No matter what team you support, the arrival of new faces to the Premiership is always an exciting time. Yes there is an increasing issue regarding the diminishing number of top British players in the British league, but at the end of the day you want to see a high level of competition between the world’s best. As one of the best leagues in the world, with some of the wealthiest clubs, it is also not difficult to attract some players of the highest calibre especially if they are willing to pay a pretty penny for them.
With just over a week to go until the start of the new Premiership season, managers will have already started to think about their starting line-ups for their opening fixtures. Many players will also be optimistic of making their league debut for their new clubs come August.
While pre-season is not always the most realistic representation of how a Premiership season will pan out (take last season as a fine example) it has enabled us to gain an insight into how some of the transfers have settled into their new squads. Based on this, and their past performances at other clubs, here are just a few new names that have the potential to take the Premiership by storm.
Memphis Depay (Manchester United, Midfielder, £8.5 million)
It has been a busy transfer window for Van Gaal at Manchester United so far, and there are signs that it is not quite over yet. The midfield is an area which has particularly been strengthened, with the likes of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin brought in for nearly £40 million together with the ex-PSV man Memphis Depay.
Of the three, however, Depay is looking the most promising from a Fantasy Football perspective. In pre-season, Manchester United have generally performed well despite a defeat to PSG last time out. If we are to take anything from the manner in which Van Gaal has set up his team thus far, it seems as if there will be a battle for the central midfield position. With Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Herrera, Blind and Fellaini all to choose from there is a definite chance of rotation. Of the new boys, with Schweinsteiger out with a minor injury and Schneiderlin considered as more of a defensive-midfielder, the opportunity for points lies with Depay.
Depay seems to have settled into the United team well already and scored his first goal for the side in their game against San Jose Earthquakes. With Van Gaal saying that he will be operating in a 4-3-3 formation, it is possible that Depay will operate on the wing. He has also played off Rooney in pre-season, however, so has the potential to get both goals and assists this season. With his potential to make an impact as a forward, but being listed as a midfielder, he is definitely one to consider.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool, Midfielder, £8.5 million)
Liverpool have also been busy thus far in the transfer window, bolstering their squad with the likes of Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ings and James Milner who have already proven themselves in the Premiership. It is their only foreign signing, however, that has the potential to make a difference.
With Raheem Sterling now at Manchester City, Liverpool are in need of a player capable of running at defences and creating chances. Jordan Ibe is currently making his mark and he certainly has his eyes set on a place in the starting XI. The Brazilian Firmino, meanwhile, has not taken part in any pre-season matches so far but is one that fans are seemingly excited about.
The 23-year-old forward can play anywhere across the front three, meaning that he has the potential to get a fair few goals this season. This will depend on how fast he settles into the squad, but he looks like a positive acquisition. With the lengthy absence of Daniel Sturridge, it will also be reassuring to Brendan Rodgers to have someone of his ilk available having consistently appeared for his previous club Hoffenheim. If Firmino can get anywhere near the 32 goals he scored over the past two years, he will be a firm Liverpool favourite in no time.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham, Midfielder, £7.5 million)
It is all change at the London club with their final season at the Boleyn Ground ahead, a new manager at the helm and several new faces in the squad. Slaven Bilic has brought in a number of players from overseas including Pedro Obiang and Angelo Ogbonna but the one that has the potential to make a huge difference is Dimitri Payet.
In recent years, West Ham have been lacking a creative spark and Payet could be exactly that. No other player in Europe created more chances than Payet last season (135) and he led the French league with 17 assists. Payet is yet to be tested in a stronger league, but the statistics are promising.
The midfielder has also already opened his account scoring two goals, one a free-kick, in his debut against Southend. In the same game his cross was turned into the Southend net by one of their defenders, giving him the assist. With two goals and an assist in just an hour, admittedly against weaker opposition, Payet is already showing his worth. With another assist in their 1-0 victory against Norwich, it was also clearly not a one off.
At £7.5 million he could prove to be a great alternative to some of the higher priced individuals. With his ability to score and assist goals, both in open play and from set pieces, he is definitely one to look out for especially with two home matches against Leicester and Bournemouth in the first three fixtures.
Andre Ayew (Swansea, Midfielder, £7 million)
In what has been a fairly busy transfer window for Swansea so far, Andre Ayew is the stand-out. It is somewhat surprising that the Ghana international is listed as a midfielder, due to his usual positioning as a forward but this is something that can be capitalised upon.
Ayew has been an important figure during his time at Marseille, scoring 41 league goals in four seasons. In a Swansea side where they are becoming increasingly reliant on their midfield for goals from the likes of Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-Yueng, Routledge, Dyer and Shelvey, Ayew should fit right in.
The Ghanaian has already found the net for his new side, scoring against Nottingham Forest, and is already showing the kind of goal threat he will bring to the side. Having spent his entire career to date in Ligue 1, it is yet to be seen how he will handle the switch to the Premier League but he has the quality to make the step up. With his brother also in the league, there will be an added competitive edge between the pair.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United, Midfielder, £7 million)
Newcastle only managed forty goals last season so have sought to strengthen their squad this time around. The club have however opted with quality over quantity so far, with striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba being two of only three signings. The other offers a real attacking threat from midfield. Having scored fourteen goals last season, Wijnaldum thus far seems to be a quality signing for the Magpies.
The ex-PSV midfielder has already made his mark for his new side, scoring two goals in two games during pre-season. Playing in the key role behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation has clearly benefited both the player and the squad. At PSV he was employed in a much more defensive role but Wijnaldum himself has said that he is strongest in a central role where he can create goals.
If Steve McClaren continues to play him in this central attacking role then you feel he will continue to threaten defences. Wijnaldum looks ready already for the new season and alongside Siem de Jong look like a force to contend with in Newcastle’s midfield. The only thing that may put you off slightly, at least to begin with, is Newcastle’s opening fixtures. With Southampton, Swansea, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham in the first five games, followed by Chelsea and Manchester City in Gameweek 7 and 8, there are some tough tests ahead for the midfielder.
Jeremain Lens (Sunderland, Midfielder, £6.5 million)
Arguably one of the best bits of news for Sunderland was the re-capturing of manager Dick Advocaat. The club have, however, also brought a few new names in. The most exciting of these is Jeremain Lens who the club have signed from Dynamo Kiev.
At £6.5 million Lens is amongst the cheapest attacking midfielders, but he is also the most expensive player in the Sunderland squad and for good reason. Last season the club narrowly avoided relegation, scoring only 31 goals in the process, so vast improvements need to be made this time around.
With rumours that Lens will be the wing man in Advocaat’s favoured three-man strike force, he will be in a prime position to assist on the attacking front. Despite a poor pre-season run, Lens has been the player to impress. His skill and pace is something that the Sunderland squad have lacked for a long time and will certainly be beneficial. With Leicester, Norwich, Swansea and Aston Villa in their first four games he has the potential to make a huge impact on a small budget.
Matteo Darmian (Manchester United, Defender, £5.5 million)
For me, Darmian has been one of the most exciting and impressive players thus far in pre-season. Having signed for Manchester United, the Italian full-back has also made one of the biggest impressions on the fans despite arguably being the most unheralded of the new signings.
The fact that Van Gaal has also already named Darmian as part of his starting squad for the Tottenham game says it all about the new arrival has settled in. Having previously said that Darmian would start the season as back-up to Antonio Valencia at the right-back position, it would appear that the United manager has had a change of heart. Having trained as a full-back Darmian would also appear to be the better choice. Valencia is first and foremost a midfielder and while he has improved through his exposure to the role, it is not where he plays best.
Darmian is not only great defensively, but is also a threat offensively. On several occasions so far during his time with United he has shown that he is willing to offer an overlap and could subsequently create a few assists throughout the season.
As you may have already noticed, a large number of these players are midfielders. With more points available for goals scored by midfielders than strikers a lot of these new arrivals are definitely worth considering. The issue arises when you want to fit them all in your team, together with the consistent big names such as Hazard, Sanchez, Silva, Fabregas etc.
While it will be difficult selecting the five midfielders for your team, there are definitely some new arrivals who could make an impact and take up less of the budget. Where Darmian is concerned, meanwhile, if he can keep Valencia out of the right-back position he has the potential to be hugely effective at United and doesn’t cost a huge amount.