EPL Transfers: Top 5 Value-for-Money Buys from Premier League Clubs so Far
It's still early in the transfer window, and there's obviously a flurry of summer transfer activity yet to look forward to as we wait for things to unfold over the next 40 days.
Of course, some clubs like to have their transactions wrapped up early. It's no surprise that a few managers have already dabbled in the transfer market and succeeded in securing deals that one expects will pay healthy dividends.
A smart manager will probably be on the lookout for a player who is actually worth the amount that's being paid out. To face the hard facts, not every purchase is a value-for-money one.
By contrast, some players truly prove to be worth their weight in gold. If one were to look at the case of Michu from last season, the Spaniard excelled under Michael Laudrup's management, and his market value would now probably be 10 times the amount Swansea purchased him for.
Here we look at five of the finest value-for-money deals secured by Premier League clubs so far in the transfer window.
*Players recruited on loan or on a Bosman transfer have not been considered in the compilation of this list.
5. Jozy Altidore to Sunderland
The coming season won't present Altidore with his first taste of English football. An underwhelming campaign at Hull City in 2009-10 meant the American international didn't really get a chance to show us what he's all about the last time he was in England.
However, coming off two prolific seasons in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, one gets the feeling Altidore finally has what it takes to be a success in the Premier League. He's only 23, and yet the young man has amassed 60 caps for his national team.
The last league campaign yielded 23 goals, and Altidore became the first American to be named to the Dutch Eredivisie Team of the Season. He's spent last couple of seasons honing his goal-poaching skills, while his technical ability had never been question.
Roped in by Sunderland for a fee in the region of £6 million, Altidore certainly looks like a player worth the money this time around. Watch out for the occasional right-foot thunderbolt.
4. Maarten Stekelenburg to Fulham
Whatever may happen, Fulham always seem to get their hands on a decent goalkeeper. Edwin van der Sar and Mark Schwarzer served the club well in the past, and now it's Maarten Stekelenburg's turn.
A two-time Ajax Player of the Year award winner, the 30-year-old is an agile shot-stopper best known for his sharp reflexes and prowess in one-on-one situations. He's also extraordinarily brave; not afraid to put his body on the line.
While Stekelenburg is unlikely to hit the same heights he did with the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup, his abilities remain well above average. He looks to be a real steal at £3 million.
3. Iago Aspas to Liverpool
We've seen left-footers like David Silva, Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla make seamless transitions from Spain to England, so I'd expect a skillful player like Aspas to be an asset to the Reds.
Being something of an amalgam of a No. 9 and a No. 10, or a nine-and-a-half, as fellow B/R Featured Columnist Allan Jiang puts it, it's easy to envisage him playing in a position-swapping system with the likes of Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. His aerial ability and threat when cutting in from the right make him a significant improvement over Stewart Downing.
Aspas recorded 12 goals and seven assists last season for La Liga strugglers Celta Vigo, so you can imagine how much his return is going to improve when he steps out to play for a better team.
Aged 25, he will soon hit his peak. I can already picture him wreaking havoc in the Premier League.
2. Jores Okore to Aston Villa
With the £4 million purchase of Jores Okore, Aston Villa gaffer Paul Lambert appears to have landed himself a perfect partner for experienced centre-back and skipper Ron Vlaar. Villa's Achilles' heel last term was their defense, which shipped 69 goals in the entire league campaign, and they could definitely use some of Okore's strength and pace.
Chelsea were one of the clubs in contention for the Dane's services, which speaks volumes about the quality Okore brings to the plate. Although he played in a Nordsjaelland side that lost all six of their Champions League group games last term, Okore rarely looked out of his depth.
At just 20 years of age, he has the potential to grow and become one of Villa's stalwarts. Remarkably calm on the ball for a defender, Okore appears to be a sound investment for the Birmingham-based club, especially as they got him on the cheap.
1. Jesus Navas to Manchester City
For me, no summer signing personifies value-for-money better than Jesus Navas. How often to we see a world-class footballer snapped up by acknowledged heavy spenders like Manchester City for as little as £14.9 million?
Navas, 27, is a unique talent perhaps because he belongs to a dying breed of players we call out-and-out wingers. This is just the sort of player Manchester City were missing last season, as they were often criticized for not using the full width of the pitch.
Navas is very similar to the sort of player Gareth Bale used to be before he made the transition to a more central role under Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham. He hugs the touchline, likes to dribble and is adept at putting dangerous balls into the box.
If played on the right and given a big center-forward like Edin Dzeko to aim for, I'm sure Jesus Navas would feature high up the assists charts come the end of the season.