On Wednesday, ESPN FC showed how football clubs themselves calculate player costs and transfer fees to illustrate how much the summer's biggest signings will cost their new teams. We now know that clubs don't account for the full amount of the transfer fee immediately; instead, they spread the sum over the length of the player's contract. As such, a £50 million fee wouldn't be recorded all at once: it would be shown as £10 million over the player's five-year contract.
Of course, transfer fees are less than half the equation when calculating how much of a club's finite resources is being spent on a player. Wages must also be taken into account. Ideally, image rights payments and agents fees would also be factored in, but for simplicity, we'll focus on the two largest player costs: transfer fees and wages.
By using a simple equation -- [transfer fee / contract length] + [weekly wages * 52] -- we can get a fairly accurate insight into how clubs calculate player costs, which allows us to better compare players in terms of value.
For the purposes of this list, we are disregarding academy players, such as Hector Bellerin (who would be near the top of this list otherwise), because young talent is the ultimate low-risk, high-reward investment for clubs. ESPN FC looked at all the Premier League transfers the past two years and came up with a list of the best and worst values.
1. N'Golo Kante to Leicester City, summer 2015: £3.48 million for 2015-16
(£5.6m transfer fee, four-year deal at £40,000 per week)
Leicester City spent less than £3.5 million last season for, quite literally, the centrepiece of its title-winning squad. It's unfortunate the team had Kante for only one season, but they got £30 million from Chelsea, even if that fee seems low, considering the Frenchman's abilities and the transfer inflation occurring this summer.
2. Romelu Lukaku to Everton, summer 2014: £9.24m per year
(£28m transfer fee, five-year deal at £70,000 per week)
Over the past four-plus seasons, only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals in the Premier League than Romelu Lukaku, who, by the way, just turned 23 in May. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney scored 50 Premier League goals by a younger age than Lukaku did.
In three-plus seasons at Everton (one on loan), the Belgian striker scored 83 goals and assists across all competitions (61 goals, 22 assists). He was worth more than the £28 million Chelsea sold him for in 2014 and is worth at least double that now. He's under contract until 2019, so Everton can either cash in on him or continue to benefit from the services of one of the best young strikers in the world.
3. Dele Alli to Tottenham Hotspur, winter 2015: £2.3m per year
(£5m transfer fee, five-and-a-half-year deal at £30,000 per week)
Last season, his first in the Premier League, Alli scored 19 goals and assists (10 goals, 9 assists), was named to the PFA team of the year and won the young player of the year award. He also debuted for England and now has 12 international caps to his name. Oh, and he just turned 20 years old in April.
4. Sadio Mané to Southampton, summer 2014: £4.77m per year
(£11.8m transfer fee, four-year deal at £35,000 per week)
Mané joined Southampton from Red Bull Salzburg after amassing an impressive 77 goals and assists in 87 appearances for the Austrian club. After two very good seasons at St. Mary's, the winger was sold to Liverpool this summer for £34 million. After selling him to Liverpool, Southampton essentially got two years of Mané's services for free, plus an additional £25 million.
5. Eric Dier to Tottenham Hotspur, summer 2014: £2.66m per year
(£4m transfer fee, five-year deal at £35,000 per week)
He is a versatile player who was receiving high praise even before his excellent performance for England in the Euros. Dier just signed a five-year deal last summer, but Spurs are reportedly set to double his wages and extend his contract another year. Even at £70,000 per week, Dier would be comfortably on this list, considering his age, potential, versatility and demonstrated ability to succeed at both the Premier League and international levels and the skyrocketing prices for capable centre-backs.
6. N'Golo Kante to Chelsea, summer 2016: £13.8m per year
(£30m transfer fee, five-year deal at £150,000 per week)
Didn't we just see Kante on this list? Despite costing nearly four times what he cost Leicester City, he makes this list again. He was arguably the Premier League's best midfielder last season, and he is costing his new club less than half of what Paul Pogba is costing Manchester United. At just 25 years old, the world's most prolific tackler could improve his game even further.
7. Toby Alderweireld to Tottenham, summer 2015: £6.18m per year
(£11.4m transfer fee, five-year deal at £75,000 per week)
Alderweireld is a premier centre-back who can also play at right-back, and his signing looks especially astute given how transfer fees for centre-backs have skyrocketed.
8. Alexis Sánchez to Arsenal, summer 2014, £14.5m per year
(£33.5m transfer fee, five-year deal at £150,000 per week)
It's not often that a star player about to hit his prime becomes available, and it's rarer still that the player becomes available from a club such as Barcelona. Arsenal took advantage of the squad shake-up that came with Luis Enrique's replacing Tata Martino, and Sánchez has been one of the Premier League's best players the past two-plus seasons.
1. Radamel Falcao to Man United, summer 2014: £24m for 2014-15
(£6m loan fee, one-year loan at £346,000 per week)
What did Manchester United get for what was then the most expensive player in Premier League history on an annual basis, only recently surpassed by Paul Pogba? Eighteen starts and four goals across all competitions (including one start with the U21s).
2. Bastian Schweinsteiger to Man United, summer 2015: £16.47m per year
(£6.5m transfer fee, three-year deal at £275,000 per week)
Manchester United committed legendary wages to an oft-injured, aging player based on his legendary career to date, rather than a reasonable projection of his future production. Schweinsteiger was injured for much of the 2014-15 season, and it was no surprise when he struggled with fitness last season. As it happens, he played exactly the same number of minutes for Manchester United last season as he did for Bayern Munich the season before.
Now 32 years old, Manchester United have significant resources tied up in Schweinsteiger for the next two years. Those could be put to much better use.
3. Mario Balotelli to Liverpool, summer 2014: £12.1m per year
(£16m transfer fee, three-year deal at £130,000 per week)
Balotelli had been Liverpool's most expensive player until Sadio Mané signed with the club earlier this year (and Balotelli remains a close second). The Italian has just one league goal to his name for Liverpool (though, to be fair, he was loaned back to AC Milan last season in exchange for Milan's partly subsidising his wages), and he is unlikely to add to that total. He is not part of Jurgen Klopp's plans for this season.
The striker's contract expires at the end of this season, and with Liverpool also getting Christian Benteke off the books this summer, the club will have freed up nearly £25 million per year to reinvest in the squad. For perspective on the sort of player Liverpool could target with those kind of resources, there's only one player in the Premier League who costs his club more than £25 million annually: Pogba.
4. Brown Ideye to West Brom, summer 2014: £8.08m for 2014/15
(£10m transfer fee, three-year deal at £40,000 per week)
Bought for a club-record transfer fee, Ideye scored just four Premier League goals and played less than 40 percent of the available minutes in 2014-15. The centre-forward was sold to Olympiacos after just one season at the Hawthorns for a heavily reduced price of around £4 million.
5. Eliaquim Mangala to Manchester City, summer 2014: £12.7m per year
(£42.9m transfer fee, five-year deal at £80,000 per week)
Mangala has had a difficult time adjusting to the Premier League since he left Porto two years ago. The transfer fee inflation we've seen for centre-backs makes the transfer fee for Mangala seem a bit less absurd in hindsight, but only just.
6. Oumar Niasse to Everton, winter 2016: £5.6m per year
(£13.5m transfer fee, four-and-a-half-year deal at £50,000 per week)
Just months after he was named the Russian Premier League's player of the year, Niasse was sold right before the close of last winter's transfer window. Since then, however, he has been an expensive afterthought at Goodison Park. He has played just 152 minutes, and his Everton career is over, with new manager Ronald Koeman leaving him out of the squad entirely.
7. Radamel Falcao to Chelsea, summer 2015: £7.28m for 2015-16
(no loan fee, one year loan at £140,000 per week)
Making his second appearance on this list, Radamel Falcao was a much cheaper proposition for Chelsea, as his value had significantly diminished following a lacklustre season in Manchester. Chelsea did not pay Monaco a loan fee and was responsible for paying Falcao "just" £140,000 a week. However, Falcao's loan still represents a very poor return on investment, as it yielded just 229 Premier League minutes and one goal in a losing effort to Crystal Palace.
8. Pedro and Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea, 2015: £19.6m per year
(£42.6m in transfer fees and £185,000 per week combined)
Chelsea have committed nearly £20 million per year to two players who happen to play the same positions as Willian and Eden Hazard, two of the club's best players.
On the surface, Pedro's seven goals and three assists look like a decent return, though all but one of those, an assist in a loss to Leicester City, was scored against clubs that finished 14th or worse in the table. Cuadrado's costs last season were mitigated considerably by Juventus' paying Chelsea a loan fee on top of the Colombian's wages, but that is a small consolation for Chelsea fans.