Nemanja Vidic (Spartak Moscow to Manchester United)
Signed on 5th Jan 2006 for a fee of £7m Nemanja Vidic has become a key member of the Manchester United squad. Forging a strong defensive bond with Rio Ferdinand, Vidic has been the mainstay of the United back line and was named club captain by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011.
He has won a whole host of honours with the Red Devils including 3 consecutive Premier League titles (4 in total), a Champions League trophy, three League Cups and the FIFA World Club Cup. He has also appeared in four PFA Teams of the Year and was a key element in United’s record-breaking run of 14 consecutive clean sheets in the 2008/09 season, and was awarded the Barclays Player of the Season for his exploits.
Patrice Evra (AS Monaco to Manchester United)
Following Nemanja Vidic into Old Trafford in Jan 2006, the French full back struggled for appearances in his first few months as a United player. Having now made over 300 appearances for the Reds, Evra has become one Alex Ferguson’s trusted members of the squad and has stepped in as captain on numerous occasions.
A winner of multiple trophies, Evra has collected four Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League title, one FIFA Club World Cup and three League Cups among many. Like Vidic, he has been named in several PFA Teams of the Year (3) and in the 2008/09 season, he was selected for the FIFPro World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year.
Henrik Larsson (Helsingborgs IF to Manchester United on loan) Arriving on a 10-week loan spell from Swedish club Helsinborgs in 2007, Larsson’s role in United’s title success came at a time when the then 15-time Premier League champions were struggling for strikers. Scoring on his debut in the FA Cup against Aston Villa, the Swede was on the losing side only once in 13 games and scored United’s only goal in their Champions League win against Lille at Old Trafford, securing their place in the quarter-finals.
Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution to Fulham)
Switching the MLS for the Premier League in 2007, Dempsey signed for Fulham for a fee of £2m. In his second season at the club, Dempsey ended the season as Fulham’s top goalscorer in the league with six goals. In March 2011 he also broke Fulham’s Premier League goalscoring record by netting twice in a 3–0 victory over Bolton in the following month.
At the end of the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons, Dempsey was voted Fulham player of the Year by the fans for his role in scoring 36 goals across the two terms, helping him to the title of the club’s highest Premier League goalscorer of all time.
Martin Skrtel ( Zenit St Petersburg to Liverpool)
Signed for £6.5m from Russian club Zenit in 2008, Skrtel is known for his no-nonsense defensive mentality and his ability to chip in with the odd goal – his most notable being the leveller in Liverpool’s 2012 Carling Cup Final victory against Cardiff City, the first and only trophy he has won for the club. He was also named Liverpool player of the season for 2012.
Branislav Ivanovic (Lokomotiv Moscow to Chelsea)
Although he failed to make an appearance in his first six months at the club, Ivanovic was brought in to secure a place as full time right back for Chelsea. His versatility has also seen him fill in at centre back in the absence of the injured John Terry and is dangerous with his head as he is with his feet. The Serbian has popped up with some valuable goals for the Blues, scoring a total of six goals in the Champions League alone since joining in 2008.
Serbia’s Player of the Year last year, the full back was part of the Champions League winning squad of 2012 and has won a Premier League title and three FA Cups since arriving at Stamford Bridge.
Luis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool)
An unpopular figure outside of Anfield he may be, but following a shaky to start to the season this term, Suarez has been an integral part of Liverpool’s efforts to claw back some points to regain their status as one of the Premier League’s top competitors. With 15 goals in the league this season, the Uruguayan is the Premiership’s second most prolific goalscorer behind Manchester United’s Robin van Persie. Since joining the Merseysiders, Suarez has scored 40 goals in 80 games; meaning on average, he converts every other game – not a bad return for £23m.
Paul Scholes (Unattached to Manchester United)
The one in the list that many would least expect. Yes, Scholsey did play for Manchester United for 18 years previous to renewing his contract, but it was the decision to bring him back to Old Trafford that was the deal breaker. Retiring from the game in 2011, the 38-year-old was brought back to wreak havoc once again with his pin-point passing, comfort in possession and rifle right foot.
What we like about this signing is Scholes’ sheer love for the game. In the midst of an injury crisis that struck at Old Trafford, Scholes reversed his decision to retire and signed until the end of the 2011/12 season. He since signed a year-long extension that keeps him at the club until the end of this term.
Papiss Cisse (SC Freiburg to Newcastle)
Signed for a fee of £9m mid-way through last season, the Senegalese striker had an immediate impact on the Premier League by scoring the winning goal on his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 win against Aston Villa. A brace against West Brom in March 2012 made him the quickest player since Les Ferdinand to hit the five-goals for Newcastle. In his first five months at St. James’ Park, Cisse netted an impressive 13 goals in 14 games. The icing on the cake for what was a superb first season at the Magpies, Cisse was to win the BBC Goal of the Season award for the 2011/12 with his wonder strike against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Nikica Jelavic (Rangers to Everton)
Another player to immediately set the Premier League on fire, Jelavic signed from Rangers for a fee of £5.5m in 2012 and returned the favour with nine goals in 13 games in his first season with the Toffees making him the club’s top scorer for the season.
His stellar start to his Everton career also earned him the FA Cup Player of the Month for March and the Premier League and Everton Player of the Month awards for April.