With the market as inflated as it has ever been, getting a game changing player at a bargain can be termed nothing short of a miracle. But the wise would say it’s more about farsightedness than luck. There is no guarantee that a huge price tag will ensure success, as some clubs have found to their peril. At the same time, there have been some players that have proved to be the best value for money transfers of all time. Let’s have a look at the top 10 steals of all-time.
P.S. This list doesn’t include any free transfers as that would be an interesting list in itself.
Diego Godin joined Atletico Madrid from Villarreal in August of 2010 at a transfer fee of £6.8m. He soon formed a formidable partnership with Miranda and helped Atletico to one of their best runs ever. Godin will best be remembered for the equalizing goal he scored against Barcelona on the last day of 2013-14 season which helped Atletico win the league.
Not many would consider Sneijder’s move from Real Madrid to Inter at £12.75m as a steal. But, 12.75 m soon seems like a bargain considering what he achieved right-away. A genius playmaker, Sneijder proved his mettle as he orchestrated a master class display in his debut season, helping Inter Milan to a historic treble and also helped the Netherlands to reach the WC final where they were defeated by Spain.
Coleman’s move from Sligo Rovers (plays in Ireland) to Everton makes it into the list for its sheer return on investment. Coleman joined at a meagre fee of £60k in 2009 and has been among one of the best right backs in the English premier league. Seamus has consistently displayed his attacking prowess by scoring some wonderful goals and providing invaluable assists from the right flank for Everton.
Marcelo was brought in from Fluminense in 2007 at £5.54 m as a replacement for the legendary Roberto Carlos. Whether Marcelo is as good as Carlos is purely subjective, but the success Marcelo helped achieve for Real Madrid has definitely been unparalleled. An ever present member in defence, Marcelo has shown his talent in front of the goal time and time again, most notably when he scored the third goal against Atletico Madrid in the final of 2014 Uefa Champions League against Atletico
Riyad Mahrez arrived at Leicester City in Jan 2014 from French club AC Le Havre for an astonishing fee of £425k. He soon helped Leicester win promotion to the premier league where he along with Vardy produced miraculous performances to help Leicester avoid relegation. But what followed the next year has been termed as one of the greatest achievements football has ever seen.
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Alongside Vardy, Kante and Drinkwater, Mahrez blossomed into a creative genius scoring 17 goals and setting up 10, taking the league by storm. By the end of 15-16 season, Leicester had done the unthinkable. The team which narrowly escaped relegation the previous year finished as champions of England giving football one of its most beautiful stories.
Kante, like Mahrez, was part of the dream team that won the premier league in 15-16. Kante joined Leicester in Aug 2015 from SM Caen for £7.65m and by the end of the season, the transfer proved to be one of the best bargains ever.
Kante made more interceptions in a single season than what others couldn’t muster in two seasons. He then left to join Chelsea the following year where he helped improve Chelsea drastically from their previous year’s 10th position to the top of the premier league in 16-17.
There might be a few of the younger generation viewers who wouldn’t know much about senior Schmeichel, but those who do know what a legend he is. Schmeichel arrived to Manchester United in 1991 for a bargain of £638k from Danish club Brondby. He soon became one of the best keepers of all time, thanks to his unorthodox saves and grit.
Also known as the great Dane, Schmeichel went on to become a United legend winning 5 English premier leagues, 3 FA cups and the 1998-99 UCL final that helped United claim a historic treble that hasn’t been achieved by any other English club yet in his 8 years at the club.
Viera arrived at Arsenal as a lanky 21 year old for a transfer fee of £4.55m from AC Milan. What followed after will always be remembered as the golden generation for Arsenal. Arsenal went on to win 3 English premier leagues and 4 FA cups among a host of other trophies under the leadership of Viera.
In the season 2003-04, Arsenal went on an entire season unbeaten, winning a golden replica of the trophy for the unimaginable feat they achieved. After Viera left for Inter in July 2005, Arsenal failed miserably to find a suitable replacement and hasn’t won an English premier league title since.
Alessandro Del Piero
Widely regarded as one of the greatest forwards of his generation and as one of the best Italian forwards of all time, Del Piero joined Juventus from Serie B outfit Pandova in July 1993 for a transfer fee of £2.21m. Del Piero eventually broke all scoring records, becoming the club’s all-time top scorer with 290 goals. In his 19 years at the club, Del Piero displayed sublime finishing as well as goal creation potential as he formed a potent partnership with Trezeguet.
With 6 Serie A titles, 4 Italian Super cups, 2 Uefa Super cups and 1Uefa Champions League, when Del Piero was about to leave Juventus, the then Board decided to retire his No. 10 Jersey in order to maintain his legacy. Del Piero refused the board’s offer to retire the number 10 shirt in his honor, saying that “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream of a day of wearing it”, a true Legend indeed.
Dubbed as “King Cantona”, Sir Alex brought Eric to Manchester United in 1993 for a negligible transfer fee of £1.28m from Leeds to add some flair to the team. But even Sir Alex couldn’t have expected what followed. Cantona became the lynchpin around which the entire team played.
He took on the No. 7 Jersey, once worn by legends like George Best and Sir Bobby Robson without any pressure as he created a legacy of his own. Known best for his flair and arrogance on the field, Cantona single-handedly instilled fear into the minds of the opponents, transforming United into the deadly force they soon became as they eventually overtook Liverpool to become the most successful English club with 20 titles. Later, Sir Alex even went on to claim that the Frenchman was his best signing at Manchester United
Even with all the research done, it’s completely possible that we might have just missed the Bargain of the century. In that case, feel free to suggest us with any other transfer that should have made it to this list or you can even drop in your own top 10 in the comments below.