The Premier League is one of the most lucrative competitions in all of sport.
With England’s top-flight attracting millions of viewers around the world and billions in television revenue, it’s no wonder that the competition dishes out some of the heftiest transfer fees in the business.
Sure, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona might have dropped the biggest price tags in football history, but that doesn’t mean that Premier League clubs have been keeping their purse strings tight.
Premier League spending
It’s no secret that clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool have splurged tens of millions for players, but even the sides lower down the table are dipping deeper and deeper into their coffers.
And with the latest January transfer window now consigned to the history books, we wanted to put that distribution under the microscope by using Squawka data to assess the club-record signings for all 20 teams.
Now, spoiler alert, some of the clubs’ decisions to spend their biggest transfer fees in history have been completely worth the risk, while others simply haven’t been justified the expense.
But how exactly do these mega-money deals shape up to one another? Well, fear not, because we have the answers as we’ve ranked all 20 club record-signings from best to worst.
So, without further ado, check out our final picks down below to see which clubs will be happiest when they look through their history books and which will be wishing that they never bothered.
20. Ben Gibson (Burnley)
A £15 million misfire, Gibson has only played six times for Burnley in all competitions, missing the beginning of his first season with a hernia problem and now spending time on loan at Norwich City.
19. Joelinton (Newcastle United)
Don’t get us wrong, Joelinton has shown his quality away from goal-scoring at times in the north-east, but just three Premier League goals from 54 games is simply woeful for a £40 million striker.
18. Sebastien Haller (West Ham United)
There might have been a smattering of spectacular goals along the way, but the Hammers are hardly missing Haller who scored just 10 times in the Premier League despite his £45 million fee.
17. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
Although 15 goals in the Premier League saw Benteke hit the ground running in his first season at Palace, it feels like a distant memory now with the Belgian having scored just nine times since.
16. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal)
While there might have been some immense moments of quality along the way, Pepe has never really adjusted to English football and looks a shell of the player who commanded a £72 million fee.
15. Fabio Silva (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Now, we’re into a strange nether region where the players haven’t necessarily outperformed the arrivals beneath them but rather, it’s too early for them to be completely written off at the bottom.
And besides, although two goals in 17 Premier League appearances is far below the standards of a £35.6 million striker, we’d be pretty brutal to write off a 18-year-old after less than half a year.
14. Kai Havertz (Chelsea)
Similarly, not only is Havertz a young player, but he’s still finding his feet in England – though five goals and four assists is by no means terrible – and has already worked under two managers in west London.
13. Rodrigo (Leeds United)
Football isn’t all about the stats, it must be said, but we’d be lying if we claimed that three Premier League goals in 20 games was up to scratch for a £27-million buy wanting to lead the Whites’ line.
12. Andre-Frank Zambo-Anguissa (Fulham)
We’re slowly moving into more promising territory because although Zambo-Anguissa struggled during his first season, he’s been one of the Cottagers’ best players on their Premier League return.
11. Grady Diangana (West Bromwich Albion)
It wasn’t for no reason that West Ham fans were gutted to see Diangana leave because the 22-year-old looks like a real hope for the future, shining despite the Baggies’ troubles in the relegation zone.
10. Sander Berge (Sheffield United)
Not the youth revelation that some fans tipped him to be, but Berge has proven his mettle in the Premier League and it’s a real shame that a hamstring injury looks set to rule him out for months.
9. Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham Hotspur)
What a turnaround. We had to even out Ndombele’s position because although there’s no getting away from his terrible debut season, you’ve got to credit him for turning things around in 2020/21.
8. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
There’s no denying that Sigurdsson has flattered to deceive given his £45 million price tag, but we’d be lying if we said he’s flopped at Everton, particularly shining during the 2018/19 campaign.
7. Adam Webster (Brighton & Hove Albion)
For all of Brighton’s faults, you can’t lay the blame at Webster’s door because he’s emerged as one of the Premier League’s most underrated centre-backs, ensuring that Shane Duffy isn’t missed.
6. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)
Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Maybe, but for our money, Watkins was the final piece in the puzzle for the Villa renaissance, silencing the doubters with a strong return of 10 league goals.
5. Rodri (Manchester City)
A metronomic presence in the City midfield, Rodri is the definition of a Pep Guardiola player and it speaks volumes that he’s featured nine times in the club’s run of 10 consecutive Premier League wins.
4. Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Talk about a tough player to rank. World-class at times, utterly infuriating at others, we’re giving Pogba the benefit of the doubt for a United return that earned him a PFA Team of the Year nod in 2018/19.
3. Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
Sure, £40.5 million is a little inflated, but make no mistake that Tielemans has been invaluable to the Foxes’ meteoric rise under Brendan Rodgers and is the club’s fourth highest-rated player this season.
2. Danny Ings (Southampton)
Competing for the Premier League Golden Boot last season with a stunning return of 22 strikes, it’s hard to imagine where Southampton would be without Ings who surely deserves another ‘top six’ switch.
1. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)
Duh. Eyebrows were raised when the Reds signed Van Dijk for a world-record fee for a defender, but Premier League and Champions League winners’ medals have made it look like a bargain.
Are we bang on the money or completely wide of the mark? Either way, it goes to show that spending a club-record fee doesn’t mean you’ll get club-record quality.
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