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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Premier League's 10 best bargain deals

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The Boxing Day sales get under way today and everyone loves a bargain. Football managers are no different. Sure the fans love to see their clubs splash out on the biggest names. Just look at Arsenal when they signed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Mind you they had waited a few years for Wenger to spend that amount of money - and watched a glut of top talent leave at the same time. But nothing beats signing somebody on the cheap.

The Premier League is swimming with money, but money doesn't always buy you success or happiness - just look at Fernando Torres at Chelsea. 

With that in mind, here are Squarefootball's 10 best bargain buys.

10. Tim Cahill £1.5m Millwall to Everton

Manchester United boss David Moyes may be facing some criticism at Old Trafford just now, but boy can that guy spot a bargain. Cahill joined Everton for just £1.5m in 2004 and repaid his nominal fee instantly by finishing his first season at Goodison as the club's top scorer. The all-action Australian went on to become the first Everton player to be nominated for the Ballon D'Or in 18 years. After 68 goals and 38 assists in 278 appearances for the Toffees, Cahill moved on to pastures new having spent eight happy seasons at Goodison. 

9. David Ginola £2.5m PSG to Newcastle

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan convinced the Frenchman to join his entertainers in 1995 and he didn't disappoint. Ginola had the fans eating out of his hands. He turned defenders inside out, had a rasping strike on him and knew exactly when to play the killer ball. The former PSG man only spent two years at St James Park, but they were arguably two of the most exciting years in the club's recent history. Ginola went on to join Spurs for the same fee. He stayed at White Hart Lane for three years, scoring 22 goals in the process. Ginola never cost a club more than £3 million.

Joe Hart8. Joe Hart £600,000 Shrewsbury Town to Man City

England's number one may be going through a rough time just now but he remains the best keeper in the country by far. Hart was raising the pulses of a number of Premier League sides due to his performances for his home town club Shrewsbury and, in 2006, Stuart Pearce signed him for Manchester City. Seven years on, Hart has cemented his place as England's number one and become one of the best keepers in the world.

7. Peter Schmeichel £505,00 Brondby to Man United

But if you are going to talk about proper bargains when it comes to goalkeepers then look no further than across the City divide. Sir Alex Ferguson plucked Peter Schmeichel out of Danish football in 1991 and propelled him to international superstardom. Schmeichel was a beast of a man. Standing at 6ft 3in, the Great Dane was an awesome specimen. With Schmeichel in goal, United dominated the landscape in England during the 90s. He won five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup and the Champions League. "Bargain of the century", as Sir Alex described him.

6. Kolo Toure £150,000 ASEC Mimosas to Arsenal

Arsene Wenger is another manager famed for his eye for talent. In 2002 he signed the unknown Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure for just £150,000 - or what Gareth Bale just earned at Madrid while you just read that sentence. Toure proved to be a great signing, forming a winning partnership with Sol Campbell in the heart of defence as Arsenal went on to become the Invincibles. With blinding pace, not many got the better of Toure. After seven years at Arsenal, Toure moved to Manchester City for £16 million. What a bit of business.

5. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer £1.5m Molde to Manchester United

When it comes to being a super sub, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wrote the handbook. United missed out in the race for Alan Shearer's signature in 1996 but Solskjaer proved to be a cheaper and just as effective alternative. The Baby Faced Assassin scored 126 goals in 326 appearances for the Red Devils. He famously scored four as a sub against Nottingham Forest, but his most crucial game undoubtedly came in the Nou Camp on May 26, 1999, when he scored the winner against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Priceless.

VIEIRA AND PETIT4. Patrick Vieira £3.5m AC Milan to Arsenal

The Frenchman tore up the rulebook when it came to the midfield area. At 6ft 4in, Vieira dwarfed most of his competitors in the middle of the pitch, but not only was he taller than them, he was quicker, stronger and more athletic than them all too. £3.5 million is the largest amount spent on this list so far, but boy was it worth it. Under Wenger Vieira turned the Gunners from Boring, Boring Arsenal into one of the most exciting teams in history, with trophies to boot. Vieira is a true Premier League great.

3. Michu £2m Rayo Vallecano to Swansea City

OK. Own up. Who didn't wonder who this wannabe Pokeman character, Michu, was when he first arrived in the Premier League? The Spaniard made his mark on his debut for the Swans in a rampant 5-0 demolition of QPR at Loftus Road and soon everyone was talking about him. Michu ended his first season at Swansea with 18 goals in 35 appearances. He also picked up the fans' Player of the Year award. Twenty-five times cheaper than Fernando Torres and twenty-five times as effective, Michu is one of the buys of the century.

2. Nicolas Anelka £500,000 PSG to Arsenal

The youngster was the first of many unheard stars of the future who would be brought to Arsenal by Arsene Wenger and what an impact Anelka had at Highbury. In the 1997/98 season Anelka was a key player in the Gunners' march to the Double. His pace was simply electric. You could give a defender a five-yard start and the youngster would always reach the ball first. Play the ball in behind the defence and they didn't stand a chance. In 1998/99, Anelka topped the scoring charts for Arsenal with 17 in the league, but was sold to Real Madrid for £22 million. What a profit that was!

Cantona1. Eric Cantona £1.2m Leeds United to Man United

However, arguably the best bargain buy of all time has to be Eric Cantona who was sold from Leeds United to rivals Manchester United in 1992 for just £1.2 million. The Frenchman had guided Leeds to the title in 1991 but, for some unknown reason, Howard Wilkinson allowed him to leave for their biggest rivals. The rest is history. Cantona inspired United to end their 26-year drought without the title and went on to dominate the Premier League era. Cantona only spent five seasons at Old Trafford, but the King certainly made his presence felt and will never be forgotten by the Red Devils. He truly was one of the all-time greats.

Calling all football fans: Do you agree with our top 10? Are there any players who you believe should have been mentioned? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.

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