Pitchside

Top 10 best value signings of the summer

Pitchside

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There have been some big money signings by Premier League clubs this summer, with Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas moving for above £30 million, and several younger players going for big, big money.

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While Sanchez, Costa and Fabregas are proven class, and the likes of Luke Shaw and Romelu Lukaku could turn into world-class footballers, there have been lots of smaller deals which could prove to be massive hits. So we take a look at some of the best value purchases this transfer window.

1. Gareth Barry (Manchester City to Everton, free)

Former England midfielder Barry was the beating heart of Everton’s rise under Roberto Martinez, but he was only on loan and his acquisition for no fee is a fantastic piece of business for the Toffees. Initially brought in as cover for the injured Darron Gibson – who played his best football the previous season – Barry proved to be an upgrade as Martinez switched Everton from a direct, counter-attacking style to an attractive possession outfit. Roundly mocked because he had a bad game against Germany in 2010, Barry is one of English football’s more accomplished technicians and deserves a stable job.

2. Diego Poyet (Charlton to West Ham, tribunal)

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One from the left field, but followers of the Championship – and England’s youth teams – will be aware of Gus Poyet’s hugely gifted son. A skilful central midfielder, he combines classic Latin American attributes with the rough-and-tumble of being raised in the English system. Burst on to the scene last season, was named Charlton’s player of the year despite featuring in fewer than half their matches. Was crucial in their escape from relegation, and is expected to feature in the Hammers first team. Could be one of the top English midfielders of his generation, if West Ham fans forgive him for a bit of ‘banter’ when his dad was managing Brighton.

3. David Ospina (Nice to Arsenal, £3m)

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The Colombia goalkeeper impressed at the World Cup, and was actually the top man between the sticks in South American qualifying. What he lacks in height he makes up for in handling and shot-stopping skills, and he is very good positionally. The Premier League is a step up in quality, but he will surely bring out the best in Wojciech Szczesny, who seemed to get a bit complacent last season.

4. Jack Rodwell (Manchester City to Sunderland, £10m)

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You may notice a pattern here, with City trimming their bloated squad by offloading big-name players for bargain prices. While easily the biggest deal on this list in terms of total cost, this is a steal given his undoubted quality. Strong, technical and aggressive, he has the ability to dominate matches from midfield, and not to long ago was being spoken of as a real prospect for England as a holding midfielder. Doubts remain over his fitness, however.

5. Joleon Lescott (Manchester City to West Brom, free)

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Still a fine defender, Lescott paid the price for Manuel Pellegrini’s strategic shift from fielding classic stoppers to ball-playing centre-halves; why else would Martin Demichelis be preferred to Lescott despite some terrible defensive errors? Lescott, when given the full trust of his manager, is an excellent positional defender and has a good line in tackles and headers. Does exactly what it says on the tin, and if the Baggies stay up he will have played a large part.

6. Mauricio Isla (Juventus to QPR, loan)

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Versatile defender-midfielder Isla is an international class player, and showed his worth in Chile’s impressive World Cup run. Equally capable as a right wingback as he is in central midfield, the former Udinese man has great energy, skill and pace and will be an excellent addition to QPR’s squad. Rangers were criticised for their scattergun transfer policy last time they were in the Premier League, but Isla represents a shift in strategy as Harry Redknapp cherry-picks players who can improve his squad. Where he plays remains to be seen, but he will represent good value anywhere on the park.

7. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff to QPR, £6m)

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One of two summer signings from the relegated Bluebirds, Mutch is an energetic, goal-getting midfielder with a tendency towards the spectacular. An exciting young British talent, he is expected to be mentored by Joey Barton, who if anything will be able to advise him on what not to do. Joining with the aforementioned Isla, Rio Ferdinand and ex-Bluebird Steven Caulker, Mutch’s signing means that QPR are almost there, needing perhaps a striker to be the complete package.

8. Jordi Gomez (Wigan to Sunderland, free)

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After the departure of Jack Colback, and following the abject failure of several Paolo Di Canio signings, Poyet needed to add some quality to his midfield. Rodwell will provide the presence, but Gomez will be a good foil, particularly linking the midfield to the attack. Dependable, consistent and a fine passer of the ball, he was wasted in Wigan’s Championship campaign and the Premier League will be better with the Spaniard back on board.

9. Jack Colback (Sunderland to Newcastle, free)

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A Geordie born and bred, Colback’s move from the Black Cats to their bitterest rivals left a sour taste in the mouth – but Toon are his team, and who can deny him his boyhood club? A classic bustling British midfielder, Colback will bring some much needed local spirit to a Newcastle team that sometimes reads like a who’s-who of Ligue 1.

10. Bacary Sagna (Arsenal to Manchester City, free)

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On paper, this is the deal of the summer: dependable, experienced, international-class defender – arguably one of the best in the world – signed from a title rival on a free transfer, while still in his prime. But City already have a world-class right-back in Pablo Zabaleta, and the gap between champions City and fourth-placed Arsenal really isn’t that great, particularly with the Gunners’ new signings and players returning from injury. Indeed, Arsenal replaced Sagna with his rival in the French team, Mathieu Debuchy, plus £16m teenager Calum Chambers. Unless, say, Barcelona sell Dani Alves and swoop for Zabaleta as his replacement, it’s hard to see why Sagna moved to City, as he may not play all that much. Well, it’s not that hard – he could do with a new yacht.

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