The Portsmouth duo former West Ham and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp ranks as two of his greatest January signings

It will hardly come as a surprise that Harry Redknapp has named two Pompey signings among is best ever January deals.

By Mark McMahon
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 6:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 30th January 2022, 6:35 pm

No, not Jermain Defoe!

Instead, the former Blues boss ranks his moves for Andres D’Alessandro and Lassana Diarra as two of his finest bits of business.

Writing in his latest column for The Sun on Sunday, the 74-year-old reminisced about his experiences of the January transfer window.

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He called the gamble to bring Paulo Di Canio to West Ham from Sheffield Wednesday in 1998 one of his ‘biggest risks’ – but also one of his ‘greatest signings’.

Yet he placed his 2006 loan acquisition of Argentine D’Alessandro and his 2008 permanent swoop of Arsenal outcast Diarra in the same ‘greatest’ category, with both proving huge hits among the fans at Fratton Park.

Redknapp wrote: ‘Paolo was fantastic, a terrific pro and an amazing talent who could do very special things. The fans absolutely loved him.

‘He was a huge success but the one who always comes to mind is a little Argentinian lad called Andres D’Alessandro, who I took to Portsmouth on loan in 2006.

Andres D'Alessandro, right, celebrates his goal in Pompey's 2-1 defeat at Charlton in April 2006. Picture: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

‘I’d had him for a fortnight at West Ham a couple of years earlier, but the fee was high, and he’d gone to Wolfsburg instead.

‘His agent, a lovely guy called Barry McIntosh, rang to see if I was interested but we couldn’t afford him, unless it was a loan. And with other interest, there was no chance of that happening.

‘But then Barry called back to say it could be done, Andres came over for a dozen or so games and he saved us. We were bottom and ended up surviving because of him.’

He continued: ‘Lassana Diarra was another January window signing who didn’t half pay off. I got him to Portsmouth for a bit over £4m in 2008.

Harry Redknapp and Lassana Diarra celebrate Pompey's FA Cup final win against Cardiff in 2008. Picture: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

‘He didn’t stay long but what a sensation!

‘To be honest, I couldn’t understand why he would join us from Arsenal. But he wanted to play and we could offer him that.

‘He was magnificent, we won the FA Cup — and then we sold him to Real Madrid after only 12 months for about £20m.’

Mercurial Argentina international D’Alessandro’s spellbinding Blues stint spanned just 13 matches.

A January 2006 deadline-day arrival from WolfsbUrg, the loanee was challenged with keeping the Blues in the Premier League – a challenge which he mastered.

The 2-1 victory over Manchester City on March 11 sparked a return of 20 points from next 27 possible to retain Pompey’s top-flight status with a game to spare – and featured D’Alessandro as an ever-present.

Yet despite the Blues having ambitions of a permanent agreement with the midfielder, he instead linked up with Real Zaragoza in June 2006, citing a desire to play in Spain.

Diarra also moved to Spain following his Fratton Park heroics, with Real Madrid’s January 2009 swoop still a Pompey record sale, with the Frenchman’s signature fetching £20m.

Signed from the Gunners for £5.5m, he went on to feature 32 times for the Blues – including the 2008 FA Cup final victory over Cardiff.

It was still a sufficient timescale to establish himself as one of the Blues’ greatest modern-day performers.

Yet Diarra often cut an enigmatic figure during that fleeting south-coast connection until his big money move to Madrid.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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