In today’s article, we will be looking at five of the greatest transfers in the history of the Premier League.
The five men chosen contributed enormously to the club that they join. While the transfer fee they signed for is important, it is more important to note the value they brought to the side. A player who scored 20 goals a season but cost £50 million is a good transfer. One who cost £5 million is one of the greatest transfers.
The performance of the players is crucial. How they performed, inspired there team and led them to glory is ultimately important. The impact a signing can have on a time is impossible to quantify. Someone like Bruno Fernandes turned Manchester United from a Europa League team to a Champions League team
The players on this list may have had an even greater impact than that. They won title, Champions Leagues and everything in between.
Below are five of the best transfers in Premier Leau
Greatest Premier League Transfers
Frank Lampard – West Ham to Chelsea for £14.4 million
“I’m telling you now – and I didn’t want to say this in front of him – but he will go right to the very top. Right to the very top.”
That is what Harry Redknapp said at a West Ham supporters forum in 1996 about a 17 year old Frank Lampard.
I don’t think even he would have believed just how good Frank Lampard got in his time at Chelsea. He signed for the Blues in 2001 for £14.4 million, and spent 13 great years helping Chelsea to new heights.
He signed for Chelsea before Roman Abrahmovic took over the club, but was a focal point of the team when he did. Under Mourinho, Chelsea splashed the cash like never before. However, one name on the team sheet was always Frank Lampard.
Lampard at Chelsea
Lampard played 648 times for Chelsea, in one of the most legendary spells in football history. Despite being a midfielder known for his hardwork, he still managed to become Chelsea’s all time top scorer. He netted 211 times in all competitions for the London club.
He helped Chelsea win the Premier League three times. Twice under Jose Mourinho and once under Carlo Ancelotti. He also scored in a Champions League, losing to Manchester United on penalties in 2008.
However, he was also part of a Chelsea side which finally achieved what Roman Abrahmovic had set out to do. In 2012, Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. They became the Champions of Europe, and Lampard was a star player in the run in to the final.
Lampard’s insane goal return and leadership qualities help make him once of the best transfers in Premier League history. Almost a million pound for every successful year is an incredible return on his transfer fee. He will go down as one of England’s and the Premier Leagues greatest ever players.
Wayne Rooney – Everton to Manchester United for £33.3 million
Everyone who saw Wayne Rooney when he broke through as a 16 year old at Everton knew he was going to be a star.
He scored his first goal as a teenager, a wonderful striker against Arsenal to help Everton beat the Gunners 2-1. From that day on, he was destined for stardom.
However, he would be forced to leave his boyhood club just two years later. Financial trouble at Everton meant that they needed to sell assets merely to survive. As the most valuable player at the club, Rooney had to be sold. Luckily for Everton and Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson was a big fan of the youngster.
Manchester United paid an eye-watering £33 million for the England youngster. At the time, it was a record fee paid for a teenager, and one of the biggest transfers in the history of the league. Luckily for Manchester United, it also turned out to be one of the greatest Premier League transfers of all time.
Wayne Rooney is one of the most famous Everton fans in England.
Wayne Rooney at Manchester United
He scored 11 times in his first Premier League campaign with United. Disappointingly, the season ended trophy less for Manchester United, but that would be a rarity in his United career.
Over the next 13 seasons, he would pay back his transfer fee 100 times over. He helped United win five Premier League titles, and a Champions League title in 2008. His partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the most lethal and entertaining partnership in the leagues history.
With the help of the likes of Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, the Manchester United attack was one of the most feared in Europe. They reached three Champions League finals in four years, sadly coming up against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in both final’s they lost.
Rooney would go on to become the all-time Manchester United and England top goal scorer. He netted 253 times for Manchester United, and will go down as one of the biggest legends in the clubs history.
No matter how big his fee was, it is definitely one of the greatest Premier League transfers of all time.
Virgil Van Dijk – Southampton to Liverpool for £76.2 million
Despite the eye-watering transfer fee Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk, he was worth every single penny.
The Dutchman became one of the best defenders in the league for Southampton, but the minute he set foot on the pitch at Anfield, he transformed the Liverpool side from challengers to champions.
Liverpool had struggled with their defensive line prior to his arrival. With Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip in the centre of defence, they had one of the worst centre back pairings out of the top sides in the league. Couple that with Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne at full back, the defence was not a top one.
However, they became a top one, simply with the addition of Virgil Van Dijk. With his commanding presence, he held sheppard the wayward defence to create one of the best in the league.
His rock solid defence help guide Liverpool to the Champions League final, where they were beaten by Real Madrid. He was included in the team of the tournament, despite only joining the club in January that year.
In the coming years, he would help Liverpool finally break their duck and win the Premier League in 2020, and the Champions League in 2019. He was named Premier League player of the season in his first full Liverpool campaign, and even was runner up for the Balon D’or in 2019.
Despite the huge transfer fee, he is one of the best signings in Premier League history. Liverpool spent a lot of money trying to finally get back to winner ways, and Van Dijk was the one piece of the puzzle that allowed them back on top.
Ngolo Kante – Caen to Leicester City for £5.6 million
When he signed for Leicester City, £5.6 million for the unknown Frenchman seemed like overpaying.
A year later when he lifted the Premier League trophy, it turned out to be the bargain of the century. He joined from Ligue 1 relegation scrappers SM Caen in the summer of 2015. He was a replacement for Estaban Cambiasso, the Argentinian legend who helped save Leicester City from relegation.
As it turns out, Kante turned into one of the worlds best midfielders at Leicester. He formed a partnership in midfield with Danny Drinkwater, who himself turned out to be one of Chelsea’s worst transfers of all time.
Kante and Drinkwater formed a perfect partnership, and with the help of the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez became the most unlikely Premier League Champions. Kante was included in the Premier League team of the year that season, and more than repaid his £5 million transfer fee.
Sadly, he would only spend a season at Leicester City. He moved to Chelsea the next summer, winning back to back Premier Leagues as he helped the Blues lift the title. Kante also was one of the best in the world when he led Chelsea to Champions League glory in 2021.
He can be called one of the best transfers in Premier League history not just for Leicester, but for Chelsea aswell.
Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United for £1.6 million
No transfer had as much of an impact on the Premier League as Eric Cantona in 1992. His transfer from Leeds United to Manchester United set the stage for the Red Devils to dominate for the next twenty years. Without the talismanic Frenchman, who knows how the next 10, 15 or 20 years would have gone in the Premier League.
Would Newcastle have pipped United to the title in 1996? Would United even have won the title in 1992? What would have happened in that famous treble-winning 1999 season?
Eric Cantona’s impact on Manchester United cannot be understated. Cantona led Manchester United to their first championship for nearly thirty years in 1992.
He netted nine times in the league that season, but his flair, playmaking ability and leadership was an undefinable characteristic that helped not only win Manchester United the league, but also endear them to supporters in England and around the world.
Without the transfer of Eric Cantona to Manchester United, they would not be the club they are today. The millions of fans around the world who tune in to watch United every weekend would not be there if not for Cantona and his impact in the 1990s.
Eric Cantona can be argued to be the greatest transfer in Premier League history. Not just because of the his impact on the pitch, but the lasting impact he made on the league and the club.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.