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Who are Aberdeen’s most memorable January signings of recent times?

Aberdeen's Josh Walker celebrates after firing the home side in front against Bayern Munich in 2008. His first senior goal.

A couple of weeks ago Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes claimed the club would not be making any signings in January unless there was a significant change in circumstances..

However, with more than 10 days of the winter window left, a lot could still change, especially if in-demand forwards Sam Cosgrove or Scott Wright are prised away from Pittodrie.

Close to a year of no gate money due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on the Dons, with chairman Dave Cormack transparent about the multi-million-pound hit the Pittodrie outfit have taken.

However, a sticky patch in terms of results on the field, including Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Premiership strugglers Ross County in Dingwall, could also tempt Aberdeen to take any transfer opportunities they see over the remaining days.

Earlier in the month, Derek McInnes had signalled his wish to bring in a game-changing attacker, for example.

The Dons might move if they think it could help land them quell fan discontent by landing the league’s runners-up spot and a Champions League berth, as well as setting them up for a tilt at the Scottish Cup in the second half of the season.

Regardless of whether this month does indeed come and go without any new arrivals, January has often been busy for the Reds.

Here are some of their winter window signings over the last couple of decades:

1. Sam Cosgrove – January 2018

Aberdeen's Sam Cosgrove celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Hibernian at Pittodrie Stadium on November 6.
Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove.

The deadline-day arrival from Carlisle United, on a night the Dons were playing Ross County and main striker Adam Rooney scored two, was greeted with a bit of a collective shrug by followers of Aberdeen.

A 21-year-old striker with 12 appearances for English League Two Carlisle and one senior goal, Cosgrove got sent off on debut for poleaxing Celtic captain Scott Brown. The jury was very much out on why the Dons had bought the player, albeit for a paltry £30,000 fee.

However, having struggled to hit the net until December 2018, Cosgrove was then on fire, scoring 40 times by January of 2020 and knocking back a £2.7 million move to French outfit Guingamp in the summer.

He’s struggled since the start of the 2020/21 campaign, following a knee injury, but should still land Aberdeen an incredible return on their investment.

2.  Ryan Christie – January 2017

Aberdeen’s Ryan Christie celebrates his winner at Ibrox in 2017.

Now a Scotland star, Celtic midfielder Christie is possibly the best loan signing Aberdeen have ever made (sorry, James Maddison fans).

The playmaker first arrived at Pittodrie in January 2017 and would return for the full 2017/18 season, eventually racking up 58 appearances and 15 goals.

The best spell was those first first few months, however, where he netted six league goals, despite just seven starts, as the Reds finished in the Premiership’s runners-up spot ahead of Rangers. Christie even netted the winner in a 2-1 win over the Gers at Ibrox in the final weeks of the campaign.

Just look at these two goals he scored during those first months:

Christie, like the man below, was also part of the team who won the much-tighter race for second in the 2017/18 campaign.

3. Kenny McLean – January 2015

Aberdeen’s Kenny McLean celebrates a goal in the 2016/17 Betfred Cup semi-final.

Midfielder McLean was signed from St Mirren for £300,000 in 2015, the season after Derek McInnes’ Dons won the League Cup. Alongside Graeme Shinnie, he is probably the most influential McInnes-era player to arrive after the silverware success, helping them reach both cup finals in 2016/17, where they lost out to Celtic.

A player who pulled all the strings for Aberdeen at times, McLean – like Christie, now one of Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifying heroes – made 158 appearances for the Reds, scoring 25 goals. His first strike was in the massive 3-0 away Europa League qualifying win over Croatians Rijeka:

He was sold to Norwich City in January of 2018, but returned on loan to finish the season, with Aberdeen securing second with a 1-0 final day win over Celtic at Parkhead.

4. Adam Rooney and Shay Logan – January 2014

Adam Rooney scoring the winning penalty for Aberdeen in the 2014 League Cup final. Picture by Kenny Elrick

The next two entries are contenders for best dual January signings in Aberdeen history.

Former Caley Thistle striker Adam Rooney was signed on a permanent deal after being let go by Oldham in January 2014, with right-back Shay Logan joining on loan from Brentford. Logan wouldn’t sign permanently until the summer.

Both made big impacts in their first few months.

Rooney scored in his first four league games, as well as the League Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone at Tynecastle. He would go on to net the winning penalty in the final win over former side Inverness – securing McInnes’ only trophy as Dons boss to date.

He would also score 28 times the following season.

Irishman Rooney’s final tally when he left for Salford City in 2018 was 88 goals in 197 Dons games, cementing his place as Aberdeen’s most reliable striker since Joe Harper in the 1970s.

Shay Logan celebrating a goal against Hearts. Picture by Darrell Benns

Marauding full-back Logan, who made his debut in the semi-final at Tynecastle, quickly became a fan favourite and remains at the club, with 293 club appearances to his name.

5. Mark Reynolds and Russell Anderson – January 2012

Mark Reynolds (right) celebrates a winning goal against Kilmarnock with Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson.

The centre-back pairing for the 2014 League Cup final triumph under McInnes both arrived at what-was-then Craig Brown’s Aberdeen in the same month. Anderson was of course returning to retake the club captaincy following almost five years in England, while Reynolds was arriving on loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

Reynolds finally signed for Aberdeen permanently after a second loan at the club and went on to be a mainstay of McInnes’ time in charge, also captaining the side on several occasions.

After finally winning a deserved trophy more than 15 years after his Dons debut, Anderson retired in 2015, having missed most of the 2014/15 season because of a knee injury.

Reynolds continued to play regularly for the Dons until 2017, before a knee injury also wiped out his final full season and he left, initially on loan, for Dundee United, where he is currently captain.

6.  Josh Walker – January 2008

Josh Walker celebrates his goal against Bayern Munich. Picture by Colin Rennie

Midfielder Walker, brought in on loan from Middesbrough by Jimmy Calderwood, only played 13 times for the Dons, scoring once – but what a goal it was. The very first senior goal of the 19-year-old Englishman’s career.

The strike came in the 24th minute of UEFA Cup round of 32 home leg against Bayern Munich and the Red Army’s reaction to going ahead against German giants almost took the lid off the old stadium.

That game would finish 2-2 and Walker, with his low curling strike, secured a little piece of Dons history for himself as a result.

7. Steve Tosh and Paul Sheerin – January 2003

Midfielders Tosh and Sheerin made a combined 126 appearances after signing in the same month under Steve Paterson.

Sheerin, who is now Aberdeen reserves boss, left for St Johnstone in summer 2004 before the Calderwood era began, while Tosh lasted another half season before leaving for Gretna, however, the pair still played in some good Dons wins together.

Both scored in consecutive wins over rivals Dundee United in their first season, while they also started April 2004’s 2-1 win over Celtic at Parkhead.

Paul Sheerin, left, and Steve Tosh in 2003.