It is never easy for any new player to settle into a new club straight away. Furthermore, the effort required in adapting to a new league and its nature of play is an added challenge for any new recruit. However, from this trove, there are always those who are a class apart; those, who, through sheer perseverance and continued effort, make an immediate impact heralding the arrival of tough times for the rest of the teams. We, at TheHardTackle, have identified 5 such signings from the 2010/11 season who we feel, are worthy of a nomination for TheHardTackle’s Signing of the Season award. However, we trust you in choosing a winner. After all, you know best!
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
It was before the 2010 World Cup that Sir Alex Ferguson signed young Chicarito. No one knew what this youngster was capable of, till his performances for Mexico in the World Cup left everybody in awe. Then and there, we all knew what a gem Sir Alex has unearthed. Hernandez arrived at Old Trafford and took the league by storm as he swiftly rose through the vitality ladder at Manchester United. Right from his first goal against Chelsea in the FA Community Shield, till his most crucial goal against the same club, Hernandez has grown from strength to strength and is a menace to deal with it, be it with headers or ball at his feet. Signed for 6 million pounds, yielding 20 goals in his first season, Manchester United have pulled off nothing short of a transfer coup in Javier Hernandez, the ‘Little Pea’.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)
How do you heap praise on a player who has successively won eight league titles in three different countries with five different clubs? Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s purple patch looks to be spreading across countries and having enjoyed another successful season at AC Milan, the Swede has clearly cemented his place in the league of extraordinary strikers. Out of a total of 39 appearances, the striker has notched up 21 goals and 12 assists, leaving an air of reminiscence of Marco Van Basten; amongst fans, media and Van Basten himself. AC Milan will surely put in their best efforts to sign the striker on a permanent basis from Barcelona even if he comes at a cost of 24 million euros. Despite facing consequences due to some disciplinary issues, Zlatan’s abilities and execution of the same has earned him a nomination as signing of the season.
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
He might look like Enzo Ferrari but Mesut Ozil has certainly let his football do the talking since his arrival from Werder Bremen. Having guided Germany to the World Cup semi-finals, Ozil’s stock rose swiftly and it has taken him just one season to seal a starting berth in Jose Mourinho’s team. And for a manager like Mourinho at a club as illustrious as Real Madrid, being a regular in the starting XI is a clear depiction of the gamut of qualities that the player possesses. Ozil has gone on to break the record of most number of assists in a season (33), earlier set by ex-Madrid player Luis Figo. The Turkish born player has also scored a further 10 goals to finish the season as one of Madrid’s best performers. Ozil has managed to find Cristiano Ronaldo 12 times out of the incredible 33 assists that he has produced.
Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
17 July, 2010 – the day Napoli signed a star in the making. 24 year-old Edinson Cavani made the move from Palermo to Naples for an undisclosed fee. What has been disclosed is his talent. The Uruguayan striker has found the back of net 26 times in 32 matches making him Napoli’s highest scorer in the League. These numbers include three hat-tricks (against Juventus, Sampdoria and Lazio) and two braces against Cagliari and AS Roma. Cavani’s resilience never fails to deliver and this has reflected in several circumstances wherein he has scored the winning goal in the dying moments of the game. His partnership with Ezequiel Lavezzi has blossomed in just one season, steering Napoli into the third spot in the Serie A standings. For his outstanding performances in the 2010/11 season, Edinson Cavani has been offered a contract extension.
Shinji Kagawa (Borrusia Dortmund)
Jurgen Klopp might have engineered Dortmund’s domination in this Bundesliga this season but one of his most lethal weapons was 21 year-old attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa. Having signed on from Japanese club Cerezo Osaka on a Bosman transfer, Kagawa straight away fit into the scheme of things at Signal Iduna Park which was evident from his very first game where he set up star striker Lucas Barrios to help the side clinch a victory in the German cup. He went on to score twice in the playoff game against Qarabag Agdam which confirmed the club’s participation in the Europa League. His double against Schalke makes him the third Japanese to score twice in a Bundesliga game.
“We knew that Shinji was a really good footballer. But we did not know that the adjustment would go so quickly. The kid is 21 years old, leaves his family back home and has an interpreter as attachment figure. And now his name is in the history books,” said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the signing of the season, according to our audience. Out of a total of 39 appearances, the striker had notched up 21 goals and 12 assists. This is the Swedish striker’s eighth consecutive league title, which is an unbelievable record in itself. AC Milan will surely put in their best efforts to sign the striker on a permanent basis from Barcelona even if he comes at a cost of 24 million euros.