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Leicester City

A tribute to Jamie Vardy – celebrating his incredible rise from being a non-league rookie to a PL icon

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A tribute to Jamie Vardy- celebrating his incredible rise from a non-league rookie to an England star and a Premier League icon

From the obscurity of non-league football to Premier League stardom, Jamie Vardy’s meteoric rise up the footballing pyramid in England has been an incredibly inspiring journey, to say the least.

There is hardly anyone who would have heard about him seven years ago when he was plying his trade with Fleetwood Town in the Conference Premier but he is now a cult hero at Leicester City and a former England international.

There has hardly been any footballer in England in the 21st century who has completed such an exponential rise from a being a non-league rookie to one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League.

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Joe Lolley, who currently plies his trade in the Championship with Nottingham Forest, could, by some ways, be the nearest example, although he hasn’t matched Vardy’s exploits by any means.

Vardy’s incredible scoring form in Leicester City’s awe-inspiring Premier League triumph made him a cult hero at the club but that is only a part of his newly-found stardom.

Vardy’s consistently impressive performances in the Premier League has transformed him into an icon; a hugely influential figure in English football, and a former England international.

Yes, it might be hard to believe but the once non-league rookie donned the Three Lions jersey at two major tournaments in recent times – 2016 Euro Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

He announced his retirement from international football after scoring 7 goals in 26 appearances for England, with a bulk of those goals coming against top European nations like Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Vardy is now 32 but he is still looking good for plenty more in the Premier League for the years to come. However, it is certainly worth revisiting the incredible rise of the Sheffield-born ace, which should go down as one of the most inspirational stories in the history of football.

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Early Years

Vardy started his career in the youth ranks at Sheffield Wednesday but he was released at the age of 16 and joined Stocksbridge Park Steels F.C in 2003.

He made his way through the reserve team and into the first-team before making his debut in 2007 in non-league football. Vardy impressed with his stellar displays at Stocksbridge and attracted interest from elsewhere, whilst a trial at Crewe Alexandra ended in failure.

Vardy, however, continued to excel in non-league football and joined F.C Halifax Town in the Northern Premier League in 2010, scoring 25 goals in 37 appearances in his debut season to propel his new club to a triumphant league campaign.

Vardy’s scoring heroics earned him the Players’ Player of the Year award and after just over a year with Halifax, Vardy signed for Conference Premier outfit Fleetwood Town.

The striker’s first season in the Conference Premier proved to be a fruitful one, as Vardy netted 31 goals in 26 appearances to propel Fleetwood Town to their first-ever promotion to the Football League.

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Entry into the Championship

Vardy’s incredible strike rate at Fleetwood Town, which saw him finish as the top scorer in the Conference Premier, prompted Championship promotion-hopefuls Leicester City to make a move for him. He was offered a first-team role under then manager Nigel Pearson.

As a matter of fact, Vardy never played in League Two and League One and made a direct jump from non-league football to the Championship, which, indeed, is an incredibly bold step for any player.

His first season at Leicester City was not smooth sailing, as Vardy found the net on just 4 occasions in 26 appearances in the second-tier. Leicester’s gamble on Vardy failed to pay the dividends at the first time of asking.

However, Pearson and his assistant Craig Shakespeare convinced him to stay and that would ultimately prove to be another talking point of his rise in football.

Vardy put the disappointment of the 2012-13 season behind him and spearheaded the attack brilliantly in the following season, scoring 16 goals to propel the Foxes to the Premier League as the outright winners of the Championship. 

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Premier League debut and still going strong

Vardy proved his credentials to thrive in the Championship but many would have expected Leicester to sideline him or loan him out to another second-tier outfit upon securing promotion to the Premier League. However, Pearson showed immense faith in Vardy and opted to field him up front as a regular starter in the top-flight.

And Vardy repaid his manager’s faith in him with a man-of-the-match display against Man United, helping the Foxes come back from 3-1 down to an eventual 5-3 victory.

The 32-year-old never looked back and produced a number of eye-catching performances in the top-flight, enough to prove that he definitely has the quality to thrive in the Premier League.

Vardy finished the campaign with 5 goals and 8 assists, as the Foxes finished 14th and managed to beat the drop comfortably in the end.

Vardy’s stocks were very much on the rise at the end of the 2013-14 season but even he wouldn’t have anticipated such a dramatic change of fortunes, for him as well as for Leicester in a span of just a single season. In other words, what followed after that simply defied belief.

Pearson’s successor Claudio Ranieri upset the ridiculous 5000-1 odds and guided the Foxes to an unlikely Premier League title triumph in the 2015-16 season, with Vardy scoring 24 goals in the campaign.

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Leicester’s abrupt emergence and Vardy’s incredible upturn of form saw him bag the 2016 Barclays Premier League Player of the Season.   

Arsene Wenger was ready to bring him to the Emirates but he rebuffed Arsenal’s approach and signed a new long-term deal with Leicester City, instead.

Vardy continued his scoring form in the Premier League in the following season and also found the net twice in the UEFA Champions League, as the Foxes made it all the way to the quarterfinals. 

Vardy hasn’t been able to replicate his feat of scoring 24 goals in the Premier League until now but goals have continued to flow for him at an impressive strike rate, nonetheless.

The 32-year-old has racked up a staggering 80 goals and 29 assists in 176 Premier League appearances, numbers which are quite eye-watering for any footballer playing in such a highly competitive league.

Conclusion

It is difficult to find the proper set of adjectives to describe Vardy’s sensational rise in English football from being a non-league star to a Premier League icon.

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It certainly doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that he has by far been one of the most consistent strikers in the Premier League over the past few years and it would be harsh to take any credit away from him.

Vardy’s hardworking nature, lightning pace, instant acceleration, his ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender and time his run to perfection, and clinical finishing, have troubled even the best of defences in the top-flight.

Still only 32, he definitely has a lot to offer as far as Leicester are concerned, and even if he hangs up his boots right now, the story of his rise is likely to inspire footballers for generations to come.

Vardy’s meteoric rise in English football is like a ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel for all non-league footballers who dream of playing in the Premier League some day.

The Leicester man rose to prominence by his sheer dint of merit and hard work, which should be a lesson for all non-league footballers that opportunities are there if you keep working hard.

Working hard and working smart are completely different things but Vardy has shown the ability to combine both in order to produce the desired results.

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Aston Villa

Top 5 expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League – a rundown of their performances

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Top 5 expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League

Aston Villa’s spending spree this summer has grabbed the headlines in the British tabloids.

Manager Dean Smith has already shelled out a lot of money to bring as many as ten new players so far, and with just a week remaining before the transfer deadline, it won’t be surprising to see Villa bag a couple of more scalps in the market.

Apart from ironing out permanent deals for last season’s loanees Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi, Villa have also splashed the cash to bring in the likes of Wesley Moraes, Matt Targett, Jota, Trezeguet, Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels and Douglas Luiz as a part of their massive squad overhaul this summer.

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Interestingly, it is the towering Brazilian centre-forward Wesley Moraes who has arrived at Villa Park in a club-record £22million deal from Belgian heavyweights Club Brugge, making him the most expensive Belgian import ever in the Premier League. 

Looking at the past records, Aston Villa have every reason to be confident of Wesley’s ability to make the step up to the Premier League because this is not the first time that Villa have raided the Belgian market for a centre-forward, having enjoyed resounding success with the transfer of Christian Benteke from KRC Genk back in the 2012-13 season.  

Besides the other elite leagues in Europe, the Belgian top-flight, despite not being regarded as a highly competitive ground, has emerged as one of the most reliable markets for the Premier League clubs over the years.

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Starting from Romelu Lukaku, Benteke and Aleksandar Mitrovic to the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Wilfred Ndidi and, most recently, Leander Dendoncker, there have been numerous success stories of players acclimatising brilliantly to the Premier League after arriving from Belgian clubs. 

Apart from Aston Villa, the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton have also completed big-money raids on the Belgian market this summer to bring in Leandro Trossard and Moussa Djenepo, which further underpins the fact that the English clubs are not reluctant to show confidence in the Belgian league players.

While players arriving in the Premier League from the lower leagues in Europe are still viewed with suspicion by the English fans, it is worth mentioning here that a big number of the Belgian imports in the English top-flight have done their reputation no harm.

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It is definitely worth taking a look at some of the most expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League and how they have fared over the years.

Note: Only the initial sign-on amount in each case is taken into account and the values mentioned below do not include add-ons or performance-related bonuses.

Here are the 5 most expensive players to arrive in the Premier League from the Belgian market:

1. Jose Izquierdo – £13.5million

The diminutive Colombian winger rose to prominence in Europe during his three-year spell at Club Brugge in Belgium, where he carved out a real reputation for himself with his pace, breathtaking solo runs down the flanks and a terrific eye for goal. 

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The left-winger plundered 38 goals and 19 assists in 117 appearances for Brugge in all competitions, winning the Belgian Cup and the Belgian Pro League, whilst also impressing in the Europa League and the Champions League.

Izquierdo’s heroics in Belgium earned him a £13.5millionmove to the south coast of England with Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer of 2017 and the 27-year-old enjoyed a decent first season at the Amex Stadium, registering 5 goals and 3 assists in the Premier League. 

However, the Colombian fell out of favour in his second season under Chris Hughton and managed only 9 starts in the league. Now, it remains to be seen whether new manager Graham Potter has him in his plans for the upcoming campaign. 

2. Aleksandar Mitrovic – £13million

The towering Serbian centre-forward was one of the best emerging talents in Europe when Newcastle United splashed out £13million to sign him as a 20-year-old from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015.

Prior to his move to England, Mitrovic had already won the Serbian title with his boyhood club Partizan Belgrade and the Belgian Pro League in his debut campaign at Anderlecht.

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A strike rate of 44 goals in 90 appearances was apparently enough to convince Newcastle of Mitrovic’s talent and the Serb showed strong signs of promise in his debut season in the Premier League, although his 9 goals in the 2015-16 season weren’t enough to prevent relegation.

Despite Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship, Mitrovic stayed at St.James’ Park with a view to guiding the Magpies back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.

However, a drastic dip in form in the 2016-17 season saw the Serb find the net on only 4 occasions in 25 league appearances in the second-tier, although Benitez’s side did manage to secure promotion, courtesy of Dwight Gayle’s free-scoring form.

Mitrovic struggled in the 2017-18 season in the Premier League before resurrecting his career on loan at Fulham in the Championship, scoring 12 in 20 games in the second half of the 2017-18 season to propel the Cottagers to the top-flight. 

His promotion-winning heroics earned him a permanent deal at Craven Cottage and Mitrovic impressed with 11 goals in Fulham’s 2018-19 Premier League campaign, which ultimately ended in relegation.

3. Wilfred Ndidi – £15million

The tough-tackling and all-action central defensive midfielder made his professional debut for Genk back in the 2014-15 season and his resounding success in the Belgian top-flight over the next couple of seasons paved the way for a £15millionmove to Leicester City in January 2017. 

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Apart from impressing in the latter half of Leicester’s remarkable run to the quarter-finals of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League, Ndidi soon established himself as one of the most daunting and energetic defensive midfielders in the Premier League and nailed down a regular starting role right from the beginning of his time at the King Power Stadium.

Still only 22, Ndidi has already proven himself to be an exceptional talent and Leicester might struggle to hold on to him for too long if he continues to develop at such a rapid rate.

The Nigerian international continues to be a massive bargain for Leicester and the Foxes are likely to recoup at least two to three times the money should they decide to move him on in the near future. 

4. Marouane Fellaini – £15million

The Belgian international’s towering frame and bushy haircut became a familiar sight for the Premier League fans for almost a decade, especially for those at Goodison Park and Old Trafford.

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Former Everton manager David Moyes was the man responsible for bringing the 6ft 4in central midfielder to the Premier League in 2008 for a fee of £15million from Standard Liege and he reunited with Fellaini at Man United in the summer of 2013.

Fellaini went on to enjoy an illustrious and distinguished career in English football, and racked up a mammoth 354 appearances in all competitions for Everton and Man United combined, registering a total of 55 goals and 38 assists in the process.

The 2018-19 season proved to be Fellaini’s swansong in the Premier League, with the Belgian moving to the Chinese Super League in January 2019.

However, he has to go down as one of the best ever Belgian imports in the history of the Premier League, having won the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League with Man United.

5. Romelu Lukaku- £12 million

Currently one of the stalwarts in the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku bagged 41 goals in 98 appearances for Anderlecht and won a host of honours in Belgium, including the Belgian Pro League in 2009-10 and the Ebony Shoe before earning a £12million move to Chelsea in 2011. 

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Lukaku, however, struggled for playtime at Stamford Bridge and established himself as a free-scoring forward in the Premier League during his loan spells, netting 17 for West Brom in the 2012-13 season and following it up with another 16 at Everton in the following campaign.

The Belgian centre-forward joined Everton permanently in 2014 and subsequently carved out a massive reputation for himself owing to his free-scoring form, which saw him rack up a staggering 87 goals in 166 appearances for the Toffees.

Following his resounding success at Everton, Lukaku moved to Man United for a fee of £75million in 2016 but his returns have dipped slightly during his stint at Old Trafford, as he has accumulated just 42 goals in 96 appearances for the Red Devils till date.

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Barcelona

9 most expensive internationally uncapped players in football right now

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9 most expensive internationally uncapped players in football currently

We all know that money flows very easily in football nowadays and the involvement of multi-million-pound investors has made it a walk in the park for European clubs to splash the cash.

That, however, doesn’t mean that they have got all the money in the world because the Chinese clubs too have a lot of easy cash at their disposal and often manage to snap up promising prospects with their financial prowess.

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As a matter of fact, the clubs hardly take into account the international recognition of the players but it is their performances in the club circuit that matter the most.

As evident from some of the transfers these days, it is true that big-money moves don’t always depend on whether or not players have been capped internationally by their respective nations. The international status is no longer considered as a big asset in the CV of any footballer.

Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at some of the most expensive internationally uncapped footballers in the world.

Note: Those who have gained international status following their big-money moves, such as Ederson Moraes, Richarlison, Arthur and so on, are not taken into consideration. The list only includes those who are yet to be capped by their nations at the senior level.

1. Aymeric Laporte – £57 million

Man City splashed out a then club-record fee of £57million to bring in French centre-back Aymeric Laporte from La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao in January 2018.

The technically-gifted defender proved himself to be a tailor-made fit for Pep Guardiola’s system and quickly nailed down a regular starting role at the Etihad.

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Laporte’s consistently impressive performances have led to him being regarded as one of the best young centre-backs in the Premier League. However, as surprising as it might sound, the left-footed defender is yet to earn a senior cap for the France national team.

The 25-year-old has already won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and League Cup with Man City but that apparently hasn’t been enough to impress Didier Deschamps.

2. Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £50million

Currently an England U-21 international, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a hot property this summer and Man United seemingly stole a march over their Premier League rivals by forking out £50million to sign the right-back from Crystal Palace.

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His impressive performances for the Eagles last season, coupled with his obvious talent and massive potential, kind of justifies that price tag but England have the likes of Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold currently vying for that right-back role.

Gareth Southgate, though, is likely to have Wan-Bissaka on his radar for the near future, with a view to having him cap-tied for England. Just to remind the fans, he is still eligible to represent DR Congo owing to his African heritage.

3. Malcom – £36.5million

The former Corinthians winger racked up 23 goals and 16 assists in 96 appearances for Bordeaux in all competitions over the course of three seasons before Barcelona successfully signed the burgeoning Brazilian talent in the summer of 2018.

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The £36.5million price tag looked quite outrageous when the move materialized and the left-footed creative winger struggled to nail down a regular starting spot in Barcelona’s star-studded first team last season.

A part of the Brazil U-20 side that finished as runners-up at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Malcom has been called up by senior international coach Tite on a couple of occasions, although he is still awaiting his first cap.

4. Vinicius Junior- £38.7million

One of the most talented Brazilian exports to have gatecrashed the Spanish market in recent times, Vinicius Junior shot to prominence with Flamengo before earning a £38.7million move to Real Madrid last summer. 

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It is a no-brainer that he arrived at the Bernabeu as a future prospect and only played a bit-part role in the first-team last season, although he still managed to earn plenty of plaudits for his quick feet, razor-sharp anticipation, lightning pace, instant acceleration and mesmerizing dribbling skills to complement a deadly eye for key passes.

Vinicius was called up to the Brazil national team for the friendlies against Panama and the Czech Republic earlier this year but he had to withdraw due to an injury and currently remains uncapped at the senior international level.

5. Rodrygo Goes – 45million

Real Madrid made the headlines with the signing of highly-rated 18-year-old winger Rodrygo Goes from Brazilian club Santos last summer for €45m, although the teenage sensation continued his development with Santos this past season as a part of the agreement between the two clubs.

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The electric left-winger has already represented Brazil at U-17 and U-20 levels but it doesn’t look likely that he would be getting a senior breakthrough any time soon given the intense competition for places in Brazil’s ranks.

6. Anthony Modeste – 35.7million

Anthony Modeste’s feat of 25 goals in 37 appearances for Cologne in the Bundesliga in the 2016-17 season propelled the club to the European front for the first time in 25 years and Chinese outfit Tianjin Quanjian splashed €35.7million to bring the Frenchman to the Far East.

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However, he went AWOL after netting 16 goals in 29 appearances for the Chinese side and returned to Cologne.

The Bundesliga veteran is now 31 and the prospect of international football with France looks bleak.

7. Ayoze Perez- £30 million

Newcastle only spent £1.5million to bring Ayoze Perez from Spanish second-tier side Tenerife back in 2014 but the Magpies made an eye-watering profit when Leicester City forked out £30million to sign the playmaking forward this summer. 

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Perez scored 48 goals in 195 appearances over the course of five seasons at St.James’ Park and represented Spain a couple of times at the U-21 level, although he is yet to receive a senior international cap.

8. James Maddison – £24million

The playmaker established himself as one of the breakout stars in the Premier League in the 2018-19 season following his move to the King Power Stadium from Norwich City last summer.

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The 21-year-old racked up an impressive 7 goals and 7 assists in the league this past season for Leicester City and proved himself to be worth every penny of the £24million that the Foxes had spent to bring him to the club.

Maddison’s impressive performances earned him a senior England call-up for the UEFA Nations League fixture against Croatia last year but he is yet to make his debut for the Three Lions. Gareth Southgate will probably be having him on his radar for Euro 2020, nevertheless.

9. Issa Diop – £22million

West Ham spent £22million to bring the towering French centre-back to East London from Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse last summer and he went on to have a massive impact at the London Stadium under Manuel Pellegrini in the Premier League this past season. 

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Diop has represented France at all youth levels from U-16 to U-21, although he still remains eligible to represent Senegal through his father, and Morocco through his mother’s heritage.

Still only 22, the 6ft 4in giant does look like a bright international prospect for all three aforementioned nations.

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Leicester City

5 of the best bargain buys in the Premier League since the turn of the decade

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5 best bargain buys in the Premier League since the turn of the decade

The 2019 summer transfer window has already witnessed some big-money arrivals in the Premier League.

Man United have made their intentions very clear by forking out £50million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Leicester City have paid £40million to Monaco for Youri Tielemans and Spurs have come out of their reluctancy to spend big by snapping up Tanguy Ndombele for £60million, whilst Man City have shattered their club-record fee by splashing £62.8 million on Rodri. 

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These transfers have certainly made the headlines in the tabloids and things are expected to heat up even more in the coming weeks as the deadline day in August looms large.

Well, we all know that money flows quite easily in the Premier League nowadays and the fans would probably recall the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool throwing around millions in the transfer window last summer to bring in goalkeepers Arrizabalaga and Alisson respectively.

Similarly, the 2018 summer window also witnessed some shrewd acquisitions by a few clubs, with the likes of Liverpool, Wolves and Arsenal bringing in Xherdan Shaqiri, Joao Moutinho and Matteo Guendouzi from Stoke City, Monaco and FC Lorient respectively. 

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All the aforementioned players arrived the respective clubs for relatively small sums of money but they proved themselves to be as good as gold for such thrifty amounts.

Due to the exponential rise in the involvement of finances in football over the years, even the lesser clubs in the Premier League have the money in their bank to pull off audacious raids on the heavyweights nowadays.

Leicester City might have spent £30million to sign Ayoze Perez this summer but it is worth mentioning that Newcastle United had paid Tenerife only £1.5million to secure the Spaniard’s services back in 2014.

Going by whatever Perez went on to achieve at Tyneside over the course of five seasons, it is a no-brainer that the Spaniard was, indeed, a monumentous bargain for the Magpies.

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It is true that the Premier League clubs are spendthrifts these days, yet, realistically, they always have to be aware of the financial fair play regulations and it is certainly not possible for them to splash out millions in every transfer window.

And that is exactly why the bargain deals – be it plucking out unproven talents from far corners of the world or nabbing proven players from the lower divisions, are so crucial to the success of any team.

Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at some deals since the turn of the decade when players coming in for thrifty amounts have exceeded expectations.

1. Steven Davis – £800,000 (Rangers to Southampton)

Steven Davis won three Scottish Premiership titles, three Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups over the course his five-season stay at Ibrox, having initially joined the Old Firm giants on loan from Fulham back in 2008.

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The Northern Irishman, who was also a part of the Rangers side that reached the 2007-08 UEFA Cup final, moved to Southampton for a paltry £800,000 in 2012 prior to the Gers’ insolvency issues and subsequent demotion to the fourth-tier.

Despite lacking creativity and natural finesse, the central midfielder went on to establish himself as a firm fan favourite at St. Mary’s due to his drive, determination, willingness to compete and hunger for success.

Davis netted 14 goals in 226 appearances for the Saints before returning to Rangers in January 2019.

2. Patrick van Aanholt – £1.5million (Chelsea to Sunderland)

The Dutch international made only 8 appearances for Chelsea over the course of five seasons and spent time on loan at five different clubs, including Vitesse Arnhem where he stayed on for nearly two-and-a-half seasons before finally getting an opportunity to make his mark in the Premier League with Sunderland.

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The Black Cats spent just £1.5million to sign the left-back in 2014 and Van Aanholt, who had faded into oblivion as a part of Chelsea’s loan army, went on to establish himself as one of the standout performers at the club.

The Dutchman made 95 appearances for Sunderland in all competitions, scoring 9 goals in the process before joining Crystal Palace in January 2017.

3. James McArthur – £400,000 (Hamilton Academical to Wigan Athletic)

A part of the Hamilton Academical side that won the 2007-08 Scottish First Division title to secure promotion to the Scottish Premiership, James McArthur impressed with his strength, tenacity, drive, fluent passing and youthful exuberance in the top-flight north of the border for a couple of seasons before joining Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2010.

McArthur reunited with former Hamilton player James McCarthy following his move to the DW Stadium.

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After featuring sporadically in his first season, McArthur gradually established himself as first-team regular in his second season at the club, scoring against the likes of Bolton and Spurs in the Premier League.

McArthur helped Wigan secure the FA Cup in the 2012-13 season with a surprise 1-0 win against Man City in the final, although the Latics went down to the Championship in the same season.

McArthur stayed for a season in the Championship but he eventually departed for Crystal Palace in 2014.

Wigan are yet to make it back to the Premier League but the Latics would hardly rue the £400,000 that they spent on him given that the Scotsman went on to register a total of 156 appearances for them.

4. Robert Huth – £3million (Stoke City to Leicester City)

After spending five successful seasons at Stoke City in the Premier League, Robert Huth fell out of favour in the 2014-15 campaign and joined Leicester City on loan in January 2015 to help the Foxes in their bid for survival in the top-flight.

Huth made 14 appearances in the second half of the campaign and was one of the key driving forces behind their sudden upturn of form, as Nigel Pearson’s side came back from the brink of relegation to the secure a comfortable 14th-place finish.

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As a result of his fine performances, Huth was signed permanently by Leicester for a fee of £3million and the German went on to play a key role in the Foxes’ surprise Premier League triumph in the 2015-16 campaign, thus joining the elite list of players to have won the top-flight title with two different clubs.

The former Chelsea man played until the end of the 2016-17 season before his career came to a premature end due to ankle and foot injuries.

5. Andre Ayew- Free Transfer (Marseille to Swansea City)

Having scored 60 goals in 209 appearances for Marseille, Swansea looked to have pulled off a massive coup when they brought the Ghanaian in on a free transfer in the summer of 2015.

And Ayew proved himself to be the biggest bargain in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season, as the versatile left-winger struck 12 goals in his debut campaign in English football. 

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Ayew was sold to West Ham just after a single full season, with the Hammers splashing the cash to sign the Ghanaian. However, in a twist of fate, Swansea splashed a similar amount to bring him back to the club in January 2018.

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