With the transfer window on the horizon I thought I’d take a look at some of the best bargains in Premier League history. There may be some players you don’t find in this list such as Roy Keane, who may have only cost £3.5m but you have to consider this was the British transfer record at the time. Also someone like John Stones who was bought for £3m and then sold for an almost 1500% increase won’t qualify. Also not including free transfers as technically it’s not a bargain. I’m including players who had a massive impact on their clubs fortunes during their spell. Players who when signed, had little to no expectations and turned into some of the best in the world in their position. There was quite a few players to choose from here so there will definitely be some honourable mentions, let’s get into it anyway!
10. Kolo Toure £150k
A transfer that you won’t always hear about but you definitely should, 7 years of top class service for 150K is a crazy deal. People often forget Kolo Toure was right there at CB in the invincible team. He also won 2 FA cups and helped them reach a Champions League final. For 150k that’s an unbelievable return, not much was expected of Toure but he established himself as a top Premier League CB alongside Sol Campbell at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
9. Andy Robertson £10m
Signed for an initial 8m from relegated Hull, I doubt many Liverpool fans were expecting to love him the way they do today. To put his fee in perspective, the £10m paid for him is half that of the 10th highest fee paid for a LB in history (Nico Schulz 22m to BVB). Since his signing he has went onto become arguably the best LB of the past 3 years and win a Champions League and Premier League* title. He’s also been named in the PFA TOTY twice so it’s very hard to look past his achievements and not include him in this list of bargains.
8. Joe Hart £100k
It was initially reported he signed for £600k, potentially rising to £1.5m but the former Man City chairman declared the fee was only 100k, either way you look at it, it’s a bargain. Hart is another player you might not have expected to see here but when you look at fee and impact he had, he has to make it. He went onto win 2 Premier League titles, 4 Golden Gloves, an FA Cup and 2 League Cups. A very impressive return for a fee under £1m. He was also signed before the Sheik Mansour era so it’s very impressive that he was able to stake a claim at no.1 with all the money they were throwing around.
7. Patrice Evra £5.5m
To sign a player who is undoubtedly top 3 in his position in Prem history for just £5.5m is brilliant business. It’s actually shocking how cheap United got him for, whilst he may have been unknown to many in England, in France he was a young player of the year and a Champions League finalist. He has also featured in the Ligue 1 TOTY. United signed him at 24 just coming into his prime, after a slow start he quickly became one of the best LB’s in football, only Ashley Cole rivalled him. He would go onto win 5 Premier League titles, a Champions League, be named in the PFA TOTY 3 times and also named in the 2009 World XI, just 3 years after signing for £5.5m pounds, a masterstroke signing.
6. Patrick Viera £3.5m
Another invincible making his way into this list. His ability and the impact he had on the Premier League goes without saying. While £3.5m for a 20 year old wasn’t exactly nothing back then it was still only the 11th highest fee paid for a player by an English club in the 96/97 transfer window so he definitely qualifies. To put his fee into context, Lee Bowyer was the same age and cost almost identical to him that same summer. What followed was some of the best midfield play ever displayed in England and a presence that almost 20 years later, Arsenal have still yet to replace. In 2002 he became captain as he and Roy Keane became formed one of the biggest rivalries in Prem history. In total during his spell at Arsenal he won three Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups and was named in the PFA TOTY 6 times in a row, an unbelievable signing for Arsenal at just 3.5m.
5. Vincent Kompany £6m
£644m.. the amount of money City have spent on defenders since 2008, it’s crazy to think the best one they’ve bought was in 08 and only cost £6m. Kompany was one of the first signings of the new era of Man City and very few would’ve thought he’d accomplish what he went onto do. He became captain after just 3 seasons before leading City to 4 Prem titles, 2 FA Cups and 4 League cups. In my opinion he’s top two in terms of City’s greatest ever player so for £6m, he’s gotta be considered one of the greatest bargains ever.
4. Nemanja Vidic £7m
It’s crazy to think the January transfer window of 2006 brought not only Patrice Evra but also Nemanja Vidic to United. For just 7m nobody would’ve thought United had an all time great CB on their hands, similair to Evra, he had a slow start but not before long did he establish himself as not only the Premier League’s best but Europe’s best CB. He won 5 league titles, reached 3 Champions League finals, winning one, named in the PFA TOTY for 3 straight seasons and was also named in the world XI twice. Quite the CV for just 7m spent. To sign a player of that level for so little is crazy considering two of the best CB’s in England today cost 75m & 65m respectively. Vidic is an incredible bargain that will go down in history. He featured in our Prem GOAT countdown too, check it out below before we get into the top 3!
3. Cristiano Ronaldo £12m
I was in debate about including him cause his fee was 12m and he was only 18. But when looking at other deals done that summer including £18m for a 20 year old Jose Antonio Reyes and £20m on Veron, and then looking at what he achieved at United, £12m is an absolute bargain. Nobody was expecting anything other than a tricky winger who might get a goal here and there. Fast forward 6 years and the hearts of Man United fans were broken as the worlds best player left for Madrid for £80m (a fee I still think was too cheap, even back then). I’m not even going to list his accomplishments cause we all know the greatness he produced during his spell in England. He could easily be no.1 on this list but I’m trying to keep the bias down. It’s still crazy to think he was signed cause he roasted United’s defence in a friendly. £12m for the GOAT? Easily an all time great bargain.
2. Ngolo Kante £5.6m
He actually could’ve made this list twice. He’s a game changer signing, someone that comes into your team and completely transforms it. He only had one year but my God what a year it was. Leicester City essentially paid £5.6m for a Premier League title. At the start when I talked about impact, this is what I meant. Nobody had heard of him and yet 12 months later he was everyone’s favourite player. What he and his teammates did in 2016 was nothing short of legendary. Not only a bargain but he’s easily one of the best signings of all time. He left for £30m the following summer and did it again, he took a bottom half team to glory. His 2015-2017 stretch is one of the best 2 years you’ll see from a midfield player. Unlucky not to be no.1 but no.2 ain’t so bad!
- Seamus Coleman £60k
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer £1.5m
- Coutinho £8m
- Michu £2m
- Van Der Sar £2m
- Nicolas Anelka £500k
1. Eric Cantona £1.2m
The king, the catalyst for the most dominant period in Premier League history. When he left Leeds many thought they’d done one over on Fergie and gained a decent bit of cash for a player who disrupted the dressing room. Little did they know United were signing a player that would catapult them to their first title in 26 years. A crazy stat about Cantona is that he won a league title in every season he completed. 1992/93, 93/94, 95,96 and 96,97. The only season he and United failed to win the title was 94/95 when he spent over half the season suspended for his famous kung fu kick away at Crystal Palace. It’s not crazy to say that without this ban, United would’ve went 5 in a row. To put his fee into context he went for the same price as Dion Dublin and it was only the 9th highest transfer fee paid that summer by a Premier League club. A true bargain and well worthy of the #1 spot!
Thanks for reading!
I’m sure I left out some key players so go easy on me, let us know on social media what you think of the list and who you’d add or take out!