It’s Black Friday and there are bargains all over the shop. What better time to have a look at the best bargains in Premier League history?
To narrow the field a bit, we’ve put two rules in place:
- Players must have been signed by a Premier League club. Sorry Riyad Mahrez!
- No free transfers. Sorry Sol Campbell!
At a total cost of £33.51m, here’s our greatest XI of all-time Premier League bargains.
GK: Edwin Van der Sar
Fulham to Manchester United, £2m (2005)
After years of searching, Sir Alex Ferguson finally got his Peter Schmeichel replacement. A Champions League winner with Ajax, Van der Sar had starred for Fulham but United got him on the cheap.
Most strikingly, his long limbs and calm presence meant he made everything look so simple.
He went on to win four Premier League titles and the Champions League during six seasons at Old Trafford.
RB: Seamus Coleman
Sligo Rovers to Everton, £60,000 (2009)
It’s now an entire decade since Everton snared Coleman from Ireland for a fee that most Premier League footballers make in a week.
One of the cheapest deals in the history of the top flight, Coleman quickly became a regular for club and country. A all-round excellent right-back signed for a relative tuppence.
CB: Kolo Touré
ASEC Mimosas to Arsenal, £150,000 (2002)
Touré became an international regular in midfield at just 20 while still playing for Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas. It didn’t take Arsenal long to notice him.
By 23 he was a converted Premier League winning centre-back with an unbeaten season behind him.
The defender went on to play over 300 times for the Gunners before he was sold to Manchester City for £14m in 2009.
CB: Vincent Kompany
Hamburg to Man City, £6m (2008)
One of the more expensive players in this side, Kompany arrived at Manchester City before the money of Sheikh Mansour.
What a coup he was. Made club captain for the 2011/12 season, Kompany led City to their first league title in 53 years.
The rest – three more titles, a total of 360 appearances, and some truly crucial goals – really is history.
LB: César Azpilicueta
Marseille to Chelsea, £6.5m (2012)
Every team needs a Mr. Reliable and it feels somehow ironic that this team’s Mr. Reliable is its most expensive player. Azpilicueta, though, may just be one of the most brilliant yet understated players in Premier League history.
A full-back who can play on either side, the Spaniard has shown it all. A solid defender, a superb athlete, a player with the intelligence to adapt and play on the right of a back three in Antonio Conte’s league-winning Chelsea team.
There’s nothing he can’t do.
CM: Patrick Vieira
Milan to Arsenal, £3.5m (1996)
Vieira has a real claim to being the best and most complete midfielder the Premier League has ever seen. And to think he made just two first team appearances in Milan before moving to north London.
He was an instant hit at Highbury, changing a game against Sheffield Wednesday from the bench on his debut.
An underrated dribbler, a fierce tackler, and a dangerous long-ranger shooter in his early days in England, Vieira added all that to his remarkable athleticism and innate leadership skills. He was one of a kind.
CM: N’Golo Kanté
Caen to Leicester, £5.6m (2015)
Hands up if you’d heard of Kanté before he joined Leicester. Exactly. Before long, he was being heralded as the best midfielder in the Premier League and the key to Leicester’s sensational title win.
An incredible ability to read the game mixed with superb acceleration, selflessness, and calmness on the ball makes Kanté one of the most unique players around.
Since leaving the King Power, a deal Leicester made a £27m profit on, he has gone on to another league title with Chelsea, the World Cup with France, and become widely accepted as one of the best players in the world.
AM: Dele Alli
MK Dons to Tottenham, £5m (2015)
Few players are plucked from the lower leagues by the big clubs nowadays but Dele Alli bucked that trend.
Already a regular for MK Dons at 18, Tottenham took a risk on Alli and immediately installed him in their first team. Boy, did it pay off.
Still just 23, the midfielder already has 44 Premier League goals and 30 Premier League assists to his name.
AM: Clint Dempsey
New England Revolution to Fulham, £1.5m (2007)
Signing players from MLS has led to more regrets than success stories at Premier League clubs. Dempsey is the exception to the rule.
An amazing £1.5m fee for the then-23-year-old proved to be a bargain. Dempsey’s eye for goal and superb work ethic leaves him as probably Fulham’s best ever Premier League player.
After 50 Premier League goals in five seasons, plus a remarkable run to a Europa League final, Tottenham spent around £6m on the American – about four times what Fulham had paid for him in the first place.
FW: Eric Cantona
Leeds to Man Utd, £1.2m (1992)
Perhaps the best signing in Premier League history and almost certainly the most transformative.
It’s incredible to think that Cantona was playing for Manchester United’s bitter rivals Leeds when a £1.2m move to Old Trafford was sanctioned.
From there, Cantona scored 64 times and grabbed 56 assists in 143 league appearances, inspiring United to four titles in five seasons … and only his controversial kung-fu kick and subsequent eight month ban stopped it from being five in five.
FW: Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink
Boavista to Leeds, £2m (1997)
Hasselbaink feels like something of a forgotten man but there was a time he was one of the most dangerous strikers in England.
Arriving at Leeds for such a small sum, he scored 34 times in two Premier League seasons for the club, many of them thunderous strikes.
The Dutchman would go on to play for Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Charlton too, netting 128 Premier League goals in total.