Some of these players’ names are etched in the history of their clubs forever.
The football transfer window is now well and truly underway. The high stakes into player acquisition in football sometimes sees individuals sold and purchased for inordinate amounts of money.
That being said, over the years there have been a number of highly successful transfers that did not cost nearly as much as one might have expected. These budget transfers, scattered throughout football history have played an important role in making transfers as exciting as they have come to be.
Here is a list of the top five budget transfers of all time.
5. Edwin van der Sar – £2m
Edwin van der Sar was 34 years of age when he was brought into the Manchester United setup by Sir Alex Ferguson from Fulham. The Dutch goalkeeper was a revelation at Old Trafford, serving between the sticks for six seasons between 2005 and 2011. In the 2008-09 season, Van Der Sar set the record for the longest time played without conceding a goal, with 1311 minutes.
The former Juventus and Ajax man lifted the Champions League in 2008, to add to his four Premier League titles, making him one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the club.
4. Toni Kroos – £22.5m
The German midfielder was signed by Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 for meagre £22.5m, after his proposed move to Manchester United in the Premier League failed to come through. Kroos would prove to be a revelation for the Los Blancos, forming a near impregnable midfield partnership with Luka Modric.
The 30-year-old won a massive four UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid, going down in history as one of their most successful signings of all time.
3. Robert Lewandowski – £4m
The Polish striker was brought to the Bundesliga by Borussia Dortmund in 2010, for a mere £4m. The attacker would go on to establish himself as one of Europe’s most lethal finishers, scoring 74 goals in 131 appearances for the club before his move to Bayern Munich. Lewandowski was instrumental to Dortmund’s Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 as well as the club’s run to the Champion’s league final in 2013.
Lewandowski moved to Bayern Munich on a free transfer where he continues his goalscoring exploits, earning himself a spot on our list.
2. Henrik Larsson – £650,000
Henrik Larsson was signed by Celtic in 1997 for a mere £650k from Feyenoord. The Swede would go on to earn the nickname, “King of Kings”, from his adoring Celtic fans over the course of his seven years at the club before his move to Barcelona in 2004. Larsson scored 242 goals in 315 games for the Scottish side, winning four Scottish Premier League titles and an European Golden Boot in the process.
The striker won the award for the best Swedish player in the last 50 years in 2003, making him one of the best budget transfers of all time.
1. Eric Cantona – £1.2m
The story goes that Eric Cantona’s transfer to Manchester United occurred on a phone call that Leeds United had made to the Manchester United office, inquiring about the availability of Dennis Irwin. The Frenchman joined United at a time when the class of ’92 were just beginning to make their way into the first team. Cantona instilled a winning mentality in the players, many of whom would go on to have truly special careers for Manchester United and in the game.
In addition to all of this, Cantona was a special player in his own right, winning four Premier League titles for Manchester United, going down as one of the greatest players ever to grace Old Trafford.