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Transfers: Five greatest ever bargains

Riyad Mahrez celebrated his 31st birthday on Monday and the Algerian must rank as one of the best transfer bargains we have ever seen.

It is hard to imagine, but Leicester paid just a reported £450,000 to sign Mahrez from French outfit Le Havre in 2014, with the winger going on to help the club secure promotion to the Premier League later that same year.

Mahrez then played his part in the Foxes' successful survival bid the following season, before helping the club defy 5000/1 odds to win the most unlikely of Premier League titles during the 2015/16 campaign,

The Algeria international was the star of that Leicester team alongside Jamie Vardy, scoring 17 goals and providing 11 assists as he went on to be crowned PFA Players' Player of the Year.

A further two seasons at the King Power Stadium followed for Mahrez before he joined Manchester City for a reported £60m during the summer of 2018, going on to win a further six honours and counting during his time with the Citizens.

That move has certainly proved profitable for Mahrez, but also for Leicester, who no doubt uncovered one of the best bargains ever when they brought him to the club to little fanfare just over eight years ago.

Leicester have a thing for a bargain

Mahrez may go down as one of the best transfer bargains in history, but he may not even be Leicester's most value for money purchase, as that honour could well go to the Algerian's fellow title hero Vardy.

Vardy joined Leicester from non-league Fleetwood Town for £1m in May 2012 and he has gone on to score 158 goals in 374 appearances for the club, playing a starring role in their title success of 2016 and last year's FA Cup triumph.

The 35-year-old is still firing in the goals at the King Power, despite currently being sidelined through injury, as he has averaged more than a goal a game in his 16 Premier League appearances to date this term.

Only Arthur Chandler and Arthur Rowley have scored more goals for Leicester than Vardy, who may well have further chapters to write in his story - the Foxes are priced at 9/2 to win the inaugural Europa Conference League this season.

Lewandowski could make this list twice

Robert Lewandowksi is one of the greatest goalscorers in European football history and many people are still scratching their heads as to why the Poland international has been overlooked for the Ballon d'Or in recent years.

The Bayern Munich star is a player that seems to be getting better with age, as despite being 33, he has scored 39 goals in 32 appearances across all competitions this term and is on course to average more than a goal a game for the third season in a row.

In total, Lewandowski has scored 333 goals in 361 appearances for Bayern, a record that suggests the Bavarians surely paid a minimum of £50m to secure his services from Borussia Dortmund in 2014, but that is not the case, as he actually moved to Munich on a free transfer.

Lewandowski is second only to Gerd Muller when it comes to most Bundesliga goals, as he also netted 74 in 131 games for Dortmund after they too signed him for a bargain price of just £4m from Polish club Lech Poznan.

The forward's career could have taken an entirely different path, as just a few months before joining Dortmund in 2010, he was reportedly on the verge of signing for English club Blackburn, only for volcanic ash clouds - yes you heard right - to cancel all flights to England and with it, his hopes of moving to Ewood Park.

How much does it cost to win everything?

Chelsea are known for being big spenders in the transfer market and the summer of 2012 was no different, as fresh from winning their first Champions League crown, the Blues spent big on the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar.

However, one transfer that perhaps slipped under the radar at the time was the reported £7m capture of Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta from Marseille.

Fast forward a decade, and Azpilicueta is still a mainstay of the Chelsea defence, making over 450 appearances for the club and surviving six permanent managers and two interim bosses.

The 32-year-old is also one of the most decorated players around in terms of honours, as Chelsea's success in this month's Club World Cup means he has now won everything there is to win at club level with the Blues.

In total, Azpilicueta has won nine trophies with Chelsea and he could be lifting a 10th this weekend when Thomas Tuchel's side take on Liverpool in the EFL Cup final - the Blues can be backed at 11/10 to emerge victorious at Wembley.

Larsson a Celtic legend

It takes a lot for a Celtic player that was not part of the famous Lisbon Lions team to be considered as one of the best players in the club's history, but that is exactly how Swedish striker Henrik Larsson is seen.

Larsson moved to Glasgow after an indifferent spell with Dutch giants Feyenoord for a reported £650,000 in 1997 and he quickly became a firm fans favourite.

Finishing as top scorer in his first season with the club, Larsson netted the opener in a 2-0 victory over St Johnstone on the final day of the 1997/98 season to seal Celtic their first league title in a decade, and in doing so, stop Old Firm rivals Rangers from landing a record 10th championship in a row.

The goals kept flowing for Larsson, who won the European Golden Shoe in 2000/01, the same season Celtic lifted the domestic treble, while he played a starring role in the club's run to the UEFA Cup final in 2003 - scoring twice in the final against Jose Mourinho's Porto.

Larsson eventually moved on to Barcelona in 2004, winning the Champions League during his time at the Camp Nou, but only after scoring 242 goals in 315 appearances for Celtic, leaving him third on the club's all-time list of top scorers.

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