Every PL manager’s first and most expensive signings

Ian Watson

While Premier League managers look for their latest signings, we’ve taken a look back at each one’s first recruit and their most expensive indulgence…


Mikel Arteta
First Arsenal signing: Pablo Mari (from Flamengo, 2020)
Most expensive career signing: Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid to Arsenal for £45m, 2020)
First career signing: Given Arsenal is Arteta’s first managerial gig, that would be Pablo Mari again. The Spanish defender moved from Brazil in January 2020, initially on loan. It was reported he cost £4m just to borrow but other reports suggest the Gunners paid £6.8m when he joined permanently last summer.


Dean Smith
First Aston Villa signing: Lovre Kalinic (from Gent, 2018)
Most expensive career signing: Emi Buendia (Norwich to Villa for £35m, 2021)
First career signing: When Smith was bossing Walsall, he swooped for free-agent Emmanuel Ledesma as his first recruit in January 2011. The Argentine midfielder had recently been released by Genoa and was on trial at Brighton when the Saddlers spotted him.


Thomas Frank
First Brentford signing: Bryan Mbeumo (from Troyes, 2019)
Most expensive career signing: Ivan Toney (Peterborough to Brentford for £5m plus add-ons, 2020)
First career signing: Frank’s first senior job came at Brondby, where he signed for free a Finnish keeper going by the name of Lukas Hradecky from Esbjerg. Good spot, that.


Graham Potter
First Brighton signing: Matt Clarke (from Portsmouth, 2019)
Most expensive career signing: Adam Webster (Bristol City to Brighton for £20m, 2019) and Neal Maupay (Brentford to Brighton for £20m, 2019)
First career signing: As Ostersunds manager, Potter plucked Smajl Suljevic as a free agent after the Swedish midfielder had left Sundsvall. You couldn’t blame him for getting away having been robbed at knifepoint by three masked men inside his own home. He played four times for Potter.


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Sean Dyche
First Burnley signing: Michael Kightly (from Stoke, 2014)
Most expensive career signing: Chris Wood (Leeds to Burnley for £15m, 2017) and Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough to Burnley for £15m, 2018)
First career signing: Sean Dyche has made 37 permanent signings for cash money in his managerial career since taking over at Watford in 2011. His first was former Tottenham winger Mark Yeates, purchased from Sheffield United for £380,000 in July 2011.


Thomas Tuchel
First Chelsea signing: Yet to happen.
Most expensive career signing: Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to PSG for £165.7m, 2017)
First career signing: A Czech journeyman who spent most of his career plodding around Germany, midfielder Jan Simak joined Tuchel at Mainz in 2010 from Stuttgart.


Patrick Vieira
First Crystal Palace signing: Vieira hasn’t actually signed yet, although Andros Townsend sounds happy
Most expensive career signing: Kasper Dolberg (Ajax to Nice for £18.5m, 2019)
First career signing: Upon taking over as coach at NYCFC, Vieira’s first arrival was Jack Harrison, who had been drafted as first pick by Chicago Fire and immediately traded to New York for the fourth pick and cash.


Rafael Benitez
First Everton signing: Who knows? Possibly Ben White.
Most expensive career signing: Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid to Napoli for £34.5m, 2013)
First career signing: Mats Selz was his first at Newcastle. Marco Asensio was his first at Real Madrid. Dries Mertens was his first at Napoli. Marko Livaja was his first at Inter Milan. Josemi was his first at Liverpool. Salva Ballesta was his first at Valencia. But Rafa popped his transfer cherry all the way back in 1995 by bringing Alberto Marcos Rey with him from Real Madrid to Valladolid.


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Marcelo Bielsa
First Leeds signing: Lewis Baker (from Chelsea, 2018)
Most expensive career signing: Rodrigo (Valencia to Leeds for £27m, 2020)
First career signing: A midfielder named Marcelo Escudero, apparently, who joined Bielsa at Newell’s Old Boys from Sporting Punta Alta in 1992.


Brendan Rodgers
First Leicester signing: James Justin (from Luton, 2019)
Most expensive career signing: Youri Tielemans (Monaco to Leicester for £40m, 2019)
First career signing: Upon taking charge at Watford, Rodgers used his connections at Chelsea to borrow reserve-team captain Liam Bridcutt.


Jurgen Klopp
First Liverpool signing: Marko Grujic (from Red Star Belgrade, 2016)
Most expensive career signing: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool for £75m, 2018)
First career signing: When Spasoje Bulajic likes to brag to his family and friends, he regales them with accounts of how he was named 1997 Slovenian Youth Footballer of the Year and 1998 Slovenian Footballer of the Year. And when he wants to really impress people, he tells them how he was Jurgen Klopp’s first ever signing as Mainz manager for £43,000 in July 2002.


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Pep Guardiola
First Manchester City signing: Ilkay Gundogan (from Borussia Dortmund, 2016)
Most expensive career signing: Ruben Dias (Benfica to Manchester City for £64.3m, 2020)
First career signing: As if to really hammer home just how different Guardiola’s coaching beginnings were in comparison to his Premier League counterparts, his first ever signing as a manager was £11.2m Sevilla midfielder Seydou Keita.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd Harry Maguire

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
First Man Utd signing: Dan James (from Swansea, 2019)
Most expensive career signing: Harry Maguire (Leicester to Man Utd for £80m, 2019)
First career signing:After leaving his post as United Under-23s boss, Solskjaer took Magnus Wolff Eikrem with him to Molde.


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Steve Bruce
First Newcastle signing: Joelinton (from Hoffenheim, 2019)
Most expensive career signing: Joelinton (Hoffenheim to Newcastle for £40m, 2019)
First career signing: The first of 427 clubs managed by Bruce was Sheffield United. He went back to Man Utd to borrow reserve-team regular Michael Twiss. He needn’t have bothered.


Daniel Farke
First Norwich signing: Marley Watkins (from Barnsley, 2017)
Most expensive career signing: Sam McCallum (Coventry to Norwich for £3.5m, 2020)
First career signing: Farke managed SV Lippstadt, the club where spent most of his career as the self-described “slowest striker in western Europe”. Upon taking charge of the sixth-tier club, Farke signed goalkeeper Lars Schroder from TSV Kropp. That’s what transfermarkt says anyway…


Ralph Hasenhuttl
First Southampton signing: Moussa Djenepo (from Standard Liege, 2019)
Most expensive career signing: Naby Keita (RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig for £24m, 2016)
First career signing: Only Bastian’s brother, Tobias Schweinsteiger. Hasenhuttl signed the less talented sibling for Unterhaching from Vfb Lubeck.


Nuno Espirito Santo
First Tottenham signing: We’ll find out soon. Possibly the Japanese lad at Bologna.
Most expensive career signings: Fabio Silva (Porto to Wolves for £36m, 2020)
First career signing: When Nuno took over at Rio Ave in 2012, the very first thing he did – as we all would – was sign teenage Brazilian defensive midfielder Felipe Augusto from Bahia for £2m. It went so well that he joined Santo at Valencia, but that proved to be a bridge too far for the man last seen on loan at Alanyaspor in Turkey.


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Xisco Munoz
First Watford signing: Philip Zinckernagel (from FK Bodo/Glint, 2020)
Most expensive career signing: Imran Louza (Nantes to Watford for £8.6m, 2017)
First career signing: In his brief spell in charge of Dinamo Tblisi, Munoz made Finnish right-back Rodney Klooster his first ever recruit. Obviously.


David Moyes
First West Ham signing: Joao Mario (from Inter Milan, 2018)
Most expensive career signing: Juan Mata (Chelsea to Man Utd for £40m, 2014)
First career signing: After being appointed at Preston, Moyes went to Sunderland to borrow striker John Mullin. He is now on the coaching staff within Manchester City’s academy.


Bruno Lage
First Wolves signing: Yerson Mosquera (from Atletico Nacional, 2021)
Most expensive career signing: Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund to Benfica for £17m, 2020)
First career signing: Caio Lucas Fernandes, a winger who joined Benfica from Al Ain. He managed a whopping 11 appearances before being shuffled back to UAE on loan with Sharjah.