Football transfer fees continue to rise on a never-ending upward curve, but the best Premier League recruiters can still find bargains in an inflated market.
As the January transfer window prepares to open for business, we’ve looked at some of the success stories of the summer. Here are five of the best bargain signings from the 2023/24 season so far.
Five of the best value signings of 2023/24:
Ross Barkley – Luton Town (free)
Ross Barkley has enjoyed a renaissance at Luton Town this season, with the midfielder having shown flashes of the talent which once made him one of England’s brightest hopes.
Barkley’s career appeared to be on the decline after underwhelming spells at Chelsea and Nice, but the move to Luton has provided the midfielder with a new lease of life. The 30-year-old has embraced the demands of manager Rob Edwards, while providing a touch of class to The Hatters engine room.
— LTFCShirts (@LTFCShirts) December 27, 2023
Such has been his form this season, Barkley’s performances have sparked speculation of a potential England recall. The former Everton midfielder has not featured for the Three Lions since 2019, and given his recent fortunes might have felt his international aspirations were over.
That he has even re-entered the conversation, in a Luton side struggling near the bottom, is a testament to his displays this season.
Wataru Endo – Liverpool (£16.2m)
There were some suggesting that Liverpool’s move for Wataru Endo represented a panic buy in the summer, as the Reds agreed a deal to sign the experienced Japanese midfielder from Stuttgart.
Liverpool turned to Endo after Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia turned down moves to Merseyside in favour of Chelsea, with the nature of the events creating doubt around the recruitment process at Anfield.
Endo, at 30, represented a short-term deal, but Liverpool believed there was value to be found in his £16.2m arrival. After an underwhelming start, the defensive midfielder has grown in importance and influence at Liverpool. An injury to Alexis Mac Allister handed Endo a regular run in the side and the summer recruit has taken his chance, starting each of the last five Premier League fixtures. During that run, the Reds have conceded just two goals.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 5, 2023
His upcoming absence at the Asian Cup where Endo will captain the Samurai Blue, who are favourites to win the tournament, is an untimely blow for Jurgen Klopp.
Anthony Elanga – Nottingham Forest (£15m)
Anthony Elanga’s lack of football at Manchester United saw the winger move on in the summer, agreeing a deal to sign for Nottingham Forest.
The Sweden international started just five league games last season but has quickly become an integral part of the Forest forward line. Elanga has scored four Premier League goals and laid on a further six assists, including one in his new side’s 2-1 win over his old employers at the weekend.
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) December 30, 2023
Elanga’s form has been in contrast to the struggles of Manchester United’s wide options, with Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho, Antony and Jadon Sancho having combined for only 10 goals and assists all season.
Elanga has matched that total alone, and at 21 still has room for development.
Guglielmo Vicario – Tottenham (£17.20m)
Guglielmo Vicario arrived as a relative unknown to most Premier League fans last summer, brought in at Spurs to replace the long-serving Hugo Lloris.
The North London side’s interest in David Raya, who instead signed for neighbours Arsenal, made Vicario look like a second-choice selection on surface level. But Brentford’s refusal to budge on their asking price for Raya has instead proven to be a sliding doors moment in Spurs landing one of the best goalkeepers in the division.
Outrageous from Guglielmo Vicario 🧤 pic.twitter.com/DNJUZFTOBk
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 24, 2023
Vicario has been excellent since signing for Spurs, demonstrating elasticity in his reflexes and confidence with the ball at his feet. Behind one of the boldest defensive lines in the division, Vicario has swept up, made superb saves and passed with conviction from deep.
Signed for just £17.2m from Empoli, that fee is a snip in the current market.
James Ward-Prowse – West Ham (£29.70m)
James Ward-Prowse is really, really good at set-pieces. He’s also great at plenty more.
A non-stop runner in the midfielder. Tenacious in his defensive work. An expansive range of passing. Leadership qualities. It makes you wonder how West Ham appeared to have such limited competition for the Southampton skipper after the Saints were relegated last season.
James-Ward Prowse has scored or assisted 9 goals and assists in 18 Premier League appearances so far this season.
Brilliant run. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/NVQCJ7ZnlF
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 28, 2023
Ward-Prowse and West Ham has instead been a match made in heaven, with the 29-year-old having done a fine job of filling the Declan Rice-sized void in the Irons midfield. His dead-ball qualities have been a (quite obviously) brilliant addition to West Ham given their long list aerial targets, with Ward-Prowse having racked up 10 assists for the campaign before the new year.
CC: Gareth Southgate.