This summer in the Premier League was all about clubs breaking transfer records, sometimes on multiple occasions, and even the world record as far as Manchester United were concerned.
But just as much as the market can be about making ‘statements’, it’s about finding gems on the cheap that may prove to be equally as important.
Here’s a look at eight of the best bargain signings made by Premier League over the last few months…
8. Jon Flanagan – Burnley (Loan)
Jon Flanagan has a lot to prove after joining Burnley on loan from Liverpool. But if the Merseyside-native can return to full fitness after an injury ravaged few years, the Clarets will have a top player on their hands as they look to survive in the Premier League.
Flanagan played 25 times for Liverpool in all competitions during the 2013/14 campaign and was so highly thought he was selected for England’s provisional World Cup squad.
7. Alvaro Arbeloa – West Ham (Free)
Alvaro Arbeloa is not particularly fashionable and celebrated his 30th birthday way back in January 2013, but the former Real Madrid defender does represent excellent value after joining West Ham on a free transfer.
The full-back is a World Cup and multiple Champions League winner, appeared over 230 times for Real Madrid in seven years, and has previous Premier League experience – he played for Liverpool when they were actually reasonably good.
6. Steve Mandanda – Crystal Palace (£1.5m)
French international goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has been Ligue 1’s Goalkeeper of the Year on four occasions – twice in the last two years – as a near ever present for Marseille, and Crystal Palace managed to sign him for just £1.5m.
The Eagles have struggled between the sticks in the last 12 months or so after injury to Julian Speroni, the short-lived Palace career of Alex McCarthy and the unfortunate mistakes that Wayne Hennessey occasionally has up his sleeves. Mandanda should be the answer.
5. Maarten Stekelenburg – Everton (Less Than £1m)
Everton moved early in the transfer market to land 33-year-old Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg from Fulham, with Ronald Koeman having worked with his fellow countryman at Southampton last season.
The Toffees paid less than £1m for a vastly experienced stopper who has played in a World Cup final, and his early season form is what stopped Everton potentially paying an extortionate £30m or more to sign Joe Hart from Manchester City.
4. Nolito – Manchester City (£13.8m)
Spending £13.8m on a player would still just about represent a club record fee for a handful Premier League clubs, but for Manchester City it is a relative bargain.
City spent far less on Nolito this summer than they have done on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and others in years gone by, but the Spaniard has already proven to be a very effective addition to the team with two goals and an assist in three Premier League games so far.
3. Alvaro Negredo – Middlesbrough (Loan)
Middlesbrough look to be the newly promoted side in with the best chance of staying up, and possibly even challenging for a mid-table finish, after s summer of solid transfer business.
In Alvaro Negredo, on loan from Valencia, Boro have landed themselves an experienced player of great quality on the cheap. It remains a bit of a mystery as to why things fell apart for the Spaniard at Manchester City after such a strong start, but he’s back and already firing.
2. Wilfried Bony – Stoke (£2m Loan)
What Stoke have lacked since they returned to the top flight in 2008 is a reliable goalscorer, with no Potters player yet to score more than 11 times in a single Premier League season.
Wilfried Bony, at a loan fee of £2m, has the potential to be that player. The Ivorian netted 26 times in one and half league seasons with Swansea and now has the added desire to prove himself once more after a £27m move to Manchester City didn’t work out.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United (Free)
Manchester United are paying enormous weekly wages to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic on board for the next season or two, but the Old Trafford club paid no transfer fee for the superstar Swede and that in itself puts him into bargain territory.
Ibrahimovic has already been likened to Eric Cantona, in terms of the quality he brings to the team himself, the awe and aura that surrounds him, and the positive impact in a mentor-type role he is expected to have on the club’s younger players.