In an era of truly astronomical transfer fees, where Real Madrid are willing to pay £38 million for a 16-year-old without batting an eyelid, Tottenham Hotspur’s signing of Victor Wanyama in 2016 is as much an anomalie as it was a stroke of pure inspiration.
And while Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen may have hogged the headlines as the country’s most expressive football team ran Antonio Conte’s bullish Chelsea surprisingly close for the Premier League title, the smart money was on Wanyama as the undisputed signing of the season.
Tottenham's Victor Wanyama
Blessed with fearsome physical strength as well as underrated technical ability, Wanyama dominated the big-money midfields of both Manchester City and the Champions as Spurs earned 2-0 wins against them in North London last season.
Not bad for a player who cost around £20 million less than Arsenal paid Borussia Monchengladbach for yellow-card collecting Swiss Granit Xhaka.
Now, Carvalho may have played a major role as Portugal won the European Championships on French soil last summer while also boasting plenty of Champions League experience with the Lisbon giants. However, there is no reason to believe he is in any way a superior operator to his defensive midfield counterpart Wanyama.
Yet, a City side who finished two places below Spurs last season would have to pay £22.5 million more.
And that perhaps sums up the difference between the Qatari-backed Mancunians and Tottenham. While one spends big on established stars, the other unearths diamonds in the relative rough before raising their level well beyond expectations.