Every Premier League club’s top 3 signings in history as Man Utd secure Ronaldo

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Manchester United made headlines across the world earlier this week after striking a deal to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

United swooping in to steal Ronaldo from the grasp of rivals Manchester City quickly developed into the headline story of a wild summer transfer window.

By luring the Portuguese icon back to Manchester for a second spell, the 36-year-old looks set for a romantic finish to his career in the same surroundings that he made his name in over 12 years ago.

But where does Ronaldo rank among the Red Devils' best ever signings of the Premier League era? And what about the other 19 clubs and their greatest arrivals?

Here, Daily Star Sport takes an extensive look at every Premier League clubs top three signings in history in the wake of United's blockbuster Ronaldo deal…


1. Thierry Henry

A man who needs no introduction. It wasn't just the 226 goals Henry scored for Arsenal but how he made opposition defences look like schoolchildren. His electric pace, unflappable composure in front of goal and ability to find the bottom corner with a side-footed finish remains unrivalled. An absolute snip at £11million.

2. Ian Wright

Where there were goals, there was Ian Wright. Only in one of his seven seasons at Arsenal did he fail to score 25 goals in all competitions and ended up with 185 overall. Never has £2.5m been better spent in the Premier League.

3. Patrick Vieira

One of the key members of the Invincibles side in 2003-04, Arsenal never looked the same following his departure in 2005. Signed for just £3.5m from AC Milan, his presence in the midfield was domineering and the way he strode around with the ball oozed elegance.

Who do you believe is your club's best ever signing? Let us know in the comments section below.

Aston Villa

1. Olof Mellberg

Olof Mellberg racked up over 230 Premier League appearances for Aston Villa during a seven-year stay in the Midlands. The Swedish defender established himself as club captain and an all-time Villa great before departing for Juventus in 2008.

2. Stiliyan Petrov

Petrov evolved into a Villa Park favourite following his £6.5m move from Celtic in 2006. The Bulgarian stay racked up 185 Premier League appearances for Villa before retiring with leukemia in 2013.

3. Juan Pablo Angel

Juan Pablo Angel made a slow start to life with Aston Villa following a club-record transfer from River Plate, but he won the doubters over during his six-and-a-half years in the Midlands, managing 44 Premier League goals before his move to the New York Red Bulls.


1. Pontus Jansson

Brentford broke their transfer record at the time to sign Pontus Jansson from Leeds United, and he helped turn the club into promotion hopefuls.

The season before, with Said Benrahma, Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay leading the line, they'd finished 11th in the table, conceding 59 goals.

The following year, with Jansson solidifying the defence, they finished third in the table and conceded just 38 times – a stat only bettered by Leeds, who conceded 35 on their way to winning the title.

2. Hermann Hreidarsson

Only spent a season at Brentford but still made a huge impact.

Joining for a then-club record fee of £750,000, he helped Brentford win the third division title on the final day, scoring six goals throughout the campaign despite playing as a centre-back.

Despite leaving for £2.5m just a year after he joined, he is still regarded as a club icon for his efforts at the club.

3. Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney has to be in the discussion for best signing in recent years, the stats speak for themselves.

Cost an initial £5m, with another £5m in bonuses and add-ons, but was worth his weight in gold as he fired 31 goals in the Championship – a new league record – and fired Brentford into the Premier League.


1. Bruno

Signed as a free agent in 2012, Bruno quickly became one of the most popular players to ever wear the Brighton stripes. He announced his retirement from playing in 2019 with the words Once a Seagull, always a Seagull" and was appointed as a senior player development coach just days later.

2. Maty Ryan

Ryan played every minute of Brighton's first Premier League season, helping keep them in the division. He was a regular for the next two years with the Seagulls having paid an undisclosed fee in 2017 to bring him to the Amex from Valencia.

3. Inigo Calderon

Calderon was a key part of the Seagulls team that edged Southampton to the League One title in 2011, and is a hero on the south coast. He was voted Brighton's player of the season in 2014/15 having signed from Alavez in 2010.


1. Tom Heaton

Heaton was Sean Dyche's first signing as Burnley manager and helped his side to the Premier League on two occasions, becoming club captain. He also helped them stay up towards the end of his Burnley career.

2. James Tarkowski

Tarkowski has formed an excellent partnership alongside Ben Mee, and the England international has been consistently solid at the back and kept Burnley in the Premier League. With Dyche rarely given the funds to spend, he has been an essential part of a solid defence.

3. Nick Pope

Pope has filled the shoes of Tom Heaton perfectly and established himself as one of the best Premier League goalkeepers over the last few seasons, even putting his name forward as a contender for England no.1.


1. Frank Lampard

When they forked out £11million to prise the midfielder away from West Ham in 2001, little did Chelsea know they had signed a man who would go on to break their all-time goalscoring record and become one of the greatest players in the club's history. Lampard scored 211 goals in 648 appearances for the Blues and won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League and Europa League.

2. Didier Drogba

Drogba initially struggled at Stamford Bridge after completing a £24million switch from Marseille in 2004, but that soon changed. The Ivorian striker went on to score 164 goals in two stints with Chelsea, including a dramatic equaliser in their iconic 2012 Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich, wherein he scored the winning penalty in the shootout. Also captured four Premier League titles, as many FA Cups and three League Cups.

3. Petr Cech

The 6ft 5in goalkeeper couldn't have made a more impressive start to his Chelsea career after arriving from Rennes for £7million in 2004. After keeping a record 21 clean sheets and conceding just 13 goals to help Jose Mourinho's men win the Premier League title that season, Cech added another three of them to his collection over the next decade, along with four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and Champions League – contributing with two penalty saves in their 2012 final win over Bayern Munich to help them clinch the latter.

Crystal Palace

1. Andy Johnson

Eyebrows were raised when Palace announced the arrival of Johnson, who was used as a makeweight in Clinton Morrison's move to Birmingham back in 2002. But AJ immediately became an Eagles hero when he bagged a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of fierce rivals Brighton – and he is now regarded as one of the club's greatest ever strikers. He bagged a memorable 21 goals during their time in the top-flight in 2004/05 and went on to earn eight England caps before injury hindered his career.

2. Wilfried Zaha

A player who needs no introduction, Zaha is still shining for Palace in the Premier League. The Ivory Coast star made his Eagles debut aged 17 and became one of the most feared attackers in the Championship before Sir Alex Ferguson made him his last ever signing as Manchester United manager. Things didn't work out at Old Trafford and Zaha returned to South London six years ago, where he has played a pivotal role in maintaining Palace's top-flight status.

3. Julian Speroni

Speroni's Palace career got off to a dreadful start when, on his home Premier League debut, he made disastrous error in a 3-1 defeat by Everton. The Argentine eventually lost his No.1 spot to Gabor Kiraly during that 04/05 campaign and he had to wait several season to reclaim his spot. But he quickly developed into one of the greatest shot-stoppers in the Championship and was a mainstay in the first-team for the best part of a decade.


1. Seamus Coleman

The full-back is still a regular at Goodison Park and often provides plenty of attacking output for the Toffees. Everton paid just £60,000 to take Coleman to Merseyside, beating the likes of Celtic and Ipswich, to a transfer from Sligo Rovers back in 2009. A true club legend and at a bargain price.

2. Tim Cahill

Another icon at Goodison Park, Cahill joined the Toffees from Millwall for £1.5million in 2004. It was money well spent with the dynamic Australian being Everton's top goalscorer and fans' Player of the Season in his debut campaign.

3. Tim Howard

The American goalkeeper had already impressed when given a chance at Manchester United before Everton signed him, initially on loan. Howard quickly became No.1 and kept 116 clean sheets, helping Everton regularly battle for a top four Premier League position.


1. Stuart Dallas

Dallas has been a pivotal part of Leeds United's rise back into the Premier League and was signed for only £1.3m in 2015. His versatility has allowed Marcelo Bielsa freedom during the Championship and Premier League campaigns and the Northern Ireland international has made 233 appearances for the club.

2. Mark Viduka

Viduka was signed from Celtic back in 2000 and instantly hit the ground running, striking partnerships with Alan Smith and Robbie Keane. He helped them achieve two top-five finishes consecutively before helping his side avoid the drop.

3. Patrick Bamford

Bamford has finally found his home after being passed around English sides for fun. Bamford was an essential part of their promotion back to the Premier League and has been rewarded with a new five-year-deal for his key role in the team.


1. Jamie Vardy

The Foxes plucked Jamie Vardy from then Non-League side Fleetwood Town for a reported fee of around £1million. It was worth the gamble, and Vardy is now Leicester's fourth top goalscorer of all time. Vardy even holds the record for most consecutive games scoring in a row.

2. Kasper Schmeichel

Leicester signed Kasper Schmeichel for an undisclosed fee from a Leeds United side that were in crisis in 2011. The Dane has been between the sticks for Leicester's promotion, Premier League triumph, and recent FA Cup success.

3. N'Golo Kante

Leicester took a chance on N'Golo Kante, who was at French second-tier side SM Caen, and he had often been passed on due to his size. Kante began his journey to become one of the best midfielders in the world at Leicester before he moved on to Chelsea.


1. Mohamed Salah

After completing a £37million switch from Roma in 2017, the former Chelsea flop reached heights that no one expected in his debut season at Anfield, scoring 44 goals in all competitions. His tally of 32 goals that year was also the most in a 38-game Premier League campaign. Salah then followed that up by contributing significantly in Liverpool's Champions League and Premier League triumphs under Jurgen Klopp.

2. Luis Suarez

Suarez only spent three-and-a-half years on Merseyside, yet that was all he needed to cement a legacy as one of the greatest strikers in their history. As well as causing plenty of controversy, the Uruguayan bagged 82 goals in 133 games for Liverpool, winning the League Cup in 2012 and almost inspiring them to the Premier League title before a late collapse in 2013/14.

3. Virgil van Dijk

Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid £75million to sign the Dutchman from Southampton in January 2018, making him the most expensive defender in history at that time. But Van Dijk's impact at Anfield was instant, helping the Reds reach the Champions League final that season before going one better and winning it a year later. Then played a key part in the club's first ever Premier League title win in 2019/20.

Manchester City

1. Vincent Kompany

It's no surprise that all three of City's best-ever signings are from the same era. David Silva just about nudges into the top spot. Signed for just £6million as a central midfielder in 2008, Kompany quickly became an ever-present in the City XI. Not only did he adapt, but he excelled and it proved to be some of the most shrewd business of all-time.

2. Sergio Aguero

Everyone knew that Sergio Aguero's arrival in 2011 was going to result in goals being scored, but nobody could have imagined it would be 260 of them. Without Aguero, City don't have the 2012 title and possibly many of their Premier League crowns since.

3. David Silva

To many City fans, Silva is the greatest player ever to pull on the light blue. Over a decade, he made 436 appearances and was present at every historic moment in the club's most successful period. The most aesthetically pleasing player to ever cost just £25million.

Manchester United

1. Wayne Rooney

Manchester United's signing of Wayne Rooney remains one of the most successful transfers of the Premier League era. During the next 13 seasons he scored a club record 253 goals and won five league titles.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo fired United to three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League during his first spell at the club. His ratio of 118 goals in 292 games also looks set to be improved following his return.

3. Eric Cantona

United's third greatest Premier League signing is none other than Eric Cantona. His 82 goals across 185 appearances came alongside four Premier League titles and two FA Cups.


1. Alan Shearer

Newcastle signed Shearer a year after he won the Premier League with Blackburn, and the Newcastle fan became the Premier League record goalscorer at St James' Park. Devastatingly he couldn't win silverware with his hometown club, but was runner-up twice in the FA Cup.

2. Shay Given

Given is a Premier League great and starred in goal for Newcastle for 12 seasons, making over 400 appearances for the club. The Irishman was one of the best in the league in his position, and served the club tremendously during his time.

3. Fabricio Coloccini

Coloccini signed for Newcastle back in 2008, but they were relegated that season. However, he was a key part of the Championship winning side, as they came straight back up, and was instrumental at the back for Newcastle for a further six years.


1. Wes Hoolahan

The Republic of Ireland international was signed by Glenn Roeder in 2008-09 from Blackpool and became an integral part of the Canaries' history, winning promotion to the top flight in 2009-10 and 2017-18. With 352 appearances and 10 years at the club, Hoolahan is as loyal a servant to a club as they come.

2. Grant Holt

It is incredible to think that Norwich paid just £400,000 to sign Holt from Shrewsbury and it was also their biggest signing of the season in 2009. The target man scored 78 goals in his four seasons at the club, helping them climb out of League One in his first season and was voted into the club's hall of fame in 2012.

3. Teemu Pukki

With 68 goals in 129 appearances, few could have predicted the Finnish striker to enjoy such an impact in his three seasons at Carrow Road. Pukki has been a relevation for Daniel Farke since joining from Brondby, scoring 29 goals in their promotion charge in 2018-19 and 26 on their way back to the top flight last season.


1. Claus Lundekvam

Lundekvam is widely acknowledged as one of Southampton's top signings after a 12-year stay on the South Coast. The Norwegian defender amassed 290 Premier League appearances for the Saints before his retirement in 2008 – over a decade after he was snapped up for a bargain fee.

2. Rickie Lambert

Rickie Lambert was a key element of the Southampton side which fired their way back to the Premier League after their drop through the divisions. Lambert notched 103 league goals in 206 games after his £1m move from Bristol Rovers.

3. Morgan Schneiderlin

French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin was another player who aided Southampton's rapid rise through the ranks back up to the Premier League. The midfielder was snapped up for a bargain £1.2m and made over 230 league appearances for the Saints before departing in a big bucks move to Manchester United after seven years on the South Coast.


1. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale's 21 goals in 33 Premier League outings in 2012/13 is one of the most memorable individual campaigns in recent domestic history, and his return last season provided an impressive 11 goals from 10 starts.

2. Son Heung-min

Son Heung-min's 109 goals across 284 outings have been jam packed full of quality, and his recent four-year contract extension will provide plenty more chances of silverware.

3. Mousa Dembele

During his six full seasons in the Premier League with Tottenham, cult hero Mousa Dembele oosed quality that will not be forgotten by supporters. His 250 appearances make him a club icon.


1. Troy Deeney

Deeney has become a Watford legend after arriving at Vicarage Road from Walsall in 2010. The veteran striker netted 140 goals during his 419 appearances for the Hornets during his 11-year stay, which came to an emotional end earlier this summer.

2. Abdoulaye Doucoure

Watford hit the jackpot with Abdoulaye Doucoure after snapping the French midfielder from Rennes in 2016. The 28-year-old starred for the Hornets in the Premier League, notching some important goals before their relegation in 2020 saw his spell at Vicarage Road come to an end.

3. Jay Demerit

American defender Jay Demerit was a key component of the Watford side which earned promotion to the Premier League under Aidy Boothroyd back in 2006. Demerit managed 185 league appearances for the Hornets before departing in 2011.

West Ham

1. Paolo Di Canio

There can be no denying what an inspired piece of business it was bringing the shamed Italian to Upton Park. Harry Redknapp terrified the West Ham board by demanding Di Canio after his ban for shoving referee Paul Alcock.

But even as a 30-year-old, the £1.5m signing proved to be incredible business as he became a true Hammers legend over the next few years, optimising on the pitch the passion of the fan base.

2. Dimitri Payet

West Ham fans just couldn’t “understand” (as per the famous chant) how a player with such flair, skill and talent was playing in his prime in east London – and was snapped up for just £10.7m.

To have a Ballon d’Or nominee wearing claret and blue, albeit far too briefly, is such a rarity for West Ham supporters and shows miracles can happen in the transfer market. Forgetting how it ended, Payet brought joy to every generation of supporter while the club said ‘au revoir’ to the Boleyn.

3. Scott Parker

Despite leaving for rivals Tottenham after the team were relegated, nobody can deny how influential Parker was at Upton Park.

After arriving from Newcastle for £7m, Parker picked up three consecutive Hammer of the Year awards. Had the midfielder had more quality around him while things began to implode off the pitch, his time at West Ham would be remembered more fondly.

Meanwhile, an honourable mention goes to Michail Antonio, who has finally found his best form and fitness at West Ham while becoming their all-time top Premier League goalscorer. Give it another year too, then Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal could easily fight themselves into contention for a podium spot too.


1. Ruben Neves

It was a shock when Championship outfit Wolves managed to secure one of Europe's most exciting youngsters. Four years later, Neves has 178 appearances to his name, some of which have included some memorable strikes. Still only 24, the Portuguese has been crucial to the club's forays into Europe over the past three years.

2. Conor Coady

Coady had been struggling for game time at Liverpool and passed from one Championship club to another when he signed for Wolves in 2015 for just £1m. The centre-back is set to pass the 300th appearance milestone this season and is a pivotal part of the club's setup as their inspirational leader.

3. Joao Moutinho

Another player who arrived with links to Jorge Mendes, Joao Moutinho has been a mainstay over the past three seasons for Wolves and even at 34, retains crucial value to the club. The midfielder has only missed five games since he joined the Midlands club, highlighting his incredible commitment and quality.

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