The five best bargain signings of the season

Matt Stead

* Just one rule here: only transfers of £15million and under are considered.


Toby Alderweireld – As said in the list of top 10 actual undroppables, Alderweireld has been the signing of the season, restriction or no restriction. The Belgian has formed the most formidable centre-half pairing in the Premier League alongside Belgium compatriot Jan Vertonghen, with whom he played alongside at Dutch side Ajax. The duo are the only two Spurs players to have played every minute of every league game so far this season and as much is evident in the table; Mauricio Pochettino’s side have conceded the joint least goals this season (eight). This was a side who conceded 53 in the whole of their last campaign. I tipped the 26-year-old as the signing of the season in Football365’s season predictions in the summer (don’t check my other predictions) and he has  carried his excellent Southampton form from last season after joining from Atletico Madrid for £11.4million. It’s remarkable what you can do when you aren’t Federico Fazio.


Dimitri Payet – He may be the poster boy of the new sexy West Ham, but plenty had reservations over Dimitri Payet before the Hammers handed over £10.7million to Marseille for the 28-year-old’s services in the summer. The Frenchman had recorded seven goals and 16 assists in his final Ligue 1 season, but this represented Payet’s first move to a club outside France. An assist on his debut in a memorable 2-0 victory over Arsenal provided a taster of his talents, but that was a mere appetiser. Payet has played all but two minutes of West Ham’s league games this season, and only Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have more combined goals and assists to their name. A predictable leading trio.


Petr Cech – ‘Cech not enough to bridge the gap,’ was the third of 10 kneejerk reactions published on this here site after two games. Some numpty even included the claim that Cech would be worth 427 points to Arsenal this season in a list of things everyone got wrong back in September. A list of things that the list of things that everyone got wrong got wrong is surely in the offing.

The £10million purchase from Chelsea was supposed to signal a ‘new Arsenal’ and a refreshed title challenge, but a handful of mistakes in his opening games scuppered his start, while Arsene Wenger’s infuriating insistence on resting the Czech was ridiculed after David Ospina threw the ball into his own net that one time. Since, Cech has been in inspired form.


Andre Ayew – The best value signing of the season? Considering he was signed on a free transfer, Andre Ayew would be the main contender. The Ghanaian bagged his fifth goal in 10 Premier League games at the weekend against Aston Villa to seal a much-needed victory for Swansea, with the 25-year-old providing the perfect foil for Bafetimbi Gomis throughout the campaign. Ayew’s performances so far this season will merely stoke the fires of reported Liverpool interest.


Yohan Cabaye – Oh, how we missed that jawline, those cheekbones, that windswept hair, the rugged beard. For the less continental-inclined among us, thank you Alan Pardew for bringing Yohan Cabaye back where he belongs.

His status as one of the 10 biggest ever transfer coups is not an unjust one; for Palace to sign a player of Cabaye’s calibre was unfathomable just a couple of seasons ago. The Frenchman’s return to the Premier League has heralded an era of established top-flight football at Selhurst Park, his class and guile an absolute snip at just £10million from Paris Saint-Germain. The midfielder is Palace’s top goalscorer with four, and will be their reigning handsome champion for years to come.


Matt Stead