The 50 greatest Premier League signings of all-time have been ranked by ESPN

The Premier League has been home to some of the biggest stars in the world.

Most clubs pride themselves on being able to nurture and grow talented youngsters into world-beaters but in reality, many have bought big-name players from elsewhere.

But who are the greatest signings in top-flight history? Well, ESPN have attempted to answer that question, by ranking the top 50. 

To do that, they set out certain criteria – which was: 

  • Players must have been purchased while the club was in the Premier League
  • Players must have established themselves in senior football before joining
  • Loans have been excluded
  • Only accomplishments at the Premier League club count towards the rankings

Does all that make sense? Good. Let’s jump into ESPN’s 50 greatest Premier League signings of all-time. 

50) Darren Anderton | Tottenham (Signed from Portsmouth for £2.4m, 1992)

49) Wilfried Zaha | Crystal Palace (Signed from Man Utd for £3.5m, 2015)

48) Teddy Sheringham | Tottenham (Signed from Nottingham Forest for £2.8m, 1992)

47) Paolo Di Canio | West Ham (Signed from Sheffield Wednesday for £2m, 1998)

46) Luka Modric | Tottenham Hotspur (Signed from Dinamo Zagreb for £18.9m, 2008)

45) Lucas Radebe | Leeds United (Signed from Kaizer Chiefs for £338,000 with Phil Masinga, 1994)

44) Sadio Mane | Liverpool (Signed from Southampton for £37.1m, 2016)

43) Robin van Persie | Arsenal (Signed from Feyenoord for £4.1m, 2004)

42) N’Golo Kante | Leicester City (Signed from Caen for £8.1m, 2015)

41) Diego Costa | Chelsea (Signed from Atletico Madrid for £34.2m, 2014)

40) Raheem Sterling | Manchester City (Signed from Liverpool for £57.3m, 2016)

39) Freddie Ljungberg | Arsenal (Signed from Halmstad for £4.1m, 1998)

38) Xabi Alonso | Liverpool (Signed from Real Sociedad for £14.4m, 2004)

37) Claude Makelele | Chelsea (Signed from Real Madrid for £18m, 2003)

36) Juninho | Middlesbrough (Signed from Sao Paulo for £5m, 1995)

35) Yaya Toure | Manchester City (Signed from Barcelona for £27m, 2010)

34) Andy Cole | Manchester United (Signed from Newcastle for £8.6m and Keith Gillespie, 1995)

33) Jay-Jay Okocha | Bolton (Signed from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer, 2002)

32) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | Manchester United (Signed from Molde for £2.3m, 1996)

31) Kevin De Bruyne | Manchester City (Signed from Wolfsburg for £68.4m, 2015)

30) Ashley Cole | Chelsea (Signed from Arsenal for £6.7m and William Gallas, 2006) 

29) Fernandinho | Manchester City (Signed from Shakhtar for £36m, 2013)

28) Pablo Zabaleta | Manchester City (Signed from Espanyol for £7.8m, 2008)

27) Robert Pires | Arsenal (Signed from Marseille for £8.8m, 2000)

26) Alan Shearer | Newcastle (Signed from Blackburn for £18.9m, 1996)

25) Philippe Coutinho | Liverpool (Signed from Inter Milan for £11.7m, 2013)

24) Petr Cech | Chelsea (Signed from Rennes for £11.7m, 2004)

23) Ruud van Nistelrooy | Manchester United (Signed from PSV for £25.7m, 2001)

22) Michael Carrick | Manchester United (Signed from Spurs for £24.5m, 2006)

21) Nemanja Vidic | Manchester United (Signed from Spartak Moscow for £9.5m, 2006)

20) Virgil van Dijk | Liverpool (Signed from Southampton for £76.2m, 2018)

19) Gianfranco Zola | Chelsea (Signed from Parma for £5.6m, 1997)

18) Luis Suarez | Liverpool (Signed from Ajax for £23.9m, 2011)

17) Mohamed Salah | Liverpool (Signed from Roma for £37.8m, 2017)

16) Gareth Bale | Tottenham (Signed from Southampton for £13.2m, 2007)

15) Vincent Kompany | Manchester City (Signed from Hamburger for £7.7m, 2008)

14) Alan Shearer | Blackburn Rovers (Signed from Southampton for £4.1m, 1992)

13) David Silva | Manchester City (Signed from Valencia for £25.9m, 2010)

12) Dennis Bergkamp | Arsenal (Signed from Inter Milan for £10.1m, 1995)

11) Rio Ferdinand | Manchester United (Signed from Leeds United for £41.4m, 2002)

10) Didier Drogba | Chelsea (Signed from Marseille for £34.7m, 2004)

9) Roy Keane | Manchester United (Signed from Nottingham Forest for £7.7m, 1993)

8) Cristiano Ronaldo | Manchester United (Signed from Sporting Lisbon for £17.1m, 2003)

7) Wayne Rooney | Manchester United (Signed from Everton for £33.3m, 2004)

6) Eric Cantona | Manchester United (Signed from Leeds United for £1.6m, 1992)

5) Eden Hazard | Chelsea (Signed from Lille for £31.5m, 2012)

4) Sergio Aguero | Manchester City (Signed from Atletico Madrid for £36m, 2011)

3) Patrick Vieira | Arsenal (Signed from AC Milan for £4.8m, 1996)

2) Frank Lampard | Chelsea (Signed from West Ham United for £14.4m, 2001)

1) Thierry Henry | Arsenal (Signed from Juventus for £14.5m, 1999) 

What a list of players that is. It’s actually very hard to argue with ESPN naming Henry as the greatest Premier League signing of all-time. 

After all, he achieved so much in north London, firing the Gunners to their ‘Invincibles’ season while winning five other major honours. 

But there are some questionable rankings. The all-time top scorer – Shearer – is only fourth on the list, while Chelsea legend Drogba somehow only makes 10th. 

Of course, rankings like these are all down to opinion and ESPN have outlined their criteria – so their list is easily justified.  

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