In this article, we will be taking a closer look at some of the best transfers in Premier League history, highlighting the players who made a significant impact on the league and their teams.
The English Premier League is one of the most watched and competitive football leagues in the world. It attracts top talent from all over the globe.
Over the years, the league has seen some of the biggest and most impactful transfers in football history.
Many of these players go on to become legends at their respective clubs.
Whether it’s through big-money signings or shrewd acquisitions, the Premier League has always had a knack for bringing in top talent and helping them to reach new heights.
Before going into details, let’s talk about the transfer window itself and English football.
During the year football clubs can transfer players to other clubs, registering them in time before the end of the transfer window.
Each national football association (F.A.) decides on the time frame, e.g. the dates of when it opens and shuts.
There are two windows throughout the season in the premier league. The first is the longest duration from June – September, and the shorter one from January 1st – 31st.
FIFA introduced the transfer window in the 2002/03 season, making it compulsory, hoping that it would improve the team’s stability and prevent agents from searching for deals all year round.
English football was initially behind the plans when they were proposed in the early 1990s in the hope that it would work.
Now, let’s get to the real deal.
25 Best Transfers in Premier League History
There have been some great signings over the years in the Premier League. Erling Haaland for Manchester City, Bruno Fernandez for Manchester United, Didier Drogba for Chelsea, Luis Saurez for Liverpool, Diego Costa for Chelsea, Carlos Tezez for West Ham, and many others. The list just goes on and on and on.
But now, I’ll highlight some of the best signings in Premier League history, in my opinion, in no particular order. Agree with me or not, I will leave that up to you.
1. Patrick Vieira | AC Milan to Arsenal | £3.5 million | 1996
Arsenal signed Patrick Vieira from AC Milan in 1996 for a transfer fee of £3.5 million. It was a significant amount of money at the time, but it proved to be a wise investment. Why?
Vieira went on to become one of the best midfielders in the history of the Premier League and a key player in the success of Arsenal Football Club during his nine seasons at the club.
Vieira’s strength, physicality, and technical ability made him a dominant force in the midfield, and he quickly became a fan favourite.
Vieira played for Arsenal for nine seasons, making over 400 appearances for the club and winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups. He was also part of the Arsenal “Invincibles” team that went through the entire 2003-04 season without losing a single league game!
2. Chris Sutton | Norwich City to Blackburn Rovers | 1994 | £5 million
Chris Sutton was a striker who played for several clubs in England, including Blackburn Rovers. He signed for Blackburn from Norwich City in 1994 for a then-British record transfer fee of £5 million.
They won their first title since 1914 under Kenny Dalglish.
At Blackburn, Sutton formed a prolific strike partnership with Alan Shearer, and together they helped Blackburn win the Premier League title in the 1994-95 season, ending Manchester United’s dominance of the league.
Sutton scored 15 goals that season and was instrumental in Blackburn’s success. His time at Blackburn is remembered fondly by fans and he is considered one of the club’s all-time greats
3. Andy Cole | Newcastle to Manchester United | 1995 | £7 million
An outstanding signing from Sir Alex Ferguson, he fitted right in at the time and was an absolute goal machine. It was the British transfer record at the time, with Keith Gillespie a winger for United going the other way as part of the deal.
He was everything you wanted in a striker – goals. He ended up with five premier league titles, the champions league title, an FA Cup, and a host of goals.
4. Dwight Yorke | Aston Villa to Manchester United | 1998 | £12.9 million
Guided the Red Devils in his first season to a unique treble of the premier league, champions league, and FA Cup and was joint top goalscorer with 18 goals.
Formed a legendary partnership with Andy Cole and the following season, winning another league title, scored 23 goals in all competitions.
5. Didier Drogba | Marseille to Chelsea | £24 million | 2004)
Didier Drogba is a former Ivorian professional footballer who played as a striker. He joined Chelsea Football Club in 2004 from Marseille for a transfer fee of £24 million. This made him the most expensive African player at the time.
Drogba quickly established himself as a key player for Chelsea, scoring goals consistently and becoming a fan favourite. He helped the club win two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and the UEFA Champions League in 2012.
In the final of the Champions League, Drogba scored the equalizing goal in regulation time and then the winning penalty in the shootout. Thus, securing Chelsea’s first-ever Champions League trophy.
Drogba’s physicality, aerial ability, and clinical finishing made him a difficult player for defenders to handle, and he remains one of the most successful and popular players in the history of the Chelsea Football Club.
In total, he scored over 100 goals in his first spell at the club.
6. Xabi Alonso | Real Sociedad to Liverpool | £10.5 million | 2004)
Xabi Alonso is a retired Spanish professional footballer who began his Premier League career with Liverpool Football Club. He joined Liverpool in 2004 from Real Sociedad for a transfer fee of £10.5 million.
At Liverpool, Alonso quickly established himself as a key player in the team and was known for his passing ability, vision, and range of skills. He played a crucial role in helping Liverpool win the Champions League in 2005 and reach the final again in 2007.
In total, Alonso made over 200 appearances for Liverpool and was widely regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the Premier League during his time at the club.
7. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | Molde – Manchester United | 1996 | £1.5 million
A surprise acquisition by Alex Ferguson after he failed to get Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers. He would then become a key part of the first team and scored 91 goals in the league with 235 appearances.
OGS was dubbed “super sub” on that famous night at Camp Nou in Barcelona when United came from behind to beat Bayern Munich 2-1.
8. Thierry Henry | Juventus – Arsenal | 1999 | £11 million
An outstanding signing from Arsene Wenger started playing on the wing at Juventus and Monaco, converting to a striker for Arsenal – the rest is history.
Henry would score goals that no one else could, and with his exceptional pace, skill, and composure, he could dribble the ball past anyone. He scored 174 goals in 254 games for the Gunners.
9. Eric Cantona | Leeds United – Manchester United | 1992 | £1 million
He was an absolute bargain of a signing, became a legend at the club, and was regarded as one of the best players of his generation. A large, physically strong, and hard-working player, along with his intelligence on the ball.
He helped guide Manchester United to the league title in the 1992/93 season scoring 64 goals in 143 appearances for the club.
10. Robin van Persie | Arsenal to Manchester United | £24 million | 2012)
Robin van Persie is a retired Dutch professional footballer who was a striker. He joined Manchester United Football Club in 2012 from Arsenal for a transfer fee of £24 million.
Van Persie had been a key player for Arsenal, scoring goals consistently and winning the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2011-12 season.
His move to Manchester United was seen as a significant transfer, as the club was looking to strengthen its attack and challenge for the Premier League title.
At Manchester United, van Persie proved to be an inspired signing.
RVP scored 26 goals in his first season and helped the club win the Premier League title. His goals were crucial in securing the title, and he was awarded the Premier League Golden Boot for the second year in a row.
11. Gianfranco Zola | Parma – Chelsea | 1996 | £4.5 million
The little Italian would run rings around other players on the pitch with his dazzling skills and talent and score some memorable goals.
A clever player who could and often did sprinkle magic on muddy football pitches.
Zola won the UEFA Supercup with Chelsea in 1998, amongst other accolades.
12. Dennis Bergkamp | Inter Milan – Arsenal | 1995 | £7.5 million
Many people forget this, but he was signed by Bruce Rioch and not Arsene Wenger, and in my opinion, he is the best foreigner to have played in the premier league. The way he reads the game and his intelligence is a stroke of genius.
Bergkamp could make a goal out of nothing. His goal against Newcastle in November 2002 was pure magic.
He received the ball under pressure at the edge of the area, controlled and flicks the ball, and went around the other side of his marker before placing it in the bottom right-hand corner.
13. Luis Suarez | Ajax to Liverpool | £22.8 million | 2011
Luis Suarez joined Liverpool Football Club in 2011 from Ajax for a transfer fee of £22.8 million.
At Liverpool, Suarez quickly established himself as one of the Premier League’s most talented and productive forwards. He scored 82 goals for Liverpool and won the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2013-14 season.
Also, he was a crucial player in the team that came close to winning the league title in the same season.
Suarez’s performances for Liverpool attracted the attention of other top clubs, and in 2014 he joined Barcelona for a transfer fee of £75 million.
However, his time at Liverpool is remembered fondly by the club’s fans and he remains one of the most successful and popular players in the club’s history.
14. Sergio Aguero | Atletico Madrid to Manchester City | £38 million | 2011
Sergio Agüero joined Manchester City in 2011 from Atletico Madrid for a transfer fee of £38 million.
Agüero’s arrival at Manchester City began a new era for the club. They began to challenge for major honours and establish themselves as one of the top teams in the Premier League.
Agüero’s clinical finishing and ability to score important goals have been crucial to Manchester City’s success in recent years. He helped the club win multiple Premier League titles, as well as the FA Cup and several League Cups.
Overall, Aguero scored 260 goals for City despite being injury-prone, and he’s the 5th top Premier League goal scorer of all time.
15. Ashley Cole | Arsenal to Chelsea | £5 million | 2006)
Ashley Cole is a retired English professional footballer who played as a left-back. He joined Chelsea Football Club in 2006 from Arsenal for a transfer fee of £5 million.
Cole was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League at the time of his move to Chelsea, and his transfer was seen as a major coup for the club. He quickly established himself as a key player for Chelsea, helping the team win multiple Premier League titles, as well as the FA Cup and several League Cups.
Cole’s defensive ability and attacking prowess made him one of the most effective left-backs in the Premier League, and he was a key player for Chelsea for many years. He was also a regular member of the England national team and is widely regarded as one of the best left-backs of his generation.
In total, Cole made over 200 appearances for Chelsea and was a key player in the team’s success in recent years. He remains one of the most successful and popular players in the club’s history.
16. Yaya Toure | Barcelona to Manchester City | £24 million | 2010)
Yaya Touré is an Ivorian former professional footballer who played as a central midfielder. He joined Manchester City Football Club in 2010 from Barcelona for a transfer fee of £24 million.
Touré was a powerful and versatile midfielder who quickly established himself as a key player for Manchester City. He helped the team win multiple Premier League titles, as well as the FA Cup and several League Cups and was a key player in the team’s success in recent years.
17. Andrew Cole | Newcastle United to Manchester United | 1995
Andrew Cole is a retired English professional footballer who played as a striker. He joined Manchester United Football Club in 1995 from Newcastle United for a transfer fee of £7 million, which was a British transfer record at the time.
Cole was a prolific goalscorer at Newcastle United and was a core part of the treble-winning team in 1999.
Overall, Cole scored 121 goals for United, helping the team win multiple Premier League titles, as well as the FA Cup and several League Cups.
18. Wayne Rooney | Everton to Manchester United | £25.6 million | 2004)
Wayne Rooney joined Manchester United Football Club in 2004 from Everton for a transfer fee of £25.6 million, which was a British transfer record at the time.
In total, Rooney made over 550 appearances for Manchester United and scored over 253 goals for the club, making him the all-time highest goal scorer for the club.
In addition, Rooney won 5 Premier League titles, amongst other prestigious personal and individual accolades.
19. Alan Shearer | Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle | 1996 | £15 million
Signing for his boyhood team was a dream move for Shearer and the Magpies. A world record signing at the time and always had an eye for goal, becoming the premier leagues’ top goal scorer to this day.
Newcastle United pipped Manchester United to his signature in the summer of 1996; the rest is history.
20. Rio Ferdinand | Leeds United to Manchester United | 2002 | £30 million
Ferdinand became the most expensive British footballer in history at the time and won the premier league in his first season.
We all know Ferdinand for his unique technical ability, skill, and balance which gave him confidence on the ball, and his distribution was just as good.
He won six premier league titles and a champions league title but never the FA Cup.
21. Juninho | São Paulo to Middleborough | 1995 | £5 million
An attacking midfielder known for his flair and techniques was an exciting figure at Teeside.
He helped Middleborough reach the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1997. Unfortunately, his side got relegated that season.
22. Jay Jay Okocha | PSG – Bolton Wanderers | 2002 | Free transfer
An absolute bargain of a buy. Okocha’s move from PSG to Bolton is one of the best free transfers in football history.
He was such a creative player, like a player from another planet. He kept Bolton in the premier league and led them to the league cup final and knockout stages of the UEFA Cup.
23. Teddy Sheringham | Tottenham to Manchester United | £3.5 million | 1997)
Sheringham was a highly-regarded striker when he joined Manchester United, and his transfer was seen as a major boost for the club.
The Englishman quickly established himself as a key player for the team and was part of the United side that won the Premier League title, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League in the 1998-1999 season.
The Englishman joined Manchester United Football Club in 1997 from Tottenham Hotspur for a transfer fee of £3.5 million.
Sheringham made over 150 appearances for Manchester United and scored over 50 goals for the club. He remains a popular figure among United fans, and most football fans widely regard him as one of the best forwards of his generation.
24. Nicolas Anelka | Paris Saint-Germain to Arsenal | £500,000 | 1997
Anelka was a highly-regarded young striker when he joined Arsenal, and his transfer was seen as a major coup for the club. He quickly established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League and was a key player for Arsenal for many years, helping the team win several Premier League titles and reach the final of the UEFA Cup in 2000.
The Frenchman joined Arsenal Football Club in 1997 from Paris Saint-Germain for a transfer fee of £500,000.
In total, Anelka made over 200 appearances for Arsenal and scored over 50 goals for the club.
25. Frank Lampard | West Ham To Chelsea | £11 million | 2001
Lampard was a highly-regarded young player when he joined Chelsea, and he helped the team win multiple Premier League titles and several FA Cups and League Cups.
The Englishman joined Chelsea Football Club in 2001 from West Ham United for a transfer fee of £11 million.
In total, Lampard made over 640 appearances for Chelsea and is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 211 goals.
Lampard is also the highest-goal-scoring midfielder in Premier League history.
End the transfer window?
You have to understand why some managers have called for the current transfer window to be scrapped and to go back to the previous system where deals could be stretched out throughout the season.
It’s great to see so many transfers being done for clubs, but it does make you wonder about the panic and consternation of certain purchases for football clubs.
The Premier League has seen some of the world’s most talented and valuable players play in its ranks over the years.
From Patrick Vieira to Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba to Sergio Aguero, and Ashley Cole to Wayne Rooney, the league has had a rich history of big-money transfers and star players who have significantly impacted their respective teams.
These players have thrilled fans with their skills and brought success to their clubs, cementing their places in the annals of Premier League history.
Whether they arrived from overseas or other clubs within the league, they will always be remembered as some of the most incredible talents to grace the English top flight.
Which of these Premier League transfers is the best in your opinion?