Premier League signing of the season: The Contenders
Every year there is a plethora of post-transfer-window analysis. Teams can apparently have their season as good as decided by the end of August – we can all fall into this trap – because they X signed a midfielder and Y did not sign a striker.
Everton were widely appointed transfer window kings this summer. Look how that worked out.
West Ham were praised for their business – yep, I was one of them – and Slaven Bilic lost his job.
This happens almost every year. For a sport where we are so obsessed with phrases like ‘the game isn’t played on paper’ conclusions are frequently leapt to simply from the squad list. Of course there will be plenty who avoid doing this at all costs, but there is always a desire to discuss who had the ‘best’ summer.
Each team has now played 12 Premier League matches, so it’s a fair time to consider which clubs picked up the best signings this year. Taking into account performance as well as value for money, here are the five contenders for signing of the season…
Salah has been a sensation this season. He leads the league scoring charts with nine, and has made Liverpool’s dependence on Sadio Mane nothing more than a faint memory.
Even with a brilliant record at Roma, questions were raised of Salah. Disparaging comments popped up everywhere, as people overlooked his form in Italy to focus on his Chelsea spell. A spell that saw him play only 531 minutes as a raw, yet clearly talented, wide forward.
It is easy to be in awe of his electric pace. While obviously a large element of his success, his off-the-ball movement is the difference maker. Chances will still be missed – and have been – but few players in Europe have been at the Egyptian’s level in 2017/18.
Signed for just under £38 million (per transfermarkt), the former FC Basel man is already looking a bargain in this rapidly inflating market.
Seeing as Arsenal picked up Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer, there’s not much to be said on the value front. If you are looking for the best pound for pound deal of the summer, you can probably stop reading now.
With Nacho Monreal moving to centre-back and ageing, the need for a left-back was clear at Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs’ days at the Emirates were up. Arsene Wenger needed a player who could provide width in a 3-4-3, but be solid enough defensively to support Monreal down that flank.
Kolasinac has been everything Arsenal could have hoped for. The odd goal has accelerated the praise of the Bosnian, but it’s well deserved.
Arsenal are often criticised for their transfer business, and they were extensively this summer. In Kolasinac, though, they have got it absolutely spot on.
An £11 million fee for a 20-year-old Brazilian of Richarlison’s talent is near robbery in the current market. Watford and Marco Silva picked up an absolute gem from Fluminense this summer, and he has needed almost no time to take the Premier League by storm.
Just as Salah was when he arrived in the Premier League, Richarlison is raw. A few howlers in front of goal have shown that, but his moments of magic far outweigh the errors.
He has quickly become one of my favourite players to watch in the league. A direct runner with the ball, and possessing the ability to do almost anything with it, the Brazilian is one of the most dangerous players to face.
Not only is Watford the perfect career move for Richarlison, he is one of several very good signings by the Hornets this summer. With rumours already surfacing of top six interest, it will be hard to keep him at Vicarage Road, but Watford can be sure to receive a fair bit more than £11 million.
It’s a bit cheeky including a loan deal in this piece. There’s nothing to say about his fee as a result, but I just had to have Tammy Abraham on this list given how much he now means to Swansea.
The Chelsea loanee has four of Swansea’s seven Premier League goals, and assisted one of the others. Wilfried Bony is yet to deliver anything on his return to Wales, while Swansea’s cluttered midfield is doing more harm than good.
Paul Clement is under pressure at the moment, but he may well be looking for a new job if Abraham had not been signed. The recently capped England international has provided a focal point. He can run in behind, compete aerially and hold the ball up. Swansea need plenty of improvement in other areas, but life without Abraham does not bare thinking about for the Swans.
Manchester City’s need for a goalkeeper was painfully obvious. Choosing to sign a new first choice was no stroke of genius, but getting the signing right was going to be a challenge.
Pep Guardiola demands more from his goalkeepers than most. Not only is it about passing the ball out – as has become cliché – but sweeping up behind a high defensive line. Victor Valdes was masterful at this, and Manuel Neuer as good as reinvented the position.
Bravo was very good for Barcelona in a similar role, but his inability to ever stop the ball did become somewhat of an issue.
Ederson has arrived at Manchester City, and their defence is almost unrecognisable. It is not all down to the Brazilian, of course, but the calmness with which he has snuffed out danger behind the defence has played a massive part. Although seldom called upon this season, he has been more than capable when required, too.
City’s financial muscle makes fees as good as irrelevant. With world footballing domination the aim, if a player is as important as Ederson has been then it’s worth it.