Ryan Babel, Ashley Cole, Kevin-Prince Boateng: January 2019's unexpected signings
John Obi Mikel, Kiko Casilla, and Timothy Weah also moved clubs
Last Updated: 29/01/19 11:26am
With Ryan Babel, Ashley Cole, and Kevin-Prince Boateng making surprise moves, January 2019 may have had the most unexpected signings ever...
There have been plenty of eyebrow-raising transfers since January 1, with some well-known names returning to British shores and youngsters furthering their careers.
Here, we take a look at some of the most surprising switches over the last month...
Ryan Babel - Besiktas to Fulham
Former Liverpool winger Babel looked to have finally found his feet at Besiktas after a rollercoaster career to date, but on January 15, Fulham sensationally announced the signing of the Netherlands international until the end of the season.
He started in his first game for the club - a 2-1 loss to Tottenham - and performed well, creating three wonderful first half chances, although he did lack some match fitness. However, the signs are positive that Babel can help keep Fulham in the Premier League.
Ashley Cole - LA Galaxy to Derby
Cole left England in July 2014, heading to Roma before joining MLS side LA Galaxy in 2016. But he's now linked up with his former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard at Derby, telling Rams TV: "It's a different challenge, a hard challenge, and I've always enjoyed the challenges."
It was a move that very few saw coming, with Cole having just turned 38, and Lampard having generally favoured young recruits in his managerial tenure so far, such as loanees Mason Mount and Harry Wilson. But an experienced head could just be what Derby need to end their long wait for a return to the Premier League...
Kevin-Prince Boateng - Sassuolo to Barcelona
Perhaps the most surprising move of the window came on the continent, as Boateng arrived at Barcelona on loan from Sassuolo for the remainder of the season, with La Liga's title holders having the option to make the deal permanent for £7.1m in the summer.
Boateng is essentially playing back-up to Luis Suarez after Munir El Haddadi's departure to Sevilla earlier this month, and is seen as a cheap, short-term solution for the Barcelona attack. He made his debut on January 23 in a Copa del Rey quarter-final, playing 63 minutes, but could not find the net as Barcelona lost 2-0 in the first leg.
John Obi Mikel - Free agent to Middlesbrough
Another Chelsea great returning to English shores and a Championship club, Mikel has joined Tony Pulis' Middlesbrough on a temporary deal after leaving Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA last month. After spending 11 years at Stamford Bridge with eight trophies to his name, Mikel certainly brings experience to the Riverside.
The Evening Gazette report that Crystal Palace were also keen on Mikel, but could not offer him the regular first team action he is looking for. Wolfsburg and Roma were also keen, but the 31-year-old midfielder, who captained Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup, wanted to come back to England.
Kiko Casilla - Real Madrid to Leeds
From the Bernabeu to Yorkshire, Casilla is truly stepping out of his comfort zone with a four-and-a-half year deal at Leeds. After Thibaut Courtois moved to Real Madrid in the summer, Casilla was demoted to third choice 'keeper - behind the Belgian and Keylor Navas - and despite spending every day rubbing shoulders with some of the world's best, the player himself admitted he needed to be playing in a pressurised environment again.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who had helped guide Leeds to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table and is behind only Middlesbrough's Darren Randolph for clean sheets this season, lost his place to Casilla for the recent trip to Rotherham.
Timothy Weah - PSG to Celtic
Son of former striker George Weah, Timothy arrived in Glasgow on a six-month loan from PSG on January 7, searching for more game time with the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani often taking the starting berths up front for the Ligue 1 side.
With plenty of talent and a famous footballing father - who is also now the president of Liberia - the USA international has attracted plenty of attention and loan offers, but said that Celtic stood out for him. He has already made a impact too, scoring in his first two appearances for Celtic.