The 10 Best Bargains in Premier League History

United Cantona

The best bargains in Premier League history

The Premier League is home to some of the biggest spenders in world football, with English clubs spending a combined £1.4 billion in the 2019/20 season summer transfer window.

However, some of the Premier League’s most elite players were originally brought to their clubs for lower price tags than you would think, with some title winners and club legends being sold for next to nothing.

Here, we take a look at the Premier League’s biggest bargain buys. To come up with this list, we've taken into account the length of time they were at the club, how much they were sold for, and, of course, their unforgotten impact.

Players like Philippe Coutinho will feature, based on the fact he was bought for so cheap, but sold for over £100m. Tim Cahill also gets a nod, for example, for his tremendous consistency at Everton. Remember, you don't have to win league titles to be a club legend.

10. Paulo Di Canio - £1.75m

Paolo Di Canio was known for his crazy personality and antics just as much as his brilliant football ability. At West Ham United, he carved out his reputation as one of the Premier League most exciting talents of the time.

After signing from Sheffield Wednesday for just £1.75m, the Italian went on to become the Hammers’ Premier League top goal-scorer, scoring 63 goals for the east London club, including the famous scissor kick that has gone down in Premier League history as one of the best goals scored.

The Italian spent six years at Upton Park, becoming a legend and a cultural icon among the West Ham faithful, making his £1.75m price tag one of the best bargains of all time.

9. Philippe Coutinho - £8.5m

Phillipe Coutinho moved to Liverpool towards the end of the January 2013 transfer window, for just £8.5m from Inter Milan.

The Brazilian became a talismanic figure at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers, involving himself in 76 goals in 152 Premier League appearances for the Reds - scoring 41 and assisting 35. For just £8.5m, Coutinho was considered a bargain buy for Rodgers.

Moreover, Liverpool sold their star midfielder to Spanish giants Barcelona for a fee of around £142m in 2018, making an incredible profit off his initial transfer fee, as well as obtaining five solid seasons of service.

Brazil’s number 11 is now predicted to leave the Camp Nou for a fee of around £70 million – is this fee another bargain for his next club considering the current transfer market and the player we once knew him as?

8. Tim Cahill - £1.3m

Everton signed Tim Cahill in the 2004 summer transfer window for just £1.3m from Millwall, eventually proving to be a massive bargain for Everton.

The Australian became a fan favourite at Goodison Park, playing under David Moyes to finish above city rivals Liverpool, and earn Everton a place in the top four in his first season at the club.

The Toffees signed Cahill at just 16-years-old, as he went on to complete eight years with the Merseyside club. The Aussie was hailed as Everton’s answer to Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard, having an average goal per game ratio of 0.245, compared to Scholes’ 0.216 and Gerrard’s 0.262, making him a bargain for just £1.3m.

7. Andy Robertson - £8m

Andy Robertson was named as the 2019 left-back in for most recent UEFA Team of the Year, after his incredible performances across Europe last season for Liverpool.

The Reds signed the Scotsman from Hull City for just £8m in the 2017 transfer window, and he has since gone onto become an integral part of Liverpool’s Champions League title win in 2019 and their record-breaking Premier League title charge this season.

The 26-year-old has proven to be an asset in both attack and defence, accumulating a total of 27 assists and 43 clean sheets in the Premier League, becoming a fan favourite among the Anfield faithful.

For just £8m, Liverpool have acquired the best left-back in the world. Simple.

6. Sol Campbell - Free

Today, if a club were after a 27-year-old England international from a rival, who was one of the best centre-backs in the league, you'd be lucky to get the deal done with less than £90m.

For Arsenal and Sol Campbell from Tottenham Hotspur, it cost absolutely nothing. In what is regarded as arguably the most toxic transfer in Premier League history, Campbell switched north London clubs in 2001 and he would immediately become successful with Arsenal.

In 2001/02, Campbell played 48 times for the club as the Gunners won an FA Cup and Premier League double, within just nine months of making the switch. Two years later, "The Invincibles" were formed, as the Englishman missed just three Premier League games in their unbeaten streak.

Campbell would have been a bargain for £40m, considering what he did for the club so quickly and how he gave Arsenal the lead in a Champions League final. But, for free, it's arguably the best deal for a defender we've ever seen.

5. Vincent Kompany - £6m

Manchester City have been one of Europe’s biggest spenders since their takeover from the Abu Dhabi Investment group in 2008, although, they managed to sign one of the most influential players of their club’s history for just £6,

The now-former captain went on to win four Premier League titles, two FA cups and four League Cups and proved to be a vital part of a dominant defence over the past decade, making the Belgian one of the biggest bargains in Premier League history.

Arguments rise all the time on Kompany's importance to City, and whether or not they would have been as successful as they were without him. League title defences in 2013 and 2017 fumbled because of injuries to the Belgian and City truly never looked the same dominant force without him.

He then, of course, scored *THAT* goal against Leicester City last season, which defended their title from a close battle with Liverpool. For £6m, they've bought a player worthy of a statue.

4. Nemanja Vidic - £7m

During his time at Manchester United, Nemanja Vidic won a total of 10 trophies in just under as many years at Old Trafford, accumulating 300 appearances.

The Serbian was eventually made captain by Sir Alex Ferguson for his no-nonsense style of play from the heart of United’s defence, earning himself a name amongst the best ever Premier League defenders, such as John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and more recently, Virgil Van Dijk.

Vidic’s comparison to Van Dijk has sparked debate among fans on which one of the two central defenders is better. Although, for only £7m, Vidic is without a doubt a bigger bargain than the £75 million Dutchman.

The period of 2006-2010 was one of the best Premier League teams of all-time, and arguably the best centre-back pairing with Vidic and Ferdinand. For just £7m, United essentially bought title after title, and found arguably the best defender there was.

3. Patrick Vieira - £3.5m

Inter Milan sold Patrick Vieira to Arsenal for just £3.5m in 1996, giving him a nine-year career filled with achievements during his time with the Gunners.

The French midfielder became captain of an Arsene Wenger side that became the only team to be unbeaten in a Premier League season, dubbing Arsenal, "The Invincibles" – a name that would ensure Vieira went down in the most elite archives of Premier League history.

During his time as a Gunner, Vieira went on to win three Premier Leagues, four FA Cups. Similar to the likes of Vidic and Kompany, Arsenal just weren't the same without him.

2. N'Golo kante - £5.6m

N’Golo Kante, now hailed as one of the best workhorse midfielders in the world, was brought to Leicester City for a fee of just £5.6 million.

The Frenchman played a crucial part to Claudio Ranieri’s famous title-winning side of 2015/16, when the Foxes managed to accomplish the impossible by finishing at the top of the Premier League after being promoted just two seasons before.

In fact, the entire Leicester squad for that year can be considered a bargain, as the squad all together cost around £54.4 million, and when comparing that to the money clubs like City and Chelsea have spent in the past to win leagues, Kante and the rest of the 2015/16 Leicester squad are perhaps the biggest Premier League bargain ever.

1. Eric Cantona - £1.2m

Eric Cantona, another of the Premier League’s famous personalities, was brought to Man United for a ridiculous fee of just £1.2 million in 1992.

After his departure from Leeds United to Old Trafford, the Frenchman went on to become one of United’s most famous and influential players, winning four Premier League titles and scoring 64 goals for the Red Devils in the League.

Cantona then continued to finish his career at Old Trafford, becoming a favourite amongst fans and going down in United’s folklore and as one of the biggest bargains of the Manchester club’s transfer history.

It's simple, this man helped start it all with Ferguson back in the 90s and two decades worth of success followed.

Honourable mentions

  • Jurgen Klinsmann - Monaco to Spurs (£2m)
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - Molde to Manchester United (£1.5m)
  • Edwin van der Sar - Fulham to Manchester United (£2m)
  • Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - Boavista to Leeds (£2m)
  • Joe Hart - Shrewsbury to Manchester City £600,000)
  • Seamus Coleman - Sligo Rovers to Everton (£60,000 rising to £300,000)
  • Sami Hyypia - Willem II to Liverpool (£2.6m)
  • Dele Alli - MK Dons to Tottenham (£5m)
  • Lucas Radebe - Kaizer Chiefs to Leeds, 1994 (£50,000)
  • Clint Dempsey - New England Revolution to Fulham (£1.5m)
  • Leighton Baines - Wigan Athletic to Everton (£6m)
  • Jay-Jay Okocha - PSG to Bolton Wanderers (free)

By Bradley Beecham

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