At no time is football more in focus than during the much-publicised transfer windows. During this period of sporting insanity, the game of football turns away from the pitch and sales obsessed clubs throw millions at players, all in the hope of injecting a bit of new blood into their teams. The results of these financial offers often end up in the tabloids, as player’s names are linked to unbelievable sums. The massive amounts paid for players are legendary, but for a bit of fun we thought we’d take a look at transfers that could well be considered the best bargains in the history of football transfers.
Robin van Persie – £2.7m
First up on the list is Robin van Persie. Back in 2004, Feyenoord was asking around £5 million for the Dutch star, but Arsenal nabbed him for a paltry £2.7 million, just over half the asking price. Not only did he go on to be one of their most prized assets, his transfer to Manchester United netted the club £22.5 million, plus an extra £1.5 for leading Man United to their Premier League Championship title!
Raúl – Free
In 1992, the club president of Atletico Madrid was under financial pressure and decided to close the club’s youth academy. What he failed to see was the talent that was about to blossom from a 15-year-old named Raúl González Blanco. Two years later, the enigmatic 17-year-old made his debut for Real Madrid’s first team. In his career with Los Blancos, Raúl would become a club legend. Listed as one of the all-time greats, he scored a total of 323 goals and helped Real Madrid to six La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles. Clearly Real Madrid loves a good bargain just as much as we love a casino bonus, as there’s nothing more rewarding than getting something for nothing!
Eric Cantona – £1.2m
Also in 1992, Eric Cantona helped Leeds defeat Manchester United. Not satisfied with their team, they wanted to buy back Denis Irwin to boost their defence. During the transfer window, they lost out on the move, and at the same time lost their star man. Sir Alex Ferguson managed to nab Cantona for just £1.2. The charismatic Frenchman went on to become the club’s first superstar, helping the club earn four league titles and two FA Cup titles in his time there. To date, they have not had any player who has gifted them with such skill for so little a price.
Riyad Mahrez – £400k
After striker Ryan Mendes was passed over, Leicester City scouts ended up finding winger Riyad Mahrez running the pitch at Le Havre in 2014. Signing him for an insignificant £400,000, the club made one of the best deals in their history. In the 2014/2015 season he played a key role in promoting the team from Championship to Premier league status, and helped them escape from relegation. In the 2015/2016 season, the Algerian was the creative force that ultimately saw Leicester City pull off football’s greatest underdog performance, winning the Premier League.
Andrea Pirlo – Free
In 2011, Andrea Pirlo had been playing for AC Milan for over a decade. In his time, he contributed to two series A wins and two Champions League titles. Still, club bosses decided that he was not needed anymore. Juventus boss at the time, Antonio Conte, who has managed Chelsea, nabbed the out of contract player without a second thought. In his time at Juventus, Pirlo would go on to help the team win the league title every year for four successive years and become a superstar. Creating magic from the midfield, Pirlo was touted as one of the transfers of the century!