It was a case of deja vu at Liverpool’s 2015/16 awards night as for the second year running the Reds’ Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho cleaned up, scooping a quartet of gongs including the Player of the Season.
Having only set Liverpool back somewhere close to £7m when he was plucked out of the Inter Milan wilderness in January 2013, Coutinho’s impact per pound sterling spent has been sizeable.
Here at Ladbrokes News it got us thinking about similarly astute purchases whose influence at other clubs has gone on to make a mockery of their meager price tags.
Over the entire Premier League era there have been too many to document in one article, though, so we narrowed our search down to players in the sub-£10m bracket, brought in from foreign clubs and made the cut off at the beginning of the decade.
Here is the five-man bargain buy shortlist since 2010:
Javier Hernandez – Guadalajara to Manchester United – £5.6m
Chicarito proved to be an inspired bit of scouting by Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson when he joined from Mexican side Guadalajara in 2010. The ‘Little Pea’ went on to hit double figures in three consecutive Premier League campaigns, despite being used predominantly as a substitute, picking up two titles in the process.
Graziano Pelle – Feyenoord to Southampton – £8m
The fact Pelle had broken the 25-goal mark in successive seasons for former club Feyenoord renders this a very smart bit of business by Southampton. Although the Italian hasn’t been quite as prolific over two seasons in a far more rigorous league, returns of 16 and now 13 heading into the final game of the season, with European qualification on the table, show Pelle’s been well worth the money.
Eric Dier – Sporting Lisbon to Tottenham – £4m
To think that Tottenham’s defensive midfield lynchpin arrived two summers ago as a centre-half come right-back is quite astounding as he prepares to jet off to the Euros with England. Over two seasons, the physically imposing player has shown himself to be technically gifted as well as tenacious and the transfer fee he would now command must dwarf £4m.
N’Golo Kante – Caen to Leicester – £6.2m
It was impossible not to recognise Leicester’s incredible eye for a bargain with the Premier League’s toughest tackler in 2015/16. Brought across the channel from modestly-prportioned French club Caen in the summer, the rest is history for one of the Foxes most integral pieces of the title-winning jigsaw.
Riyad Mahrez – Le Havre to Leicester – £350k
The signs were their last season that Leicester’s Algerian winger was a little bit special and goodness knows where he would have ended up had the Foxes gone down. As it was, he stayed on at the King Power having helped dig them out the mire. This season, Mahrez exploded into the consciousness alongside Jamie Vardy in attack, and having been voted the PFA Player of the Year for 2015/16, he has to be up there in the bargains of all time.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.