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January transfer window: Best ever deadline day signings

Thursday marks the end of the January transfer window, providing clubs with a final chance to improve their squads for the rest of the season.

There is often a flurry of activity, with transfer moves prompting a domino effect as clubs seek to find replacements for sold assets.

Mid-season moves are not always guaranteed to succeed, but a look back in the annals shows that some deadline day deals have paid off handsomely.

We highlight some of the most shrewd deadline moves on deadline day of the January transfer window in Premier League history...

Football

Andrey Arshavin - Zenit St Petersburg to Arsenal (£15m - 2009)

Russian maestro Andrey Arshavin was hot property after leading Zenit to the UEFA Cup in 2007/08 and inspiring his country to a semi-final spot at Euro 2008.

Having been suspended for his national side's opening two Group D games, he announced himself to the tournament by netting Russia's second goal in their 2-0 win over Sweden before also grabbing a goal as Guus Hiddink's men dismantled a previously rampant Dutch side in the last eight.

Even a mixed showing in the 3-0 semi-final defeat to Spain didn't destroy his reputation and Real Madrid and Barcelona were both thought to be keen.

However, after missing out on a summer move, Arsenal got their man on deadline day in 2009. After some bureaucratic wrangling, and the weather affecting his travel plans, Arshavin made his debut in a 0-0 draw against Sunderland.

The playmaker's best performance came that April, when he netted all of the Gunners' goals in a memorable 4-4 draw at Liverpool, becoming the first opposition player to net four times at Anfield since 1946.

Somewhat typically, Arshavin's spell at the Emirates lacked consistency. However, when he was good, he was unplayable, and he departed in 2013 having netted 31 times in 144 appearances.

Javier Mascherano - West Ham to Liverpool (Loan - 2007)

After starring for Argentina at the 2006 World Cup, Javier Mascherano's move to West Ham alongside Carlos Tevez shocked the footballing world.

The deal came with some uncertainty, but the same can be said for Mascherano's form as he struggled to impose himself at Upton Park, with Hayden Mullins keeping him out of the side.

After making just seven appearances, Liverpool saw an opportunity to bolster their ranks and made a bid for him on 16th January.

However, it wasn't until 31st January that FIFA cleared the deal and Rafael Benitez got the man he would later describe as a "monster of a player".

Nicknamed "The Little Chief", he was given time to bed in but soon proved the Hammers wrong, forming a fine midfield combination alongside Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard, with the Liverpool skipper provided with greater freedom to roam.

Mascherano's performances saw him paired with Alonso in the final of the Champions League 2006/07, and eventually prompted the Reds to pay £18.6m for him, purchasing his registration from a third party.

He would become a regular at Anfield before signing for Barcelona in 2010, where Pep Guardiola transformed him into a ball-playing central defender, dovetailing with Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets and aiding the Blaugrana in winning five La Ligas and two Champions Leagues amongst a plethora of other silverware.

Dele Alli - MK Dons to Tottenham (£5m - 2015)

Having been chased by all of the Premier League's big boys, Dele Alli eventually signed for Tottenham on 2nd February 2015, with the deal including an immediate loan return to MK Dons.

Buoyed by the investment made in him, the midfielder continued to shine in Buckinghamshire, earning the Football League's Young Player of the Year award as the Dons won promotion to the Championship.

It was no surprise then that he hit the ground running after joining Spurs and quickly established himself in Mauricio Pochettino's exciting young side alongside the likes of Harry Kane and Eric Dier.

The trio's performances soon saw them establish themselves in the England squad, with all featuring regularly at Euro 2016 having inspired Tottenham to a Premier League title push.

Another successful campaign in 2016/17 earned him a second straight PFA Young Player of the Year award, but he has failed to emulate his early exploits in recent seasons, with the attacking midfielder currently on the books of Everton. 

Jermain Defoe - West Ham to Tottenham (£7m - 2004)

Finally, to another Spurs signing, and Jermain Defoe, who joined from West Ham in a cash-plus-player deal that seemed to benefit all parties.

The striker had wanted away from Upton Park since the club's relegation from the Premier League the previous summer and struggled with disciplinary issues during his six months in the second tier.

West Ham eventually relented, selling him to their London rivals and getting a striker in return as Bobby Zamora headed the opposite way down the A406 as his replacement.

Defoe netted on his debut - a 4-3 win over future club Portsmouth - and would score seven times in 15 appearances before the end of the season as Martin Jol looked to rotate him with Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov and Mido.

The striker's inability to force a regular starting berth would see him head to Portsmouth in January 2008, before going back to White Hart Lane 12 months later.

In all, he is Tottenham's sixth-highest goalscorer. As for Zamora, well, he just happened to score the winning goal as West Ham won promotion to the Premier League through the Championship play-offs in 2004/05.

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