January 2018

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lived up to the billing after signing for Arsenal in January 2018

6. Jesse Lingard (West Ham)

In last season’s January window Lingard headed to West Ham on loan after falling rapidly out of favour at Manchester United, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had afforded him three appearances in the first half of the season and none in the Premier League.

David Moyes took a gamble on the forgotten England star, bringing him to east London until the end of the campaign, and his roll of the dice eventually proved a masterstroke.

Over the course of his four-month spell at the London Stadium, he registered nine goals and five assists in 16 outings, a return which propelled Moyes’ side into sixth place and next season’s Europa League.

Jesse Lingard briefly revived his career at West Ham after joining them on loan in 2021

Jesse Lingard briefly revived his career at West Ham after joining them on loan in 2021

Lingard well and truly resurrected his career with the Hammers, yet instead of joining them permanently that summer he instead chose to stay and fight for his place at United.

That decision now appears the wrong one, as he is set to leave Old Trafford upon the expiry of his contract in July after making a mere two Premier League appearances this season.   

5. Gary Cahill (Chelsea)

Many felt Chelsea had simply added a decent and relatively cheap English defender to their ranks when they signed Cahill from Bolton for £7million in January 2012. Little did they know the Blues had just captured a future stalwart who would play a starring role in their first ever Champions League triumph that season.

The English centre-back had amassed a solid reputation during his previous Premier League stints with Aston Villa and Burnley, though it was at Stamford Bridge where he took his game to a new level.

In his first four months, Cahill quickly established himself as John Terry’s first-choice defensive partner at Chelsea, before helping Roberto Di Matteo’s men embark on an iconic run to European and FA Cup glory.

Gary Cahill appeared a decent cheap buy for Chelsea when he rocked up in January 2012

Gary Cahill appeared a decent cheap buy for Chelsea when he rocked up in January 2012

He then ended his first half-season at the club as a Champions League and FA Cup winner

He then ended his first half-season at the club as a Champions League and FA Cup winner

The west London side toppled Napoli, Benfica, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich in their own backyard to collect their maiden Champions League, with Cahill starting alongside David Luiz on that famous night at the Allianz Arena, while they also beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

And if that wasn’t good enough, he then went on to make another 271 appearances while winning two Premier Leagues, as many FA Cups, one League Cup and a couple of Europa Leagues. Not bad. 

4. Luis Diaz (Liverpool)

He has only been a Liverpool player for just over four months, but already the 25-year-old looks like one of Klopp’s most influential attackers when deployed alongside star men Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

While his numbers are not exactly breathtaking – with five goals and three assists to show for 21 appearances – Diaz’s pace and tricky feet are a nightmare for defenders, as was the case when he came off the bench against Villarreal.

It hasn’t taken him long to edge ahead of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino in the pecking order, which speaks volumes about the impact he has made in the Reds attack early on.

And by the end of the month, he may well conclude his first half-season in English football with a Quadruple under his belt…   

Diaz is already looking like a superb buy for Liverpool in his first four months at Anfield

Diaz is already looking like a superb buy for Liverpool in his first four months at Anfield

3. Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Another Reds man, Suarez joined the Merseyside club in a £23million switch from Ajax in January 2011 – and the rest really was history.

Liverpool supporters were left devastated that month when star striker Fernando Torres hopped ship and signed for bitter rivals Chelsea, but his replacement would eventually seal a legacy as their greatest ever Premier League frontman.

He may not have hit the ground running as strongly as others in this list from a statistical point of view, as his first half-season only brought four goals and five assists in 13 games, however by that point Suarez’s technical brilliance and finishing qualities were already evident.

Torres, who failed spectacularly at Chelsea, was a distant memory by the following summer, and any mourning of El Nino’s departure quickly vanished from the 2011/12 campaign onwards.

Over the next three years, Suarez netted 78 goals in 120 appearances, claimed the Premier League Golden Boot in 2013/14 and very nearly won the title that season, before he left for the riches of Barcelona. Gaining the Uruguyan and £27million for Torres wasn’t such a bad deal after all.   

Luis Suarez went on to become a Liverpool legend after signing for the club in January 2011

Luis Suarez went on to become a Liverpool legend after signing for the club in January 2011

Fernando Torres' controversial move to Chelsea in the same window became a distant memory

Fernando Torres’ controversial move to Chelsea in the same window became a distant memory

2. Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)

After months of speculation, European football’s worst kept secret was finally confirmed in January 2020 when United completed the £67million purchase of Fernandes, who waved goodbye to Sporting Lisbon and headed for Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were down in fifth place at the time he joined, trailing fourth-place Chelsea by six points and Leicester by 14 up in third. But incredibly, the Portugal midfielder’s debut marked the beginning of a 14-game unbeaten run which eventually lifted them above both clubs.

United won nine of those 14 fixtures and secured Champions League qualification in the process, while they also progressed to the semi-finals of their other three competitions. In total, Fernandes produced 21 goal involvements (12 goals and eight assists) across 22 appearances.

Bruno Fernandes made an instant impact to justify the hype at Manchester United in 2020

Bruno Fernandes made an instant impact to justify the hype at Manchester United in 2020

His January arrival undoubtedly turned their season around, and the following year Fernandes followed it up with another 28 goals and 17 appearances as they secured a second-place Premier League finish while reaching the Europa League final.

This term, despite the Red Devils’ struggles under Solskjaer and replacement Ralf Rangnick, he has still produced 10 goals and 14 assists in 44 outings. £67million now looks a bargain.

1. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Liverpool’s decision to spend £75million – a world-record fee for a defender at the time – on the Southampton centre-back raised eyebrows across the globe in January 2018. Yet, almost four-and-a-half years later Van Dijk, now a Premier League and Champions League winner, stakes a claim to being the best on the planet.

Within just five months of his Reds move detractors of his record move to Anfield were left eating humble pie when he played a crucial part in their run to the 2018 Champions League final, where mistakes by goalkeeper Loris Karius cost them in a 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid.

Many baulked at Liverpool's £75million move for Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, but he helped them reach the Champions League final that season and is now one of the world's best players

Many baulked at Liverpool’s £75million move for Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, but he helped them reach the Champions League final that season and is now one of the world’s best players

Van Dijk’s presence had clearly shored up Klopp’s backline and the following campaign it showed, as they conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League (22) and somehow missing out on the title with a record points tally of 97.

Nevertheless, the Dutchman got his hands on the Champions League at the second time of asking that season, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the Madrid showpiece, and then helped Liverpool cruise home to a first league title in 30 years in 2020.

Now he is part of the squad hunting down a historic Quadruple this season, and after their Champions League semi-final win over Villarreal Michael Owen branded Van Dijk the best defender ‘of all time’. Liverpool’s expensive punt has proven a jackpot.

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