Top Five Premier League Football Signings

Every football fan wants – nay, expects – his or her side to go spending big whenever the transfer windows open. But more often than not, managers play it safe, or – worse – pick up a donkey for a highly inflated fee. But every so often they get it right. Here we present our pick of the top five signings in the Premier League era. So, in no particular order…

Tim Cahill – Millwall to Everton in 2004; fee: £1.5m

Tom Cahill looked a bargain at the time David Moyes splashed out just £1.5m of his club’s cash on the Aussie attacking midfielder, and so he proved. In his first season for the Toffees he was the top scorer and was also voted the fans’ Player of the Season.

His combative style and his unstinting commitment to the cause were notable traits, as was his uncanny ability to arrive in the box just at the right moment – often out-leaping defenders twice his size – to score his fair share of goals: 56 in 226 appearances.

Roy Keane – Nottingham Forest to Manchester United in 1993; fee: £3.75m

Before his days as a gruff ITV pundit with a penchant for scaring the hell out of Adrian Chiles with his menacing stares, Roy Keane was a bad football manager. Before that though he was an excellent player and the driving force at the heart of Fergie’s successful United team for much of the 1990s.

Purchased in 1993 for the (then-record) transfer fee of £3.75m, Keane had stiff competition for a starting berth at the heart of the midfield from Brian Robson and Paul Ince. But Robson was old and injury prone by then and “Keano” soon got his chance, which he grabbed with both hands, scoring twice on his home debut against Sheffield United and netting the winner against City three months later.

Sami Hyypia – Willem II to Liverpool in 1999; fee: 2.6m

Finnish defender Sami Hyypia was one of the most consistent defenders in Premier League history, helping his side to a host of domestic and European trophies including the Champions League in 2004-05.

He was an assured defender whose positional sense was second to none and who had the ability to tackle with impeccable timing. A Liverpool legend but – more importantly – a great player and an excellent signing by Gerard Houllier.

Robin van Persie – Feyenoord to Arsenal in 2004; fee: £2.75m

One of the Premier League’s most accomplished, stylish and effective strikers, a price tag of less than £3m looks like a hell of a bargain, not least because he was sold to Man United for £24m in 2012.

During his time at Arsenal, RVP scored 96 goals in 194 appearances, and was the difference between winning and losing on numerous occasions. One of Arsene Wenger greatest signings… and that’s saying something!

Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United in 1992; fee: £1.2m

The inimitable, the enigmatic… the kung fu master? Love him or loathe him, there is no disputing Eric Cantona had a massive impact on English football. United had not won a league title for almost three decades before Cantona turned up – for an almost inexplicable meagre transfer fee – to show them the way (as he had at Leeds the season before).

He scored 64 goals in 143 United appearances, many of which were exquisitely executed, and had a dominant air that rubbed off on his teammates. He also had a penchant for the theatrical – on the pitch and at press conferences – so it was no surprise he turned to a career in acting when he retired from the game. For many though he will be remembered as simply one of the greatest foreign players to grace English football.

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