The top ten signings in the Premier League so far
With Christmas gone, the new year around the corner and 20 matches played, we’re just about past the halfway mark in the 2012-13 Premier League season, and this time of the year is perfect to rate new signings. With clubs looking to strengthen their squads in the January transfer window, we look back at the best and most profitable transfers of the pre-season transfer window.
Six Alex Ferguson recently conceded that he’d not even heard of Michu before he signed for Swansea, and joked that he’d be having a word with his scouts about this. In my opinion, not just Sir Alex, all Premier League managers should be having a serious discussion with their scouts about this! Michael Laudrup has used his extensive knowledge of the Spanish League and unearthed a gem, who has lit up the Premier League this season. Bought from Rayo Vallecano for a paltry £2 million, he has scored 13 goals in the Premier League already this season, with a notable brace sinking Arsenal at The Emirates. A player who can play both as a striker and an attacking midfielder, he is an extremely composed and efficient finisher with a hugely impressive shot to goal ratio of 4:2.
Robin van Persie has been likened to Eric Cantona by Sir Alex as the final piece of the jigsaw that is his Manchester United masterpiece. These are high expectations indeed, but the former Arsenal man has done nothing but justify them by being the talisman for United’s exciting attacking play this season. He has already cemented his place in Manchester United folklore by scoring an injury time winner in the Manchester derby. His incredible start to life at Old Trafford has also brought him comparisons with fellow Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy. Both incidentally scored their first goals for United against Fulham, and their first hattricks against Southampton!
Were it not for Michu’s goalscoring exploits, Santi Cazorla would’ve been hogging all the limelight as the most outstanding addition to the Premier League. As it is, he has been Arsenal’s best player this season and has settled extremely quickly in the Premier League, which is not an easy thing to do. A two footed player, he is blessed with amazing technical skill and vision. His 50 appearances for the Spanish national team in an era in which they are blessed with playmakers of the like of Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas and Mata are a testament to his quality and the high standards he has maintained throughout his career.
With 5 goals in his first 4 games for Sunderland, he had a brisk start to life in the North East. Sunderland have found it difficult to score for large parts this season and Fletcher’s clinical finishing won them quite a few valuable points in those early games. A £15 million signing from relegated Wolves, many thought Sunderland had paid too much for him. But he has silenced those critics in the most emphatic fashion possible; by performing on the pitch. In recent weeks, Sunderland have regained some sort of form and a 1-0 victory over the champions last week could spark a rise up the standings. And you can be sure of one thing. Steven Fletcher will continue to be in the thick of the action.
The most exciting player from the wealth of talent Belgium has been producing in recent years; Eden Hazard announced his intention to join the European champions via the nonchalance of a tweet. This nonchalance however, was certainly not present in his start to life at the Bridge. He was involved in 7 of Chelsea’s first 8 goals of the Premier League season and picked up 4 consecutive man of the match awards in his first four games, a Premier League record. His form has dipped a little after that, as the excellent Juan Mata has come to the forefront and Hazard has, as a result, been pushed wider. The man who brought him to Chelsea may well have departed, but Hazard’s consistent performances bode well for his future as a Chelsea player.
Mancini raised many eyebrows when he elected to start 19 year old Matija Nastasic away to Real Madrid in the Champions League. That was definitely not the easiest of debuts, but Nastasic has gone on to cement a place in the Manchester City starting XI, keeping out the likes of Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure, and has formed a promising partnership with club captain Vincent Kompany. His excellent reading of the game and passing range make him the ideal foil for Kompany and City fans and coaches alike are very excited with the progress the young Serbian has been making. His great form even won him the club’s Player of the Month award for November.
Podolski’s impact has gone under the radar with Cazorla’s brilliance and Walcott’s ongoing contract dispute taking centre stage. But the Arsenal number 9 has quietly racked up 9 goals and 7 assists in 26 appearances with ruthless German efficiency. Deployed on the left wing by Arsene Wenger, he has often been criticized for a lack of willingness to defend. His attacking play however, leaves little to be desired. An interesting anecdote about his time in England so far: he has been subbed off in 16 out of his 17 Premier League starts, completing 90 minutes for the first time in the recent 5-2 victory over Reading!
One of the more understated summer arrivals to the Premier League, the United States international has established himself in a Stoke City defence which has conceded the fewest Premier League goals this season. Geoff Cameron was scooped up for an undisclosed fee believed to be around $2.7 million from MLS club Houston Dynamo in what is surely one of the bargains of the season. In a season in which clean sheets are a rare commodity, Stoke have been immense at the back, especially at home and Cameron has turned in a series of solid and reliable performances at right back.
Another Belgian in the list, Benteke was signed by Aston Villa on transfer deadline day for a fee of £7 million. His signing has been crucial for Aston Villa, especially considering that the situation with out-of-favour Darren Bent shows little signs of improvement. An absolute beast of a centre forward, he impressed against Manchester United and absolutely terrorised the Liverpool defence with his strength. He is young with his best years yet to come and it is essential for Aston Villa to hold on to him. If his form continues into the second part of the season, big clubs will definitely come calling in the summer.
After excelling for Leeds United in League One and the Championship, Snodgrass has stepped up to the much higher level of the Premier League with immaculate ease. A player who can play wide and through the middle, he possesses a mean left foot and has already scored a couple of sumptuous free kicks this season. Although Norwich City’s recent impressive form has largely been attributed to their stubborn defensive displays, it has also coincided with an extremely productive period for Snodgrass.
So, that is my top 10.
A few players who just missed out and deserve a mention are Oscar (Chelsea), Jussi Jaaskeleinen (West Ham United), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic) and Chico Flores (Swansea City). They have done extremely well for their new clubs and have proven to be astute signings.