With clubs being linked with players on a daily basis, and expectant fans demanding big names, the transfer window is one of the hardest times for clubs. This window has proved no exception, with Arsenal and Newcastle annoying fans by doing the least business. Cardiff have made a desperate attempt to stay in the league. They have seemingly decided to buy any attractable player who has shown glimpses of vague talent. The bluebirds, or maybe dragons, have spent over £28million on largely mediocre players. However, good business is always done in windows, and here is my ten best Premier League signings of this window so far. (I have factored in the transfer fee, player age and player quality when compiling this list. The order is alphabetical)
1) Jordi Amat RCD Espanyol to Swansea City
At just 21 years of age, Amat is probably a player for the future. Indeed, he has been touted as the eventual replacement for Gerard Piqué in the Spanish national side. Amat has represented his national side at U21 level, with relative success. Amat has also appeared for the Catalonian national side on two occasions.
The Spanish central-defender will have no trouble in adapting to Swansea’s short-passing style. He possesses great technique, and will be a perfect ball-playing centre-back for the Swans. He was very impressive against Malmö in Swansea’s first-leg Europa League play-off.
The only surprise about Amat’s move to Swansea is that no big Spanish club showed an open interest. Barcelona really could do with a gifted young centre-back. As a result, the move should be considered something of a coup for Swansea. The low fee reflects the poor financial situation with Spanish teams, and also Michael Laudrup’s ability to find Spanish bargains. Amat should become a top Premier League defender.
2) Wilfried Bony Vitesse Arnhem to Swansea City
Another coup for Swansea, this time in the mould of Didier Drogba-styled Bony. He has appeared 20 times for the Ivory Coast, and his importance to the national side is increasing as Drogba ages. The fee, a record for Swansea, demonstrates how good Laudrup thinks Bony is.
Appearance-wise, Bony doesn’t look particularly powerful. Though, as the cliché goes, never judge a book by its cover. Bony’s leap is very impressive, especially for a 6ft forward. His first-time finish against Manchester United on Saturday shows the clinical shooting he has. Clinical shooting which helped him score 38 goals in 39 games last season, for club and country. The man looks pre-fabricated for the Premier League’s rough and tumble.
His game isn’t just based on brute-force though. Bony will be able to lay off passes to team-mates, like he did against Malmö. Michu has also shown signs of an effective partnership with the number 10. Like Michu, Bony may become the signing of the season. Swansea will certainly have a lethal attack, with numerous options.
I can’t really see any weaknesses to comment on. The 24 year old is the ideal complete-forward. This guy is no Afonso Alves flop, and his stated aim of being the Prem’s new Drogba is achievable. He may even be better than Didier himself.
3) Leroy Fer FC Twente Enschede to Norwich City
It was strange that Fer’s move to Everton collapsed, after he reportedly failed a medical in January. Yet Fer managed to pass a Norwich medical, this summer, joining the Canaries on a four year deal. One worry will be that Fer may suddenly suffer a career-ending injury.
This would be the only real worry about Fer though, who looks to be an astute, typical Dutch midfielder. (It must be noted that it is very unlikely that Norwich would have signed Fer if they had concerns about his physical health) His passing is very good, but he also is very good physically. At 6ft 2, he is able to win aerial battles all over the pitch. The Norwich midfield should really benefit from Fer’s influence.
He impressed in the European U21 Championships, alerting a large number of clubs, and is likely to appear for the seniors soon. Everton will probably regret not signing the Dutchman.
The low fee for the former FC Twente favourite makes this deal even better. Note also that Fer is young at the age of 23. The tough-tackling passer still has plenty of time to improve. He may also be able to form an understanding with fellow countryman Ricky van Wolfswinkel (featured).
4) Stevan Jovetić AC Fiorentina to Manchester City
Firstly, Jovetić is not a striker. He can play there, but that isn’t his best position. His best role is as a trequartista, a three-quarter. In the gap between the defence and the midfield he can cause havoc for defences. His touch, technique, dribbling and passing are exemplary.
His attributes will be perfect at taking the creative burden away from David Silva. Jovetić got 5 assists and 13 goals last season. The figures don’t reflect his importance to an over-achieving Fiorentina side last season. All of the play went through him. He often made the pass before the assist, explaining the low statistics for such as good player.
Jovetić has played for Montenegro 31 times, scoring 11 and assisting 6. Against England, Jovetić caused panic in the back-line as he ran at the defence. His favoured style of running at teams will suit the Premier League, especially on the break. Manuel Pellegrini also favoured a counter-attacking style at Malaga. If Pellegrini gives in to the demands of sporting director Txiki Begiristain, he will play a Barcelona-style 4-3-3. Jovetić could play on the left of the attacking trio, cutting in and dribbling. He could also play as an attacking-minded centre-midfielder. Maybe Pellegrini, at times, will play a 4-2-1-3, with Jovetić as the ‘1’.
Jovetić would have been the perfect player for Arsenal, as he suits their style perfectly. I would love to see Pellegrini experiment with the forward as a false No9. I really feel this would be effective, especially in the very important European campaign. To summarise, Man City’s squad just got a player who could win them the Champions League, and that player is only 23!
5) Simon Mignolet Sunderland AFC to Liverpool FC £9,328,000
Mignolet is a familiar goalkeeper to viewers of the Premier League. Questions may be raised over the relatively large fee that Liverpool have spent on him. (Goalkeepers usually cost roughly £6million) Yet that fee needs to be regarded as a snip.
The Belgium international has strong competition for the number one spot in the national side, in the form of Chelsea-owned Thibaut Courtois and Anderlecht ‘keeper Silvio Proto. Despite this, it seems that Mignolet has established himself as one of the first names on the Belgium team sheet.
His performances in a struggling Sunderland side were astonishing, with his quick reflex saves at times defying nature. Mignolet basically kept Sunderland in the league last season, and he still has around 15 years left in his career if he conditions himself correctly. He is 25, meaning that his peak is roughly 5 years away. By the time of his peak, Mignolet may be regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world. He will definitely be in the top five.
Mignolet proved his worth when he saved a last-minute penalty against Stoke on Saturday. The Kop were very appreciative, and it looks like he could become a fan-favourite; just like Pepe Reina was. Questions were raised when Reina was replaced by Mignolet, but Reina made a number of costly mistakes last season. Mignolet should vindicate Brendon Rogers’ verdict.
6) Jesús Navas Sevilla FC to Manchester City
As any watcher of La Liga will know, Navas’ key asset is blistering pace. Last season, Sevilla relied heavily on Navas, often looking unbalanced due to their constant attacks through the right. The ‘little goblin’, his nickname in Spain, was a key outlet for Sevilla and will be sorely missed.
People need to understand that Navas’ game isn’t just based on raw pace. His dribbling skills make him look quicker, as he can run faster with the ball. Navas also has good vision, trying to thread balls through. His crossing will also suit the Premier League. Think a quicker with the ball Theo Walcott, with better end-product and passing.
At Manchester City, as mentioned previously, Pellegrini is expected to play a 4-3-3. A key feature of City last season was a lack of width, but Navas will solve that problem. His crosses to big target-men, who Pellegrini favours, should lead to many goals. Álvaro Negredo, another signing from Sevilla, along with Edin Džeko should thrive from Navas’ deliveries.
At 27, Navas should be in his prime. The fee, again low for a top Spanish player, is pocket-money for Man City, especially when one compares it to the ridiculous fee Man City spent on Fernandinho. The enthusiasm that City had when singing Navas was reflected by comments made by Begiristain. “Navas will bring Manchester City something we don’t have”. He continued “He is an absolute gift for us. He goes past people and stretches teams. He will give us something we don’t have.” Bergiristian was also astonished at hearing Navas was available in the first place, exclaiming: “Navas? Navas of Sevilla?”
One worry about Navas is his previous issues with homesickness. As a young player at Sevilla, he used to become severely homesick when playing away-causing him to suffer big panic attacks and consider quitting football. However, homesickness shouldn’t be an issue, as Navas managed to travel to the 2010 World Cup with Spain. He succeeded there, starting the move that ended with Iniesta scoring the winning goal in the final. The Spaniard will also be helped by his brother, Marco, moving to Bury.
7) Jores Okore FC Nordsjaelland to Aston Villa
Okore has long been scouted by Europe’s top clubs. The central-defender demonstrated his prowess in the Champions League, managing to impress in thrashings by Chelsea. At just 21, he may still become a first-team regular under Paul Lambert.
Lambert will be pleased at having brought in a new defender, especially considering Villas’ dismal goal difference of -22 in the league. They conceded the third most goals that season, but Okore should be able to solidify the defence, despite his age and inexperience.
Okore’s main strength is his heading. He is a threat from set-pieces, with an impressive leap, scoring 4 league goals last season. Okore is also very strong, often shrugging nippy strikers off the ball. His pace should also be enough to keep up with nippy forwards.
He was highly regarded in the Danish Superliga, with one fan saying in October; “Mark my words, in the January transfer window or in the summer transfers window he will be sold. He is way too good for our Danish league. He’s such a good player [now], it’s incredible”.4
Paul Lambert was delighted with Okore’s arrival, saying “Jores has played in big games but he’s a very humble lad and he will be a really good addition to our team and to our squad. I’m pleased that we’ve signed a player of his stature, for he is someone who can come in and make a huge impact.”
8) Sascha Riether 1.FC Cologne to Fulham FC
Perhaps a surprise inclusion to many readers, but Riether is one of the best signings of this window if he can continue his impressive form from last season. The German right-back was on-loan last season and he immediately impressed fans with his attacking contributions.
The fee, a low one, is down to Riether being 30 years old, but the full-back should have a few more years at the top level. 6 assists and 1 goal are okay statistics for a defender, but they don’t paint the full picture. Riether was so solid last season. He made no real mistakes and was the perfect steady defender, one who also provided a very useful outlet.
Fulham, who for a while have lacked a definitive right-back, have finally got one on a permanent deal. Additionally, Riether has settled well, stating: “I like it here – I love Fulham, I love the fans, I love the club, and I’m happy that we could close this deal now. It’s the start of the season and we are well prepared so I’m looking forward to the future.”
9) André Schürrle Bayer 04 Leverkusen to Chelsea FC
Don’t worry Chelsea fans! Schürrle is no Marko Marin. He should succeed at your club! Capped 25 times for Germany, he has scored 7 goals and assisted 1. (Almost a goal every 3 games) Joachim Löw, German national coach, is an advocate of Schürrle. In Germany, the 22 year old is regarded as the next big thing. His ex-coach, Leverkusen’s Sammi Hypia, shows how the forward will be missed: “André has shown how important he is for us”.
Schürrle can play as a support-striker or as an inside-forward/winger. He has great pace, dribbling and finishing. Under José Mourinho, Schürrle will probably play on the left of the ‘3’ in the 4-2-3-1. He will then interchange with the other 2 in the ‘3’. The German is a typical Mourinho player; one who is powerful and will not mind tracking back. He could also drift in to leave room for attacking full back Ashley Cole.
Mourinho allowed the Schürrle deal to go through, despite him not being at Chelsea when the initial deal was agreed. This displays how much Mourinho values Schürrle. Meanwhile, Schürrle is excited: “I’m really looking forward to working with him,” Schürrle told Chelsea’s website. “I got to know him at Michael Ballack’s testimonial a few weeks ago where we talked a little bit.”
Schürrle, in order to fulfil his world-class potential, needs to play games. The main issue with Marin, other than the ‘German Messi’ failing to adapt, was the fact that he was benched for most games. This stinted his development and made him loose confidence. If Chelsea play Schürrle enough, they will create one of the best attacking talents to play in the Premier League.
For a larger preview of Schürrle-with much more detail-from April 17th click this link: http://wp.me/p3mpIg-8h
10) Ricky van Wolfswinkel Sporting Lisbon to Norwich City
Most people are talking about this Dutch striker’s name. As amusing as it sounds, the name actually means Richard of the wolf shop. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on to the reason Norwich signed van Wolfswinkel; goals.
The striker has been accused by people in the Netherlands of being a boring centre-forward. In Holland, a number 9 ½ is preferred to a number 9. (Think van Persie when he drops off from the United front line and sprays balls wide) Yet van Wolfswinkel, in his time at a struggling Sporting side, became more than a goal scorer.
He started to muscle-up, becoming a target-man as well as a lethal poacher. As seen in his debut for Norwich, he loves to run into the box, trying to attack aerial balls. He also brings other people in to play and provides a perfect point to aim for if his side are struggling or need a quick goal.
Van Wolfswinkel should be able to fit into the Norwich system. The mixed passing style, which combines long diagonals with short interplay in attacking areas, should be good for the finisher. He will be able to threaten from Robert Snodgrass’ superb deliveries. If he can from a partnership with the supporting man Wes Hoolohan, Norwich will surprise many teams this season with their attacking potency.
In van Wolfswinkel, what Norwich have is a 24 year old with brilliant finishing, surprising strength and good link-play. He has the talent and determination to be a star in East Anglia, and the fee is definitely not too high. The only worry for Norwich is that if van Wolfswinkel proves himself in the Premier League, a big club may pounce. Richard of the wolf shop is a potential signing of the season.
(All of the transfer fees are taken from http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk)
If you feel I have got the list wrong, please comment down below. Remember, this is just my opinion! Still, it would be nice to get a debate going. Perhaps we could produce a readers top ten.
Sorry for the lack of articles recently. I was on holiday. You can find out the latest news about the blog via Twitter http://www.twitter.com/MsFootyThoughts and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/mattysfootythoughts