World Football: Ranking The All-Time Top 30 Premier League Transfers

Dan RogersContributor IDecember 14, 2010

World Football: Ranking The All-Time Top 30 Premier League Transfers

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    3 Aug 1999:  Thierry Henry signs for Arsenal Football Club and is presented to the media by his new manager Arsene Wenger during a photo-call held at Highbury in London, England. \ Mandatory Credit: John Gichigi /Allsport
    John Gichigi/Getty Images

    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

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    PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15:  David James of Portsmouth instructs his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Portsmouth and Fulham at Fratton Park on August 15, 2009 in Portsmouth, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    (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

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    BOLTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20:  Kevin Davies of Bolton Wanderers in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United at the Reebok Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    (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

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    MIDDLESBROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 31:  Roque Santa Cruz of Blackburn after the Barclays Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers at the Riverside Stadium on January 31, 2009 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    (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

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Mikel Arteta of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on October 30, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    (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

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    BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Brede Hangeland of Fulham in action during the pre season friendly match between AFC Bournemouth and Fulham at the Fitness First Stadium on July 17, 2010 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
    Tom Dulat/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON - APRIL 30:  John Arne Riise of Liverpool in action during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final 2nd leg match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    (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

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Steven Pienaar of Everton during the pre-season friendly match between Everton and Everton Chile at Goodison Park on August 4, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    (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

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24:  Gael Clichy of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at City of Manchester Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    (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

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30:  Tim Cahill of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on October 30, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Ashley Cole of Chelsea looks despondent during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on November 14, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    (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

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    BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Robin van Persie of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal at Ewood Park on August 28, 2010 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    (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

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12:   Pepe Reina of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Liverpool at St Andrew's Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    (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

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Edwin van der Sar of Manchester United gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on November 10, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Pho
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on November 7, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON ENGLAND. JANUARY 9. Patrick Vieira of Arsenal during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Stoke City at Highbury on January 9, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    (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

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    LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 18:  Fredrik Ljungberg of Arsenal looks disappointed after Andy Johnson of Everton scores the winner during the Barclays Premiership match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on March 18, 2007 in Liverpool, Engla
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    (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

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    WIGAN, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 28:  Carlos Tevez of West Ham in action during the Barclays Premiership match between Wigan Athletic and West Ham United at The JJB Stadium on April 28, 2007 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
    Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON - MARCH 09:  Dimitar Berbatov of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at White Hart Lane on March 09, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    (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

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    24 Jan 1999:  Nicolas Anelka of Arsenal in action during the AXA FA Cup 4th Round match against Wolverhampton Wanderers played at Molineux in Wolverhampton, England.  The match finished in a 1-2 win for Arsenal. \ Mandatory Credit: Laurence Griffiths /All
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON - SEPTEMBER 14:  A portrait of Dennis Bergkamp of Arsenal prior to the UEFA Champions League, Group E match between Arsenal and PSV Eindhoven at Highbury on Septemner 14, 2004 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    (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

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    20 Aug 1996:  Eric Cantona of Manchester United in action during an FA Carling Premiership match against Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive  Brunskill/Allsport
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    (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

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 2:  Roy Keane of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on April 2, 2005 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    (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

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    2 May 2000:  Marc Overmars of Arsenal celebrates scoring the equalizing goal  during the match between Arsenal and West Ham United in the FA Carling Premiership at Highbury, London.  Mandatory Credit: Laurence Griffiths/ALLSPORT
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    (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.

    Fantastic business.

7. Paolo Di Canio

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    LONDON - JANUARY 29:  Paolo Di Canio of West Ham stands with his hands on his hips during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park, London on January 29, 2003. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    (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

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 12:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on January 12, 2008 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Ale
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    (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

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    BOLTON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 15:  Sami Hyypia of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool at The Reebok Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Image
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    (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

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    LONDON - FEBRUARY 22:  Gianfranco Zola of Chelsea runs with the ball during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers held on February 22, 2003 at Stamford Bridge, in London. Blackburn Rovers won the match 2-1. (Photo by Be
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    (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

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    BLACKBURN, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 13: Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal at Ewood Park on January 13, 2007 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Lauren
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    (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

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    Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

    (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

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    MANCHESTER - OCTOBER 26:  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match on October 26, 2002 between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    (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!

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