Diego Costa may be the first Premier League champion Wolves have signed since 2014. You won’t guess the last player to bring his winner’s medal to Anfield.
This lot are the most recent English top-flight champions signed by their respective clubs, with the year(s) of their title win in brackets.
Arsenal – Oleksandr Zinchenko (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
“Those players have been inspired by top players, top professionals, ruthless winners for many years,” Mikel Arteta said of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko in August. “They were looking at them, and now it’s their turn to do the same and inspire those younger players that we have in our squad to do the same and to show them what it takes to win, and the level of detail, hunger and dedication that you need to keep winning.” The pair of them won 10 trophies at Manchester City before moving to Arsenal this summer, Zinchenko arriving in north London 16 days after Jesus.
Aston Villa – Ashley Young (2013)
Signed by Dean Smith. Retained by Steven Gerrard. And perhaps resented by Phil Foden after shackling the Manchester City forward for over an hour upon being introduced as an injury-enforced substitute at the weekend. The 37-year-old excelled in the full-back role he adapted over time at Manchester United, with whom he won their most recent Premier League title.
Bournemouth – Gary Cahill (2015, 2017)
There has never been an official England retirement from Gary Cahill, just “a step back” from international duty in 2018. The centre-half has similarly made no public declaration on his club future despite having last played in January for Bournemouth before his release in the summer upon their promotion. Those 36-year-old legs did not need another Premier League season.
Brentford – Paul Davis (1989, 1991)
The Bees have never signed a player with a Premier League winner’s medal stuffed in their kitchen junk drawer, but did bring in two-time First Division champion Paul Davis for free from Arsenal in 1995. The midfielder only contributed four goals across those two campaigns either side of 1990, but a combined 49 appearances – some as captain and all as long-ball provider for Alan Smith knockdowns – underlined his importance to the cause. He played five games for Brentford before retiring, helping them to a 15th-placed finish in the Second Division.
Brighton – Danny Welbeck (2013)
While the Seagulls tend to follow more exotic trawlers as far as South America, as wide as East Asia and as obscure as Chelsea’s reserves for their hidden gems, Graham Potter did load his first team with a couple of experienced heads in the summer of 2020. Joel Veltman brought his expertise to the party and Premier League-winning free agents Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck were given loving new homes. They must both regularly regale the other with stories of their trophy-lifting escapades in the north west, as well as their penchant for a muscle injury.
Chelsea – Raheem Sterling (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
Well yes. The bloke plundered 58 goals over four Premier League title-winning seasons with Manchester City. And he only turns 28 at the end of the year. There are years in those legs, as well as brilliance tinged with just enough slapdash finishing to make him an ideal Chelsea forward.
Crystal Palace – Michy Batshuayi (2017)
Nathaniel Clyne joined a month later but made his last Premier League appearance for Liverpool in December 2018 – about a year and a half before the Reds were crowned champions. So that makes Michy Batshuayi the last champion to represent the Eagles, doing so with something close to distinction by scoring seven goals in two loan spells under Roy Hodgson.
Everton – Demarai Gray (2016)
Andy Lonergan was robbed of a Premier League winner’s medal, which means Demarai Gray is the Everton example. A teenager when surprise title challengers Leicester signed him from Birmingham in January 2016, Gray made 10 substitute appearances by the time the Foxes were crowned. He never really did settle at the King Power. Who’s laughing now? No-one really.
Fulham – Willian (2015, 2017)
The man loves London.
Leeds – Stuart Taylor (2002)
Back in those halcyon days when players had to make 10 league appearances to qualify for a winner’s medal, Arsene Wenger teased Stuart Taylor with the prospect of ending the 2001/02 season empty-handed. The keeper had played nine games heading into the final day against Everton and even though the Gunners had wrapped up top spot, Richard Wright was given the nod. Taylor was made to wait until the 86th minute to come on as a substitute. And he still conceded. Then he joined David Hockaday’s Leeds in 2014. Not sure which is worse.
Leicester – Jonny Evans (2009, 2011, 2013)
Appointed captain of a seemingly sinking ship this summer, Jonny Evans must yearn for those simpler times at Old Trafford. That Manchester United team could defend set-pieces and make signings and everything. In three champion seasons, the Northern Irish centre-half played 17, 13 and 23 times as back-up to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Liverpool – Alex Manninger (1998)
Love this. Every single thing about it. “He brings us great experience and I know that as a person he is someone who every day will show what a great professional he is and will be important for the squad,” said Jurgen Klopp of Alex Manninger, who joined Liverpool in the same summer as Joel Matip, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum. The keeper made three Premier League matchday squads and sat on one League Cup bench, leaving and retiring after a year.
Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez (2016)
The only thing good enough for Pep Guardiola in his first summer as a Premier League champion was someone of precisely the same pedigree. That narrowed the field somewhat but played directly into the feet of Riyad Mahrez, who had been hankering to leave Leicester for at least a year by the time they finally sanctioned his exit in 2018. Seven trophies in the subsequent four years suggests he made the right choice.
Manchester United – Cristiano Ronaldo (2007, 2008, 2009)
And you better believe Cristiano Ronaldo is completing the Quadruple this season.
Newcastle – Sol Campbell (2002, 2004)
This might be the greatest feature idea ever conceived. There is no telling what comes next. Some are obvious and you can even guess them after a quick think. Others are utterly ludicrous names you wouldn’t think of in a million years. It’s absolutely phenomenally eclectic stuff. The Sol man linked up with Chris Hughton at Newcastle in 2010, played eight first-team games, including wins over Liverpool and Chelsea, then wound up being managed and ostracised by Alan Pardew.
Nottingham Forest – Neco Williams (2020)
They signed so many players this summer that at least one of them was bound to have won the Premier League at some point. Neco Williams only played six games for Liverpool in 2019/20 but apparently that’s enough for a medal now. Broken Britain.
Southampton – Takumi Minamino (2020)
Another on the periphery of that Liverpool 2020 class, Takumi Minamino did at least meet the old 10 appearance threshold that season but only those of those were starts: he was taken off at half-time of a goalless Merseyside derby, then was given a full hour on the final day. Six months later he had rocked up on loan at Southampton, scoring twice in his first three games and none in his last seven.
Tottenham – Joe Hart (2012, 2014)
Guardiola is responsible for many things but chief among them is Joe Hart’s diverse career path from 2016 onwards: Torino (loan), West Ham (loan), Burnley, Tottenham, Celtic. The current starter for Ange Postecoglou’s future European champions made 10 appearances in his solitary Spurs season, even if eight of those were in the Europa League and the other two came against Marine and Wycombe in the FA Cup.
West Ham – Kurt Zouma (2015, 2017)
As an aside, the full list of Kurt Zouma’s Premier League managers is almost all killer, no filler: Jose Mourinho, Steve Holland, Guus Hiddink, Antonio Conte, Eddie Niedzwiecki, Paul Lambert, Mark Hughes, Marco Silva, Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and David Moyes. Heritage, that.
Wolves – Tomasz Kuszczak (2007, 2008, 2011)
The Pole in the Manchester United goal never made more than 10 appearances in a single Premier League season for the club but some woke leftie snowflake special dispensation granted him three winner’s medals at Old Trafford. Hopefully they push Diego Costa’s work permit through to rid us of such shame.