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Best & worst value Premier League transfers 2021-22: From Grealish to Lukaku, Sancho to Tomiyasu

13:55 GMT 02/02/2022
Romelu Lukaku Jack Grealish Jadon Sancho 2021-22
Clubs in the English top flight have been doing big business again in recent windows, with mixed results experienced on the recruitment front

Premier League clubs have completed their transfer business for 2021-22, with the January window closing, with the hope being that shrewd judgement calls were made on those moved in and out.

Not every deal can be a success, though, and English top-flight history is littered with tales of big-money flops and business that made plenty of sense on paper but failed to deliver on the field.

In contrast, there are bargains to be found and deals to be done that end up exceeding expectations. GOAL takes a look at both sides of that value coin when it comes to recruitment in the current campaign.

Best value Premier League transfers 2021-22

Arsenal find themselves back in the hunt for a top-four finish this season, with Mikel Arteta looking to bring a five-year absence from Champions League competition to a close.

Inconsistency has remained an issue for the Gunners at times, but transfer business has been largely positive and considerable value has been found in Takehiro Tomiyasu.

The Japan international full-back cost just £17 million ($23m) when being prised away from Bologna, but he has taken in 17 appearances across all competitions and contributed to the collection of eight clean sheets.

Another London-based defender that has been catching the eye is Crystal Palace star Marc Guehi, who made the short journey from Chelsea to Selhurst Park last summer.

He is the Eagles’ third-most expensive capture of all time, coming in at £18 million ($24m), but has helped to make Patrick Vieira’s side a tougher nut to crack and appears destined to step up from the U21 ranks and into the senior England international fold at some stage.

Another former Chelsea academy graduate thriving outside of west London is Tino Livramento, who cost Southampton just £5m ($7m) and has a £50m ($67m) buy-back clause in his contract if his former club decide that they made a mistake on a defender currently nursing a knee injury.

On the subject of making a quick buck, Manchester City will feel that Ferran Torres’ winter switch to Barcelona represents good business for them.

The Spain international is only 21 years of age and has plenty of potential still to be unlocked but, having been acquired by the Premier League champions for €23m (£19m/$26m), he was offloaded to Camp Nou for €55m (£46m/$62m) after making just 43 appearances for the Blues – a price rise of 42 per cent in less than 18 months.

City have also been involved in another deal that could be considered shrewd, although they currently find themselves on the wrong side of a value line this time.

The Blues smashed the British transfer record when luring Jack Grealish away from Aston Villa for £100m ($135m), with those in the West Midlands initially reluctant to part with a home-grown superstar that had become a talismanic presence for them.

Villa have, however, invested wisely elsewhere after seeing their coffers bolstered, while the England international playmaker has struggled to find a spark in the north west.

Grealish has cost City over £16.6m ($22m) per goal involvement through his opening 23 appearances – with three assists and three efforts of his own recorded – and while he is on course to land a Premier League title winners’ medal in 2022, the Villans will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Steven Gerrard and Co deserve an honourable mention for having managed to acquire Philippe Coutinho’s English top-flight know-how on loan from Barcelona – as he helps to fill a Grealish-shaped void – while Christian Eriksen could prove to be a shrewd addition for Brentford if much-publicised health issues do not hold the ex-Tottenham midfielder back in west London.

Worst value Premier League transfers 2021-22

While Grealish’s move to Manchester was the biggest deal done in the summer of 2022, Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea was not far behind.

The Belgium international striker was taken back to Stamford Bridge from Serie A title holders Inter in a transfer worth £98m ($132m).

Big things were expected of him in England – having previously starred for West Brom, Everton and Manchester United – but he has made more headlines with his off-field activity, including questionable interviews, than he has for his exploits on the pitch.

Lukaku has registered only eight goals through 24 appearances in all competitions, with each of those efforts costing Chelsea £12.3m ($17m) – while every outing comes in at over £4m ($5m).

A man sitting in a similar boat at present is England international winger Jadon Sancho, with his move from Borussia Dortmund not playing out as planned.

A long-running saga eventually delivered a £73m ($99m) switch to Manchester United, but the talented 21-year-old has struggled to make the desired impact in his homeland.

He has just two goals and no assists to his name through 23 games, has made only 10 Premier League starts and has seen each of the 938 minutes he has played in the English top tier cost United close to £78,000.

Another of those to have left the Red Devils scratching collective heads is Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek.

He may well come good at Everton, if regular opportunities are afforded to him by Frank Lampard, but for now he remains an expensive flop at Old Trafford.

Snapped up from Ajax for £35m ($47m) during the summer of 2020, Van de Beek has cost United £700,000 for each of his 50 appearances and £60,000 per Premier League minute – with only 579 seen so far.

Tanguy Ndombele has proved to be just as costly for Tottenham, with the north London giants finally moving their record signing out on loan to former employers Lyon on January deadline day.

He swapped that Ligue 1 outfit for Spurs in July 2019, with £63m ($85m) changing hands, but the France international never really found his feet on English soil and has retraced his steps to familiar surroundings having cost Tottenham £692,000 for each of his 91 appearances and close to £17,500 per minute in the league.

Bryan Gil – Ndombele’s team-mate at Spurs – gets a dishonourable mention for having returned to his native Spain on loan at Valencia after taking in just 20 appearances and 85 minutes of Premier League football (£258,000 for each of those) on the back of a £22m ($30m) move from Sevilla in the summer of 2021.