BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Aston Viila player Darren Bent (r) scores the third Villa goal during the  Capital One Cup Second Round match between Aston Villa and Tranmere Rovers at Villa Park on August 28, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Aston Villa's 5 Best Ever January Transfer Deals

The January transfer window is the time when clubs try and strengthen their playing squads to avoid being relegated into the Championship. Over the last few years the Championship has become comparable to a endless maze, so simply being promoted back into the greatest league in the world isn't just said and done.

During the January transfer windows Aston Villa have successfully brought in players who have helped the ever-present figure in the Premier League avoid relegation. 

1. Darren Bent

In January 2011 Aston Villa decided to shatter their previous transfer record by over £10 million, to sign Darren Bent from Sunderland for an initial fee of £18 million, rising to £24 million dependent on domestic and international appearances/goals.

He scored the winning goal on his home debut in a 1-0 victory against Manchester City at Villa Park and finished the 2010-11 season with nine goals, joint top-scorer with Ashley Young, even though he only joined the club in January. 

Those goals, including a brace against Arsenal at the Emirates in a memorable 2-1 victory, saved Villa from certain relegation to the Championship. He was the highest scoring Englishman in the League with 17 goals with nine coming for Villa and eight for Sunderland before his move. 

Despite missing Euro 2012 after rupturing his ankle ligaments against Wigan at DW Stadium, he still impressed in front of the goal netted 10 times in 25 appearances before picking up the serious injury.

After being named interim captain by Paul Lambert in the 2012/13 season when Stilyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukemia, he was soon told new signing Dutch international Ron Vlaar would take over as new club captain instead. To this day, Bent is still adamant he has never been offered a 'suitable and acceptable' reason to why he was stripped and reduced to training with the development squad by manager Paul Lambert.

Subsequently, he became part of the infamous 'bomb squad' and was limited to only substitute appearances by Lambert. Finally, the prolific striker, who has scored over 100 Premier League goals, was loaned out on a season-long loan to Fulham.

Even though he is not in Paul Lambert's philosophy for the future of Aston Villa Football Club, the 21 goals in 54 appearances makes him the best signing by Villa in any January transfer window.

2. Ashley Young

Ashley Young arrived from Championship side Watford on 23rd January in 2007 for a then record transfer fee of £9.65 million.

Over the four years he spent at Villa he became one of the most exciting and sought-after wingers ever to put on the prestigious colours of claret and blue for Aston Villa. 

In his first season he finished second to Cesc Fabregas, one of the greatest players to ever grace the Premier League, with 17 assists in the 2007/08 season. 

In addition he was included in the Premier League Team of the Year, which apart from Portsmouth's David James was made up of players from the 'top four' (Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.) 

He scored two goals and assisted another two against Birmingham City in the magnificent 5-1 triumph on 20th April 2008 and scored one of the goals that Villa's faithful will remember for years to come. 

Against Everton on the 7th December 2008, at the fortress that is Goodison Park, Joleon Lescott scored a late headed equaliser in the 92nd minutes levelling the scores at 2-2. But just 10 seconds later Ashley Young scored a magnificent solo effort from the kick-off to send the travelling fans, manager Martin O'Neill and his team mates into pure ecstasy; he also nutmegged Lescott in the build-up to the goal.

In 2009, Aston Villa won the Peace Cup after beating Juventus 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out where Brad Guzan saved three penalties, Young was part of that squad that won the last piece of silverware to grace the already distinguished trophy cabinet within Villa Park. 

The Juventus team that night included David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi, Vincenzo Iaquinta and the legend that is Alessandro Del Piero.

He ended the 2010-11 season with nine goals and 14 assists before stating he wanted to move to champions Manchester United.

The move hasn't worked out for him so far, with him diving down the picking order. This season, at times, he has shown the trademarks that at Villa turned him into a regular England international.

3. John Carew

John Carew was signed as part of a swap deal that took Milan Baros to Olympique Lyonnais one day after Ashley Young was brought to Villa Park.

Carew was a real fans' favourite at Villa Park who during his four years at the club had his name regularly chanted by the famous Holte End.

'John Carew Carew he's bigger than me and you, he's going to score one or two John Carew Carew'.

The 6'3' target man scored twice in the 5-1 hammering of Birmingham City at Villa Park on 20th April 2008 and was Villa's top-scorer that season with 13 goals. He also netted a hat-tick in the 4-2 success against Reading in the FA Cup at the Madejski after Villa were 2-0 down at half-time.

His goal in the 2–2 draw against Stoke City at Villa Park was also voted Goal of the Season for the 2008-09 season, finishing that season with 11 goals.

His biggest mistake during his successful spell at the club was speaking out about his lack of opportunities under Gerard Houllier to a Norwegian TV station. 

The signing of Darren Bent practically ended his four year career as an Aston Villa player, but without a doubt will be known as a fans' favourite for a very long-time.

Since then he has go onto become a successful actor in his native Norway.

4. Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane joined Aston Villa on a two-month loan deal in January 2012 from LA Galaxy, until MLS season restarted in March.

He scored three goals in seven appearances, including two against one of his former employees, Wolverhampton Wanderers. His second goal, a shot that flew into the top corner from around 25 yards was nothing short of a screamer worthy of winning any game; Villa won the game 3-2 thanks to that goal. 

Keane's goal against Newcastle United, at the then St James Park, took his tally to 126 goals making him 11th highest scorer in the history of the Premier League.

His three goals during his brief spell contributed to the club achieving the points needed to escape relegation.

5. Nolberto Solano

Only at the club for one season during the 2004/05 season, but during that spell the little Peruvian set-piece expert was voted the Player of the Year.

He finished the season as top-scorer with eight goals, a very impressive account from central-midfield, very Lampard-esque.

This season, despite calls from fans and former players for owner Randy Lerner to 'splash the cash', the window went by with only two loaning signings coming in. 

Grant Holt was brought in from Wigan as cover for the injured Libor Kozak, out for the season with a broken leg picked up in training, and the other a smart acquisition of left-back Ryan Bertrand from Chelsea.

Time will tell if Bertrand, aiming for a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup England squad, will be on the plane to Brazil maybe alongside Fabian Delph, but for now for Villa its much needed experience at the vulnerable left-back position.