We all get excited about a big money signing in the Premier League although there have been some transfer captures that have turned out to be unbelievable value.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best ever Premier League signings, starting with a prolific striker who now works for the BBC…
1) Alan Shearer, 3.6million, Southampton to Blackburn Rovers
Shearer is the all-time top Premier League scorer, managing 260 goals for Blackburn and Newcastle, although it was with the former he proved to be the most dangerous.
Rovers smashed the British transfer record to land the striker, although they were rewarded with 112 goals in 138 league appearances, with Shearer capable of scoring all manner of goals.
His aerial ability was well documented, although the Geordie could also hit a mean free kick, while he was a sharp shooter inside the box. His goals ultimately helped Blackburn claim the Premier League title in 1995.
2) Eric Cantona, £1.2 million, Leeds to Manchester United
There will never be another player like Cantona, even if Zlatan Ibrahimovic draws obvious comparisons. Sir Alex Ferguson identified the Frenchman as a missing piece of the jigsaw following failed bids for Matt Le Tissier, David Hirst and Brian Deane.
Cantona arrived in November 1992, with the enigmatic forward taking little time to endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful. Teaming up with Mark Hughes in attack, he helped Manchester United win their first league title since 1967.
“The King” helped the Red Devils win a further three Premier League titles and two FA Cups, with Cantona having achieved legendary status by the time he hung up his boots to pursue an acting career.
3) Thierry Henry, £11 million, Juventus to Arsenal
Henry was unsettled at Juventus during a disappointing six-month spell with the Turin club, although it didn’t stop Arsene Wenger splashing the cash on his compatriot ahead of the 1999/2000 season. The initial signs weren’t too encouraging, with the player’s pace not matched by his final ball or finishing ability.
However, that didn’t last long and Henry was to become arguably the greatest player in the history of Arsenal FC. During eight seasons at the club, he managed an incredible 174 goals in 254 games and formed an integral part of a highly successful Gunners team that swept all before them.
Henry’s speed regularly had defences on the back foot, with the striker part of the “Invincibles” that went unbeaten during the 2003-4 season, while he enjoyed a first league title in 2001-2 and lifted the FA Cup on three occasions.
4) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, £1.5 million, Molde to Manchester United
While Shearer, Cantona and Henry arrived to something of a fanfare, the same couldn’t be said of the little-known Solskjaer. However, the Norwegian was worth his weight in gold to Sir Alex Ferguson and is probably the Premier League’s best ever “substitute”.
Indeed, the striker often had to wait patiently for his chance to shine, especially when part of a United squad that featured Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham. However, Solskjaer was a goal poacher and his stats were extremely impressive.
He was part of the furniture at Manchester United for ten years and his crowning moment was undoubtedly scoring the dramatic winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
5) Gianfranco Zola, £4.5 million, Parma to Chelsea
In 2003, Zola was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player, with the Italian bringing joy to the Stamford Bridge faithful before Roman Abramovich arrived to completely change the landscape at the London club.
Seven years previously, Ruud Gullit decided to snap up several players from the continent that included Gianfranco (in addition to compatriot Gianluca Vialli), with this new-look Chelsea side providing lots of entertainment even if they were unable to challenge Arsenal and Manchester United for title honours.
Zola was a magician with the ball. He had immense skill that could take him past players and he had the sort of deft touch that saw him score a series of remarkable goals. One such goal came in 2002 where the Italian produced a back-heel volley from a corner against Norwich.
In total, Zola won six pieces of silverware at Chelsea, including two FA Cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup.
6) Patrick Vieira, £3.5 million, AC Milan to Arsenal
“He comes from Senegal, he plays for Arsenal”. So went the chant about this formidable midfielder who was the driving force behind the Gunners for nearly ten years.
Patrick Vieira was everything you could want from a central midfielder. He had a phenomenal engine which saw him play box-to-box, while he had a tremendous ability to win the ball back for his team and feed the more skilful players such as Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg and of course Thierry Henry.
Incredibly, AC Milan gave the Frenchman just two starts before allowing him to leave for Arsenal, although it was Ajax who originally wanted to sign him before the London club were able to swoop.
Vieira famously struck up a winning midfield partnership with Emmanuel Petit and the pair helped land the 1997/8 Premier League title before further successes were enjoyed in 2002 and 2004.
7) N’Golo Kante, £5.6 million, Caen to Leicester City
A modern day signing took place during the summer of 2015, with the little-known Kante arriving at the King Power Stadium for a relatively modest fee. Twelve months later, Leicester would be selling the Frenchman to Chelsea for a reported fee of £32 million.
However, while a £26 million profit on the 25-year-old is clearly very welcome, Kante’s achievements during the 2015/16 season will always be remembered by virtue of the fact that he helped Leicester to the most unlikely Premier League title triumph.
The Foxes were available at odds of 5000/1 to win the league before a ball was kicked, although Kante’s formidable performances helped the Foxes achieve the impossible, with the diminutive midfielder reading the game brilliantly and winning the ball back on a consistent basis.
8) Cristiano Ronaldo, £12 million, Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United
The most expensive teenager in English football arrived in the summer of 2003, with few aware of the Madeira-born winger who initially appeared to be a one-trick pony. Making his debut against Bolton, Ronaldo seemed overly keen on step-overs although the best was yet to come.
Indeed, his six seasons at Old Trafford saw him progress from exciting teenager to one of the best players in the world, something which saw Real Madrid part with £80 million in the summer of 2009, with Sir Alex Ferguson having persuaded Ronaldo to stay twelve months earlier.
During his final three seasons with United, the Portuguese started finding the net on a regular basis. 17 goals in 34 games were followed by 31 in 34 during the 2007/8 season and there were three Premier League titles enjoyed.
Ronaldo scored the opening goal of the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea, with United winning on penalties even if Cristiano missed a spot kick for his team in the shootout.
9) Frank Lampard, £11 million, West Ham to Chelsea
Lampard has recently been voted the worst MLS signing of all time, although Frank was worth his weight in gold at Stamford Bridge. The hard-working midfielder arrived in 2001 and played thirteen seasons for Chelsea, amassing an incredible 429 Premier League appearances in the process.
It took the England international a little while to find his feet at the Bridge, although he slowly developed into a vital member of a squad that was to claim a whole series of honours, with Lampard’s pinnacle season being the 2009/10 campaign where he managed 22 goals in 36 games.
He left Chelsea as one of the most decorated Premier League players of all time. Three titles, four FA Cup triumphs and two League Cups were enjoyed domestically, while there was also the small matter of a Champions League winners’ medal and the same for the Europa League final.
10) Lucas Radebe, £250,000, Kaizer Chiefs to Leeds United
Radebe was completely unknown when arriving at Elland Road in 1994, with the central defender signed to accompany the arriving Phil Masinga, although it was Lucas who would prove to be a far more valuable asset for Leeds United.
After a shaky start with manager Howard Wilkinson, Radebe thrived under the tutelage of George Graham and got even better when David O’Leary was manager, with the Irishman partnering Radebe with Jonathan Woodgate to excellent effect.
Radebe had a wonderful positional sense that helped Leeds qualify for the Champions League in 2000, with United then reaching the semi-final stage of this competition in 2001. It’s little wonder that Manchester United wanted to sign this no-nonsense defender, with Sir Alex Ferguson admiring the player on several occasions.