The 5 best signings of the season | Premier League 2019-20
- The Premier League has seen some excellent signings this season, but these 5 are the pick of the bunch.
The 2019-20 season will probably go down as the strangest in Premier League history – especially now that matches have been suspended due to the spread of the coronavirus – but things weren’t that straightforward before this week.
Sure, Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table has been pretty clear-cut while some of the struggling teams – Norwich, Aston Villa – were expected to be where they are, but some of the season’s other happenings have been a little more unexpected; nobody saw Sheffield United’s rise into Champions League contention, or the struggles of Tottenham and Arsenal, for instance.
Equally strange has been the lack of impact that new signings have had on the league’s teams; Premier League clubs spent a lot of money in the summer and in January and yet a lot of the bigger signings – Tanguy Ndombele, David Luiz, Wesley Moraes and Moise Kean for instance – have struggled while others such as Nicolas Pepe and Ismaila Sarr have only shown glimpses of their ability thus far.
Some newer signings have performed tremendously, though, adding plenty to the hopes of their clubs. Here are the Premier League’s top 5 signings of the season.
#1 Dean Henderson
2018-19 was a big season for Dean Henderson, as the Manchester United goalkeeper moved to Sheffield United and helped the Blades to secure promotion to the Premier League, winning the club’s Young Player of the Year award as well as the EFL Championship’s Golden Gloves award in the process. The England U-21 international signed a new contract with the Red Devils last summer – but smartly, he made another loan move back to Bramall Lane for the current season.
The loan has turned out to be a brilliant move for all parties; Henderson’s performances in the U-21 European Championship brought into question his temperament for the top level, but he’s proven the doubters wrong with a fantastic campaign for the Blades, as he’s been a key component in Chris Wilder’s side putting together the second-toughest defence in the Premier League.
The Blades have conceded just 22 goals with Henderson between the sticks, and he’s also kept an impressive total of 10 clean sheets, making 70 saves in the process. The 23-year old’s form has been so good that some fans have even suggested he ought to be picked as England’s #1 over Jordan Pickford. Will Sheffield United be able to sign him on a permanent deal? It seems unlikely, but it’s hard to dispute the idea that his loan signing has been one of the best of 2019-20.
#2 Bruno Fernandes
It seems almost crazy to claim that a player who only joined the Premier League in late January and who has made just 9 appearances for his new club could be considered one of the signings of the season – but that’s the kind of impact that Bruno Fernandes has made on the fortunes of Manchester United. The Portuguese international has looked to be worth every penny of the £47m the Red Devils paid for him – giving them back some of the swagger they’ve lost over the past few seasons in the process.
Fernandes has already been involved in a total of 7 goals for United in his 9 matches – scoring 3 and making 4 assists – and where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side initially struggled to break down deeper-lying defences earlier in the season, the Portuguese playmaker has now provided them with the creativity they were missing to open those defences up.
It’s even been reported that Fernandes has been looking to drive the performances of his teammates up too – reports after United’s recent 1-1 draw with Everton suggested that the playmaker told his fellow Red Devils that they should’ve been “furious” with the result, and that mentality – reminiscent of United legend Roy Keane – could be invaluable as Solskjaer’s side chase a Champions League spot this season, making him a truly fantastic signing.
#3 Mateo Kovacic
Chelsea were the only club who didn’t add any entirely new players during the summer transfer window, for an obvious reason; the Blues were at the time under a FIFA-imposed transfer ban. However, they were able to make one signing – midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who had spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Stamford Bridge, moved on a permanent deal from Real Madrid for a fee of around £40m as per a clause in the loan deal.
After his lacklustre performances during the previous campaign, Blues fans could’ve been forgiven for not expecting a lot from the Croatian midfielder; 2018-19 saw him make a total of 32 appearances for the club in the Premier League, usually flattering to deceive, and registering no goals and just 2 assists. However, this season, Kovacic has looked like a different player entirely.
He’s been a more regular starter, making 24 appearances in the first XI already and scoring 2 goals while registering 3 assists. More importantly, Frank Lampard’s system has allowed the Croatian to make full use of his excellent skills; no other Chelsea player possesses the ability to retain the ball in close quarters and drive his team forward quite like Kovacic does.
Essentially, he’s gone from an afterthought to a key player for the Blues – and is well on his way to easily justifying his transfer fee as one of the season’s best signings.
#4 Aaron Wan-Bissaka
When Manchester United paid a huge £50m to bring in right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace in the summer, more than one eyebrow was raised. The England U-21 international had performed well for the Eagles during 2018-19, but it was his first full season at the Premier League level and plenty of question marks hung over him, especially with regards to entering the Old Trafford pressure-cooker.
Thankfully for fans of the Red Devils, the 22-year old has been absolutely fantastic this season and has done exactly what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was hoping he would do – play a massive part in shoring up what was once a very questionable defence. Wan-Bissaka has arguably been United’s most consistent performer this season, and his statistics – more tackles, interceptions and blocks than any of his teammates – firmly back this up.
Some critics have questioned his ability going forward, but recent games have even begun to prove that idea wrong and he has registered 2 assists – but at the end of the day, a right-back’s job is primarily to defend, and few players in the Premier League do that better than the former Palace man. Suddenly, £50m looks like a total bargain.
#5 Raul Jimenez
Wolves made a number of signings in the summer transfer window, bringing players like Patrick Cutrone (who has already departed the club) and Pedro Neto to Molineux, but their most successful capture – and one of the most successful in the Premier League as a whole – was undoubtedly Raul Jimenez. The Mexican hitman spent 2018-19 on loan at the Midlands club and had a successful campaign, scoring 17 goals and being named as Wolves’ Player of the Season, and so it seemed like a no-brainer for them to ink him permanently.
Thankfully for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side – who spent a club-record £30m on the former Benfica man – Jimenez has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s not a one-season wonder with his performances in the current campaign. In 38 appearances across all competitions, the Mexican has scored 16 goals and registered 9 assists, almost beating last season’s return with a number of games still remaining.
Adama Traore has rightfully earned a lot of praise from observers of Wolves this season but it’s Jimenez who is their most dangerous attacker; not only does he average more shots per game than any of his teammates (3.4) but he also completes more key passes than his teammates too, meaning that overall, Nuno’s side rely on him more than anyone else. If Wolves make the Champions League this season, they’ll certainly have the exploits of Jimenez to thank for it.Published 13 Mar 2020, 23:02 IST