Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Ten Best Signings in this Year’s Premier League

Best to bestest.  General performance and value for money taken into account.

Cesar Azpilicueta; Marseille to Chelsea, £7 Million
It’s worth remembering just how much Chelsea have spent on right backs since Roman’s takeover.  For a fraction of the price of a Bosingwa or Ferreira they seem to have solved a problem position.  Has been as much of a factor in John Terry’s declining influence as anyone as his form has allowed Ivanovic to move inside.  Has a great engine, solid defensively and getting better going forward.  Looks like he’ll take some shifting.

Matija Nastasic; Fiorentina to Manchester City, Undisclosed
About the one decent piece of business City did in the summer was to bring Nastasic in for the underwhelming Savic.  Looked slightly shaky at the start but blossomed quickly into an accomplished central defender as responsible as anyone for his team having the best defensive record in the league.  All the more impressive considering he’s had to do without Kompany as a partner for parts of the season.  Excellent technically and a great distributor of the ball, he should be a key fixture as the club attempts to switch to a more expansive style of play.

Hugo Lloris; Lyon to Tottenham, £7.9 Million
For all that Andre Villas Boas has done well in his debut season in charge of Spurs the handling of his two goalkeepers has probably been his greatest achievement.  He was seen to be fair to both while exacting a level of performance that gave Lloris no choice but to settle quickly.  And he’s been quietly excellent ever since.  To sign a proven international goalkeeper with Champions League experience for under eight million was a great capture for the greatest negotiator of all time™ Daniel Levy.  Anyone want to tell me why Arsenal weren’t interested?

Claudio Jacob; Racing Club to West Brom, Free
Man of the match on his first appearance, Claudio Jacob has had a debut season to remember in a good West Brom team.  Another in a long line of bargins he settled into his role in defensive midfield as if adjusting to a new league was something for other people.  The sort of player who sometimes has you wondering what exactly you need him in the team for then when he’s not there you understand immediately.

Kevin Mirallas; Olympiakos to Everton, £5.2 Million
As a Belgian who also got his football education over the border at Lille, is he the cut price Eden Hazard?  His appearances this season have been limited through injury but when he’s played he’s impressed.  Good enough to stand out in a strong Everton team, he often brings that sense of unpredictability that they desperately needed.  Unafraid to run at players and very accomplished technically.  If he stays fit he should be even better next season.

Eden Hazard; Lille to Chelsea, £32 Million
It’s worth remembering how much of a coup Hazard signing for Chelsea was, the blues managing to beat the likes of Real Madrid and Man City to his signature.  And he’s not disappointed.  At times he has looked like he’s taking time to settle in, others like football at the very top level is already too easy.  Apart from height he has it all.  Deployed on the wing he looks lethal.  When he’s had the chance to move inside he already controls games with ease.  Has had the tendency to drift through games at times but will improve.   Have an outside bet with myself that he’ll win player of year awards next year (just as he’s already done twice in France).  Worth remembering he’s still only 22.

Dimitar Berbatov; Manchester United to Fulham, £5 Million
If I lived in London I’d be at Craven Cottage every chance I got just to watch Berbatov.  I never understood the criticism he received during his time at Man Utd for his seeming refusal to run around.  When you’re this good walking could anyone really say they would bother?  So good for Fulham at times he seems to be impatiently waiting for his team mates to catch up, he would probably guarantee escaping relegation by himself.

Christian Benteke; Genk to Aston Villa, £7 Million
Has it all really doesn’t he?  Seems like a long time ago when Lambert was getting flak weekly for starting the young Belgian (them again) ahead of Darren Bent.  First season, nineteen goals, four assists and immeasurable amounts of defenders bullied.  His goals have been all types as well, from neat near post finishes to outside of the area smashes and the header against Sunderland where as Lambert put it he rose higher than the crossbar.  Frightening that he’s only twenty two.  Not a stretch to say that without him Villa would be in the Championship next season.

Robin Van Persie; Arsenal to Manchester United, £24 Million
Mancini says that Man City would have won the league with him and it’s hard to argue.  Twenty five goals and consecutive seasons as the Premier League top scorer are nothing to be sniffed at.  It was the speed in which he got Man Utd up and running that had the biggest impact.  His goals at the start of the season propelled them into a lead that it turned out they had no intention of relinquishing.  Say what you want about him leaving Arsenal but at least he went for footballing reasons, listening to his inner child to turn down Man City.  All this and he scored the goal of the season.

Michu; Real Vallecano to Swansea, £2 Million
It bears repeating just how cheap Michu was.  And it’s not like he came from nowhere.  The season ahead of his move Michu was the highest scorer from midfield in the Spanish top division, ahead of anyone from Real Madrid or Barcelona.  Still there were few suitors for him before he went and did exactly the same for Swansea.  Astonishing.  You could say he went off the boil in the second half of the season but by that point he’d already racked up 16 goals in the league and scored in winning a League Cup Final.  And all for a sixth of the price of a Gervinho.  Which in the future is how all transfers will be measured.

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