By 90Min
March 27, 2019

For many fans, there's nothing more exciting than seeing your club part ways with tens of millions to bring in an established superstar. However, for others, the best transfers are the cheap bargains.

With so much money floating around in the Premier League, bargains are hard to come by. Nevertheless, there's been some stunning buys in the last 27 years.

Here are nine bargain signings we can't believe clubs managed to pull off.


Eric Cantona (Leeds to Man Utd, £1.2m)

In 1992, the most-expensive transfer in history stood at around £13m. With that in mind, how much would you have paid for one of the greatest players of that period? Probably a lot more than £1.2m, which speaks volumes to the heist Manchester United committed when signing Eric Cantona.

Chris Cole/GettyImages

After the Red Devils completed the signing, assistant manager Brian Kidd joked (per The Guardian) that Cantona must have lost a leg for Leeds United to have let him go for such a low fee.

Cantona instantly transformed Sir Alex Ferguson's side into Premier League winners, lifting four league titles and two FA Cups, before retiring in 1997. Not a bad legacy to leave.


Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal, Free)

How Tottenham allowed Sol Campbell to walk away from the club for free is a mystery. Managers clashed with him, the club refused to strengthen around him, and a lack of support during a false accusation of assault ensured Spurs did all they could to push him out the door, and he leapt right into the arms of rivals Arsenal.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Alongside Kolo Toure, Campbell led the Gunners to their famous 'Invincibles' season as they won their second league title without losing a single match. That kind of influence is worth millions.

One of the greatest defenders of his generation, Campbell will go down as one of the top signings in Premier League history.


N'Golo Kante (Caen to Leicester, £5.6m)

In 2015, nobody cared about Leicester City's signing of N'Golo Kante. He was completely unknown, having spent years lost in obscurity in France. Fans could hardly have been more wrong.

Michael Regan/GettyImages

Kante was a monster - a destructive force in Leicester's midfield as the Foxes stormed to an unlikely Premier League title. If you didn't know the Frenchman in 2015, you certainly did in 2016.

Now arguably the world's finest defensive midfielder, Chelsea signed him for £32m in a move which could also be seen as a real bargain. But £5.6m, what a deal.


Edwin van der Sar (Fulham to Man Utd, £2m)

During his time with Fulham, Edwin van der Sar looked to be a good goalkeeper. After his £2m move to United in 2005, he looked to be an all-time great.

AFP Contributor/GettyImages

Van der Sar lifted four Premier League titles with the Red Devils, and he led his side to Champions League glory in 2008 by saving Nicolas Anelka's penalty in the final. He set countless goalkeeping records and, by the time he retired in 2011, he had established himself as a legend.

Could he be the greatest goalkeeper in the club's history? Maybe, but there's one more man who might have something to say about that...


Peter Schmeichel (Brondby to Man Utd, £505,000)

£505,000. United signed one of the greatest of all time for just £505,000. He starred for Brondby in the 1991 UEFA Cup, but attracted very little attention as United swooped to take advantage of his small reputation.

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

The towering Dane was a driving force behind United's glory days in the 1990s, and he probably needs at least two trophy cabinets to hold all 15 of his trophies. 

His eight years at Old Trafford will see him go down in history as one of the game's top shot stoppers. With goalkeepers now selling for over £70m, £505,000 certainly sounds like a good signing.


Jay-Jay Okocha (PSG to Bolton, Free)

Jay-Jay Okocha was a football magician. The things he could so with a ball at his feet were unheard of in 2002, so how Bolton Wanderers managed to bring him to the club for free is a mystery.

Bryn Lennon/GettyImages

The Nigerian, who had signed for Paris Saint-Germain for £14m just four years before, could have rainbow-flicked his way into almost any side on the planet. He graced the Premier League for four years, before moving on to pastures new as one of the game's most exciting players.

Okocha transformed Bolton from relegation candidates to contenders for European qualification. Had the Trotters built around him, who knows what they could have achieved.


Michu (Rayo Vallecano to Swansea, £2m)

When Swansea City confirmed the £2m signing of Michu in 2012, the reaction from fans was simple - "Who?"

Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

The Spaniard was an unknown commodity, but quickly made his name known. Michu exploded onto the scene, smashing home 18 goals in his first Premier League season, leaving him up alongside the likes of Gareth BaleLuis Suarez and Robin van Persie in the division's scoring charts. Not bad for £2m.


Unfortunately, his fall from grace was just as spectacular as his ascension, and he ultimately retired just five years later. Still, for £2m, the Swans can't really complain.


Dele Alli (MK Dons to Tottenham, £5m)

In recent years, English players have inflated in price (just look at Chelsea's £35m signing of Danny Drinkwater). If a player is young, that tends to further increase his price tag, so Spurs managing to sign a teenage Dele Alli for £5m almost seems like daylight robbery.

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As a League One side, Milton Keynes Dons didn't really have the bargaining power to demand a higher fee, and Tottenham took full advantage of that to sign one of the country's most promising young midfielders, who has since blossomed into one of Europe's best.

Now 22, how much would Alli command in the transfer market? £100m doesn't seem out of the question, so managing to bring him in for just £5m deserves a lot of credit.


Seamus Coleman (Sligo Rovers to Everton, £60,000)

How often do you hear about a Premier League club signing a player for a five-figure sum? Everton lured Irish full-back Seamus Coleman to the Premier League for just £60,000 in 2009, although the rest of the league probably didn't even notice until about 2013.

Ian Walton/GettyImages

The 2013/14 season saw Coleman skyrocket in value, using his power and creativity to wreak havoc on opposition defenders all year long. For four years, many felt Coleman was one of the league's top right-backs, but a nasty leg break in 2017 brought an abrupt end to his reign of glory.

£60,000 is pocket change in today's market. It's such a small fee, most fans will never have seen their side spend so little. Coleman was worth his weight in gold, and he will go down as one of the league's top bargains.

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