Leicester City’s stunning title success last season further cemented the Premier League as the most entertaining and unpredictable league in all of Europe. It’s no surprise then that this summer has seen a flurry of movement that will result in yet more of the world’s best players sampling their first taste of football on these shores.
So while the likes of Pogba, Mane, Kante, Townsend and Stones all boast strong cases for featuring in a list of the summer’s best transfers, their previous Premier League experience discounts them from the below, which celebrates the FIVE best new arrivals to the English top flight…
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG to Man Utd, Free.
With 13 league titles from four different countries (Holland, Italy, Spain and France), Zlatan may be one of the game’s most colourful and controversial characters but there is no denying that on top of all of the attention comes first and foremost a serial winner.
Jose Mourinho knows this only too well, having worked with the Swedish striker during a title-winning season at Inter Milan in 2008/09. Of course, at 34 years old, Ibrahimovic is not the all-conquering colossus of his peak, but given that his game has never relied on pace but rather his unique combination of brute power and deft footwork, then he is sure to very quickly become an Old Trafford hero.
Expect a partnership to flourish with Wayne Rooney, with the Englishman himself hoping to enjoy something of a late renaissance in the number ten role behind one of the world’s best frontmen.
2. Ahmed Musa, CSKA Sofia to Leicester, £16m
What could possibly be worse than facing Jamie Vardy at his pacy best? Facing two of him. Ahmed Musa is the man who Claudio Ranieri has signed to push last season’s surprise champions to even greater improbable heights, as the Foxes prepare for their Champions League debut while also aiming to repeat the impossible with a title defence.
His signings so far suggest that Ranieri has no intention of changing a winning formula, with Musa’s arrival the clearest indication yet that Leicester will once again prioritise counter attacks as their main offensive weapon.
At 23, the Nigerian international has six years on Vardy and appears to be even quicker than the Englishman, though his finishing remains raw. Nevertheless, with 58 international caps Musa isn’t exactly wet behind the ears, and if his impressive pre-season performance is anything to go by he’ll be ready to start the season with a bang, likely to line up just behind Vardy on the left flank.
3. Granit Xhaka, Borussia Monchengladbach to Arsenal, £35m
A common complaint of Arsenal teams in recent years is that they haven’t quite packed the midfield bite that epitomised their title-winning sides of yore. Whether he can compete with the respective legacies of Vieira, Petit and Gilberto Silva is another thing, but Granit Xhaka won’t go unnoticed in the Gunners’ engine room.
But while the Swiss international is of course renowned for his tenacity, no player is courted by Arsene Wenger without first being able to play. The man once described by Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld as a “young Schweinsteiger” therefore boasts a range of passing that is often overlooked due to a feisty disciplinary record that is also sure to rear its head.
But given the tendency for his aforementioned much-lauded predecessors to have to sit on the FA’s naughty step every now and then, Arsenal fans will surely welcome a bit more of a nasty streak if it means for a more combative and competitive season at the top of the Premier League.
4. Steve Mandanda, Marseille to Crystal Palace, £1.5m
The 31-year-old stopper represents quite the transfer coup for Alan Pardew, who has brought the former Marseille man in to surely command the number one slot ahead of rivals Wayne Hennessey, Alex McCarthy and Julian Speroni.
The Frenchman became a club legend in the south of France, making over 400 appearances since signing for OM in 2008. With a league title to his name as well as three French cups, he’s also a four-time Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year – an accolade he claimed as recently as last season. On top of that he’s earned 22 caps for France, where he is regarded as a strong leader as well as a dependable goalkeeper.
In fact if not for the continued presence of the flawless Hugo Lloris, Mandanda’s stock on the international stage would surely have risen further and sooner. Palace fans will soon see they’ve nabbed one of the game’s most talented unsung heroes.
5. Nolito, Celta to Manchester City, £13.8m
Given the existing strength of Manchester City’s squad, added to the big-money arrivals that Pep Guardiola has sanctioned, it takes a brave pundit to second guess the make-up of the Spaniard’s first Man City team when Sunderland come to visit on the opening day of the season. Nonetheless, given that the majority of City’s new arrivals are 25 or under, it leaves former Celta man Nolito as the one outlier.
The Spanish international will celebrate his 30th birthday in October, somewhat surprising for a player who looked so comfortable on the international stage during the Euros yet who has fewer than 15 caps to his name. But Guardiola and his new recruit need to look no further than Dmitri Payet to see what the impact of in-form late bloomers can have on the Premier League, and if anything Nolito’s age will likely see him thrust into the first team ahead of those with youth on their side.
Nolito turned down former club Barcelona to be reunited with his old boss and will be confident of staking an early claim to feature ahead of inconsistent pair Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas, with his successful recent spells in Spain and Portugal suggesting he’ll be just the man to supply the ammo from the flanks for Sergio Aguero.