🗣 Hit or miss? We assess the most expensive strikers ever signed in the winter window

Juventus’ marquee winter signing Dušan Vlahović hit the ground running with a goal on debut against Hellas Verona at the weekend.

The Serbian followed that up with a stoppage time winner against Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals on Thursday. Needless to say, he’s made a good start to life in Turin after becoming the most expensive striker ever signed during a winter window in Europe, with the £63m figure paid to Fiorentina eclipsing the £56m that Arsenal paid Borussia Dortmund for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back in 2018.

🏦 Most expensive strikers signed in the winter window:

  • 🇷🇸 Dušan Vlahović (£63m)
  • 🇬🇦 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£56m)
  • 🇪🇸 Diego Costa (£50m)
  • 🇪🇸 Fernando Torres (£50m)
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Andy Carroll (£35m)
  • 🇨🇩 Cédric Bakambu (£35m)
  • 🇨🇴 Jackson Martínez (£31m)
  • 🇵🇱 Krzysztof Piątek (£31m)

It took Vlahović just 13 minutes to get off the mark for the Bianconeri, but time will tell whether he’s a long-term hit in Turin. Conventional wisdom tells us that January striker signings don’t always deliver the goods. 

Let’s look at the hits and misses.

🤨 January misses

Fernando Torres scored 45 goals for Chelsea in 172 appearances for the Blues at a ratio of 0.26 goals per game, but he did win three trophies with the Londoners including the Champions League in 2012. So you be the judge whether his Chelsea career was a hit or a miss.

Andy Carroll’s £35m move from Newcastle to Liverpool is widely regarded as a flop. Carroll scored just 11 times for the Reds at an average of a measly 0.18 goals per game. Each of his goals effectively cost Liverpool £3.2m. Since leaving Anfield, Carroll has had spells with West Ham, a return to Newcastle, Reading and now West Brom. 

And remember Jackson Martínez? The Colombian’s 2016 move from Atlético Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande came in at a whopping £31m. He only scored four times for the Chinese Super League club in 16 appearances, meaning that his signing turned out to be a costly mistake. The 35-year-old was last at Portuguese side Portimonense in 2020 and is now retired. 

Diego Costa has terrorized defenders for large portions of his career, but the £50m that Atlético Madrid shelled out for him in 2018 didn’t prove to be good value in the slightest. 19 goals in 83 appearances for the Rojiblancos in his third permanent stint with the Spanish capital club, but the feisty forward does have the 2018 Spanish Super Cup and 2021 LaLiga title to show for it. Costa recently won the Brazilian Serie A title with Atlético Mineiro.

✅ January hits

There was a brief period when Cédric Bakambu was the most expensive African footballer of all time. The DR Congo striker’s massive money move from Villarreal to the riches of the Chinese Super League with Beijing Guoan panned out quite well; he hit the back of the net 58 times in 87 appearances in roughly four years. The 30-year-old left Beijing for Marseille last month, and we’ll be keeping tabs on his progress in Ligue 1.

The recently-departed ex-Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a massive hit at the Emirates Stadium. He bagged 92 goals in 163 appearances for the Gunners at 0.56 goals per game. If you consider that any ratio higher than 0.50 is generally considered to be in the elite bracket, it’s no surprise that Aubameyang will be remembered fondly on the red side of North London. 

The highly-nomadic Pole Krzysztof Piatek is still only 26 years old but he’s already represented Genoa, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Hertha Berlin for short stints. His brief stay at the San Siro yielded 16 goals in 41 appearances, arriving at an average of 0.39 goals per game. 

Piatek was on the score sheet in Fiorentina’s recent Coppa Italia defeat of Napoli and he bagged a brace in the quarterfinals of the same competition in La Viola’s 3-2 success over Atalanta on Thursday. He might enjoy more first-team opportunities now that Vlahović has departed for pastures new.

Which are the biggest hits and misses from winter windows past, in your eyes?

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