Top 10 EPL Summer Signings at £10 Million or Under
You don't need to be a scout to see Eden Hazard's potential for greatness—there's a reason why he cost Chelsea £32 million.
Santi Cazorla has been an elite midfielder for the past six seasons. Was it a surprise that he cost Arsène Wenger £16.5 million? Of course not. Considering how complete Cazorla is, he's worth £30 million.
It takes cunning negotiation skills to sign a player well beneath what he's actually worth. So, let's take a look at the Premier League's best summer signings so far at £10 million or under.
10. Chico, Centre-Back, Age: 25
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From Genoa to Swansea City For £2 Million
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A few years ago, Chico became infamous for his Khalid Boulahrouz-esque marking on Xavi.
The Barcelona midfielder later remarked:
It’s overwhelming because you don’t know where to put yourself. At times, I just feel like leaving the pitch so as to not to be bothered. I have never had such tight marking. He was obsessive, and pursued me even in the corners.
Chico possesses an innate gift of reading the direction and the weight of opposing players' passes. During the 2009-10 season, he averaged 3.2 interceptions per game for Almería. When he was on loan at Mallorca last season, it ballooned to a mind-boggling 5.5 interceptions per game.
9. Samba Diakité, Centre Midfielder, Age: 23
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From Nancy to Queens Park Rangers For £3.5 Million
Samba Diakité's enthusiasm often leads to kuckle-headed decisions. His 1.1 tackles per foul is abnormally low for a midfielder, but he has shown glimpses of Patrick Vieira-esque dominance.
Arsène Wenger must have taken note of Diakité after the Malian midfielder produced a powerful display in a 2-1 win over Arsenal.
Diakité is at his best when he turns on beast mode and barges his way past opposing players.
As long as he keeps his discipline in check, he'll be to QPR what Yaya Touré is to Manchester City.
8. Steven Pienaar, Left Winger, Age: 30
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From Tottenham Hotspur to Everton For £4.5 Million
What makes Steven Pienaar so important is his ability to create something out of nothing, yet still complete between 80 and 85 percent of his passes. Someone like Morten Gamst Pedersen is adept at completing key passes, but his 72 percent pass completion percentage is inefficient.
Even though most people will remember Pienaar's dramatic equaliser in the epic 4-4 draw against Manchester United, he played better in a 4-0 win against Fulham, where he provided a hat trick of assists.
7. Junior Hoilett, Left Winger, Age: 22
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From Blackburn Rovers to Queens Park Rangers For Free
QPR did sign Junior Hoilett on a Bosman, but they'll have to compensate Rovers, who took the Canadian into their academy as a 13-year-old.
He turned heads as an inside-out winger but he proved how productive he can be as a deep-lying forward—scoring four goals and providing an assist in seven games.
6. Ben Foster, Goalkeeper, Age: 29
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From Birmingham City to West Bromwich Albion For £4 Million
With Michel Vorm, Joe Hart and Tim Krul vying for bragging rights as the Premier League's best keeper, Ben Foster quietly reinforced his credentials as an elite shot-stopper.
He stood firm as he parried Jonathan Walters' penalty during a 2-1 win over Stoke City.
Foster made some pivotal saves in a goalless draw against Manchester City. He was immense as West Brom held on for three points against Liverpool.
5. Pavel Pogrebnyak, Centre Forward, Age: 28
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From Stuttgart to Reading For Free
Pavel Pogrebnyak was gangly, awkward-looking and cumbersome as a centre forward during his time at Stuttgart. Yet, he looked sharp on the turn and was extremely efficient in a short loan stint at Fulham.
Reading have made an astute decision in signing an in-form forward on a Bosman.
The Russian should score at least 10 league goals, which is something he hasn't accomplished since 2007.
4. Gylfi Sigurðsson, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 22
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From Hoffenheim to Tottenham Hotspur For £8 Million
Last season, Brendan Rodgers took advantage of Gylfi Sigurðsson losing his starting position to Roberto Firmino at Hoffenheim, and it paid dividends for Swansea City.
Sigurðsson is a complete attacking player: he can shoot from long range, convert chances inside the penalty box, score from free kicks and provide for his teammates.
André Villas-Boas signing Sigurðsson leads to the obvious question: what about Rafael van der Vaart?
3. Michu, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 26
From Rayo Vallecano to Swansea City For £2 Million
Michu went from a run-of-the-mill midfielder to a nameable La Liga footballer.
He shields the ball well, he's strong in the air and he has a knack for poaching goals. He makes some of the shrewdest runs to evade defenders. When Michu was involved in four goals against Osasuna, he was paired with Diego Costa, a strong centre forward on loan from Atlético Madrid.
Michu struggled when he combined with the less physical Raúl Tamudo.
With Swansea, Michu will play behind Danny Graham, who can hold on to the ball whilst converting his chances.
What makes Michu's 15 La Liga goals more noteworthy is that Rayo's midfielders were tacklers. The most accurate passer on the team was Liverpool loanee Dani Pacheco, who was an impact sub.
The Swans play lovely possession football, which will enable Michu to score more goals. If he was English, he would have cost £15 million.
2. Karim El Ahmadi, Defensive Midfielder, Age: 27
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From Feyenoord to Aston Villa For £2.5 Million
The defensive midfield position carries some negative undertones because it's seen as a role filled by limited footballers.
Karim El Ahmadi is anything but limited because he's a complete midfielder.
He can glide past several opposing players, create for his teammates and win back possession.
His consistent performances week in, week out were overshadowed by John Guidetti's goals and Jordy Clasie becoming the Eredivisie's best centre midfielder.
Who played a major part in Clasie's rise to prominence? El Ahmadi.
1. Jan Vertonghen, Centre-Back, Age: 25
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From Ajax to Tottenham Hotspur For £9 Million
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld were a solid centre-back pairing for Ajax.
Vertonghen has a tendency to turn off at the most inopportune moments. For example, he was missing in action when Roy Beerens scored.
When Vertonghen tries to score goals like Thomas Vermaelen, the 25-year-old has been caught out of position several times.
That being said, Vertonghen is the reigning Eredivisie Player of the Year. £9 million for a centre-back with world-class upside is a smart investment from Daniel Levy.
Talking about centre-backs, keep an eye out for Steven Caulker, because he was terrific on loan at Swansea City.