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Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 16:50 GMT
Bargain Hunt: The Premiership Years
David Dickinson with Juan Veron and Thierry Henry
Who would David Dickinson consider a bargain?

They've all had millions of pounds to splash in the transfer market.

But which of Premiership's richest managers have nabbed bargains to make David Dickinson proud, and which have been sold a heap of old tat?


Arsenal

Cheap as chips
No one could ever complain about the 4.5m spent on World Cup winner Gilberto Silva.

Patrick Vieira lines up for Arsenal at Highbury
Vieira: Wise use of 3.5m
But Patrick Vieira, for 3.5m? In a world where Seth Johnson is worth 7m? Steal of the Century, for sure.

Jury still out
Sylvain Wiltord had a good year last season, scoring important goals and filling in well on the flanks - and back in August the man was on fire.

But is that enough to justify a fee of 13m? That's 2m more than Thierry Henry.

You've been had, mate
Anyone fancy buying a striker with a long history of ankle problems for 8m? You do? Chap by the name of Jeffers - great prospect...


Manchester United

Cheap as chips
Back in the summer of 1996, Sir Alex Ferguson was busy wasting money on Jordi Cruyff.

Massimo Taibi waves to the Man United fans
Not waving but drowning: Taibi says goodbye to United
Luckily, he also splashed 1.5m on a young Norwegian named Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - who would go on to score a goal every two games over the next six seasons, and notch the goal which won United the European Cup.

Jury still out
Juan Veron's played well for United this season. That's well, not brilliantly.

When he's outstanding more times than he's simply good, 28.1m might be justified.

You've been had, mate
Fergie hasn't bought many stinkers. But United fans around the world still shiver at the memory of 4.4m goalkeeper Massimo Taibi's display against Southampton in the autumn of 1999.


Newcastle

Cheap as chips
At one stage, 6m for a Coventry striker who could barely score seemed like the biggest waste of money since George W Bush invested in a new pair of reading glasses.

Titus Bramble chases down a clearance
Thorn in my side: Bramble needs to bear fruit
But, two years on, Craig Bellamy has not only revitalised Alan Shearer but also been the catalyst for a full-scale Newcastle revival.

Jury still out
Let's be kind to Titus Bramble. He might have had a less-than-glorious first few months at St James's Park after his 5m move from Ipswich, but time is on his side.

However, the fact that Sir Bobby is sniffing round Jonathan Woodgate doesn't exactly bode well.

You've been had, mate
Carl Cort has every reason to be concerned, seeing that he cost 7m.

But can Diego Gavilan (2m, no impact) and Christian Bassedas (3.5m, even less impact) really expect to escape ridicule?


Chelsea

Cheap as chips
Take a bow, Mr Ranieri - when you signed William Gallas for 6.9m, did you really know that he'd even overshadow Marcel Desailly in the Chelsea defence?

Slavisa Jokanovic in action for Chelsea
Jokanovic: Jok by name, joke by nature
Jury still out
Boudewijn Zenden has done all right for Chelsea, even if Ranieri did accuse him of being overweight.

And that's the thing. He's only ever been all right - and 7m should surely buy you more.

You've been had, mate
He might be gone now, but that's no reason to stop slagging off Slavisa Jokanovic.

Never before has a meagre 1.7m been spent so badly than on this hapless midfielder, Ranieri's first - and worst - signing at Stamford Bridge.


Liverpool

Cheap as chips
Gerard Houllier pulled off a couple of rare blinders when he rebuilt the Reds' defence in the summer of 1999.

Igor Biscan in action for Liverpool at Anfield
Biscan: Doesn't even look as if he's enjoying himself
Stephane Henchoz for 3.5m was good enough, but Sami Hyypia for 3m? Hats off indeed.

Jury still out
You would hope for a better return on 10m than two Premiership goals in six months.

But hey - let's give El Hadji Diouf the benefit of the doubt. At times he's looked quite lively - and he's only young. For a bit.

You've been had, mate
Whoooah. No need to push, Emile Heskey (11m) and Vladimir Smicer (4.2m) - you're very much in the picture.

But neither of you are as calamitously untalented as Igor Biscan, a man who cost a staggering 5.5m and whose first touch bears unflattering comparisons with that of a brick wall.

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