Ashley Cole – Arsenal to Chelsea, 2006 (£5m + William Gallas)
For just £5m, Cole must be considered one of the greatest bargains in Premier League history. Granted, Chelsea had to give up William Gallas in an exchange deal, but what Cole helped the club achieve more than proved his worth.
In nine years at Stamford Bridge the left-back won nine trophies, including one Premier League crown, four FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League – Chelsea’s first ever triumph in the competition. In total, he made 338 appearances and scored seven times.
Wayne Rooney – Everton to Man United, 2004 (£20m)
After some stunning performances at the European Championship in Portugal, Rooney was one of the most sought-after youngsters in Europe in summer 2004. Manchester United won the race for his signature, completing a deal on deadline day to bring the precocious teenager to Old Trafford.Rooney became the Red Devils’ all-time record scorer earlier this year, ending his United career on 253 goals in 559 appearances. More importantly, the striker won five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a Champions League and a Europa League during his time at the club.
Carlos Tevez – Corinthians to West Ham, 2006 (Undisc.)
Eyebrows were raised when Tevez and Javier Mascherano pitched up in east London in 2006, a double signing which remains one of the strangest in Premier League history.
While Mascherano struggled to usurp Hayden Mullins in midfield, Tevez almost singlehandedly saved West Ham from relegation. With 10 games to go and the club languishing in the bottom three, the striker scored seven times – including a sumptuous free-kick against Manchester United on the final day – to help keep Hammer heads above water.
Luis Suarez – Ajax to Liverpool, 2010 (£22.8m)
Forget all the controversies: Suarez's signing was easily the best deal Liverpool have pulled off in recent years. In four seasons on Merseyside, the Uruguayan scored 82 goals in 133 appearances and earned cult hero status, helping Liverpool fans move on from Fernando Torres.
While he couldn't quite guide the Reds to the title – they fell just short in Suarez’s final season in 2013/14 – he did help them win the League Cup in 2012 and claimed a host of individual honours, including Liverpool Player of the Season twice and the PFA Player of the Year in 2014.
Glen Johnson – Chelsea to Portsmouth, 2007 (£4m)
After making just six Premier League appearances in his final full campaign at Chelsea, Johnson arrived at Fratton Park in 2007 with a desire to get his career back on track.
The right-back had impressed on the south coast during a season-long loan the year before, but he stepped things up in 2007/08 – when Pompey won the FA Cup – and then again in 2008/09, earning himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year and an £18.5m move to Liverpool.
Robbie Keane – Leeds to Tottenham, 2002 (£7m)
Looking back, Leeds should have asked for a bigger fee for Keane; at just £7m, the striker was an absolute steal.
The Irishman spent nine years at White Hart Lane in two stints from 2002 to 2011, broken up by a six-month spell with Liverpool (for which Spurs received £19m) and loans at Celtic and West Ham. In 303 appearances he netted 122 goals – enough for him to rank among the top 10 scorers in Spurs history.
Claude Makelele – Real Madrid to Chelsea, 2003 (£16m)
Real Madrid carelessly let Makelele leave the Bernabeu because he wasn’t glamorous or marketable enough for their star-studded side, but los Blancos’ loss was Chelsea’s gain. The Frenchman made 217 appearances for the Blues, becoming a key player in the team that claimed back-to-back league titles in 2005 and 2006 under Jose Mourinho.
In his final season in London, he helped guide Chelsea (then managed by Avram Grant) to their first ever Champions League final, where they lost on penalties to Manchester United.
Marouane Fellaini – Standard Liege to Everton, 2008 (£15m)
Fellaini made an instant impact in England after joining Everton in September 2008 – not just because of his afro hairstyle or flailing elbows, but also his ability to cause chaos inside the opposition’s danger area.
The midfielder was named the club’s Young Player of the Year in his debut campaign; by the time he left Merseyside five years later, he’d made 177 appearances and scored 33 times. It wasn’t a surprise, then, when ex-Everton boss David Moyes brought him to Old Trafford on deadline day in 2013.
Asmir Begovic – Portsmouth to Stoke, 2010 (£3m)
Begovic may have conceded five goals against Chelsea on his Stoke debut, but the goalkeeper eventually established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the league. He even entered the Guinness Book of Records in November 2013, when he was responsible for the longest goal ever scored in a clash with Southampton.
In five-and-a-half seasons at Stoke, Begovic made 173 appearances and kept 50 clean sheets, before departing for Chelsea in the summer of 2015.
Sadio Mane – Red Bull Salzburg to Southampton, 2014 (£10m)
Mane’s tremendous start to the 2017/18 season for Liverpool has reinforced what a talented player he is – something Southampton supporters quickly grew aware of following his £10m switch from Red Bull Salzburg on September 1, 2014.
The Senegal international scored 25 goals in his 75 appearances for Saints, before joining Liverpool for £34m in 2016 and bringing the south coast side a healthy profit to reinvest.
Hugo Lloris – Lyon to Tottenham, 2012 (£8m)
Once touted as a potential rival to Manuel Neuer as the best goalkeeper in the world, it was a surprise when Tottenham managed to sign Lloris for a relatively cheap £8m in 2012.
Since then, the French goalkeeper has become captain of both club and country and been virtually ever-present between the sticks as Spurs have risen from top-four hopefuls to regular Champions League participants. He even helped Mauricio Pochettino's men reach the final last season.
Jermain Defoe – West Ham to Tottenham, 2004 (£7m)
Defoe had two stints with Tottenham, and a spell with Portsmouth sandwiched in between.
In his first, he made 170 appearances and scored 61 times, and was named the club’s Player of the Year for the 2004 calendar year after joining in January of that season. Between 2009 and 2015, meanwhile, he struck 79 goals – including three in the Champions League under Harry Redknapp.
David Luiz – PSG to Chelsea, 2016 (£34m)
Chelsea’s decision to re-sign Luiz last summer was met with guffaws from the rest of the Premier League, but it was the Brazilian who had the last laugh at the end of the campaign.
Despite seemingly being a last-resort option after the club had failed to land its preferred centre-back targets, Luiz proved a model of consistency at the heart of Antonio Conte’s three-man defence as Chelsea finished top of the table and reached the FA Cup final. He's still a key figure at Stamford Bridge, having made 50 apperances under Maurizio Sarri last term.
Dele Alli – MK Dons to Tottenham, 2015 (£5m)
Tottenham’s acquisition of Alli on deadline day in February 2015 went under the radar at the time, but with hindsight the signing of the then-teenager from MK Dons was a masterstroke. The midfielder quickly became a key player in his first full season at the club, helping Spurs to a top-two finish - a feat they repeated the following campaign.
Still only 23, Alli has already racked up 184 appearances for the north Londoners, while he reached the 50-goal mark last term. The England international still has plenty of time to get even better.
Glenn Whelan – Sheffield Wednesday to Stoke, 2008 (£500,000)
Not the most glamorous player by any means, but Whelan was an essential part of the Stoke side which established the club in the Premier League in the late 2000s.
Signed on deadline day in January 2008, the Ireland international added steel and resilience to the Potters’ midfielder under Tony Pulis, before going on to thrive as part of Mark Hughes’ more progressive team from 2013 onwards.
Ryan Bertrand – Chelsea to Southampton, 2015 (£10m)
Southampton have developed a useful knack for replacing their outgoing stars with minimum fuss, as they demonstrated when Bertrand was brought in as Luke Shaw’s replacement in 2014.
Initially a loan move, the left-back joined Saints on a permanent basis in February 2015, with Chelsea deeming the Champions League winner surplus to requirements. He’s gone from strength to strength since and is now one of Southampton’s most valued players.
Rafael van der Vaart – Real Madrid to Tottenham, 2010 (£8m)
As is Daniel Levy’s wont, Tottenham waited until two hours before the closure of the transfer window before wrapping up the Van der Vaart deal in 2010.
The Dutchman proved worth the wait, scoring 13 goals and providing eight assists in his debut Premier League season, while adding another two of the former and one of the latter in the Champions League. After another productive campaign in 2011/12, he left for Hamburg the following summer.
Dimitar Berbatov – Tottenham to Man United, 2008 (£30.75m)
Berbatov didn’t come cheap at £30.75m and he wasn’t always an automatic starter at United, but he still played a vital role as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won the Premier League title in 2008/09.
The Bulgarian scored 14 times in all competitions that year, before netting 12 in 2009/10 and 21 in 2010/11 – his best individual season at Old Trafford. After adding nine more goals to his tally the following campaign, he departed for Fulham in August 2012.
Wilfried Zaha – Man United to Crystal Palace, 2015 (£3.5m)
Zaha’s performances for Palace in the Championship persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to make the winger his final signing as Manchester United manager in January 2013.
Zaha failed to settle at Old Trafford, though, and was back at Palace on loan by the start of the 2014/15 campaign. The Eagles made the deal permanent on deadline day the following February; since then, the Ivory Coast international has won the club’s Player of the Year award three times.
Jack Butland – Birmingham to Stoke, 2013 (£3.5m)
Now widely regarded as England’s leading goalkeeper, Butland cost Stoke just £3.5m when he moved to the Britannia Stadium from Birmingham in 2013.
The young shot-stopper had to remain patient in his first two campaigns at the club, but he made the No.1 spot his own in 2015/16. An injury-hit year followed the subsequent season, but a fully fit Butland is now back to his best - albeit in the Championship with the Potters.
Mikel Arteta - Everton to Arsenal, 2011 (£10m)
Under pressure to add to his squad from disgruntled Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger acquired no fewer than five new players in the final two days of the summer 2011 transfer window. Yossi Benayoun, Park Chu-young, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker all arrived at the Emirates Stadium in that period, as did former Everton midfielder Arteta.
Deployed in a deeper midfield role by Wenger, the Spaniard shone in an Arsenal shirt. Arteta helped the Gunners end their trophy drought by winning two FA Cups, and also served as the club captain until he hung up his boots in 2016.
Peter Crouch - Tottenham to Stoke, 2011 (£10m)
Despite scoring seven goals in 10 Champions League appearances for Tottenham in 2010/11, Crouch struggled to fire in the Premier League. It was for that reason that Spurs were prepared to cut their losses the following summer, selling the striker to Stoke for £10m.
That was a club-record fee for the Potters, but the ex-England international proved to be worth every penny. Crouch reached double figures in four of his seven top-flight seasons with Stoke, before dropping into the Championship with them in 2018.
Abdoulaye Doucoure - Rennes to Watford, £8m (2016)
Watford fans had to wait to see their new signing in action, with Doucoure immediately loaned to Granada after moving to Vicarage Road from Rennes on the final day of the winter window in 2016. Back in Hertfordshire for the start of the 2016/17 campaign, the powerful midfielder excelled with his combination of technical and physical gifts.
Named Player of the Year in his second season at the club, the Frenchman maintained his fine form as Javi Gracia's men reached the FA Cup final in 2018/19. Watford now have a fight on their hands to keep him around.
Jason Puncheon - Southampton to Crystal Palace, 2014 (£1.75m)
The first half of Puncheon's first season at Selhurst Park featured more downs than ups, most notably with a spectacular penalty miss in a defeat by Tottenham. Yet Tony Pulis liked what he saw, converting the winger's loan deal into a permanent one on the final day of the January 2014 transfer window.
Puncheon quickly became Palace's key man, ending the campaign with seven Premier League goals as his team avoided the drop. He was later shifted into a central role by Alan Pardew and scored the Eagles' goal in the FA Cup final loss to Manchester United in 2016, before waving goodbye to south London this summer after 168 appearances for his boyhood club.
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