Six of the greatest bargain signings in Premier League history

Everyone loves a bargain, don’t they? Despite the abundance of wealth in English football, Premier League clubs are no different.

Modern football has seen the rise of the mega-money moves, and few eyebrows are now raised at the prospect of players costing over £100m.


With transfer fees seemingly inflating on a never-ending upward trajectory, we’ve decided to look through the archives at some brilliant bargain buys.

Here are six of the greatest bargain signings in Premier League history…

Eric Cantona

Leeds to Manchester United, 1992 (£1.2m)

As the story goes of Cantona’s move between these two northern rivals, Sir Alex Ferguson cheekily asked about the controversial Frenchman’s availability after Leeds had called to enquire about United’s Dennis Irwin.

As it happens, Irwin wasn’t for sale, but Leeds were willing to part with the enigmatic forward with manager Howard Wilkinson ready to part with the difficult Cantona for just £1.2m.

Few could have anticipated Cantona’s impact upon arriving at Old Trafford, the forward proving to be the inspiration behind United’s drought-breaking title triumph in 1993.

Cantona was the catalyst behind the beginning of Ferguson’s dynasty of success in Manchester, helping United to four Premier League titles before retiring in 1997.

Nicknamed ‘King Eric’ by the Manchester United faithful, few players are revered amongst the club’s supporters as the iconic Cantona.

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Lucas Radebe

Kaizer Chiefs to Leeds, 1994 (£250,000 combined with Phil Masinga)

Lucas Radebe was allegedly only included in Leeds’ move for fellow South African Phil Masinga to keep his compatriot happy in England, though the defender turned out to be more than just a companion.

After a slow start to life in Yorkshire, Radebe developed into one of English football’s leading central defenders before being appointed Leeds captain in 1998.

Radebe captained the exciting, young Leeds side which reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001, and made over 250 appearances for the club before injuries curtailed his career.

A hugely popular figure at Elland Road due to his affable personality and loyalty to the club, the centre-back eventually retired in 2005 after enduring an injury-plagued spell in his latter years.

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Sami Hyypia

Willem II to Liverpool, 1999 (£2.6m)

Liverpool had been struggling defensively in the late 90’s, with a series of defensive additions having proven underwhelming in a transitional spell for the club.

The arrival of unknown Finnish international Hyypia from the Eredivisie did little to increase optimism on Merseyside, however, the towering defender soon helped transform the club’s fortunes.

Hyypia would spend a decade in the heart of the defence at Anfield, forming solid partnerships with Stephane Henchoz and Jamie Carragher as Liverpool enjoyed a successful period under Gerard Houllier.

Part of the side which won a cup treble in 2001, Hyypia captained the Reds for two seasons and played a key role in the club’s Champions League victory of 2005.

The centre-back left Liverpool for Bayer Leverkusen in 2009, having won 10 trophies and made over 450 appearances for the club.

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Nicolas Anelka

Paris Saint-Germain to Arsenal, 1997 (£500,000)

One of the great financial moves in Premier League history, Arsene Wenger plucked a 17-year-old Anelka from French football in 1997 for just £500,000, before selling him two years later for a £22.3m.

During his time in North London, a teenage Anelka formed a strong partnership with Dennis Bergkamp as Arsenal won a Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998, Anelka scoring in the cup final victory over Newcastle.

The following year he hit 17 Premier League goals to finish as the club’s top scorer, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year and attracting interest from Spain.

Anelka would leave Arsenal after just two seasons for a then big-money £23.5 million move to the Bernabeu, Wenger investing the forward’s fee in a new training facility and a certain replacement by the name of Thierry Henry…

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Sol Campbell

Tottenham to Arsenal, 2001 (free)

Having come through the youth ranks at Tottenham, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s leading defenders and as club captain, Spurs fans were fearful as Campbell’s contract neared its end at White Hart Lane.

The 1995 Bosman ruling gave players greater power than ever over their footballing futures, and a whole host of Europe’s top clubs were believed to be monitoring the England international’s future.

Those fears for Tottenham supporters soon turned into nightmares in one of the league’s most infamous transfers, with the shock announcement that Campbell would be crossing the North London divide and joining arch-rivals Arsenal on a free transfer.

Campbell would play a key role as the Gunners secured a League and FA Cup double in 2002, before forming part of the famed ‘Invincibles’ side which went the entire 2003/04 campaign unbeaten.

Campbell would win two titles and two FA Cups during a five-year spell at Arsenal, before leaving for Portsmouth in 2006.

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Vincent Kompany

Hamburg to Manchester City, 2008 (£6m)

Signed from Hamburg shortly after Manchester City were catapulted into new-found wealth following billionare Sheikh Mansour’s takeover, Vincent Kompany would play a crucial role in City establishing themselves amongst Europe’s elite.

The Belgian quickly emerged as one of the league’s best central defenders, being appointed as City’s club captain in 2011. Kompany would spend over a decade at the Etihad, captaining the side to four Premier League titles, including ending the club’s 44-year wait for league success in 2012.

Part of the side which earned a record 100 points in 2017/18, Kompany also helped City to English football’s first ever domestic treble the following season, before announcing he would leave the club to join former side Anderlecht as player-manager.

Komapany departed City as one of the club’s greatest ever players, having made 360 appearances and won 10 major honours.

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See also: Ranking each of the top six Premier League clubs record signings

Read Also: Five of the most expensive French Footballer’s of all time