One of the best things about the opening day of the new season is it’s the first opportunity for us fans to see our new signings. Due to the new TV money coming into the Premier League all 20 clubs have a considerable amount of money to spend and the fewest number of new signings that any club has made is three (Crystal Palace, Manchester United, QPR, and Tottenham Hotspur).
When deciding on 10 of the best summer transfers there were a number of things to consider. First, price. A number of these players were £10 million or below, but there are also a few big money signings.
Of course the fee relative to the club’s stature is also important. For example Manchester City buying a great player for £10 million is better value that a promoted side like Burnley paying the same fee for a player who is good not great.
Also, for the sake of balance, there is only one player allowed per club, even though a few teams definitely had a case for having more than one player in this list. Finally there is also the club’s need for the player to consider: if the club already has plenty of players in this position it is just a waste.
Here are 10 of the Premier League 2014/15′s best and most shrewd signings:
Muhamed Besic, Everton
Muhamed Besic is one of a couple of players probably bought on the basis of their World Cup performances more than anything else. Few outside Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary had heard of Besic before the tournament but those who watched him closely were quietly confident that he could surprise a few people. He did exactly that with a series of impressive performances.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has already spoken about how impressed he has been with the way Besic has conducted himself both on and off the pitch and he has looked solid in pre-season.
Many see Gareth Barry and James McCarthy as the natural starting pair in central midfield for Everton but towards the end of last season Barry started to tire. With Besic around he will be afforded rests but if the Bosnian does well Barry may not be able to work his way back into the team. The fact that he can play at centre back as well is just another bonus.
Jefferson Montero, Swansea
When Swansea City were promoted to the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers the key part of their game was their passing style. The way in which they dominated possession was admirable for a newly promoted team and they have stuck true to their principles since establishing themselves as a top-flight team.
The other key element to their football was the way in which they broke with pace. Scott Sinclair and then later Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge were all integral players for the Welsh side. New permanent Swansea boss Garry Monk highlighted that area as somewhere he wants to improve ahead of the new season and last month he got his man when he secured the signature of Ecuadorian winger Jefferson Montero.
The wide man is another whose reputation was bolstered by his World Cup performances and he looks a very astute piece of business. In pre-season he has looked very impressive, with one cameo against Reading in particular standing out. With pace in abundance and good dribbling ability Montero will be pushing hard for a starting spot this season.
Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
Every year Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is asked whether or not he will make a big signing in the transfer window and every year he gives that cheeky smile which sends fans into delirium. Last season he delivered on his promise with the late purchase of Germany attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil and this year the Wenger presents have arrived even earlier with the signing of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez represents a genuinely world class acquisition for Arsenal, a player who would improve any squad in the world. Arsenal fans won’t have to wait a few seasons to see how Sanchez develops, they can enjoy him now and his competitive debut in the Community Shield was encouraging.
The Chilean has pace and power in abundance and he is more than happy to run all day long. His goal tally of 19 last season is remarkable and with ten assists as well he is one of just 15 players across Europe’s top five leagues to have reached double figures in both areas. The only real concern for Gunners will be that just two of those 19 goals came away from Camp Nou.
Bojan Krkic, Stoke City
For me this was a really tough call between Bojan and fellow Stoke City new boy Mame Biram Diouf. The hype surrounding the La Masia product, the second at Stoke now, is understandable but in this writer’s humble opinion the signing of Diouf on a free could turn out to be a real steal for Mark Hughes. He is a completely different player to the one that left Manchester United and with his pace and power he will be a real handful for defences this season.
Nevertheless Stoke signing a player of Bojan’s pedigree is worthy of attention and it certainly comes as a surprise to most. Former teammate Marc Muniesa’s arrival last summer was a shock and now Hughes has dipped into his contact pool at Barcelona to bring Bojan in.
The Welshman is keen to try and restructure the way in which Stoke play football and he is making signings in line with that. Bojan’s initial promise was hampered by injuries but he remains a supremely talented footballer and if Hughes can get the best out of him he will have a serious prospect on his hands.
Ben Davies, Tottenham Hotspur
£10 million for a relatively unproven left back is a rather sizeable gamble fromTottenham Hotspur and their new manager Mauricio Pochettino but when you consider that Manchester United paid £30 million for Luke Shaw it actually looks fairly reasonable. Davies is three years older than Shaw and in terms of Premier League football he is one season ahead in his development.
His chance at Swansea City came following a season-long injury to Neil Taylor and he didn’t look back after being called upon by Michael Laudrup. Last season he had a very good campaign but comparisons with national team-mate Gareth Bale from Spurs fans are slightly premature.
Davies is better defensively than Bale and whilst he is good going forward he doesn’t display the same attacking instincts that Bale showed. Nevertheless he is a great answer to the left back problem at Spurs and he will allow Jan Vertonghen to play regularly at his favoured role of centre back.
Siem de Jong, Newcastle United
Another difficult decision to made as to which Newcastle signing should be included. Remy Cabella is a very astute signing, whilst Daryl Janmaat is an excellent replacement for the outgoing Mathieu Debuchy. However the pick of the bunch is Dutch attacking midfielder Siem de Jong, brother of Luuk who spent last season on loan with Newcastle.
De Jong can play up front or behind the striker and he will be a real goal threat from the Newcastle midfield should he play there, scoring seven goals in 19 appearances for Ajax last season.
The 2013-14 season was frustrating for de Jong as he spent a lot of time out injured but a goal every 180 minutes in the Eredivisie is a great return. The fee involved is believed to be just £6 million and that represents a bargain for a player that can help fill the goal void left by the departure of Yohan Cabaye and inconsistency of Hatem Ben Arfa.
Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea
Last season Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho spent much of the campaign maligning the fact that his “little horses” were being let down by the lack of a world-class striker. It may, therefore, seem strange that it is Cesc Fabregason this list rather than Diego Costa.
The reasoning is simple. Whilst Chelsea did indeed need a new striker it was also equally apparent that against smaller teams they lacked the creativity to break down packed defences. Fabregas can provide that. Furthermore whilst Costa’s price-tag was merely a matter of meeting his buy-out clause, Chelsea managed to negotiate a pretty good (around £27 million) fee for one of the best central midfielders in the world.
Last season Chelsea created more chances (506) than every other team in the Premier League barring Manchester City but against the likes of West Ham, Sunderland and Aston Villa they would often find themselves frustrated by well-organised defences.
Only Angel Di Maria registered more assists than Fabregas (13) last season across Europe’s top five leagues and the Spaniard will provide creativity that has been missing since Juan Mata’s sale.
Mourinho has hinted that Fabregas will start the season alongside Nemanja Matic in the heart of the midfield – take a second to admire that partnership – but don’t be surprised if before the end of the season he is playing in the number ten role.
Jordon Mutch, QPR
Contrary to popular belief I actually think the signing of Rio Ferdinand is a fairly intelligent one from QPR manager Harry Redknapp, but the signing that really caught the eye was that of Jordon Mutch from Cardiff City. Along with Steven Caulker, Mutch was by some distance Cardiff’s player of the season last season and his fee (around £6 million) seems a bargain.
The Englishman can play anywhere across the midfield but is probably most at home in the centre and last season he demonstrated a goal-scoring touch by registered seven goals.
A couple of those were especially memorable strikes that QPR fans will be hoping that he can replicate those this season. Mutch is also more than capable of putting in a defensive shift, winning the most headers (49) of all the Cardiff midfielders, and making the second highest number of tackles (42).
Dusan Tadic, Southampton
This summer Southampton have experienced the exodus to end all exoduses with five first-team players leaving. Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers have joined Manchester United and Arsenal respectively whilst Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and captain Adam Lallana have all left for Liverpool, who are ironically Southampton’s first opponents.
New manager Ronald Koeman has trusted what he knows by bringing in two players from the Dutch Eredivisie in the form of Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic. The man to really catch the eye is Tadic, the Serbian winger created 133 chances last season, scored 16 goals and registered 14 assists, hugely impressive figures. £10.9 million seems good value for the wide man and with his set-piece deliveries he will help fill the void left by Lallana in particular.
Diego Poyet, West Ham
If Diego Poyet enjoys a playing career anything like his father Gus he will be extremely proud of himself and the first step is complete; earning a move to the Premier League. He came through the youth set-up at Charlton Athletic and was named as the club’s Player of the Season in 2013-14, attracting the attention of West Ham.
Poyet is primarily a defensive midfielder who likes to sit in front of the defence, break up play and then get his team going on the counter attack. He is occasionally guilty of making some silly errors in the direction of his passing but this is understandable given his age and as he develops those errors will be ironed out of his game.
It will be interesting to see how Poyet progresses develops this season under Allardyce given his track record with developing young players at West Ham. Interestingly Poyet is eligible to play for the England national team but he also qualifies for Spain and Uruguay and has hinted that he would prefer to pay for the latter.
(All statistics courtesy of Squawka)