So the summer window has finally been done with and clubs in the Premier League have spent a staggering £490m over the last two months. The window also provided us with a few spectacular coups and brought about an end to a few long running transfer sagas. The league table at the end of this season shall reveal exactly how much of the £490m was spent wisely, but we shall take a look at a few signings that might just make that list towards the end of the season.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Chelsea have looked desperately short of creative players in the attacking third since they let go of Damien Duff and Arjen Robben. The club had managed with the less creative but efficient Florent Malouda – their only winger since 2006. The rest of the forward line comprised of the marauding Didier Drogba, a makeshift winger in Nicolas Anelka and an extremely inconsistent Salomon Kalou. Yuri Zhirkov was at the club for a brief period, but didn’t do enough to get into the starting eleven on a regular basis.
Chelsea did somewhat address the problem last summer with the signing of Juan Mata who won the player of the year award on his first season with the club. However, the lack of a creative outlet at the wings was missed every time the diminutive Spanish schemer was moved to the centre behind Drogba. In Eden Hazard, Chelsea look to have made the perfect signing. With his acceleration, skill, intelligence and eye for a pass, Hazard looks to be the player who can finally infuse some much needed imagination into a side that very much needs it. Hazard can play across the frontline, which also gives the London side a few tactical options. Going by the start he’s had at Chelsea, he might just be the most exciting player to grace the Stamford Bridge turf since Gianfranco Zola if he continues in the same vein.
Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) – Sunderland had Nicklas Bendtner, Ji Dong Won, Frazier Campbell and Connor Wickham as their strikers last season with none of them managing to get into double figures by the end of it. Bendtner did end up as the top scorer at the club but managed to score a meager 8 goals. Matters hadn’t been helped by the fact that Asamoah Gyan had left the club on loan for Saudi Arabian club Al Ahli after the club made him an irresistible financial offer. Needless to say that the Black Cats had to shore up their strike force this summer.
Step in Steven Fletcher; who managed 12 goals for the now relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers. Ever since he first played in the Premier League with Burnley, Fletcher has proven to be a fairly consistent goal scorer and has chipped in with 12 goals in each of his seasons at the top flight along with a number of assists. With players like James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon, Sebastian Larsson and new signing Adam Johnson providing service, one would expect Steven Fletcher to bang in the goals as the season continues.
Miguel Michu(Swansea) – Swansea fans would have understandably been nervous before the start of this season as their team was facing the second season syndrome in the Premier League. Their jitters were compounded when they lost manager Brendan Rodgers and two top midfielders in Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson who practically ran the team, by implementing their Barcelona-like possession game to devastating effect last season.
New Manager Micheal Laudrup however has moved prudently in the market and midfield player Miguel Michu, acquired for a reported fee of just £2m is likely to play a crucial part for the Swans this season. The goal scoring midfielder scored 17 goals for Rayo Vallecano last season and has already started this season with a flourish. As of now his statistics read – Played 3, Scored 4 with his team lying second only to Chelsea in the points table. If Swansea have to repeat the heroics of last season, Michu’s contributions from central midfield will have to be enormous. So far, so good.
Moussa Dembele(Tottenham Hotspur) – Luka Modric has finally left the North London club for Read Madrid. Whilst that transfer was widely expected to go through despite all of the uncertainty surrounding it, the one move that may have surprised Spurs fans was the departure of Rafael Van Der Vaart. Tottenham effectively let go of not one but two of their guaranteed midfield starters over the summer.
Tottenham looked towards London rivals Fulham to fill the void and have signed both Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele from the Cottagers. While Clint Dempsey is likely to score goals in midfield, it is Moussa Dembele who promises to deliver in a creative sense for Tottenham this season. Dembele can play along the front three or as part of the midfield which gives manager Andre Villas Boas many options to experiment with. Moussa Dembele has already given Spurs fans a teaser of what is to come with a goal on debut against Norwich City.
Nuri Sahin(Liverpool) – Ever since Javier Mascheranho and Xabi Alonso have left the club, Liverpool have unsuccessfully tried to find replacements of a similar mould. Defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva did manage to find his feet after a shaky start at Anfield and has become an important cog in the machine in the recent past, however the search for ‘the next Xabi Alonso’ continues. Alberto Aquilani promised much, but faded away after injury problems plagued his career and repeated loan moves away to Italy meant that he would always be seen as one of Rafa Benitez’ final mistakes. Charlie Adam arrived at Liverpool as one of Kenny Dalglish’s signings, but endured a horror first season at the club and is now out after the club decided to cut its losses. He has been sold to Stoke for £4m pounds reportedly.
Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin therefore will be the third such candidate whom the Kop will harbour hopes over. But unlike his predecessors who played the role post Xabi Alonso, Sahin looks most likely to succeed. He is of the right age, is technically brilliant, isn’t injury prone and given time, could adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers’ footballing philosophy complements his style of play and his orchestrating ability from midfield is likely to come to the fore with regular game time.
Honourable mentions – Robin Van Persie, Christian Benteke, Pablo Hernandez, Esteban Granero, Gaston Ramirez, Clint Dempsey.