How many football clubs dream of signing a Michu?
Last summer, following an impressive 15-goal season for La Liga minnows Rayo Vallecano, Swansea City acquired the then-26-year-old for £2 million.
It ended up being one of the bargain buys of the transfer window as the forward went on to tally 18 times in the Premier League and 22 times overall as the Welsh side won the League Cup.
By comparison, Aston Villa’s £18 million striker Darren Bent scored only three times in the Premier League while Liverpool’s Andy Carroll—acquired for £35 million and on loan at West Ham—managed only seven. Fernando Torres, who joined Chelsea for a whopping £50 million in 2011, found the back of the net on just eight occasions.
Such colossal over-valuation makes what Swansea accomplished with Michu all the more impressive.
Over the next few months the transfers that garner the most attention will no doubt be those that involve the most money, but tip-toeing into clubs around the continent will be players for whom little was paid but who go on to outshine their more expensive contemporaries.
Following is a glance at five of them.
Mathieu Flamini departed Arsenal in 2008 after his contract expired, and the same thing is set to happen this summer after the 29-year-old failed to agree to an extension at AC Milan.
The Frenchman struggled to earn a regular spot in the centre of midfield over five years at the San Siro, but when given playing time in the second half of the just-completed season he proved himself a serviceable asset to manager Massimiliano Allegri.
Southampton and Aston Villa would be keen to pick him up on a free transfer, the Mirror has reported, and at that price—and assuming the wages are reasonable—it’s an extremely low-risk move.
Also out of contract next month, FC Basel’s Cabral looks set to join Sunderland on a free transfer, according to the Guardian.
The 24-year-old, who can play both in central midfield and defense, has been part of four Swiss Super League championship sides since joining Basel from Lausanne in 2007 and could well lift a fifth title this spring.
He was one of Basel’s better players in their run to the Europa League semifinals this past season, appearing in nine matches and completing nearly 87 percent of his passes.
For a serviceable centre-back, nevermind one who could end up starring for you for many years to come, £2.5 million is a relative pittance.
But that’s exactly what Southampton are set to pay Barcelona of Guayaquil for Ecuador international Frickson Erazo, who has previously been linked to Manchester United.
Erazo, 25, is one of the most Europe-ready defenders currently playing his club football in South America, and, according to the Daily Mail, could be set to hook up with the Saints at some point in the next few months.
Last season Marc-Andre Ter Stegen back-stopped Borussia Monchengladbach to a Champions League spot, and while the Bundesliga outfit could only finish eighth this season, the goalkeeper’s stock, if anything, only went up.
Ter Stegen, 21, has already won two caps for Germany and will be one of the back-ups to Manuel Neuer at next summer’s World Cup. And by the time the tournament rolls around he’ll have likely played a full season at Barcelona, having been acquired for as little as €10 million to replace Victor Valdes.
The Mirror reports a deal with the Catalans is close, with the ‘keeper having already rejected offers from Arsenal and Inter Milan.
It’s hard to believe Christian Eriksen is still only 21.
But the Denmark international, who recently won a third consecutive Eredivisie title with Ajax, has been thrilling scouts for four years already, and it looks as though this summer he’ll finally opt to make a move.
Borussia Dortmund, who have already made a £10 million bid for him, according to the Daily Mail, are thought to be his most likely destination, although Liverpool have previously expressed interest as well.
But with Mario Gotze departing Dortmund for Bayern Munich there’s an opening in Eriksen’s preferred position at a club that plays some of the most eye-catching football in Europe.