It’s fair to say that the most expensive English strikers in history have endured mixed fortunes following big moves, as some went on to become the record goalscorer for their respected clubs, while others have failed under the weight of expectations.
As homegrown players now command a premium on top of their valuation, as Dominic Solanke’s £19m move from Liverpool to Bournemouth suggests, it’s perhaps more important than ever that clubs get it right when signing English players.
With that being said, here are the nine most expensive English strikers in history:
9. Jermain Defoe – Portsmouth to Tottenham for £15m – 2009
Jermain Defoe is no stranger to Premier League clubs, having played for no fewer than five to date, although the most costly of his moves came in January 2009, when he returned to Tottenham from Portsmouth for around £15m having made the reverse move the year prior.
His second spell at the club proved to be just as goal-laden, netting 79 of his 142 in the Tottenham colours following his return.
8. Alan Shearer – Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United for £15m – 1996
Alan Shearer finally got the chance to play for his boyhood club in 1996, when Newcastle United paid Blackburn Rovers a then world-record fee of £16m to bring the legendary striker back to St James’ Park.
In what was his final move in a long and illustrious career, Shearer would leave his mark with the Magpies by becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, scoring 181 goals before retiring in 2006.
Of those 181 goals in the black and white of Newcastle, 148 came in the Premier League, which along with his 112 in the league for Blackburn, also makes him the league’s all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals scored.
Compared to today’s money, the fee Newcastle paid in 1996 would translate to £121m, so it’s safe to say Newcastle got their money’s worth with Shearer.
7. Danny Welbeck – Manchester United to Arsenal for £16m – 2014
Transfers between top-six rivals aren’t usually that common, so it was somewhat of a surprise when Manchester United allowed Danny Welbeck to leave for Arsenal in 2014 in a deal worth £16m.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed success since his move to the Gunners, winning two FA Cups during his time with the north London club, scoring 32 goals in 126 appearances.
Welbeck’s time at Arsenal however could be coming to an end, with the striker currently out of action after sustaining a broken ankle, while his contract at the Emirates is set to expire at the end of the season.
6. Michael Owen – Real Madrid to Newcastle United for £16m – 2005
After spending just one season at Real Madrid following his departure from boyhood club Liverpool, Newcastle United opted to bring Michael Owen back to the Premier League in a deal worth £16m, which is still the club’s most expensive transfer… ever.
Seven goals in 11 games during his first season was a decent return, although Owen’s time at St James’ Park will be more synonymous with the time he spent off the field due to injury. The Ballon d’Or winner ended up scoring 30 goals in 79 appearances across a four-year span, before joining Manchester United on a free transfer in 2009.
5. Andre Gray – Burnley to Watford for £18.5m – 2017
After scoring nine Premier League goals for Burnley during the 2016/17 season, Watford decided to part with £18.5m in order to bring Andre Gray to Vicarage Road, making him the club’s record signing.
Things haven’t quite gone according to plan for the 27-year-old since his move, with Gray scoring just eight goals for the club over a period spanning a season and a half, and is currently out due to injury.
4. Dominic Solanke – Liverpool to Bournemouth £19m – 2019
The latest addition to this list, Dominic Solanke swapped Liverpool for Bournemouth in order to get some regular game time, although the £19m the Cherries paid to sign the 21-year-old has certainly raised eyebrows.
Solanke scored just once for Liverpool during his 27 appearances for the Reds, coming in a 4-0 romp against Brighton in the final game of the 2017/18 Premier League season, and Eddie Howe will hope to temper the enormous potential the Under-20 World Cup winner possesses.
3. Darren Bent – Sunderland to Aston Villa £24m – 2011
After winning just five of their opening 22 Premier League games during the 2010/11 season, Aston Villa decided to halt their slide down the table in January 2011 by investing £24m in Sunderland striker Darren Bent.
Despite the question marks regarding the fee, nine goals in 16 Premier League games during the second half of the 2010/11 campaign suggested things could work out for Bent at Villa, although 16 goals in a further 56 appearances for the club proved otherwise.
With loan spells at Fulham, Brighton and Derby to follow, Villa’s record signing would eventually move to the Rams on a free transfer in 2015, and is now without a club.
2. Wayne Rooney – Everton to Manchester United for £30m – 2004
A player whose potential was evident from an early age, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United spent £30m to prise Wayne Rooney, who was just an 18-year-old at the time, from boyhood club Everton, and ended up becoming a legend for the Red Devils.
Rooney won five Premier League titles, four League Cups, an FA Cup and the Champions League title, as well as becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 253 goals during his 13 years at Old Trafford, before returning to the Toffees in 2017 on a free transfer.
1. Andy Carroll – Newcastle United to Liverpool £35m – 2011
With Liverpool selling Fernando Torres to Premier League rivals Chelsea for £50m in 2011, the club immediately invested the money into both Luis Suarez from Ajax and Newcastle United’s target man Andy Carroll, although it’s safe to say only one proved to be a success at Anfield.
While Suarez scored 82 goals in 133 appearances for the Reds, and almost guided them to the title in 2013/14, Carroll only scored 11 goals in 58 games as his time at the club was a combination of poor form and a wretched injury record.
After loaning Carroll to West Ham for the 2013/14 season, he made the switch permanent for just £17m.