It’s Black Friday, a day of bargains, so we decided to write a list of the five greatest bargains in Premier League history. These players were bought for relatively small sums of money but their contribution to English football was immeasurable!
Edwin Van Der Sar
Fulham to Man United / £2,000,000
Ajax. Juventus. Fulham. Manchester United. Spot the odd one out?
It was something of a surprise, to say the least, when Dutch international goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar agreed to swap Turin for West London in 2001. Yet after a successful four year spell at Craven Cottage, Van Der Sar decided he was ready for the big time again and agreed a move to Manchester United.
The fee? A measly £2 million. In a hugely successful six year stint at Old Trafford, Van Der Sar won four Premier League titles, the League Cup and the Champions League. Sir Alex Ferguson would go on to describe him as United’s best goalkeeper since the legendary Peter Schmeichel. High praise indeed.
AC Milan to Arsenal / £3,000,000
The first of three Frenchmen on this list, when Patrick Viera moves from AC Milan to Arsenal for a paltry £3 million in 1996, few had any idea that he would go on to become, in the eyes of some, the greatest midfielder in Premier League history.
Regularly going toe to toe with another name in the frame for that particular mantle, Roy Keane, Viera would captain Arsenal over a period that saw their rivalry with Manchester United grow to become bitterly fierce.
He won three league titles and three FA Cups in a 279 cap spell for the club before eventually departing for Juventus, though his finest achievement would undoubtedly be captaining the Gunners during their famous ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003/04. What a bargain he was!
Hamburg to Man City / £6,000,000
Whoever sanctioned Vincent Kompany’s £6 million sale from Hamburg in 2008 should have been given their marching orders. Whoever organised the move on behalf on Manchester City should have been given a promotion.
When the Belgium international arrived in the north-west, the Manchester City project was still in a fledgling stage. Indeed, during Kompany’s maiden season, in which he was played in midfield, his teammates included Premier League greats such as Micah Richards, Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland, Elano and Robinho.
Thankfully for Kompany, his cast of supporting actors improved as the years went on and, eventually moving into the heart of defence, he and City won a staggering haul of four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups in his 11 years captaining the club. Money well spent.
Caen to Leicester / £5,600,000
A relative unknown when he was brought to Leicester City from Caen by Steve Walsh in 2015, Kante was given the daunting task of filling the sizeable boots left by Esteban Cambiasso in Leicester’s midfield.
Having avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth the previous season thanks to a sensational late run, Leicester continued their good form into the following campaign.
On the 26th September The Foxes were sixth and there was tentative talk about them claiming a Europa League spot. Then, on the 28th November they were second and people wondered whether they could hang on for a Champions League position. Finally, on the 16th January, Leicester went top of the league, where they remained for the rest of the season, pulling off possibly the greatest underdog story of all time.
Following their fairytale win, Kante departed Leicester for Chelsea in a £32 million deal after just a single season, leaving the club with £26 million profit, a Premier League title and Champions League qualification.
He subsequently won the league with Chelsea the following season, becoming the first player to win back to back titles with different clubs since…
Leeds to Manchester United / £1,200,000
Ah, Eric. Truly one of the most iconic players in Premier League history.
Having won the old First Division in 1991/92 in what proved to be its final season before the Premier League rebranding, Leeds decided to sell a troublesome forward known as Eric Cantona.
It wasn’t just the low fee of £1.2 million received for the talented Frenchman that proved to be a surprise but also his destination. Having failed with bids for Matt Le Tissier and Brian Deane, Cantona was recruited by Sir Alex Ferguson to go and play for Leeds’ fiercest rivals Manchester United.
Cantona won several honours at United including the league and two FA Cups. However, his impact on English football was far greater than that. His success singlehandedly raised the profile of the English game and paved the way for the flood of brilliant foreign players and managers who would come later.
He was a trailblazer in every regard and it is a shame that his legacy was tarnished by his infamous kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace supporter, which many now remember him by. That and seagulls.