World Football: Ranking The All-Time Top 30 Premier League Transfers
The task of being a successful Premier League manager requires many skills beyond tactics and man management.
Having an eye for a bargain or future star can pay dividens.
Often the best transfers are plucked from obscurity and moulded into a key player. Arsene Wenger is by far the best example of a lucrative dealer; churning out stars for his entire career at Arsenal.
This list comprises many of his best signings and many others, and shows you do not have to spend tens of millions to acquire a trophy winning side.
30. David James
(Manchester City - Portsmouth, £1.2m, 2006)
With the help of Harry Redknapp, ‘Calamity James’ restored his form and won back his England place at Portsmouth.
After a torrid time at Manchester City his career was revitalised and he is renowned as one of Portsmouth’s greatest players. Now in the twilight of his career it is safe to say things are slowly getting worse again for the big man.
29. Kevin Davies
(Southampton - Bolton Wanderers, FREE TRANSFER, 2003)
Davies had a torrid return to Southampton after an impressive early career.
He failed to impress and was signed by Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer in 2003. After a shaky and violent start at his new club, Kevin Davies is now a hero and regular at the Reebok. So good have his performances been that he earned his first England cap this year.
Oh and Bolton aren’t doing to badly this season either!
28. Roque Santa Cruz
(Bayern Munich - Blackburn Rovers, £3.5m, 2007)
A Bayern Munich reject, the Paraguayan international struggling for first team opportunities in the Bundesliga.
In 2007 he was signed by Blackburn Rovers for just £3.5 million.
Domestically he scored 23 goals in just 57 appearances gaining a ‘Player of the Month’ award along the way. In his first season the Rovers finished an impressive 7th in the league with Santa Cruz netting 19 goals.
In 2009 he signed for Manchester City at £17.5 million. A nice profit.
27. Mikel Arteta
(Real Sociedad - Everton, £2m, 2005)
The Spaniard is a natural on the ball; a real creative player.
At £2 million David Moyes got a real bargain. During an inital loan spell Arteta helped Everton to Champions league qualification, and his impressive performances have continued after signing formally in 2005.
26. Brede Hangeland
(Copenhagen - Fulham, £4m, 2008)
Roy Hodgson snapped up the solid centre back for just £4 million.
He has become both a fan favourite and consistent performer for Fulham and the big clubs are now circling. Arsenal and Liverpool, Hodgsons new club, are rumoured to be interested; with £12 million bids prepared.
A good profit return for a centre back.
25. John Arne Riise
(Monaco - Liverpool, £4m, 2001)
Signed and sold for £4 million, Liverpool basically got 7 seasons of service for free from the Norwegian.
The left sided player could defend and threaten the opposition’s box with a surprising goal scoring ability for a defender. He holds a Champions League winners medal, although he missed a penalty on the day!
24. Steven Pienaar
(Borussia Dortmund - Everton, £2m, 2008)
A great Moyes signing, for just £2 million Pienaar has become one of Evertons most threatening attacking options.
His performances over the past 2 seasons have not gone unnoticed.
Now in the final year of his Everton contract, newly appointed Premier League big boys Spurs are rumoured to be interested.
Watch this space.
23. Gael Clichy
(Cannes - Arsenal, £250,000, 2003)
Signed cheaply as a youngster for many years, unsurprisingly, Gael Clichy was the understudy to Ashley Cole.
Since Cole’s departure, Clichy has developed into a consistent left back going forward and defending; but he still has potential. Don’t forget it is at his current age that Cole left, and he has become possibly the best in his position in the world.
Maybe this is not the path Clichy will follow, but there is more to come.
22. Tim Cahill
(Millwall - Everton, £1.5m, 2004)
The heartbeat of Everton’s midfield, Cahill is both consistent and influential at Goodison.
David Moyes has pulled off a handful of unbelievable deals, seen in the Blues squad today. This is most certainly one of them.
At just £1.5 million, the Aussie became Everton’s top scorer in his first season regularly bursting forwards and attacking the opposition goal. An extremely hard worker his commitment is unrivalled.
21. Ashley Cole
(Arsenal - Chelsea, £5m/William Gallas, 2006)
Brought through the ranks at Arsenal, Cole has established himself as one of the world’s best left backs (amongst other things) at London rivals Chelsea.
A shrewd deal saw Cole cross London for just £5 million, plus the services of centre back William Gallas.
Although Gallas was undoubtedly a strong and capable centre half he was 29. Cole on the other hand was only 25 with bags of potential which he has dually fulfilled.
Compare the Ashley Cole of today to the William Gallas of today and this was a fantastic deal.
20. Robin Van Persie
(Feyenoord - Arsenal, £2.75m, 2004)
Signed for just £3 million, van Persie was converted from winger to striker just as Thierry Henry was.
A creative and intelligent striker, van Persie is able to bring others into play, as well as netting a few of his own goals.
19. José Manuel Reina
(Villarreal - Liverpool, £6m, 2005)
A top keeper of the Premier League with many seasons left in him at just 28.
He is the fastest keeper to reach 100 clean sheets for the Reds; faster than even Ray Clemence!
In his recent tough times at Anfield, Pepe has been a source of inspiration, and can always be counted on to make a heroic save when it matters.
Were it not for his pure brilliance in the net, I don’t doubt Liverpool would be even lower in the league.
He was one of Rafa’s most impressive signings, and if Liverpool can manage to keep hold of the Spaniard, they can count on their net staying empty.
18. Edwin Van Der Sar
(Fulham - Manchester United, £2m, 2005)
Signed from Fulham for just £2 million in 2005, Alex Ferguson hailed him as the greatest keeper at Old Trafford since the great Schmeichel.
The ever reliable Dutchman rarely has an off day and is one of the top keepers in the Premier League today.
Now 40 and close to retirement, will Fergie be able to pick up another gem between the posts for so cheap? Probably not.
A younger model of VDS will cost upwards of £20 million in today’s market.
17. Francesc Fàbregas
(Barcelona - Arsenal, UNDISCLOSED, 2003)
It is not conclusively known how much young Cesc was signed for; although speculation suggests no more than £2 million.
A Barcelona youth graduate, he sensed a lack of first team opportunities would hinder his career so he joined the Gunners.
It was not until the departure of Viera that Cesc really took centre stage and is one of the most highly rated midfielders in the world today at 23 years old!
So great is his talent, Barce want him back!
With transfer fees of £40 million expected he will not come cheap.
16. Patrick Viera
(Milan - Arsenal, £3.5m, 1996)
Another key figure in the famous ‘Double Season,’ Viera was a physical power house with passing ability and skill.
He could stop opposition attacks in one instant, and then start a counter in the next. He became club captain in 2002, and was sold 3 years later; of course at a profit.
15. Fredrik Ljungberg
(Halmstad - Arsenal, £3M , 1998)
The sexy Swede dominated in Midfield with phenomenal skill and natural ability on the ball.
He played the attractive style of football Wenger is renowned for and had a habit of scoring when it really mattered.
At a measly price tag of £3 million Freddie paid for himself many times over and can be added to an ever growing list of Wenger bargains.
14. Carlos Tevez
(Corinthians - West Ham United, UNDISCLOSED, 2006)
Nobody officially knows how much West Ham actually paid for the Argentinean due to the scandal which it caused. However, it is thought to be around £10 million.
Tevez is one of the greatest strikers in the Premier League today and the Hammers did extremely well to spot this rare talent.
He was later sold to Manchester United for around £20 million.
Although his profit margin isn’t as large as some of the other deals in the list, the transfer has great significance, due to the quality of player brought into the English game.
13. Dimitar Berbatov
(Bayer Leverkusen - Tottenham Hotspur, £10.9m, 2006)
Berbatov was not exactly cheap when Tottenham signed him, but he proved to be a shrewd signing.
The highly creative forward netted 46 goals in 102 appearances for Spurs and formed a deadly strike force with Irishman Robbie Keane.
He was sold to Manchester United for £30.75 after just two seasons. A nice book balancer for Spurs!
12. Nicolas Anelka
(Paris St-Germain - Arsenal, £500,000, 1996)
The predecessor up front to the great Thierry Henry, Anelka was an inspired signing.
Wenger exploited the temperamental striker’s talents for just 2 seasons winning the double in 1998.
When he began to lose enthusiasm, earning the nickname ‘Le Sulk’, he was sold for a staggering £22.3 million to Real Madrid for a handsome profit.
His career so far has seen him play for countless teams, mainly due to his tendency to cause arguments. It was Wenger who had the sense to exploit his goal scoring abilities then part ways when trouble arose.
11. Dennis Bergkamp
(Inter Milan - Arsenal, £7.5m, 1995)
Signed by Wengers predecessor Rioch, Bergkhamp was not having a great career at Milan.
It was when Wenger arrived that Bergkhamp really thirved.
The cunning Frenchman turned his career around and he was an instrumental goal creator, as well as scorer, in the Arsenal glory years.
10. Eric Cantona
(Leeds United - Manchester United, £1.2m, 1992)
Cantona is considered to be the player who turned around the fortunes of Manchester United.
Having not won a title trophy in 26 years, he began the turnaround which produced the world giants we know today. The Frenchman was a bargain in many ways.
9. Roy Keane
(Nottingham Forest - Manchester United, £3.75m, 1993)
He became one of the most influential figures in United’s finest years.
Although a record signing was followed by a tough few years, Keane’s appointment as captain was followed by the treble winning season of 1999.
8. Marc Overmars
(Ajax - Arsenal, £7m, 1997)
Another fantastic Wenger deal.
Signed for just £5.5 million he exploited the Dutchman’s best years of blisteringly fast wing play, winning the double in 1998. The counter attacking abilities of Overmars were feared by defenders the world over.
The winger was sold for a record fee of £25 million to Barcelona and slowly faded in ability never reaching the heights achieved at The Gunners.
Wenger had squeezed out the best years and then sold for a tidy profit, just before the inevitable decline.
7. Paolo Di Canio
(Sheffield Wednesday - West Ham United, £1.75m, 1999)
Di Canio turned West Ham around with his individual efforts forcing them up the Premier League table and to UEFA Cup qualification.
A passionate, exciting and skilled footballer who is still worshipped by Hammers fans
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
(Sporting Lisbon - Manchester United, £12m, 2003)
Over 6 seasons at United, Ronaldo went from being a standard winger to the best and most expensive player in the world.
Known for his skill on the ball, pacey runs and unbelievable free kick ability, he became the player Ferguson would build his team around.
Even the likes of Wayne Rooney had to adopt unfamiliar positions to accommodate the Portuguese maestro.
The Red Devils won countless trophies with him on their side and his individual honors are countless (seriously look it up).
What makes this deal most lucrative is his departure in 2009 to Real Madrid. The biggest transfer in football history at £80 million; he gave Ferguson a tidy profit and a full trophy cabinet.
5. Sami Hyypiä
(Willem II - Liverpool, £2.6m, 1999)
One of the most popular players in Liverpool FC history, Sami established himself as a solid and reliable centre back.
A hero amongst Reds fans he helped secure domestic and most importantly European glory during his days at Anfield.
Now playing his trade in Germany, his departure was considered a great loss.
4. Gianfranco Zola
(Parma - Chelsea, £4.5m, 1996)
The little Italian inspired many trophy victories from a pre-Ambramovich Chelsea team, including 2 FA cups and a league cup.
His skill in the box helped to craft many memorable goals and he even has an OBE!
3. Thierry Henry
(Juventus - Arsenal, £10.5m, 1999)
Regarded as the greatest player ever to wear an Arsenal shirt, this slideshow has been notably dominated by Wenger’s gems.
However, Thierry has to be the greatest.
An under achiever in Italy, Wenger singed the winger and converted him to a centre forward immediately. The Frenchman, after a tough start to English football, became all time top scorer for Arsenal and was integral to securing two premier league titles for The Gunners.
Henry was sold to Barcelona in 2007 at a profit and Wenger has never been able to fill the large hole left in the team.
Major trophies and most importantly league titles have since eluded the club.
2. Alan Shearer
(Southampton - Blackburn Rovers, £3.6m, 1992)
At the time Blackburn received some criticism for their purchase of Shearer at a price of £3.6 million.
How wrong the critics were.
With 112 goals in 138 appearances Shearer was a key figure in securing Premier League victory for the Rovers, snatching it from a strong Manchester United side on the final day of the 1995 season.
He also broke the leagues scoring record with 34 goals.
Shearer was sold to his boyhood team Newcastle United in 1996 for a record breaking £15 million.
With heaps of goals, a premier league title and a tidy profit at the end this deal was extremely lucrative.
1. Ole Gunnar Solskjær
(Molde - Manchester United, £1.5m, 1996)
Solskjær began his United career coming off the bench to score after only 6 minutes, totaling 125 goals for the Red Devils in 366 appearances.
Renowned as a ‘super sub’ and netting last minute winners, there is no better example of this than the 1999 Champion’s League final.
His comeback winning goal against Bayern Munich secured Manchester United’s famous treble.
Signed for a measly £1.5 million he was expected to be backup for the likes of Andy Cole and Eric Cantona; this was not the case. Within weeks it was realised that Solksjaer would be a key player despite the fact he was largely unknown outside his native Norway.
His honors at the Red Devils include 6 Premier League Titles, 2 FA cups and of course that European Cup he secured.
Quite a stroke of genius by Fergie!