Lists

15 current Premier League stars who were signed for £1 million or under

Seamus Coleman

In a world where the top flight's most expensive defender now costs £75m, it's worth remembering that some clubs have extracted outstanding value from their stars. Check these out... 

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15. Jack Stephens (Plymouth to Southampton), £150,000

The sale of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool will increase Stephens’s chances of playing time at Southampton, which has been limited so far this season. Saints signed the defender for £150,000 back in 2011, and the former England Under-21 international has embarked on loan spells at Swindon, Middlesbrough and Coventry before making his first league appearance for the south coast side in 2017.

Stephens, who is able to play at both right-back and centre-half, signed a new long-term deal at St Mary’s before the start of this season. Even if he doesn’t make it as a first-team regular at the club, Southampton stand to make a healthy profit on the 23-year-old.

14. Adam Smith (Tottenham to Bournemouth), £250,000

Eddie Howe remains reliant on a number of Bournemouth players who represented the club in the lower leagues, and right-back Smith is among them.

The Tottenham academy product was sent on loan to Dean Court when the Cherries were in League One. He later helped them into the Premier League in his first full season as a permanent employee, having signed for Bournemouth when Spurs accepted a bid of £250,000 in January 2014.

Reports last summer suggested that Mauricio Pochettino was weighing up the possibility of bringing Smith back to north London, while Chelsea and Leicester have also been linked with the defender in the past.

13. Joel Ward (Portsmouth to Crystal Palace), £400,000

Ward appeared to be on the verge of joining Ipswich in summer 2012, but Crystal Palace won the race for his signature by offering Portsmouth £400,000. The then 22-year-old was handed the unenviable task of replacing Nathaniel Clyne at right-back, but did so with aplomb and remains an important first-team figure at Selhurst Park five and a half years on.

The defender recently played his 200th game for Palace, a handful of which came as a midfielder under Tony Pulis. He’s also been deployed at left-back and centre-half during his time in south London, which could come to an end when his contract expires in June.

12. Sam Vokes (Wolves to Burnley), £350,000

Vokes is one of only three players who have been at Burnley throughout Sean Dyche’s tenure, the striker having moved to Turf Moor three months before the ex-Watford coach’s appointment in October 2012.

The Welshman cost £350,000 – which wasn’t an insignificant sum for a mid-ranking Championship side back then – and initially struggled to force his way into the starting XI, with 33 of his 46 league appearances in his debut season coming from the bench.

Vokes hit 20 goals the following year, though, as Burnley won promotion to the Premier League. He then failed to net in the top flight but helped the Clarets return at the first time of asking with 15 goals in 43 games. Vokes has since scored 13 times in the top flight, taking his overall Burnley tally to 57.

11. Craig Dawson (Rochdale to West Brom), £270,000

The Rochdale-born defender swapped his boyhood club for West Brom in 2010, with £270,000 sent in the opposite direction. Dawson featured in only 21 Premier League matches in his first three years at The Hawthorns, before nailing down a place in the Baggies’ first team in 2014/15.

He’s tended to play whenever fit since the start of that campaign, though, and has long since repaid his relatively paltry transfer fee. If Jonny Evans is sold this month, Alan Pardew may choose to bring Dawson infield from right-back to centre-back.