The Premier League is considered to be the most competitive league in the world and hosts some of the brightest stars in world football. TheHardTackle takes a look at 5 players to watch out in the 2012/13 season.
The Belgian winger is one of the hottest young properties in Europe; a fact justified by the astronomical £32 million transfer fee that Roman Abramovich shelled out to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
The dynamic young midfielder was chased by clubs all over Europe till he signed for Chelsea and it is not hard to see why. Quick, powerful and blessed with terrific dribbling ability, Hazard has already drawn comparisons to more illustrious footballing counterparts like Messi and Ronaldo. The English game will suit his style of play and Hazard looks set to take the Premier League by storm this season.
Hazard notched up 20 goals and 16 assists in League 1 in 2011/12. His numbers may improve even further when he plays alongside top quality players such as Mata, Torres and Lampard. Upon joining Chelsea, Hazard commented on how he couldn’t “wait to get started”. Fans presumably can’t wait either.
One of the key cogs in Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga winning juggernaut was diminutive young Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa. Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has an eye for talent and he must have seen plenty of it in Kagawa to stump out £ 17 million for his transfer.
Sir Alex may choose to play him out wide but Kagawa is probably most effective when played “in-the-hole” behind the striker and United fans will be itching to see how he links up with the likes of Wayne Rooney.
Kagawa scored 17 goals and made 10 assists for Dortmund last season and dazzled in several games. The Japanese will be only the fourth player from his country to play in the Premier League and plenty will be expected of him by United fans. With the undoubted class that this man possesses, he is not likely to disappoint.
Southampton secured back to back promotions to mark a sensational return to the Premier League after a seven year absence. The Saints played good football and scored the highest number of goals in the division. Much of their rise can be attributed to nPower Championship ‘Player of the Year‘ Richard ‘Rickie’ Lambert, who top scored with 27 goals last season. This was no fluke either with Lambert winning 3 of the last 4 Golden Boot awards in League One and The Championship.
The powerful 6 ft 2 inch forward from Liverpool is an imposing presence and opposition defenders will be wary of his threat. Apart from scoring goals himself, Lambert also excels at bringing other team members into play as reflected by his 18 assists last term.
Southampton’s hopes of staying up will be pinned on 30-year old Lambert, who looks to be at the peak of his form. The striker has drawn several parallels to Grant Holt of Norwich, who scored 13 goals in his debut season. Lambert should also be able to make the step up to the Premier League and score a bucketful of goals. The frontman has waited a long time for his debut in the Premier League but now looks to be primed to take his and team’s fortunes to even greater heights.
The young Icelandic international turned plenty of heads with his eye catching displays during his loan spell at Swansea. A dramatic transfer saga followed with the 22-year old finally moving to White Hart Lane.
Sigurdsson has an exceptional scoring record for a midfielder and will be expected to give an edge to Tottenham Hotspurs’ attack. Rafael Van der Vaart may be moving on in the summer and Sigurdsson may well find himself as a pivotal part of Andre Villas Boas’ new look Tottenham.
Sigurdsson has had time to settle in the Premier League already and has a mature head on his shoulders. He looks ready to take his game to the next level and Tottenham could provide him with the ideal opportunity to do so. By the end of the season, Tottenham could well think of his transfer as money well spent.
There was never any doubt about Mario Balotelli’s precocious talent, but coming off the back of a successful Euro 2012, the volatile Italian looks to be finally ready to step up and be counted as one of the best strikers in the game. Mario Balotelli rose to the occasion during the knockout rounds of the Euro and was instrumental in knocking out tournament favorites Germany.
The powerful forward played only 1326 minutes in the Premier League last season, but still managed to score 13 goals. With Manchester City are looking to offload the likes of Adebayor, Dzeko and Tevez from their books, Balotelli would surely get more playing time in the Premier League.
The 6 ft 2 inch striker would be looking to establish himself as first choice under Mancini this season and if he can keep his temper in check, Mario could well cross the magical 20 goals a season mark on which all premier strikers are judged.