Here they are: the goal-getters, the match-winners and the masterful technicians down the flanks.
While contemporary elite teams must press aggressively, build-up from the back efficiently, control contests and sustain attacks at will, the primitive aims of football have remained the same since its inception: you’ve got to score more goals than the other team to win.
Many will argue there’s no position in the game more important than the centre forward. While our concept of the position has become more abstract over time, this player’s primary goal is to help his team put the ball in the back of the net as much as possible.
These players hold a ton of value, with teams paying huge fees to ensure they snag reliability in front of goal. Here are the ten most expensive English forwards of all time – wingers included.
Was there ever any doubt that Rooney would blossom into a superstar? No, absolutely not.
After embarking on one of the biggest breakout campaigns at Euro 2004 that announced Wazza to the world stage, Rooney earned a move to English behemoths Manchester United for £27m.
Upon his arrival, Sir Alex Ferguson described the bullish forward as the “best young player this country has seen in the past 30 years”. Despite all the pressure and expectations, Rooney cemented himself as a Red Devil icon and he’s regarded as one of the best forwards England has ever produced.
Madueke somewhat got lost amid Todd Boehly’s unprecedented cash influx during his first year of ownership. Chelsea prised the former Tottenham academy star away from PSV for £29m midway through the 2022/23 season.
The Blues’ woeful squad balance rendered Madueke’s start to life at the Bridge tough, but he did impress on occasions and may well head into the Mauricio Pochettino era as a starter down Chelsea’s right.
However, many wonder just how high the young winger’s ceiling actually is.
Aston Villa smashed their transfer record to sign Watkins from Brentford after the striker came ever so close to guiding the Bees into the Premier League.
Watkins has endured lean spells in the top flight but also enjoys runs where he looks like the most prolific forward in the division. After struggling towards the end of Steven Gerrard’s tenure, Watkins was emboldened by Unai Emery’s arrival and subsequently scored 11 goals in 12 league games.
His purple patches are majestic.
Convinced by Jose Mourinho to switch London for Rome, Tammy’s overseas gamble immediately paid off as he enjoyed a stellar debut season in the Eternal City.
The athletic forward swiftly established himself as a fan favourite among Romanisti after joining for £34m in 2021. He scored the most goals by an Englishman in a single season in 2021/22 as well as the most strikes by any Roma player during their debut campaign.
The striker’s second season didn’t prove quite as fruitful, but he’s still very much revered on Italian shores.
One of the all-time Premier League flops.
Carroll was brought in alongside some fella from Ajax called Luis Suarez and tasked with rejuvenating Liverpool’s front line following the departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.
The towering Geordie, however, had just one big night for the Reds as he scored six Premier League goals before departing after 18 torrid months.
This was certainly a sizeable fee given Gordon’s modest Premier League record, but cash is quite literally an object for the Newcastle owners and Gordon undoubtedly flashed some impressive talent during his time at Everton.
He only played a bit-part role for the Magpies during his first few months at the club, but his minutes are expected to increase with the club poised to compete on both domestic and continental fronts.
After evolving into a relentless output machine under Pep Guardiola, Sterling opted for pastures new in 2022 and signed for Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
However, the situation in west London proved to be far more unstable than Sterling could’ve ever imagined and he ended up playing under four managers during his debut season. While we rarely saw the England international at his very best, he was one of Chelsea’s better performers as he notched nine Premier League goal contributions.
Brighter times lie ahead for Sterling under Pochettino.
Sterling played a stellar supporting role for Liverpool in 2013/14 as ‘SAS’ took the division by storm. Daniel Sturridge and especially Luis Suarez took all the headlines during the club’s title tilt while young Sterling was quietly making a name for himself.
He joined Manchester City in 2015 much to the dismay of Liverpool supporters and after a difficult start in Manchester, Sterling came into his own under Pep Guardiola and will be remembered as one of the Premier League’s all-time great wingers.
A transfer saga that bored us all to death over several windows eventually culminated in Sancho joining United for just shy of £73m to much fanfare.
After dazzling in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund and establishing himself as an England international, Sancho was regarded as a talent who could take Man Utd to the next level.
Unfortunately, though, that hasn’t yet been the case. There have been glimpses, sure, but nowhere near enough. Although, many will claim he hasn’t been put in the best position (literally at times) to thrive. His United record thus far is bitterly disappointing: 12 goals and six assists in 79 games.
A Grealish carry job led Aston Villa to safety in 2020/21 and the larger than life Brummie earned a record-breaking move to Man City off the back of it.
A distinct figure on and off the pitch, Grealish endured a subdued debut campaign before coming into his own in year two. While he didn’t contribute massively on the goals and assists front, Pep Guardiola will tell you just how significant the Englishman was to City’s success in 2022/23.