The Premier League has played host to some of the world’s best talent since the league’s inception in 1992.
From Thiery Henry to Frank Lampard, let’s take a look at the top 10 transfers who’ve made the league one of the best to this day.
10. Didier Drogba – Marseille to Chelsea in 2004 (£34.7 million)
José Mourinho: “In 2004, Roman Abramovich told me he had money to bring Ronaldinho to Chelsea if I wanted to… I said no. Bring me Didier Drogba.”
A £34.7m signing from Marseille Didier, Drogba is often considered the best player in Chelsea’s history. He scored 157 goals in 341 appearances for The Blues. Most notably, he helped Chelsea equalize in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich before scoring the winning penalty.
The Ivorian scored consistently in the biggest competitions, 36 goals in European matches and a goal in four FA Cup finals. The twice Premier League Golden Boot also won three League Cups.
9. Roy Keane – Nottingham Forest to Manchester United in 1993 (£7.7 million)
Roy Keane captained the Manchester United side for eight years during Manchester United’s most successful period that saw the Red Devils win four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and a Champions League trophy. Praised for his leadership and grit, the Irishman was mired in controversy near the end of his career for openly criticizing his teammates.
8. Wayne Rooney – Everton to Manchester United in 2004 (£33.3 million)
Signing for £33.3m in 2004 from Everton, playmaker Wayne Rooney made an immediate impact by scoring an illustrious hat-trick to start his Man United career against Fenerbahce in the Champions League. Rooney went on to become United’s all-team leading scorer with 253 goals, winning16 trophies at Old Trafford, including five Premiership titles, the FA Cup, and the Champions League title in 2008.
7. Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United in 1992 (£1.6 million)
The French striker Eric Cantona signed with Manchester United from Leeds United for £1.6m and changed the course of Red Devils history. According to the short story, Alex Ferguson spontaneously called Leeds United looking to sign a defender Dennis Irwin but also managed to snag Cantona. The forward helped Manchester United win five Premiership titles and two FA Cups, and kick-started Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure from an ordinary coach to among history’s greatest coaches.
6. Eden Hazard – Lille to Chelsea in 2012 (£31.5 million)
The Belgian was a creative sensation for the Blues ever since his £31.5m from Lille in 2012. Nicknamed the “Belgian Messi,” Eden Hazard’s speed and ball control at Stamford Bridge was second to none.
The attacking midfielder scored 85 goals in his seven seasons with the club. A two-time Premiership League champion, Hazard has also won two domestic cups and the Europa League in 2013 and 2018.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo – Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in 2003 (£17.1 million)
Undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of all-time, Cristiano Ronaldo signed for a transfer fee of £17.1m to Manchester United in 2003 to replace David Beckham. He won his first Ballon d’Or at the age of 23 after an astonishing 2007-08 season with the Red Devils which saw the club win a treble of trophies including the Champions League, the Premier League title, and the FA Cup.
Ronaldo left for Real Madrid the following season for a record transfer of £80 million.
4. Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid to Man City in 2011 (£36 million)
Considered one of the best players to don the sky blue shirt, Sergio Aguero is the team’s record goalscorer with 180 Premiership goals.
In his first year with the side, he famously scored the game-winning goal in the 94th minute to beat Queens Park Rangers and win the Premier League over Manchester United. With three Premier League titles and three League Cups under his belt, Aguero looks to add more his trophy vault this year.
3. Patrick Vieira – AC Milan to Arsenal in 1996 (£4.8 million)
At 6ft 4in, the tough-tackling Frenchman Patrick Vieira transferred to Arsenal in 1996 for a fee of £4.8m. He was indispensable. He played a critical role in Wenger’s squad as a box-to-box midfielder. His all-around excellence on both sides of the field earned him many plaudits, making him the Arsenal captain from 2002 – 2005. While not a prolific goalscorer, he nonetheless secured the Invincibles 2003–04 season with a crucial goal against Leicester City.
2. Frank Lampard – West Ham to Chelsea in 2001 (£14.4 million)
Signed from West Ham in 2001 for £14.4m, Frank Lampard more than proved his worth to Chelsea fans who rued his signing. “Super Frankie Lampard,” as came to be known among the Chelsea faithful, is still the only midfielder to score 150 or more goals in the Premier League. The goal-scoring legend also had a knack for passing, registering 102 assists in his 13 years at Chelsea. The 3-time Chelsea player of the season and Champions League winner once finished runner-up to Ronaldinho to Ballon d’Or in 2005.
1. Thierry Henry – Juventus to Arsenal in 1999 (£14.5 million)
Signed as an exciting prospect for £14.5m from Juventus in 1999, Thierry Henry quickly became the King of Arsenal. Henry remains Arsenal’s all-time scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. Gaining the reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers, Henry became the Premier League’s top goal-scorer in 4 different seasons, notching a prolific 32 goals and 23 assists in the 2002-03 season. With the ability to score anywhere on the pitch, he elevated his game in the 2003-04 season, scoring 39 goals in the Gunners unbeaten top-flight league season. Considered the greatest Gunner of all-time, Henry won two league titles, three FA Cups, four Golden Boots, and five Player of the Year awards throughout his career.