Top 10 Premier League Bargains
Silly season is upon us and whilst some managers are able to splash ridiculous sums on huge names, most are looking to unearth a bargain buy that none of their rivals have spotted. This is a difficult task but it has been achieved plenty of times before, most notably when these 10 men were signed. Here are the 10 greatest bargain buys in Premier League history.
10. Gary McAllister: Coventry to Liverpool – FREE
Liverpool picked up Gary McAllister on a free when he was 35-years-old and already had 19 years as a professional behind him. His quality had been shown throughout those years in Scotland and England, but there was some doubt over whether he could make an impact at the Reds at this stage of his career. He was at Anfield for two years and made a spectacular impact, playing in the final of, and winning the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the Charity Shield. He racked up 87 appearances in two years, which for a man at his age was hugely impressive and his influence on the side was unmatched. Scarcely could a punt on a veteran for free gone any better for manager Gerard Houllier.
9. Jay-Jay Okocha: PSG – Bolton – FREE
Sam Allardyce pulled off a serious coup when he brought Jay-Jay Okocha to the Reebok Stadium after he was released by PSG in 2002. The Nigerian had played in three World Cups and won the Olympic Games with his country in 1996. PSG had splashed £14m on him in 1998 from Fenerbahce – a huge amount of cash at the time. It was an inspired bit of business for the Trotters as Okocha played in 124 games over the next four season (starting every single one of them) and returned 14 goals and 11 assists. They are not spectacular numbers, but he was a key part in the best Bolton side in decades and was a huge hit with the fans and neutrals alike.
8. Seamus Coleman: Sligo Rovers – Everton £60k
The darling of fantasy football managers across the land, Seamus Coleman has been integral to Everton’s starting XI since 2010. The £60k fee paid to Sligo Rovers for his services was so close to nothing it is even comical and it is very rare you will see such an amount handed over by a Premier League club these days. Until the end of the 2016-17 season, the Irishman has racked up 24 goals in all competitions for the Toffees which is a fantastic return from right-back. Along with a vastly improved defensive game, he has proved a superb piece of scouting for the Merseysiders.
7. Nicolas Anelka: PSG – Arsenal £500k
Nicolas Anelka has been sold for an awful lot of money over his career but he was once an absolute bargain, bought by Arsene Wenger for Arsenal for just half-a-million from PSG in 1997. The Frenchman was at Highbury for just two-and-a-half seasons but his 90 appearances and 28 goals in all competitions were enough to attract the attention of Real Madrid who spent a cool £22.3m on him. Anelka won the double in the 1997-98 season, scoring the FA Cup final win over Newcastle, and then finished as their top scorer in 1998-99. To then turn a near-£22m profit, Anelka has to be seen as tremendous value.
6. Robin van Persie: Feyenoord – Arsenal £2.75m
Heading off to Manchester United in 2012 has soured Robin van Persie’s legacy for many an Arsenal fan but few can argue that the £2.75m he cost was unbelievably good value. Eight seasons with the Gunners yielded 132 goals in 277 games with his final campaign returning 30 in 38. Unfortunately, his teammates could not quite keep up with the quality of the Dutchman and all Van Persie won in his time with Arsenal was one FA Cup, but he was still a superb and very cheap signing.
5. Tim Cahill: Millwall – Everton £1.5m
Tim Cahill had put in some eye-catching performances with Millwall in the Championship put few could have expected him to be such a hit for Everton when they paid just £1.5m for his services. The Australian managed 11 goals in 33 Premier League games in his debut season – a fantastic return from midfield – and went on to have seven more successful campaigns. Cahill ended up with 68 goals in 278 matches for the Toffees before moving to New York in 2012, but he will certainly never be forgotten by the Goodison Park faithful.
4. Sol Campbell: Spurs – Arsenal – FREE
There was huge controversy when Sol Campbell moved from Tottenham to Arsenal in 2001, enraging the Spurs faithful, but the Gunners will have been delighted with the free acquisition from their fierce rivals. Campbell stayed with Arsenal for five seasons, winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups in the process. He racked up 197 appearances and was a crucial part of the Invincibles side of 2003-04. He may not be remembered as fondly at the Emirates as the likes of Tony Adams, but it was an incredible piece of business by Arsene Wenger’s.
3. Eric Cantona: Leeds – Man Utd £1.2m
It had looked like Eric Cantona was destined to move between clubs on a bizarrely regular basis until he found his spiritual home at Old Trafford in 1992. The Frenchman had played for seven clubs in under 10 years before Alex Ferguson paid Leeds United £1.2m for him. The rest, as they say, is history. Few figures have attained such hero status at United – the likes of George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton are some of the few that rival Cantona at the Theatre of Dreams. In only five seasons the forward managed 82 goals in 185 games for the Red Devils, winning four Premier League titles and two FA Cups along the way. He retired age 30 at the very top of the game.
2. Ole Gunner Solskjaer: Molde – Man Utd £1.5m
Not too many knew much about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when he arrived at Manchester United in 1996, but the world certainly knew who he was when he left in 2007. The Norwegian had an impressive goal-scoring record in his home country, but there was no guarantee at all he could reproduce that form in the Premier League. 126 goals for United later and all those doubts were put to rest. His trophy cabinet was overflowing after six league title, two FA Cups and a Champions League, in which he scored the winning goal – not bad for £1.5m.
1. Peter Schmeichel: Brondby – Man Utd - £500k
Half-a-million quid will buy you next to nothing in the modern game but back in 1991 you could pick up arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, if you knew where to look. Alex Ferguson knew to look to Denmark where he found Peter Schmeichel plying his trade for Brondby. He had won three Danish titles by that point, but that was nothing compared to what he would win with the Red Devils. 398 appearances were enough to bring him five Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League before he bid farewell. Ferguson described the keeper as the ‘bargain of the century’ and how could anyone argue?