January transfers: Why top six do not spend and lessons from last season
The January transfer window closed at 23:00 GMT on Tuesday - with the top six sides in the Premier League spending a total of just £40,000 during that month.
That was the sum paid by Arsenal to sign left-back Cohen Bramall - a former car factory worker - from non-league side Hednesford Town.
Plenty of players left them on loan [full list of Tuesday's deals here] but the lack of arrivals in January showed that the top clubs will not sign players unless absolutely necessary.
"Well-run clubs are not going to sign players for the sake of it," said Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy. "They will only do it if they can improve the team."
League leaders Chelsea did not sign any players, with the only incoming at Stamford Bridge being the recall of Nathan Ake from his loan spell at Bournemouth.
No signings were made by Tottenham, Liverpool or Manchester United and, although Gabriel Jesus arrived at Manchester City in January, the 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder had agreed to sign for Pep Guardiola's side in August for £27m.
"Those in pursuit of the title and Champions League places would only have been strengthening around the fringes so kept their money in the bank," said chief football writer Phil McNulty.
"It was the age-old reason for the lack of transfer activity near the top of the Premier League - the players that would enhance their squads are simply not available in January and no chain of events was ever going to make that likely on Tuesday."
|January transfer activity by the top six clubs|
|Club||January incomings||January outgoings|
|Chelsea||Nathan Ake (loan recall from Bournemouth)||Oscar (to Shanghai SIPG for £60m ); John Mikel Obi (to Tianjin TEDA, undisclosed); Patrick Bamford (to Middlesbrough for £5.5m); Dion Conroy (to Swindon, undisclosed). Eight players left on loan|
|Tottenham||None||Tom Carroll (to Swansea for £4.5m). Five players left on loan|
|Arsenal||Cohen Bramall (from Hednesford Town for £40,000)||Seven players left on loan|
|Liverpool||None||Tiago Ilori (to Reading for £3.75m). Three players left on loan|
|Manchester United||None||Morgan Schneiderlin (to Everton for £20m); Memphis Depay (to Lyon for £16m); Sean Goss (to QPR for £500,000). Two players left on loan|
|Manchester City||Gabriel Jesus (signed in August from Palmeiras for £27m);||Jack Byrne (to Wigan, undisclosed); George Glendon (to Fleetwood, undisclosed). Six players left on loan|
Big spenders down at the bottom
History suggests that if clubs in the relegation zone do not spend in January, the outcome is bleak.
Aston Villa did not spend anything last season and were relegated while the year before that both QPR and Hull went down after keeping their hands in their pockets during the winter transfer window.
This season, every club in the bottom six has spent money. Indeed, according to finance analysts Deloitte, the bottom six spent £110m - 50% of spending by top-flight clubs.
Hull, who are bottom of the table, have been the busiest top-flight side in January, bringing in 10 players.
And 19th-place Sunderland have brought in Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo, reportedly for a combined £7.5m, while Crystal Palace, 18th in table, have spent an estimated £26m on new players.
Spending big does not guarantee survival, however. Last year Newcastle - 18th on transfer deadline day - spent £26.5m and ended the season in exactly the same position at the end of the term.
|What happened to the bottom six on deadline day last January|
|Club||Position on 1 February||January spending||Position at end of season|
|Swansea||15th||£8m plus one loan||12th|
|Bournemouth||16th||£17.2m plus two loans||16th|
|Norwich||17th||£10.7m plus two loans||19th|
|Newcastle||18th||£26.5m plus one loan||18th|
January moves 'rarely work'
"From a players' perspective, January is a bad time to move, it really is," continued former Liverpool player Murphy.
"Very rarely does it work. I've done it myself (from Charlton to Spurs on deadline day in 2006) and it takes time for you to settle in.
"You are midway through a season where the games are coming thick and fast and the squad has already got its dynamic, not just on the pitch but off it too with friends and people who have been together for a while. You have to try to break into that on a personality and friendship level and also from a football perspective - you have to start proving yourself again and walk into a new dressing room.
"If I was advising most players, there would only be exceptional circumstances where I would be saying to someone to do it. Most of the time I would be saying wait until the summer because you will have better options.
"More often than not it is people going sideways or backwards because they are unhappy at their club, not playing."
What if you're a player at a club signing lots of players?
"When you hear players interviewed and they talk about new signings bringing more quality to the squad and competition for places, then it is normally a load of rubbish.
"You want competition for places in every position but yours, and any player who tells you different is, usually, just saying what he is supposed to say.
"When I was at Liverpool, there was always that thought in the back of my mind that they were signing a midfielder to replace me.
"It takes a while until you are comfortable in your own skin. When I was at Fulham, I was in my 30s and I was captain. I just wanted the team to be better and I was comfortable with what I could and could not do for the team, and the role I was playing."
What would make the big clubs spend?
"The likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United would only have been able to add quality with players who are likely to still be chasing honours or still involved in the Champions League. It would be a complicated, not to mention expensive, business to try and do these deals in January," added Phil McNulty.
"It often needs the perfect storm to set off the big deals, as in 2011 when Fernando Torres wanted to leave Liverpool for Chelsea, the £50m raked in from his switch to Stamford Bridge financing moves for Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, who was available from Ajax for £22m at a highly opportune time.
"So while it may have been low-key for the top clubs, it should come as no surprise."
Will anyone be moving to China?
This year, for players who want to leave their club and earn a huge payday at the same time, the end of the window in England does not mean they have to wait until the summer.
The transfer market in the cash-rich Chinese Super League is open until 28 February, and their clubs can sign players from regions where the window has already closed.
So, despite the deadline-day claim of manager Jose Mourinho that Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young are going nowhere, could the Manchester United pair do what Chelsea's Diego Costa didn't, and head for the Far East before the Premier League season is out?
"With the money they are throwing around in China, you cannot say that nothing will happen - anyone could go for anything at anytime," said Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy.
"Watford's Odion Ighalo moving to Changchun Yatai for £20m is an example of that, because he is not worth £20m. That sort of money is why Wayne Rooney has been linked with a move there - and that is why anyone has been linked.
"Will Rooney go to China? I can't answer that. I really don't know. He has young children so will he want to go out there, even for the money?
"Moving to China is purely about money. There is no debate about that. You do not go there and say it is because the football is improving - you go there because of the money.
"There is nothing wrong with that, depending on what stage of your career you are at. Near the end of my career, I would have gone there for sure but at 27 or 28? Never in a million years."
From the Champions League final to Gigg Lane
The tale of Jermaine Pennant, who as a 15-year-old at Notts County and good enough to persuade Arsenal to part with £2m, is one of unfulfilled potential and off-field problems.
In 2005, following a drink-driving conviction, he became the first Premier League player to take part in a match while wearing an electronic tag.
Still, Pennant started the 2007 Champions League final for Liverpool in their defeat by AC Milan and a went on to appear for Stoke in the 2011 FA Cup final.
Nomadic after leaving the Potteries in 2014, Pennant has had spells with Indian outfit Pune City and Singaporean side Tampines Rovers. Now he finds himself in a League One relegation battle with Bury after joining them in January.
"I've no great regrets, just memories," he told the Liverpool Echo.
After tears, finally a home
Patrick Bamford was 18 and had only 12 minutes of Nottingham Forest first-team football to his name when Chelsea paid a reported £1.5m for him in 2012.
That 12 minutes is a lifetime compared to how much time he spent playing for the Blues. In five years at Stamford Bridge, Bamford did not kick a ball for the Chelsea first XI.
He did, however, clock up more loans than a mortgage dealer. MK Dons (twice), Derby County, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Norwich and Burnley gave Bamford's Sat-Nav plenty of use.
Now he has a permanent home back at Boro, the club where he was named the Championship player of the year in 2014-15 after bagging 17 goals. The Teessiders have spent £6m on the striker, a decent return on Chelsea's initial investment.
It's a happy ending for Bamford, for whom the 18 months since he left Boro resulted in only two league starts at Palace, Norwich and Burnley combined.
"There'd be times at Burnley when I got in the car and I'd cry, thinking this isn't what I wanted to do, I'm not enjoying this at all," he told the Gazette.
"Being at Boro was probably the happiest time in my career."