After a 75-day interlude, the Premier League is back once again – and with a bang! Arsenal’s home defeat at the hands of West Ham proved to be the biggest surprise of the opening round of fixtures as clubs look to bed-in their new recruits for the season ahead.
Over £550m has already been spent by the top tier clubs of English football, and with around three weeks remaining until the summer transfer window slams shut at 18:00 on Tuesday 1st September, it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if the final total tops the current record of £835m from twelve months ago.
While it is a little churlish to predict who will be the signing of the season when there is still plenty of time left to add to their respective squads, here are five players who could well be amongst the most influential to their new teams as the season progresses.
Faith in experience
It was an inauspicious Premier League debut for Arsenal’s Petr Cech, but the £10m recruit from London rivals Chelsea will surely prove to be sound business in the long term for the Gunners. Arsenal have been serial title contenders in recent seasons, but Arsene Wenger’s men haven’t quite found the consistency required to lift their first crown since 2004.
The arrival of Cech – West Ham aside – at 33, will offer an experience level to the goalkeeping position that Arsenal’s back-line have not been accustomed to since the days of Jens Lehmann, and Wenger will be hoping that his new custodian will help to bring further silverware to the Emirates this season.
Gamble or gifted?
At an initial fee of £44m, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling is the biggest single purchase so far of the current transfer period – and judging on his debut performance against West Bromwich Albion, it could be money well spent for the blue half of Manchester.
It was well documented that Sterling engineered his move away from Liverpool, and City was the only team brave enough to stump up the asking price from the Merseyside club, but Sterling offers another dimension to the attack for Manuel Pellegrini’s side with his searing pace and trickery.
A slight criticism of Sterling would be his inconsistency in front of goal, but with such an array of attacking talent to play alongside, the winger will surely flourish.
Belgian forward Christian Benteke swapped Villa Park for Anfield earlier this summer, and the 24 year-old striker is expected to help fire his new team back into the Champions League at the end of this campaign. Benteke hit 42 Premier League goals in 89 appearances for Aston Villa before making a £32.5m switch to Merseyside to bolster Brendan Rodgers’ strike force.
The powerful front-man offers a more physical presence for the Reds and will be hoping to quickly link-up with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho to help Liverpool return as serious challengers for the Premier League title once again.
Silk with steel
Manchester United boss, Louis van Gaal suggested that his team required ‘balance to his selection’ at certain points last season.
With five new players already signed in at Old Trafford, it is expected that the Dutch boss now has the squad equilibrium more to his liking. Germany’s captain and World Cup winner, Bastian Schweinsteiger is one of the new recruits for United – who, even at 32, can bring subtlety and steel to his new side.
Schweinsteiger has won virtually everything there is to win with former club Bayern Munich – and it is that winning mentality that is hoped to rub off on his new team-mates as United attempt to regain the Premier League title this season.
Strength in defence
Tottenham’s Belgian trio of Vertonghen, Chadli and Dembele became a quartet earlier this summer with the addition of Toby Alderweireld from Atlético Madrid.
The 26 year-old centre-back spent last season on-loan at Southampton – and while the Saints wished to make the deal permanent, Tottenham shrewdly signed the Belgian international from under their rivals’ noses. Alderweireld was part of a mean Southampton defence under Ronald Koeman, and his new boss, Mauricio Pochettino will be expecting that those solid defensive traits will continue for his new employers, to help push on from their fifth-place finish in the last campaign.