Premier League clubs are flush with cash and they aren’t afraid to spend it.
No league on earth can compete with the Premier League in terms of average spending power. Sure, other competitions have huge spenders at the top of the table but the Premier League has money up and down the division.
This often leads to Premier League sides overpaying for players, and values being inflated. It’s gotten to the point where Arsenal paying £26.4m for Lucas Torreira is genuinely seen as a bargain, because a talent like his could easily fetch more than twice that.
But there are some good deals out there, genuinely good deals. The kind of transfers that would have been seen as good deals even a decade ago. Ladies and gentlemen, here are 10 great Premier League players you may forget cost less than £10m. Yes, £10m!
To Manchester City for £6m in 2008
We start in the most fitting place: a Manchester City bargain. They’re the richest club on the planet right now (especially thanks to their loose interpretation of the rules) and can spend £60m on Riyad Mahrez to be a squad option, but back before Abu Dhabi they pinched one-time Football Manager legend Vincent Kompany from German side Hamburg. Kompany was a former prodigy who had gone off the rails (slightly) but he settled into Manchester quickly and has become a colossal defensive force and one of City’s greatest ever players, and all for ten times less than what City paid one decade later for Mahrez.
To Arsenal for £4.8m in 2008
Back in 2008 the hottest prospect on the British football scene was Aaron Ramsey. Manchester United and Arsenal were duking it out over his services. Sir Alex Ferguson sent club captain Gary Neville to show him around Carrington, whilst Arsene Wenger made sure to do it personally. This convinced the Welshman to opt for Arsenal, where thanks to coming from the lower leagues he was an amazing bargain.
To Arsenal for £8.45m in 2010
He’s a mess of injuries now but for half a decade Laurent Koscielny was a fearsome defender in the Premier League. Never a great organiser, he still managed to shut down quite a few great attacks. He gave the Gunners years of service, even becoming captain, and in true Arsenal fashion he was signed from France for a fair fee.
To Chelsea for £7m in 2012
Once a white-hot prospect at Osasuna, a move to Marseille and a bad injury derailed Azpilicueta’s progression. This allowed Chelsea to take a chance on the full-back, spending just £7m to bring him to West London. Since then he has morphed into one of the most consistent defenders around; able to play right or left-back as well as centre-back too. An absolute legend of Chelsea Football Club.
To Spurs for £5m in 2015
It’s easy to forget because he’s so young, but Dele Alli is not a Spurs youth product. No, he was signed from MK Dons when he was just 18 and was an almost instant hit for Spurs. At the end of his second season with Spurs he was 21 years old and had 32 goals in 96 games. From midfield. He was and is an awesome talent that somehow Daniel Levy only had to fork out £5m for.
To Liverpool for Free in 2015
James Milner seems like such a part of the furniture at Anfield that if you told people he’d been there his whole career having signed from Leeds as a teenager they’d probably believe you. But no, he’s been all over the place, won two titles with Manchester City and then in a very Serie A move, joined rivals(ish) Liverpool on a free transfer! He’s been an absolute warrior for the Reds since then, delivering great value for money.
To Leicester for £5.6m in 2015
Yes, technically Kanté cost his current club £30m but you can’t do a list about Premier League players costing less than £10m and not include working-class Muslim hero to the people of basically everywhere, N’Golo Kanté. One of the loveliest men in football (humble enough to dine with fans and too honest to cheat on his taxes), Kanté is also a phenomenal, almost supernatural, defensive presence.
Nobody else in the world bar Jordi Alba can use speed as a defensive weapon quite like Kanté; and his tackling technique is as flawless as his personality. Kanté cost Leicester just £5.6m in 2015 and a year later he was a Premier League Champion. Obviously there was more at play but Leicester with Kanté were England’s Atlético Madrid. Oh, and he’s since gone on to win a World Cup, because of course he has.
£5.6 million, man…
To Spurs for £3.5m in 2015
The Bury Beckham (or The Burnley Beckham if you prefer club over city of birth) became a stalwart presence for Burnley as they battled their way out of the Championship and into the Premier League. He was signed by Spurs for a tiny fee, originally intended to be a back-up for Kyle Walker. But he developed so quickly and had such a great understanding with Harry Kane that he eventually replaced Walker for both club and country; even scoring in a World Cup semi-final. Not bad for a lad who three years ago cost under £4m!
To Everton for £7.1m in 2016
Maybe we’re jumping the gun lumping Idrissa Gueye in with these other players; but if you were to say that the only difference between Gueye and fellow defensive midfielder plucked from obscurity Kanté was that Kanté went to a club with upward momentum whilst Gueye went to Aston Villa, you’d have a point. A sensational defensive force in the middle of the park, Everton actually cost Gueye less than he had cost Villa one year earlier (both fees were under £10m, though).
To Liverpool for £8m in 2017
Another recent entry, and another player signed from a relegated side. Robertson may not have the experience behind him yet but his performances for Liverpool since signing from Hull have been remarkable in that none of it feels remarkable. You watch Robertson play and think “yup, he’s class” and you just assume he’s from Liverpool’s academy, because if the Reds had signed a player that good it would have surely cost a bundle and you’d have heard all about it. But no, £8m. That’s all.