PREMIER LEAGUE clubs spent big money last summer – and in January – to secure signings they hoped would make a major impact this season.
Not all have been successful but some have already made themselves irreplaceable for their new clubs.
Our friends at Football Whispers have put together an XI of the best signings of the season, and there are a couple of surprise inclusions….
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GK: Víctor Valdés
Middlesbrough signed Valdes, who claimed three Champions League titles while at Barcelona, on a free transfer last summer following his release from Manchester United.
While Boro have struggled to score goals, their defence has been solid. Valdes has played a big part in that. He’s kept eight clean sheets and has conceded from just 30 per cent of shots faced in the top flight.
RB: Allan Nyom
There weren’t too many Watford fans disappointed to see the Cameroonian leave for West Brom last summer but Nyom has thrived under the guidance of Tony Pulis.
With the 28-year-old in their side the Baggies have conceded 1.1 goals per game this season. When he’s been absent that figure jumps to 2.2, a mark of how important Nyom has been.
CB: Joel Matip
Liverpool signed Matip on a free transfer last summer after he opted to leave Schalke and the 25-year-old has quickly established himself as the Reds’ most consistent centre-back.
The Cameroonian wins 36 per cent of his defensive duels, the fifth highest in the top flight, and has a tackle success rate of 74 per cent. Matip’s impact is best demonstrated when he’s not in the Liverpool side.
The Reds have conceded a goal a game in the Premier League with Matip and 1.8 per game when he’s been absent.
CB: David Luiz
Chelsea surprisingly brought the eccentric Brazilian back to Stamford Bridge last summer, spending £34million to prise him away from PSG.
Many scoffed at the signing but Luiz has been superb in the heart of Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system, helping the Blues surge to the top of the Premier League table.
LB: Marcos Alonso
Eyebrows were raised when Chelsea paid £24million to sign Alonso from Fiorentina but he has played a huge role in the Blues’ title bid.
The Spaniard, who has played at left wing-back, has scored five goals in the Premier League in addition to contributing two assists. But he hasn’t shirked his defensive responsibility and Chelsea have conceded just 16 goals in his 26 appearances.
DM: Idrissa Gueye
Signed for £7.1million following Aston Villa’s relegation, the Senegal midfielder has been a revelation in Everton’s midfield.
No Premier League player comes close to matching Gueye’s 121 tackles this season, 75 per cent of which he wins. He also has made 67 interceptions, only two midfielders have made more.
CM: N’Golo Kante
Chelsea signed Kante from Premier League champions Leicester City last summer for a fee of around £30million. With every passing month that figure becomes more of a bargain.
Kante does the job of two men in midfield. He’s made the fourth highest amount of passes (1,840) in the top flight this season but has also made 105 tackles, the second highest in the division.
The fact he is on course to win back-to-back Premier League titles with two different clubs highlights his impact on a side.
CM: Paul Pogba
Yes, he perhaps hasn’t lived up to the billing of an £89million player but Pogba had no say over his price tag. That was between Juventus, Manchester United and his agent Mino Raiola.
On the pitch, the Frenchman’s stats are impressive. He has made 2,010 passes, the second highest in the division, and only three players have made more key passes than Pogba’s 22.
His return of four goals in 30 games is disappointing but the 24-year-old has hit the woodwork six times, suggesting more goals are likely next season.
RW: Sadio Mane
Liverpool paid Southampton £34million to bring Mane to Anfield, another deal that looks better with every passing week.
Mane has shone under Klopp. He has scored 13 goals and assisted six more in 27 league games. However, he will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury in this month’s Merseyside derby.
LW: Leroy Sane
The German was slowly integrated into the Manchester City side by Pep Guardiola following his £47.5million switch from Schalke, and his performances during the second half of the season prove it was the right strategy.
Sane has excelled since establishing himself as a regular starter on the left flank. His blistering pace has caused countless right-backs problems and the 21-year-old is contributing to a City goal every 162 minutes.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan arrived at Manchester United with a big reputation to live up to and, perhaps unsurprisingly, he more than has.
The 35-year-old has scored 28 goals for Jose Mourinho’s side this season, 17 of which have come in the Premier League, and assisted a further ten goals.
In a campaign in which United have struggled to score goals, Ibrahimovic has often been the difference. Keeping him at Old Trafford for a second campaign is a must for Mourinho.