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Virgil van Dijk scores a brace for Liverpool against Watford

The Premier League’s most expensive starting XI ever

The astronomical transfer fees in modern football continue to skyrocket, with Premier League clubs notoriously amongst the leading spenders in the world game.

Expensively assembled squads are now the norm within English football’s top flight, but which players make up the costliest team in the division’s history?

Here is the Premier League‘s most expensive starting XI ever…

Goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizibalaga – £71.6m

Thibaut Courtois’ desire for a return to Spain saw Chelsea seek a replacement in the summer of 2018, with the West London club’s search ending with the signing of Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The La Liga side were not keen to part with the Spain international easily, Chelsea having to break the world-record for a goalkeeper, signing Kepa in a deal worth £71.6m.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a solid debut season at Stamford Bridge, helping the club to Europa League success to win the first major honour of his career.

An infamous on-field dispute with manager Maurizio Sarri during the League Cup final was ill-advised, however, the Spaniard could prove to be a fixture in the Chelsea side for seasons to come.

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Right-Back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £50m

Having established himself as one of the most promising young defenders in English football, England U21 star Aaron-Wan-Bissaka earned a big-money move to Manchester United this summer.

The 21-year-old has shown promise and maturity beyond his years since breaking into the first-team at Crystal Palace, with Roy Hodgson’s side demanding a big fee for the highly-rated prospect.

United, desperate to add to their defensive options, made Wan-Bissaka the most expensive right-back in Premier League history and the youngster will now look to improve Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fragile defence.

Despite fierce competition on the international stage from the likes of Kyle Walker, Kieran Tripper and Trent Alexander-Arnold, it is not expected be long before Wan-Bissaka makes the step-up to Gareth Southgate’s senior England squad.

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Centre-Back: Virgil Van Dijk – £75m

Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool decided to spend a world-record £75m to bring Dutch defender Van Dijk to Anfield in January 2018, though any doubts have since been removed.

Van Dijk was widely regarded as a good player before his move, however, his impact since moving to Merseyside has exceeded even Jurgen Klopp’s expectations.

What was once Liverpool’s Achilles heel has been transformed into arguably their greatest strength, Van Dijk helping solidify a once leaky defence.

An imperious first full season at Liverpool saw Van Dijk crowned as the PFA Player of the Year, becoming just the third defender to win the honour.

Whilst Liverpool, backed by the division’s best defence, narrowly missed out on the Premier League title, their disappointment was short-lived as the Reds were crowned champions of Europe for the sixth time following Champions League success against Tottenham in Madrid.

Few contributed as greatly as Van Dijk, who has proven worth the expensive outlay.

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Centre-Back: Aymeric Laporte – £57m

Arriving from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018, Aymeric Laporte arrived at Manchester City considered the long-term partner for John Stones in central defence.

Since then, the Frenchman has quietly established himself as first-choice under Pep Guardiola, helping City to back-to-back Premier League titles and an unprecedented domestic treble last season.

At just 25, Laporte’s best years seem to be ahead of him and he could be a mainstay of the City side for years to come. Despite his impressive performances since arriving in English football, Laporte is yet to receive international recognition.

The centre-back has represented France at every age group from U17-U21 level, though senior action has not been forthcoming. The World Cup winners possess arguably the best team in international football, though Laporte’s continued absence remains a mystery.

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Left_back: Benjamin Mendy – £52m

Impressing in the exciting, young Monaco side which surprisingly won Ligue 1 and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, it wasn’t long before the French side’s talent was cherry-picked by Europe’s top clubs.

Mendy arrived at Manchester City in a £52m deal in 2017, with Pep Guardiola keen to strengthen at full-back to cover the departures of ageing duo Gael Clichy and Aleksandr Kolarov.

The Frenchman has impressed in spells since moving to Manchester, however, injury problems have hindered his progress since moving to the Premier League.

Possessing pace, power and pin-point delivery, Mendy has all the attributes to establish himself as one of the league’s finest, if he can keep himself off the treatment table.

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Right-Wing: Riyad Mahrez – £60m

Named PFA Player of the Year during Leicester’s shock Premier League title triumph of 2016, Riyad Mahrez earned a £60m move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in 2018.

Despite a wealth of attacking options, Mahrez’s ‘X-factor’ was seen as a different option to City’s squad and the Algerian winger helped the blue half of Manchester to English football’s first domestic treble in his debut season.

A tally of 12 goals and 12 assists in 44 appearances were respectable totals during Mahrez’s first season at the Etihad, though the 28-year-old will hope for increased involvement next season after making just 14 Premier League starts.

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Midfield: Rodri – £62.8m

Seeking a long-term replacement for the ageing Fernandinho, Manchester City decided to splash £62.8m on Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri in 2019.

Compared to Barcelona icon Sergio Busquets, City will hope the comparisons ring true for their latest acquisition. The 23-year-old holding player is comfortable in possession, whilst his 6ft 3in frame is likely to have no trouble in adapting to the physical demands of English football.

City beat off competition from the likes of Bayern Munich to secure the signature of the highly-rated midfielder, who has won six caps for the Spanish national side since being handed his debut in 2018.

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Midfield: Paul Pogba – £89m

Having left Manchester United after seeing his path to the first-team blocked as a teenager, Pogba returned to Old Trafford in 2016 in a then world-record deal worth £89m.

The midfielder had established himself as one of the most promising talents in Europe following a move to Juventus, winning four consecutive Serie A titles during his time in Turin.

Jose Mourinho’s appointment as United manager in 2016 saw optimism increased in the red half of Manchester, with the Portuguese launching a move for Pogba to reinvigorate his midfield that summer.

Pogba’s debut season saw United lift both the League Cup and Europa League, though these successes proved a false dawn in terms of the club competing for major silverware.

Flashes of brilliance have been mixed with inconsistency during his three-year spell at the club, with reports suggesting the 26-year-old wants to leave United having grown frustrated with the club’s inability to challenge for major honours.

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Left-Wing: Angel Di Maria – £59.7m

Following the disaster of the David Moyes-era at Old Trafford, United spent a British-record £59.7m on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria as they aimed to breathe new life into the club following the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson dynasty.

Handed the club’s famed number 7 shirt, the Argentina international started brightly in Manchester, an audacious goal against Leicester highlighting his undoubted quality, however, things quickly began to unravel.

Reports quickly surfaced that Di Maria wanted out of United, the player’s family having reportedly failed to settle in England.

His form dipped drastically and just one season after his record-breaking move, Di Maria moved to French side Paris Saint-Germain, his United career deemed a major disappointment.

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Forward: Romelu Lukaku – £75m

Signed by Chelsea as a promising teenager, Lukaku was never handed his opportunity at Stamford Bridge but showcased his pedigree during loan spells at West Brom and Everton.

A permanent switch to the latter saw the Belgian continue to show his goalscoring prowess, prompting Manchester United to spend £75m to bring the forward to Old Trafford in 2017.

Lukaku’s debut season was impressive, scoring 27 goals in all competitions and cementing his position as the club’s attacking focal point. Despite his goalscoring record, Lukaku fell out-of-favour under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season with the player’s work-rate and link-up play often criticised.

A record of 42 goals in 96 appearances highlights Lukaku’s quality, though he is expected to leave Old Trafford this summer with Italian clubs interested in taking the 26-year-old to Serie A.

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Forward: Alvaro Morata – £60m

Alongside Di Maria, perhaps the biggest disappointment in this team after a less than successful spell at Chelsea.

Despite having never scored prolifically during spells at Real Madrid and Juventus, Morata had shown enough on the European stage to persuade Chelsea to spend £60m to bring the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge.

A Community Shield penalty miss aside, Morata’s career in English football started promisingly, scoring on his debut before hitting a hat-rick against Stoke in September. The Spain international had scored 10 goals for the club by December, and looked like he could be the 20+ goal-a-season forward the club thought they had signed.

From there, however, his form drastically deteriorated. A series of misses seemed to dent the player’s confidence, and he fell out-of-favour during his second season in West London.

Just 18 months after arriving at Chelsea, he was loaned out to Atletico Madrid, completing a permanent return to Spain in the summer of 2019.

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