Who are the best Premier League signings of the decade?


Twice a year fans of the Premier League tune into Sky Sports’ deadline day coverage to hopefully see Jim White, in his trademark yellow tie, announce that their club has signed the next superstar.

Unfortunately for most, this is not the case and their ‘superstar’ scores one goal in 32 appearances before being sold the following summer for half the fee.

However, among the catalogue of signings that didn’t work out, there have been some truly amazing bits of business in the Premier League over the past decade.

To outline that, The Athletic have compiled a list of the best signing in each position for a starting eleven.

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Goalkeeper - David de Gea (Atletico Madrid to Manchester United, 2011) - £18.9m

As goalkeeper’s go, you won’t find many better than the man between United’s sticks.

Although he initially struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, the Spaniard has more than paid back the £18.9 million that United forked out for him eight years ago.

De Gea has been consistently outstanding for the Red Devils, winning the Players' Player of the Year award in 2013–14, 2014–15 and 2017–18.

He’s also still only 29, so has plenty of time to cement his position as a Premier League all-time great.

While Liverpool’s Alisson Becker and Manchester City’s Ederson are arguably in better form than De Gea, the Spaniard’s longevity has to be respected.

Right-back - Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille to Chelsea, 2012) - £7m

Maybe not a name that many people expected to be in there, but there’s no denying that Chelsea’s captain deserves his spot when you think about what he has achieved.

He has won both the Premier League and Europa League twice, the FA Cup and the League Cup, all while switching seamlessly from full-back to centre-back.

His consistency is even more admirable when you consider that he has played under managers as varied as Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Roberto Di Matteo, Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri and now Frank Lampard.

He is also the recipient of the brilliant chant: ‘Azpilicueta, we’ll just call you Dave’, in reference to his long surname.

Centre-back - Harry Maguire (Hull to Leicester, 2017) - £17m

From starting his career at Sheffield United to scoring in a World Cup for England, the rise of Maguire has been phenomenal.

The 26-year-old was part of a Hull side that was relegated from England’s top division, but was snapped up by the Foxes and became an integral part to their side.

The towering centre-back played every minute of the 2017-18 season, winning Leciester’s Player of the Year and the Players’ Player of the Year.

Maguire was a shoo-in for a place in this team, mainly due to the profit that the Foxes made on him after he was sold to Manchester United for £80 million, making him the most expensive defender in the world.

Centre-back - Virgil van Dijk (Celtic to Southampton, 2015) - £13m

Similarly to Maguire, Van Dijk has been involved in a much bigger transfer since this one, but the move to bring him to the Premier League from Southampton was inspired.

Van Dijk had been performing well for Celtic but was gaining little attention from the Premier League’s big hitters, leaving Southampton to snap him up.

The Dutchman went from strength to strength for the Saints, his calming influence and aerial dominance highlighting Southampton’s shrewd business.

He was then sold to Liverpool for £75 million in January, 2018 and has turned a previously shaky Reds defence into one of the most solid in world football.


Left-back - Andy Robertson (Hull to Liverpool, 2017) - £8m

Arguably the best signing in terms of value on the list, Robertson is nothing short of fantastic.

Although he initially struggled to break into Jurgen Klopp’s side ahead of Alberto Moreno (we don’t understand that either), he finally found his place in the lineup and has not looked back since.

His excellent crossing and relentless work rate have become the norm for Liverpool fans, who saw Robertson make 11 assists in the Premier League last season.

Many now consider the 25-year-old, who has also been made captain of Scotland, as the best left-back in the world.

It’s interesting to think about how much Robertson would be worth now. It’s certainly more than £8 million. A lot more.

Midfielder - N’Golo Kante (Caen to Leciester, 2015) - £5.6m

If it’s not Robertson who is best value on the list, it must be Kante.

The Frenchman combines being probably the nicest man in football with his unbelievable ability to sniff out danger to protect his defence.

Kante had a great start to life in England, playing a pivotal role in Leicester’s amazing run to the title in his first season. Talk about an instant impact.

He then transferred over to his current club Chelsea, where he won the league again the following season, asserting his place as one of the Premier League’s top midfielders.

At 5ft6, Kante is diminutive in stature but more than makes up for it with his ferocious tenacity and quick feet.

Midfielder - Fernandinho (Shaktar Donetsk to Manchester City, 2013) - £30m

The most expensive of the stars on the list so far, but you cannot question Fernandinho’s inclusion.

The combative Brazilian breaks up play and dictates attacks from the base of the Manchester City midfield, giving the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan the licence to roam forward and cause havoc.

After City signed Rodri this summer, some wrote off Fernandinho’s place in Pep Guardiola’s team but his consistency and ability to play in the centre of defence has proved vital this term.

Midfielder - David Silva (Valencia to Manchester City, 2010) - £24m

In the team of the decade, here is a player who has been here a decade.

Silva just seems to get better with age, putting in silky but devastating displays at the age of 33.

The Spaniard has been a cornerstone in City’s rise to the top, winning the league on four occasions with three different managers.

It will be a sad day for the Premier League when he leaves at the end of the season, but he is undisputedly one of the all-time greats and for just £24 million he deserves his place on this list.

Manchester City v Chelsea FC - Premier League

Forward - Philippe Coutinho (Inter Milan to Liverpool, 2013) - £7m

Coutinho may not have had the longevity of someone like Silva, but during his five years on Merseyside he provided some truly breathtaking moments.

You wouldn’t see him for 20 minutes and then he’d riffle one in from 40 yards. The Brazilian is the definition of a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goal scorer.

For just £7m Coutinho was a certainty for this list, especially when you consider that Liverpool sold him for a fee that could rise to £142 million.

Forward - Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid to Manchester City, 2011) - £38m

Three things in life are certain. Death, taxes and Aguero scoring goals.

The Argentine forward has been the best striker in the league over the course of the last 10 years, netting 173 goals in 251 appearances in the competition.

He’s the most expensive player on the list but at £38 million he’s still a steal when you think of what he has delivered.

Surprisingly, Aguero has only got his hands on the Premier League Golden Boot once, back in 2014-15 when he netted 26 times, but his ability to find the net has been proven time and time again.

Forward - Eden Hazard (Lille to Chelsea, 2012) - £32m

The last place on the list goes to arguably one of the best players in the world.

Hazard was dazzling during his seven years in London, consistently putting opposition players on their backsides with his incredible dribbling.

He won the Premier League twice at Chelsea and was pivotal on both occasions, scoring and assisting goals throughout the campaigns.

He also scored the famous goal against Tottenham to give Leicester the title back in 2015/16.

The enjoyment of watching Hazard running down the wing is something all Premier League fans miss, just not for the 180 minutes your team had to play him.

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