This season, more than any other in my recollection there has been so many brilliant signings made by so many teams. I think this may have been due to the potential money on offer for simply being in the Premier League next season, to earn £100 million for simply finishing bottom next season made it so important for teams to be there next season. Therefore the new teams and already existing teams, had to scour the UK, Europe and the World for the best talent to bring into the Premier League.
Sure there has been some disappointing transfers as usual, traditionally the more expensive signings, here’s looking at you Raheem! So lets start with the best signings XI from this season
GK – Petr Cech £10 million
Finally, Arsenal signed an experienced player for the core of that team which has desperately needed solidifying for years, ever since the invincibles. Cech a Chelsea and Premier League legend had become the Chelsea number two, after the returning Thibault Courtois helped secure the league last season. Easily the best Arsenal keeper since Lehmann, Cech has shown his importance in big games this year for Arsenal, Leicester at home being the perfect example. The Czech legend has secured the thought that goalkeepers get better with age, for £10 million Cech was absolute bargain keeping 12 clean sheets, and during the season Cech went past David James in having the most clean sheets in Premier League history and currently stands on 174. Sadly for both Cech, Arsenal and the fans, the keeper got injured during the end of season run in, and also hasn’t been able to inspire Arsenal to that long awaited league title. I suppose there’s only so much a keeper can do, Cech still needs those centre halfs and defensive midfielders to stand up more for the Gunners.
RB – Nathaniel Clyne £12.5million
The former Palace & Saints England defender has been brilliant going forward & secure at the back, which Liverpool have so desperately sought for in the full backs. After securing his position with England last season, Clyne followed in the footsteps of Lovren, Lallana & Lambert who had all taken the route from the South Coast to Merseyside the summer before. The 25 year old is one of the best one on one defenders in the league & adds another dimension to the lacklustre Liverpool attack under Rodgers, and since Klopp has come in he’s continued his success. With only one goal this season, I suppose you could suggest that Clyne could complete himself with a few more goals, but that’s just picky. Clyne has continued to show that consistency he showed for Southampton, at £12.5 million, I’m sure all Liverpool fans would say he has been worth every penny!
Also, there needs to be a shout out for Cuco Martina, who was a replacement for Clyne at Southampton after scoring one of the finest goals in the leagues history against Arsenal.
CB – Toby Alderweireld £11.5 million
When I did this blog last season, Toby was in it for his loan period at Southampton, so it is of no surprise to me that the Belgian is in the team again, instead for Spurs this season. The classy defender has been an ever present for the young title challengers this season, his and Vertonghen’s, then Kevin Wimmer’s partnerships have been so impressive to see. For so long Spurs have been known as the team that will blow it, but with Toby at the back, Spurs have added a solidity under Pochettino this season. Very much a modern defender, who enjoys the ball at his feet, and he’s not afraid to throw his body in where it hurts, however he has hardly committed a foul in the second half of the season. Alderweireld really is showing some of those massively expensive Man City defenders how to adapt and defend in English football.
CB – Virgil Van Dijk £11.5 million
Yet another defender whose first Premier League experience was at St Mary’s, doesn’t seem a coincidence at all! Van Dijk who signed in the summer from Celtic for £11.5 million. There was a few question marks above the Dutchman’s ability to adapt to the speed of the Premier league and increased quality from the SPL, but he has answered all those questions. Van Dijk has incredible strength in the air and a brilliant reading of the game, an ever present who has helped his Saints team keep 10 clean sheets so far this season, including that incredible run of 6 clean sheets in a row coinciding with the return of Fraser Forster in net. Van Dijk has formed a solid partnership with Jose Fonte, the 6ft 4in 24 year old will surely only get better and will be a target I’m sure for Champions League clubs.
LB – Christian Fuchs Free
|Part of the incredible Leicester City team, Christian Fuchs was signed by Claudio Ranieri in the summer on a free after being released by German side Schalke. Little was expected of the Austrian international, yet he has shown his worth massively in the title chasing campaign. After displacing the pacey Schlupp in October, Fuchs has been consistently one of the best fullback this season. His left foot is always a threat to the opposition and always does his primary job of defending, constantly making pivotal blocks for the formidable Leicester defence. No one ever thought that Leicester would have been this good this season, & I definitely didn’t imagine picking a free agent for Leicester City being in this team!|
CM – N’Golo Kante £5.6 million
My player of the season, Kante has been unbelievable for Leicester, he’s the player that allows Mahrez & Vardy to play. Kante has been the best player in the league for successful tackles per match and second most interceptions per match. Kante earned himself a call up for the French side and has had an mesmeric rise to the top from plying his trade in the French third division in 2013 to being nominated for the player of the season in 2016 in the Premier League. Kante has been so reliable for the champions elect, that £5.6 million must be considered one of the bargains of the century. What more needs to be said about the new Claude Makelele!
CM – Etienne Capoue £6.3 million
After having such an underwhelming tenure at Spurs, when he was part of the mass influx of players to come in under Vilas-Boas on the back of the Bale transfer. Capoue was never consistent enough for Spurs which never allowed him a long run in the first team. But clearly the new Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores saw enough in the Frenchman to think he would make a big enough difference to help Watford do something they have never done before and survive a season in the Premier League! Capoue has allowed this to happen, constantly making crucial tackles alongside Ben Watson, during Watford’s great start to the season. He has been constantly getting the ball forward to Ighalo and Deeney who work their magic and elevate Watford up the league and secure their first ever consecutive Premier League season. Capoue has shown that different players need different lengths of time to find their feet in English football, Capoue just took longer than lets say Kante, but he has definitely shown his quality this season.
CM – Dimitri Payet £10.7 million
As the West Ham fans sing, ‘he’s better than Zidane’, okay they may be going a little over the top, but you can see why the hammers think like that. The French magician has been absolutely sensational, for those in the know Payet has always had the talent but just lacked that mental strength to be consistent at the top level, but when he joined West Ham most did think that the Iron were in for a treat. They have uncovered their new Di Canio, someone who excites the fans, who plays the ‘West Ham Way’ that kind of freestyle aggressive football which gets all us excited. Payet has produced some of the finest free kicks since Beckham & Zola, in particular a gravity defying stunner against Palace, which has earned himself a nomination for player of the season. He has even earned himself a recall to the national side, and guess what he did on his recall? That’s right he scored a stunning free-kick. With the second most assists in the league and nine goals, Payet has been part of a West Ham side that has been brilliant under new man Slaven Bilic, nearly elevating the side into a Champions League place and an FA cup semi final in the hammers last season at the Boleyn ground. Despite only ever playing one season there, Payet will definitely leave his mark on the old ground. What a player!
AM – Kevin De Bruyne £55 million
The most expensive of the summer transfers De Bruyne, from Wolfsburg in Germany, has shown why there has been so much demand for this incredibly talented and surprisingly only 24 year old attacking midfielder. One of the big questions about this transfer was have Man City overspent or did Chelsea, and more in particular Jose Mourinho make a mistake with the Belgian? Well within a few months it was definitely the latter. Despite missing a couple of months due to a nasty injury and missing the League Cup final win, De Bruyne has had nine assists and scored six goals. His link up play with Sergio Aguero has shown that his immense talent has no bounds, constantly probing opposition defences De Bruyne has come into the Premier League on fire and shown that he was worth every penny. He has also raised a lot of questions about Chelsea’s transfer policy with young players, considering their dreadful season, they could have really done with the Ginger man’s skill and desire this season. Maybe Chelsea will think twice before letting go of one of the finest young talent in Europe, oh well what is Chelsea’s loss is Manchester City’s gain. I look forward to seeing how Pep Guardiola handles De Bruyne, and who knows he may get even better!
AM – Xherdan Shaqiri £12 million
When the former Bayern Munich winger joined Stoke City, a lot of Europe was shocked to see the talented but troubled 24 year old turn up in the Potteries. A lot has changed in Stoke in recent years since Mark Hughes turned up their, going from long throw ins and Peter Crouch knock downs, to Champions league winners and sexy football. And Shaqiri has been a major part of that change and are on course to have their highest points tally in Premier League history, with 6 assists and 3 goals, Shaqiri has been able to link up with Bojan, Arnautovic & Affelay and move Stoke into a new era of football at the Brittania. Shaqiri produced two stunning performances in the winter months against both Manchester clubs at home. The enigmatic Swiss attacker has settled into English life very quickly, I personally think that it his aggression and his strength that has allowed to step into Premier League life without a sweat. I’m sure we’re going to see even more from Xherdan next season.
ST – Anthony Martial £36 million
I’m going to be honest, Martial is one of the few strikers who were bought who have been any good, so despite the French youngster playing most of the season on the left side. I’m going to put him up front, like the supposed new Thierry Henry wants to. No one truly knows the fee, but after having only 52 appearances in Ligue 1 with Lyon then Monaco, there was a massive shock around the world when on the last day of the window United splashed out £36 million with the potential rise to £58 million on a relatively unknown speed demon! His debut appearance was a quite unbelievable cameo against Liverpool when he came on to score after gliding through the Liverpool defence. He has gone on to score 8 goals and is going to be a major part of the future for United with the youngsters, Lingard, Rashford & Fosu-Mensah. Martial has shown his immense talent throughout the season, and I’m sure whoever is managing United in August will look forward to working with him.
Other notable signings include Glenn Johnson on a free to Stoke, the rather maligned right back has been very impressive for the ever improving Stoke side. Jonny Evans left Manchester United to join West Brom for £6 million and has added yet more solidity to the Tony Pulis side, Evans has also shown that he could still play at a higher level and will look forward to playing for his national side in France this summer. Nathan Ake joined Watford on loan from Chelsea, and has been very reliable for the Hornets this summer and shown that he deserves at Stamford Bridge next season. Roberto Firmino also joined the Premier League last summer from Hoffenheim to the Red side of Liverpool, and has been again inconsistent, when playing up front or as a false 9 he has shown his skill scoring some screamers. And then there are times when he does nothing in a match and I’m sure with a full season under Klopp the Brazilian will thrive next season. Shinji Okazaki was another player who came from the Bundesliga to England last summer and has been a pivotal player in the title challenging Leicester, his combination with Vardy and his constant running of the ball fits in at the King Power perfectly. The trait that links nearly all of these players, is that they all enjoy playing within a team, unlike other expensive transfers in recent years who are simply just stars.