The 20 best Premier League bargain buys – including Klinsmann, Solskjaer, Arteta and Stones

We pick out the English top-flight's finest value for money transfers

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Teddy Sheringham (attacker) Nottingham Forest to Tottenham in 1992 – £2.1m

Classy forward moved to White Hart Lane in the Premier League's inaugural season, after little over a season at Brian Clough's Forest, and quickly became a fans' favourite.

Sheringham would score 20-plus goals in three out of his five seasons at Spurs before heading to Manchester United aged 31 for £3.5m in the search for the trophies and titles that had eluded him in London.

In 2016, former Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle said: “Teddy Sheringham is not just one of the best Premier League players of this era, he is one of the best players in the history of Spurs."

Peter Beardsley (attacker) Everton to Newcastle in 1993 – £1.5m

Newcastle had rejoined the top-flight after an absence of four seasons and manager Kevin Keegan made bringing the 32-year-old back to a club he had left in 1987 his No 1 priority.

It proved a wise call as Beardsley immediately struck up an understanding with Andy Cole up front and the pair would score 55 goals in 42 games (Beardsley notching 21) which remains a Premier League record for a strike partnership.

Over the next four campaigns, Beardsley would score 58 goals in 162 games as Newcastle would come agonisingly close to winning their first title since 1927.

In 2019, former Magpies defender Warren Barton said of his old teammate to The Athletic: "His mind was working overtime whenever he got the ball. It was unbelievable. In training, he used to mesmerise us. He could see four passes ahead of you, which was breathtaking – it genuinely was. You used to think to yourself, 'How the hell did he do that?'"

Jurgen Klinsmann (attacker) Monaco to Tottenham in 1994 – £2m

An early sign of the Premier League's new pulling power was the arrival of the World Cup-winning German for a ludicrously small fee. Klinsmann, 30, quickly won over hearts and minds after scoring on his Spurs debut at Sheffield Wednesday, when he made light of criticism in the British media for his apparent fondness for overreacting to challenges by launching into full length dive across the Hillsborough turf with his new teammates.

Playing as part of an attacking Famous Five of Teddy Sheringham, Darren Anderton, Nick Barmby and Ilie Dumitrescu – until manager Ossie Ardiles was sacked within a few months of the new campaign – he would finish his one and only full season in England with 29 goals in 50 games, securing the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award.

Sheringham said of old teammate in 2019. “He came in as a World Cup winner, he could have come in with airs and graces but he was the epitome of a centre forward with enthusiasm, he wanted to show everyone how good he was, and he wanted them to be good players around him as well.”

Lucas Radebe (defender) Kaizer Chiefs to Leeds in 1994 – £50,000

A prime example of what constitutes a bargain buy. Radebe only joined as part of a package to persuade Mamelodi Sundowns striker Phil Masinga into moving to England.

The cool and commanding centre-half initially struggled to make the starting XI until the arrival of the defensively-minded George Graham as manager. The South African would go on to become club captain and would have made far more than the 250 appearances he managed for the Yorkshire side had it not been for serious ankle and knee injuries.

He retired from Leeds, and football, in 2005 having established himself as a cult hero after turning down the likes of Manchester United and Roma to remain at the club.

In 2002, Leeds manager Terry Venables said: "They call him 'The Chief' and it's not hard to see why. I have got to say that Lucas Radebe is an amazing person and I feel very proud to be involved with him. Lucas always gives everything he's got and he's a true champion, he really is."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (attacker) Molde to Manchester United in 1996 – £1.5m

The current manager of United spent more than 10 years as a player at Old Trafford, joining as a 23-year-old striker barely known outside of his home country of Norway. His anonymity in England would not last. By the end of his first season, 'The Baby-Faced Assassin' had scored 18 goals and helped United retain the Premier League title.

His greatest moment in a United shirt came in 1999 when his last-gasp extra-time winner against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final sealed an unprecedented treble for Alex Ferguson's men.

By the end of his Red Devils career, Solskjaer had won six league titles and two FA Cups, scoring 126 goals in 366 games. When Solskjaer retired in 2007, Ferguson said: "Ending your playing career is a sad day for anyone. In the case of Ole, he has eleven fantastic years he can look back on. Ole has achieved everything a player could ever wish to achieve."

Shay Given (goalkeeper) Blackburn to Newcastle in 1997 – £1.5m

The Irish goalkeeper moved to Newcastle having enjoyed a hugely impressive loan spell at their arch-rivals Sunderland. The red and white's loss was the black and white's gain as Given would go on to play more than 460 games for the club and sits third on their all-time most appearances list.

He would become part of Newcastle's 'Blue-Chip Brigade' under Bobby Robson – a core of experienced players consisting of Given, Warren Barton, Gary Speed, Robert Lee and Alan Shearer.

In 2006, two years after he had been sacked as manager, Robson said: "Shay Given is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. He is so consistent, a good boy, a great trainer, good attitude, good pro, never late, a good catcher, a great line saver. He, Shearer and Speed were the best role models anybody could have."

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (attacker) Boavista to Leeds in 1997 – £2m

His scoring exploits for Boavista – 24 goals in 38 games during his final season there – brought him to the attention of Leeds manager George Graham.

Hasselbaink would pick up in England where he left off in Portugal, hitting the 20-goal mark in both seasons with the Yorkshire club. His relationship with David O'Leary, who stepped up from assistant manager when Graham left for Spurs, unravelled quickly with accusations of greed levelled at the Dutchman over wage demands.

Hasselbaink left for La Liga side Atletico Madrid in a £10m deal "with a bitter taste in my mouth" and his relationship with Leeds fans permanently damaged.

In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine in 2013, Hasselbaink said of his time at Elland Road: "I just liked the challenge and the opportunity. I have to say, the fans were brilliant with me until I left. I left in a little bit of turmoil but that's just one of those things. I have got a lot of fond memories from Leeds, both personal and professional."

Nicolas Anelka (attacker) Paris Saint-Germain to Arsenal in 1997 – £500,000

Arsene Wenger was in the middle of hot-streak in signing Europe's top talent with Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira already on board and the likes of Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg soon to arrive.

Anelka joined as a rough diamond teenager who would take a couple of seasons to fully sparkle. He would play his part in the 1997-98 double-winning campaign – scoring in the FA Cup win over Newcastle – before hitting top-gear the following season.

He hit 17 goals in 35 league games and secured the PFA Young Player of the Year Award. Anelka, though, was already angling for a move away, blaming a lacking of respect from the UK media – who had dubbed him 'Le Sulk' due to a perceived attitude problem – and a move to Real Madrid for £22.3m was completed, and a healthy profit in the bag, in the summer of 1999.

"It is my biggest regret that he moved from Arsenal at that time because I felt at that time he was a star here," Wenger said in 2008. "I still believe that at that time it was a big mistake that move."

Gus Poyet (midfielder) Real Zaragoza to Chelsea in 1997 – free

The first free transfer in our list and a top-quality one at that. Poyet had established a reputation as a goalscoring midfielder in Spain and would maintain that status at Stamford Bridge.

The Uruguayan's first season would be decimated by a serious knee injury but he would still help the club with the European Cup Winners' Cup. He would net 14 goals the following campaign, including the winner against Real Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup, then another 18 and an FA Cup winner's medal in 1999/2000. A year later, he was sold to Spurs for £2.2m after scoring an impressive 49 goals in 145 Chelsea appearances.

Speaking to The Guardian in 2020, Poyet said of his time at Chelsea: "I think we were a team that played great football, it was beautiful to watch and to become champions you have to win games in an ugly way, whatever it takes to get three points on the table. We were not that team."

Freddie Ljungberg (midfielder) Halmstadts to Arsenal in 1998 – £3m

The gifted Swedish midfielder with a fondness for red hair dye proved another inspired 90s signing by Wenger. Coped easily with the jump in class and quality from the Swedish top-flight to a Premier League rammed with some of the world's finest football talent. Two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and 72 goals in 325 games would follow in next nine seasons.

Lee Dixon, Ljungberg's former Arsenal teammate, told The Athletic in 2019: "I always thought a big part of Freddie's game as a player was his brain and his ability to pick the right options. You have got to know the game, know what defenders are thinking. He was not reacting on instinct. He could work out where the gaps were going to be and the timing of the run needed."

Sami Hyypia (defender) Willem II to Liverpool in 1999 – £2.6m

A rock at the centre of the Liverpool defence from the moment he arrived on Merseyside. The big Finn seemed to be injury-proof during his long spell at the club where he would make 464 appearances over 10 seasons, in only two of those would he appear in less than 40 games.

He would win two Uefa Super Cups, the Champions League, Uefa Cup, two FA Cups and two League Cups with only the Premier League eluding him (and Liverpool until 2020).

Teammate Jamie Carragher insisted in February this year that Hyypia is Liverpool's greatest Premier League signing. “That [1999] team was known as a weak team, got bullied," he said. "[Hyypia] came in and ... Liverpool went from a soft touch to a team that was mentally and physically very strong. The price tag, the never being injured, the ten years of service and the trophies that he won, that’s why he’s top.”

Sol Campbell (defender) Tottenham to Arsenal in 2001 – free

Comfortably the most controversial move on the list. Campbell had worked his way up from the Spurs youth team and was a hero with supporters so to move to their arch-rivals on a 'Bosman' free transfer was a stunning call by the 26-year-old England centre-half.

Campbell wanted Champions League football and trophies, two things he felt were not imminent at Spurs. Within 12 months of joining the red half of North London, he had won the double, two years later he was part of the Invincibles team.

A further FA Cup winner's medal and an appearance in the Champions League final – when Campbell would score in their defeat against Barcelona – would follow. In that five-year period, Spurs won nothing and never played a single minute of European football.

“It was a move that I needed to make,” he told ESPNFC in 2015. “I wanted to improve myself as both a person and a footballer. It was a highly controversial move and Spurs fans have not forgotten it, but it was the best thing that I could have done for myself.”

Kolo Toure (defender) ASEC Momosas to Arsenal in 2002 – £150,000

The full bargain-buy checklist is ticked off with this one: bought on the cheap, seven-years reliable service, multiple trophies won and sold for huge profit. The African defender played more than 40 games every season, won the league and a couple of FA Cups, runner-up in Champions League, then bought by Manchester City for £14m in 2009.

Talking to FourFourTwo magazine in February, Toure said of his move to North London: "It was a huge step up, but I took my chance. The older guys were incredible with me. I've played in many teams and at many clubs, but I'll always remember that Arsenal team: big-game players, but great guys as well. I'll never forget that."

Kevin Davies (attacker) Southampton to Bolton in 2003 – free

It is testament to Davies' strength of character, and qualities as a player, that he was able to bounce back from a nightmare move to Blackburn early in his career. He would become a key player in Sam Allardyce's side that would consistently punch above its weight and establish itself in the top-half of the Premier League.

Davies, who would play more than 400 games for the Trotters, scoring 85 goals over 10 seasons, said of his Bolton career: "I always knew I could do it at that level and I just needed someone, a manager to back me and drive me on really and Sam [Allardyce] did that."

Mikel Arteta (midfielder) Real Sociedad to Everton in 2006 – £2m

Brought up through the Barcelona youth system, the Spanish midfielder would end up on Merseyside via spells in Paris, Glasgow and San Sabastien – with PSG, Rangers and Real Sociedad, respectively.

It would prove a masterstroke by manager David Moyes and Arteta would establish himself as a top-quality Premier League midfielder and making more than 200 appearances for the club, scoring 35 goals. He would leave for Arsenal in 2011 for a fee of £10m.

Before the two went head-to-head as managers in March 2021, West Ham boss Moyes said of his former player and now Gunners manager: "He always was a really good football player, but once he got used to the physical elements of the Premier League he developed into a really good captain. His professionalism rubbed off on a lot of people at the time."

Tim Cahill (attacker) Millwall to Everton in 2006 – £1.5m

The Australian attacker made an instant impact for Everton, finishing his first season as the team's top scorer with 12 goals and winning the fans' player of the year award. Cahill would be a key player for Toffees manager Moyes' team for eight seasons during which he would score 68 goals in 278 games.

"Tim was a star for me from the first day we bought him," Moyes said to Australian radio's Real Football Show in 2016. "I fell in love with Tim because of his performance and his toughness and his ruggedness and his ability to take on information. He was a winner."

Michael Ballack (midfielder) Bayern Munich to Chelsea in 2006 – free

Signing the Germany captain on a free transfer ahead of rivals Manchester United was a major coup for Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho. Ballack had never played club football outside his native country and struggled to make his mark during the first season at Stamford Bridge. It was once Mourinho left the club at the start of the 2007-08 campaign that Blues fans saw the best of Ballack, chiefly when Avram Grant took over the reins.

Over four seasons, he would win the league title, three FA Cups and a League Cup, scoring 25 goals in 166 games. In 2011, Ballack said of his spell in London: "When I moved to Chelsea, it was a big, big challenge and experience for me at the time to play with so many good players. If I look back, I had a very good time ... and it is a big part of my career."

Seamus Coleman (defender) Sligo Rovers to Everton in 2009 – £60,000

Another fine signing from the Moyes era at Everton. Would take a season, and a spell on loan at second tier Blackpool, before the Irishman became a first-team regular. He now has nearly 350 appearances under his belt at Goodison Park, playing under six different full-time managers and is now club captain.

Current manager Carlo Ancelotti said of his full-back: "It is important for a manager to have in his squad a player who is setting the standards really high. Seamus is an example for the others. In this sense, he is the same as John Terry, Paolo Maldini, Sergio Ramos; all great models for their teammates."

John Stones (defender) Barnsley to Everton in 2013 – £3m

Signed as an 18-year-old from second-tier Barnsley, Stones had been an England youth-international regular and had been on the radar of numerous top-flight clubs.

He would become a regular at Goodison Park over the next three seasons, the final of which Chelsea would make a concerted, if unsuccessful, bid to sign the cultured centre-half who requested to leave the club.

In the summer of 2016, after less than 80 Premier League games, Stones moved to Manchester City in a £47.5m deal securing Everton a huge £44m profit.

Just after Chelsea's failed attempt to sign Stones at the start of 2016, Everton manager Roberto Martinez said: "He is an important player, he is our No 5 and to be No 5 at a club like Everton is quite significant at such a young age. And it's not just the way he is developing as a defender, but the way he is developing as a leader. He's someone who can affect the players around him."

Ayoze Perez (attacker) Tenerife to Newcastle in 2014 – £1.5m

Signed as an untested 20-year-old, after scoring 16 goals in 35 games in Spain's second tier, Perez would improve his stats just about every season on Tyneside.

Not always a favourite with the fans – Perez would end up celebrating goals by putting his fingers in his ears as a message to his critics in the stands – there can be no doubt his was a good servant to the club. He scored 48 goals in 195 games before being sold to Leicester City for £30m in 2019.

In 2018, manager Rafa Benitez said of Perez: "He has the movement and the understanding of the game and when we need something, for a player who plays between the lines of defence and midfield, he understands these things. We do not have more players like that.”

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