With just under a month to go before the summer transfer window slams shut, the transfer activity of English Premier League clubs shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, a recent report from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group stated that this years transfer window spend could surpass the record of £630m set in 2013.
While the big name and big money signings naturally attracting all the headlines, I’ve decided to take a close look at the ‘under-the-radar’ transfers that have happened so far this window.
The big names might help get bums on seats and generate a lot of preseason buzz, but usually it’s the bargain buys that help improve the depth of a squad and can mean the difference between a relegation fight or mid-table safety. By the looks of it this season will be no different, with a lot of clubs diving into the ‘secondary’ market to nab shrewd bargain signings.
Here’s my top XI Premier League bargain buys of the transfer window:
Goalkeeper: David Ospina (Arsenal – £3m)
The goalkeeping position has been a major problem for Arsenal in recent years. The North London club were buoyed by Wojciech Szczesny’s emergence last season as a No. 1 who could be trusted, but there remained a need for a top quality ‘back-up’ keeper who could not only take some of the pressure of Szczesny but even challenge the Pole for a starting position. Enter Colombia’s No. 1 Davis Ospina, who had an impressive World Cup and has arrived from French club Nice for the relatively paltry amount of £3 million.
Left back: Kieran Richardson (Aston Villa – free)
Due to their current financial difficulties, Aston Villa are playing the free market out of necessity rather than choice. That hasn’t stopped them picking up some great bargains, with experienced and consistent Premier League performers like Philippe Senderos and Joe Cole bolstering the squad for free. The signing of Kieran Richardson from relegated Fulham on a free is the most eye-catching though. The former Manchester United, Sunderland and West Brom player has plenty of experience and was a stand-out player in a poor Fulham side last year.
Right back: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City – free)
Although technically a free transfer, Sagna’s wage demands would make this a very expensive transfer for any other Premier League club. For Manchester City though, it’s small change, and getting a full-back of Sagna’s quality to compete with Pablo Zabaleta on a free is a great bit of business.
Centre back: Brede Hangeland (Crystal Palace – free)
Another Fulham player who has moved on for free, Hangeland was considered one of the best centre-backs in the country a few years ago – but his stock has dropped along with Fulham’s fortunes. Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis knows how to get the best out of his defenders though, so we can expect Hangeland to be back to his dominating best at Crystal Palace this season.
Centre back: Joleon Lescott (West Brom – free)
Another defender who’s stock has dropped in recent years, Lescott has finally broken free of the no-man’s land that is Manchester City’s reserves and now has a chance to prove himself at the top level once again with West Brom. For them, getting a player of Lescott’s calibre and experience on a free is a great bargain.
Defensive midfielder: Gareth Barry (Everton – free)
Gareth Barry proved while on loan at The Toffees last season that he still had what it takes to compete at the top level. Evidently he didn’t do enough to convince Manuel Pellegrini that he should return to the centre of Man City’s midfield, but Everton were more than happy to snap the former Villa man up on a permanent transfer.
Centre midfielder: Emre Can (Liverpool – £9.8m)
While a transfer fee of £9.8 million may not look like a bargain, if Emre Can manages to fulfil the huge potential he has shown at Bayer Leverkusen then Liverpool may well have the ‘signing of the season’ on their hands. Can is an inventive, talented midfielder with a great football brain – attributes that could see him become a star for Liverpool in the years to come.
Centre midfielder: Frank Lampard (Manchester City – loan)
After being deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, Frank Lampard now finds himself at Premier League champions Manchester City until January following his move to their new MLS franchise New York City FC. Lampard’s consistent goal-scoring record in the Premier League suggests this could well prove to be an astute bit of business for Man City.
Attacking midfielder: Tom Ince (Hull City – free)
Everyone has reportedly been interested in signing Tom Ince from Blackpool over the past few years, and he was very close to joining Inter Milan this summer before opting to join Hull City on a free. Hull had a great season last year, but lacked pace and creativity in attack – which is exactly what Tom Ince specialises in.
Forward: Bojan Krkic (Stoke City – £3m)
Anyone who has followed European football over the past few years will know all about Bojan – the hot prospect from Barcelona who has been bounced around some of the continents leading clubs, including Roma and Ajax. Now he has signed for Stoke City for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of £3m, and could well be the player that elevates Mark Hughes’ side from mid-table to the top six.
Striker: Didier Drogba (Chelsea – free)
Following the signing of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid, Jose Mourinho has made perhaps the shrewdest of all signings this summer by bringing in former Stamford Bridge hero Didier Drogba as back-up. He won’t be first choice, but he’ll be very able back-up and can only help Costa acclimatise to the Premier League.
Although there is big money being spent in the Premier League this summer, a lot of clubs have still got an eye on saving money by taking advantage of bargains.
What bargain buys do you think will have the best impact next season? Join the discussion in the comments below…