by Noel Draper

Most clubs don’t have the millions to spend on quality players like Smalling, Torres or Carroll. They don’t have an owner with bottomless pockets who runs a porn empire so what they end up doing is either checking YouTube for a two minute clip of said target or hunting the lower leagues for a bargain or three. Sometimes they even jump on a ferry and go abroad to exotic places like Ireland or Belgium to pick out a “steal at that price”.  So, below, in no order at all, are my top five cheap players in what I like to call the “Top five bargains at roughly two thirds of the way into the season” list.

Michel Vorm – Swansea City – FC Utrecht – £1.5 million

What you do when you promote to the Premier League? Buy world class players and spend millions? Nope, what you do is buy a goalkeeper not many people had heard of and then put him in goal against one of the favourites for the league away from home. Who then fire in 4 goals. With no reply. What a 4-0 result doesn’t show though is that Vorm made 11 saves in that game. That’s right, 11. Which is a record. I checked. He has continued to be a fantasy football player’s wet dream throughout the season making save after save which is strange as he looks about 5ft tall and it’s not like the Dutch have a history for producing good keepers is it?

Demba Ba – Newcastle United – Free Transfer

When West Ham were relegated at the end of last season, Ba triggered a “relegated? I’ll be off on a free then, I know I kissed the badge but it was a joke, cheerio” clause in his contract and promptly joined Newcastle. Since then Demba has been hitting the target with a regularity that Shola “A bit better than Torres but only just”Ameobi can only dream about. There has been little sign of the bad knee that stopped Stoke buying him for £7.1 million two seasons ago. One word of warning Newcastle, when things go wrong, Demba has a habit of legging it. Just saying like.

James McClean – Sunderland – Derry Utd – £350,000

James is one of the those players who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Signed by Steve Bruce in August 2011, James was told that he was “One for the future” and would be “in the reserves until Christmas”. Then Steve Bruce was suddenly, without warning, in a move that no-one saw coming, sacked and the club appointed Martin O’Neill as their new manager who promptly liked what he saw in training and put James in the first team. He has now gone from strength to strength with his fearless running and never say die attitude. James has also managed to chip in with the odd goal as well. Good for him. Just remember who discovered you.

Marcus Olsson – Blackburn – Halmstads BK – Free Transfer

Anything Man Utd can do Blackburn can do as well. Well nearly, because although Marcus can play as a full back he normally doesn’t, unlike his twin who loves playing there. A recent Swedish international, Marcus has only played a few times for Blackburn since his free transfer move but has already stood out, probably due to having his twin playing behind him. Have I mentioned that Marcus has a twin and that he also plays for Blackburn? No? Must have slipped my mind. Sorry.

Pavel Pogrebnyak – Fulham –  VfB Stuttgart – Loan deal

With 5 goals in 3 games, including a perfect hattrick at the weekend against hapless and near rudderless Wolves, Pavel looks a quality player. He also is the most Russian looking Russian I have ever seen. He wouldn’t look out of place in that Rocky film with the big Russian who wasn’t a Russian. Pavel also seems to have picked up the little quirk of holding his fingers up to show how many goals he has scored so far this season. Rumours abound that when he gets past 10 goals he will strip off his boots and socks and use his toes. Can you get a yellow for that?