Top ten players we’re looking forward to watching

Date published: Wednesday 6th September 2017 6:45

The dust has settled on the transfer window, so which Premier League players are we looking forward to watching that we haven’t seen much of – if anything – yet? Ten new signings…

 

10) Davy Propper (Brighton)
Chris Hughton buggered up in the transfer window by not buying a striker, so the likes of Izzy Brown, Pascal Gross and Propper are going to have to step up to the goalscoring plate. The 26-year-old got his big move from Vitesse to PSV in 2015, but now has a chance to use Brighton as a stepping stone to better things in the Premier League. Sixteen league goals and thirteen assists in his last two league campaigns shows just what Brighton can expect if they give him licence to attack from central midfield.

Confession: Included in this list 80% because I’m intrigued to see if he can thrive where Jordy Clasie failed, and 20% because I wanted to use the phrase Propper Football Man.

 

9) Mario Lemina (Southampton)
Southampton have a pretty ropey recent record with signings that I assume are going to be lovely to watch and turn out to be good-for-nothing wastrels. After Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jordy Clasie and Sofiane Boufal, let’s hope it’s fourth time lucky with Lemina, a 23-year-old Gabonese central midfielder most comfortable in a box-to-box role but basically capable of playing everywhere in midfield or defence. He’s like Billy Jones on Football Manager 2006.

Lemina failed to hold down a regular place at Juventus – eight league starts last season – but there is no great shame in that. As the one non-defender signing made by Southampton this summer, Mauricio Pellegrino could do with him being half-decent.

 

8) Richarlison (Watford)
It almost goes without saying given the transfer culture that now surrounds Premier League football, but never has success in attracting and buying players been more important to a manager’s reputation. While someone like Chris Hughton has struggled to tempt players to Brighton, Marco Silva is the opposite. His signings almost kept Hull City up last season, and he’s set about doing exactly the same at Watford. Having finished fourth bottom last season, they already look better equipped for this.

Four of the six players Silva paid fees for this summer were English, indicative of the manager’s belief that a core of domestic players would help shed Watford’s reputation as a roadside motel for players passing through. Yet the most exciting of them all could be 20-year-old Richarlison, who signed from Fluminese for a fee of £11m.

“I hope to get to know Elton John very soon, I still haven’t had the honour. I want to give him a hug,” Richarlison explained. “Gomes says that Elton John always goes to games, that he likes to watch the players. He has a lot of love for the club, right?”

Who can’t love a man who says that?

 

7) Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Brom)
Forget your English premium and ludicrously inflated prices for average imports, because nothing sums up the Premier League’s financial might more than West Brom signing a truly international class midfielder. Krychowiak only started seven league games for Paris St Germain last season, but that’s because he was up against Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot, Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta. Jake Livermore and Claudio Yacob might not provide the same type of competition.

Before Paris, Krychowiak was one of the stars of the Sevilla team that won back-to-back Europea League titles, and he was named in the La Liga team of the season in 2014/15. At the age of 27, it’s not even as if his legs are going and he’s over the hill. Tony Pulis has pulled off a stone-cold coup.

 

6) Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
A lot of people fell hook, line and sinker for Iheanacho after he broke onto the scene at Manchester City. He was the blue half of Manchester’s answer to Marcus Rashford, the first youngster to progress from the club’s academy to the first team in ten years.

And then Iheanacho went off the boil as quickly as he burst onto the scene. Having scored 10 Premier League goals in 2016 despite usually only being afforded odd minutes as a substitute, Iheanacho played only 131 league minutes after Boxing Day last season. Manuel Pellegrini may have been impressed, but Pep Guardiola was a harder man to please.

City’s decision to sell – rather than loan – Iheanacho is interesting, although they do retain a buy-back clause. It suggests that the Nigerian blew his chance at an elite club, and must now fight for relevance once more. That will always be an interesting watch.

 

5) Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Crystal Palace)
Every now and then a young player comes along who makes me giggle with excitement not just when watching them, but when thinking about watching them. No, honestly, don’t call the police.

Fosu-Mensah is one of those players, a defender who has both an incredible assurance for someone so young, but also bags of energy and gusto that cannot fail to rub off on those around him. For all the disappointment at him not getting a chance at Manchester United this season, Fosu-Mensah is likely to play almost every game for Crystal Palace and get exactly the kind of experience that can make a 19-year-old.

Academy manager Nicky Butt recently claimed that Manchester United is the best club in Europe at giving young players a chance in the first team. Fosu-Mensah may be the acid test of whether Butt is still right or guilty of viewing the current United strategy with romantic nostalgia.

 

4) Renato Sanches (Swansea City)
There are many reasons why a club might appoint a particular manager, but ‘knowing Chelsea’s young players and Carlo Ancelotti’ is a pretty niche one. When Swansea signed Tammy Abraham and Renato Sanches on loan this summer, the club’s hierarchy must have been pretty pleased with their choice of Paul Clement.

Sanches’ move to South Wales sounds ridiculous, but actually it makes perfect sense. He wasn’t getting a game at Bayern Munich, but can now play in the highest-profile league in the world, forced to quickly get used to the pace and intensity but not at a club where every move on and off the pitch will be scrutinised. Flourish and Bayern can either welcome him back or sell him for a whacking great fee; flounder and they can be sure that he isn’t good enough for their first team. We’ll have lots of fun finding out which way this one falls.

 

3) Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham)
I picked Sanchez for my Premier League Under-21 team, but that took a leap of faith having only seen him play three times. Now we’ll find out if looking comfortable as a defender at Ajax is the same as looking comfortable as the record signing for a title-challenging Premier League club at the age of 21.

Sanchez will at least get time to settle at Tottenham. If Mauricio Pochettino sticks with a back four then he has Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen ahead of him, or he may choose to go to the 3-4-3 formation that will see him play alongside another two former Ajax players. A lovely Amsterdam threesome.

 

2) Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea)
For all the worries over Chelsea’s lack of spending, Antonio Conte still recruited five players for fees of £20m or more in the final 51 days of the transfer window. That’s as many as Arsenal have bought in their entire history.

While we have already seen plenty of Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rudiger isn’t a particularly mouth-watering aesthetic prospect, it will be damn interesting to see whether Bakayoko can be the best he can be away from Monaco.

It’s worth remembering that the Frenchman initially struggled to establish himself under Leonardo Jardim, from 24 league starts in 2014/15 and 2015/16 combined to a £40m move to the Premier League champions a year later. Bakayoko was substituted 32 minutes into his league debut at Monaco, and was criticised for a lavish lifestyle and lack of concentration on his football. All that has changed, and with it his career fortunes.

 

1) Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)
1) Writes ‘Benjamin Mendy’ in piece.
2) Googles ‘Benjamin Mendy’ to make sure I haven’t got him confused with Bolton player.
3) Realise I got it right.
4) Vow to remember for next time.
5) A few days goes by.
6) Repeat steps 1-5.

It’s an ex-Monaco top two. Marcelo has been the best left-back in the world for a few years, but Mendy is one candidate to take his crown. He’s also the most expensive full-back in the game’s history.

City’s need for new full-backs has been obvious for about three years, and in Mendy and Walker they have the perfect modern options, full of pace and attacking intent. It is going to be sexy.

Daniel Storey

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