EFL Reporter @simgholam
Key Sky Bet Championship January deals: Kiko Casilla, Ashley Cole and John Obi Mikel
Last Updated: 01/02/19 10:19am
From experienced England internationals to promising youngsters and goalkeepers from Real Madrid, we pick out the key signings made by Championship clubs in January...
Kiko Casilla - Leeds (from Real Madrid)
Bailey Peacock-Farrell was doing a decent job between the sticks for Leeds, but it is hard to turn down the opportunity to bring a goalkeeper from Real Madrid to the Championship.
Casilla made the move from the Bernabeu to Elland Road and has already played a big role in their comeback win over Rotherham last weekend. He made 43 appearances in all competitions for Real over the course of four years, winning 10 trophies in the process - including three Championship Leagues.
"I think the fans of Leeds should be proud to have Casilla as a goalkeeper," said Marcelo Bielsa. "It's not often a player of this level chooses to play in the Championship. English football, and Leeds United in particular, should be proud that a Real Madrid player has come here."
Ashley Cole - Derby (free agent)
Cole probably thought he had seen the last of English football when he left Chelsea for Roma in 2014, and not many would have expected him to return to the Championship aged 38 after stints at Roma and LA Galaxy.
But his former team-mate Frank Lampard convinced him to head to Pride Park until the end of the season, and play at a level where Cole hasn't featured since it was known as the First Division - where he played 14 times for Crystal Palace in 2000.
"I know him very well from our time together at Chelsea, and with England, and I also know what he can bring to the group and the influence he will have," said Lampard. "Ashley is in good shape, which doesn't surprise me because he's an excellent professional, and he will compete for a place in the side like every other player here."
John Obi Mikel - Middlesbrough (free agent)
Like Cole and Casilla, Mikel is another former Champions League winner to join the Championship, having signed for Middlesbrough on a deal until the end of the season.
Having left Chelsea after 10 years in 2017, the 31-year-old Nigerian international spent two seasons in China. He is a controlled defensive midfielder that should suit Tony Pulis' system and promotion push perfectly.
"He is a man with a lot of experience and quality," Pulis said. "He has a winning mentality and he wants to be here to be a part of what we are looking to achieve."
Pele - Nottingham Forest (loan from Monaco)
You have to have a bit about you as a player to go by Pele! That's the nickname of Nottingham Forest's latest recruit - whose full name is Judilson Mamadu Tuncara Gomes.
The Portuguese midfielder, 27, has had a bit of a globetrotting career so far, playing permanently or on loan for 11 different clubs in Europe and Brazil. He has already set his sights on getting promoted with Forest.
"I have a good feeling to come here to help Nottingham Forest to go up," he said. "I am very happy to be here; it is my dream to play in England and now I have the opportunity to play here I will do my best to help the team."
Brad Potts and Jayden Stockley - Preston (from Barnsley and Exeter)
Many clubs in the Championship try and recruit from the lower leagues but none do it as well as Preston, who have made midfielder Potts and striker Stockley their latest signings from League One and League Two respectively.
Potts is only 24 but he has already made more than 200 appearances for Carlisle, Blackpool and Barnsley, and has already scored twice in his first three appearances for North End.
Stockley, meanwhile, had scored 16 times this season for Exeter before being recruited, and has netted already for Preston in their 4-1 win at QPR. Last season he scored 25 times in all competitions as the Grecians made it to the play-off final.
Gary Madine - Sheffield United (loan from Cardiff)
Madine is a striker more than familiar with the Championship, but it is a sub-plot of his relationship with Sheffield United hero Billy Sharp that makes his switch to Bramall Lane, on loan from Cardiff, so interesting.
The forward was at city rivals Sheffield Wednesday between 2011 and 2015 and also infamously called Blades fans favourite Sharp a 'fat little pig' back in February 2017.
Ever since Sharp has self-proclaimed himself as 'that fat lad from Sheffield' on his Twitter bio, but Madine's arrival doesn't seem to have impacted on his form so far. The big striker does have a point to prove, though, having failed to score in any competition for more than a year.
Mason Holgate - West Brom (loan from Everton)
Big things were expected of Holgate at Everton after he followed the same path from Barnsley to Goodison Park as John Stones, but he is yet to establish himself there.
Having joined in 2015, the now England Under-21 international has made almost 50 appearances for Everton, but has been sent out on loan to West Brom in an attempt to get a run of games under his belt. He has already made an impact as well, with the Baggies conceding just a single goal in the three games he has started so far.
"I tried to bring Mason into the squad in the summer but at that stage Everton were not willing to release him," said boss Darren Moore. "I watched him play against Salomon Rondon in the goalless draw at The Hawthorns last season and I thought he was outstanding."
Sam Vokes - Stoke (from Burnley)
Nathan Jones only took over at Stoke earlier this month but he has already worked as had as possible to bring in players to shape his side - and he clearly feels Vokes is the man to lead his line.
Vokes struggled to establish himself as a regular Premier League goalscorer for Burnley, although he did manage to get to double figures in 2016/17. In the Championship, though, he is a different prospect altogether. He notched 20 in 2013/14 and 15 and 2015/16 - and on both occasions Sean Dyche's side won promotion.
"Sam is a player of real pedigree, he has been promoted from this level and he's an experienced international and Premier League player," said Stoke boss Jones. "To get it done is something totally different to anything we have and we think he's a marquee player for this level."