It seemed a case of panic buying. Chelsea had missed out on many of their major targets. Time was running out. They bought David Luiz and Marcos Alonso. One was ridiculed. The other looked a reserve. Nine months later, they were Premier League champions, cornerstones of a reconfigured defence and catalysts.
So, while a litany of dreadful deals have been sealed in the dying hours of the window and while it is rare the eventual winners do much business at this stage, they prove what can be accomplished on deadline day.
Now, and though Manchester United are unlikely to do business because Jose Mourinho, in characteristic fashion, has completed his signings early, many of the major clubs will trade again.
It feels chaotic. Arsenal are set to sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, trying to resist Manchester City’s interest in Alexis Sanchez and strangely prepared to loan out Shkodran Mustafi. They are looking to dispose of fringe figures such as Lucas Perez, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy and Jack Wilshere and searching for signings: perhaps Raheem Sterling, though Sergio Aguero is less likely, in part-exchange for Sanchez, maybe Jonny Evans at the back.
Antonio Conte has been searching for strength in depth for weeks. The priorities are English midfielders, with Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater submitting a transfer request to try and force a move and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley also wanted, though Chelsea face competition for both. If they fail to get the Arsenal man, they could also do with signing someone who can play wing-back. And they need to dispose of forwards Loic Remy and the troublesome Diego Costa, while perhaps trying to buy Swansea City striker Fernando Llorente.
Ronald Koeman is set to bring in Hajduk Split winger Nikola Vlasic but still wants a specialist striker, which may bring a cheeky loan offer for Costa. His other objectives are a centre-back, preferably left-sided, and cover for left-back Leighton Baines. Everton could also do with selling the injured Barkley. If not, he might leave on a free transfer next summer.
Liverpool have been adamant they will not sell Philippe Coutinho, but that may not prevent Barcelona from submitting a fourth bid for the Brazilian. Southampton are adamant they will not sell Virgil van Dijk, but Jurgen Klopp might come in for the centre-back again. That should be the greatest priority. Klopp has tied up a deal to bring in Naby Keita next summer, but Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a midfield reinforcement now. Defender Mamadou Sakho should be sold, probably to Crystal Palace.
There are two aims: to sign Sanchez, with City preferring a cash-only deal but the possibility Sterling will go to Arsenal, and to bring in another centre-back, which could allow Eliaquim Mangala to leave. West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans is the target in the centre of defence. Midfielders Fabian Delph and Fernando could go.
Spurs took a while to start spending, but Mauricio Pochettino is set to tie up deals for defenders Juan Foyth and Serge Aurier, who will join club record buy Davinson Sanchez. That leaves Barkley as the outstanding issue, though Spurs will face competition for the Everton midfielder and chairman Daniel Levy may look for a cut-price deal.
Five best deadline day deals in recent years:
A low-profile loan 12 months ago, Grant deputised for the injured Jack Butland for much of the season and played a major part in keeping Stoke City in the Premier League.
Virgil van Dijk
Southampton signed the Dutchman for £13 million (Dh62m) in 2015. He is now valued at five times as much after establishing a reputation as one of the Premier League’s finest defenders.
Southampton, who also borrowed Toby Alderweireld on the last day of the 2014 window, are deadline-day specialists. Mane excelled for them for two seasons and then they made a vast profit.
The sort of late deal few even notice. Keane was borrowed by Burnley in 2014, later signed for £2.5m and went on to become an England international and a £30m buy for Everton.
Few have had better deadline days than Everton in 2013. They sold Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United for £27.5m and brought in James McCarthy, plus loanees Lukaku and Gareth Barry and surged to fifth place.