Joe Hart (Man City): £100,000
It's somewhat ironic that after spending an astronomical amount of money on players, one of Manchester City's greatest buys only cost £100,000.
Bought from Shrewsbury Town in 2006, Hart only managed to break into the Citizens’ first team four years later, but he hasn’t looked back since. He asserted his credentials as a top-notch goalkeeper with three consecutive Golden Glove awards from 2011 to 2013, and has two Premier League and one FA Cup medal to his name.
A commanding goalkeeper blessed with incredible reflexes, the 28-year-old is now England’s undisputed No.1 and is among the best in his position around the world. He will be crucial to the cause for his country when the Euros commence in June this year.
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace): £400,000
It's easy to overlook Ward’s performances, especially as he doesn't play for a big club. But you know you're doing something right when you have fans calling for your inclusion in the England squad.
Over the past few seasons, Ward has put in a series of stellar displays to underline his status as one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League. Not only does he do his part in defence, but the Crystal Palace man is also excellent in providing support with his overlapping runs.
The 26-year-old’s biggest asset though is his ability to pop up with crucial goals. Most recently, Ward scored against Southampton to help the Eagles reach the fourth round of the FA Cup. At £400,000 from Portsmouth, Palace certainly scored themselves a bargain.
Ashley Williams (Swansea): £400,000
Williams was once Swansea’s record signing at just £400,000 from Stockport County in 2008.
While it may have seemed like a huge amount for the then-third tier Swans to shell out at the time, they've certainly got their money’s worth over the years with Williams playing a key role in helping them to the top flight.
A sturdy, no-nonsense defender, the 31-year-old is also an excellent leader who captains both Swansea and Wales. His performances have not gone unnoticed, with clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal having been reportedly interested in acquiring his services in the past. A good outing at the Euros this June will only boost his stock.
Wes Morgan (Leicester): £1 million
When you look at Morgan in action now for Leicester, it’s hard to imagine that the defender only made his Premier League bow two years ago, at the prime age of 30.
Having spent 10 years in the lower echelons of English football with Nottingham Forest, Morgan finally got his big break when the Foxes came calling with an offer of £1 million in 2012.
A rock in defence, Morgan’s impact was almost immediate as he helped Leicester reach the Championship play-offs in his first season, where they lost out in the semi-finals. A year later, the Foxes made it back to the top flight after 10 years away where, remarkably, they are now in with a great chance of an epic title win.
Charlie Daniels (Bournemouth): £198,000
Daniels began his professional career at Tottenham in 2005, but he'd never played in the top flight before this season, bouncing around the lower leagues with the likes of Gillingham and Leyton Orient.
Despite that, the attacking left-back doesn't look out of place in his first Premier League campaign – so far, the 29-year-old has two goals and four assists to his name.
Daniels only cost £198,000 from Leyton Orient, and has made himself a permanent fixture in manager Eddie Howe’s plan. Without him, Bournemouth’s fast-paced attacking game plan would not work so well. Should the Cherries drop back down to the Championship, he'll have no lack of suitors vying for his services.
James Milner (Liverpool): free
Liverpool fans may take some umbrage at Milner’s appearance on this list, owing to his hefty wages that are understood to be in the region of £150,000 per week. But it was still decent business overall for the Reds to snare him on a free transfer from Manchester City.
While the midfielder has had a somewhat inauspicious start to life at Anfield, he has made some valuable contributions. The ever-reliable England man has made 30 appearances in all competitions, and his haul of four goals and six assists in the Premier League is certainly solid if not spectacular.
Milner has just turned 30 yet has plenty left to give, despite having made his debut for Leeds way back when he was 16. His manager Jurgen Klopp is clearly an admirer, and he appears to have a role to play with the Reds for some time yet.
Steve Davis (Southampton): £800,000
Southampton snared themselves a bargain when they snapped up Davis in July 2012. The Northern Ireland captain had spent more than four years with Rangers in the Scottish Premier League and signed a five-year extension with them in 2011.
The Glasgow club’s slip into insolvency a few months later, however, opened the door to Davis and the Saints quickly swooped.
He has regularly demonstrated his leadership skills, publicly stating the players needed to take the blame following their 6-1 horror show against Liverpool in the League Cup in December. But the Saints have steadied the ship and are currently sixth in the Premier League, just one point behind Manchester United.
Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth): £400,000
It's well known that clubs in Bournemouth’s position trying to compete among the big boys in England’s top division must demonstrate some acute business acumen when trying to compile their squads.
In Ritchie, they achieved just that. The Scotland international is a product of the Portsmouth academy and signed for the Cherries in 2013, helping them win promotion to the Premier League two years later.
A firm favourite at Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium, he reportedly attracted interest from the likes of of Everton, West Brom and even Manchester United during the most recent transfer window. If a move like that were to materialise, it would be sure to dwarf the modest sum Bournemouth paid Swindown for Ritchie’s services.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester): £400,000
When Mahrez decided to depart French Ligue 2 club Le Havre to join Leicester in January, 2014, it was considered that the wiry winger was too slight to cut it in the physical climes of England. Two years later, the move is looking like a masterstroke as reported suitors including Barcelona and Real Madrid line up for his signature.
The Foxes already re-negotiated his contract last summer, but it's nowhere near the type of money he could command elsewhere. And while it would be a shame for Leicester to lose a player that has set the Premier League alight this season and driven his club to the top of the league, they would inevitably net a handsome sum should he leave this summer.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester): £1 million
Vardy has been a revelation this season The second half of the Foxes’ dynamic duo alongside Mahrez, Vardy has left a trail of critics waiting for his bubble to burst in his wake.
The hype around Vardy reached extraordinary levels when he scored in 11 consecutive matches between August and November last year, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record. The Sheffield-born striker, who turned 29 in January, was suddenly an overnight sensation – remarkable for a player who spent time working in a factory after being released by Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager.
It has been a reward for perseverance, Vardy having battled through the lower leagues to reach the top flight. He is now a full England international and well in manager Roy Hodgson’s plans for Euro 2016.
Troy Deeney (Watford): £500,000
Some players have captaincy thrust upon them, while others seem to come already equipped with leadership skills. Deeney falls well and truly into the latter category.
A skipper of Aston Villa’s academy side before a self-confessed poor attitude made him take the long way to the top, the striker then had the captain’s armband as he led Watford into Premier League promotion during the 2014/15 season. Many expected the Hornets to be heading straight back down to the lower leagues, but with Deeney leading the line they have surprised many by staying well clear of the relegation battle.
A bargain from Walsall at just £500,000, he is still in form at the highest level, having scored both goals on the road in a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace last time out that kept his Hornets nestled in the top half of the table.
Words: Kenneth Ho and James Dampney
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.