Five transfers expected to light up English Premier League this season
The English Premier League kicks off tonight with a big player shuffle in the off season.
Another new season of Premier League soccer approaches, with teams trying to catch-up to the seemingly impenetrable Manchester City.
The on-field action starts tonight with a clash between the reigning champions and Burnley at 9pm at Turf Moor. South African striker Lyle Foster is expected to be on show for the newly promoted Vincent Kompany managed outfit.
Off the field, the 20 Premier League teams have had just more than two months to reinforce their squads for the strenuous 38-match season.
Below is a look at the potential top-five transfer window acquisitions:
Declan Rice to Arsenal
Arsenal signed England international and former West Ham midfielder Declan Rice almost immediately, after the transfer window opened for a club record fee of £105-million.
The box-to-box midfielder fills a void left by former skipper of the Gunner’s, Granit Xhaka, who signed for Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.
The price-tag on the 24-year-old Rice means there will be big expectations on his shoulders. But having captained West Ham and playing in the Premier League for six seasons with his former club, it shouldn’t faze the energetic midfielder too much.
“The energy is so good, honestly from the first moment I walked through the training ground doors… all of the staff, their mindset’s about winning,” Rice told Sky Sports recently.
“Mikel [Arteta], as well as a football coach, psychologically he’s amazing and he really makes you want to play for him, which is a massive reason I’ve come to Arsenal.”
Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool
Liverpool has lost the services of regular midfielders Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and James Milner, as well as their depth in Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in the off-season.
This, after the Merseyside team struggled in the centre of the park last season. But they’ve made the shrewd acquisition of World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister for £35-million, from Brighton & Hove Albion.
The skilled Argentine can play across the midfield three – which manager Jürgen Klopp regularly employs – so will add versatility and depth in midfield.
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Mac Allister spent years on the southern coast of England, where he helped Brighton scale the Premier League and complete their best-ever finish in their history last season, in sixth place.
The expectation at a club with a rich history like Liverpool will be higher, but the diminutive midfielder has already proven he can perform at the biggest stage — providing a slick assist to Ángel Di María in the World Cup final.
André Onana to Manchester United
After more than a decade with the club, Manchester United parted ways with stalwart goalkeeper David de Gea. In his place, they’ve signed Cameroonian shot-stopper André Onana for £47.2-million.
United manager Erik ten Hag, in his second season with the club, is moving closer to imprinting his philosophy at the club, and with the signing of Onana, he’s taken another leap toward it.
“Most important, always for a keeper, is clean sheets, and he’s not doing that on his own,” said Ten Hag. “Therefore, you need a very good defensive organisation, [it’s] quite clear. But also the capabilities of a keeper is [about] keeping the goal clean. This is the first criterion of a good goalkeeper.”
“But, nowadays, football also demands good playing from the back, out-playing qualities, and that is a quality Andre has. You need both, and you need to cover both areas. So we’re happy, of course.
“I think with his physical presence, and also with his personality, he is so keen on winning. He’s so, so eager to win trophies, and he will help the team and he will help the squad to get to higher levels.”
Mateo Kovačić to Manchester City
Chelsea emptied out their squad and looks set for a rebuild under the guidance of manager Mauricio Pochettino. In the process, they sold Croatian midfield maestro Mateo Kovačić to title rivals Manchester City.
Man City lost the services of their reliable vice-captain İlkay Gündoğan to Barcelona after last season, and seem to have found a like-for-like replacement in the form of Kovačić, for a bargain price of £30-million too.
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“This is a brilliant move for me, and I cannot wait to get started with City,” Kovačić said at his arrival in Manchester.
“Anyone who has watched this team under Pep knows how good they are – for me, they are the best in the world. The trophies they have won are clear for all to see, but they are also the best footballing side out there.”
The slick interplay and ball retention soccer Pep Guardiola employs at Manchester City seems a perfect fit for the 29-year-old.
James Maddison to Spurs
After five seasons and 43 goals for Leicester City in the Premier League, attacking midfielder James Maddison has elected to seek greener pastures at Tottenham Hotspurs after his former side’s shock relegation into the Championship.
Tottenham have a new manager in Australian Ange Postecoglou, who scooped up Maddison quickly after arriving at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for £40-million.
The 26-year-old England international comes into a Spurs side that limped to eighth position last season. But the London side has a few creative players already including Dejan Kulusevski, who often cuts in from the right wing.
But the pair have linked up well in pre-season, with his new teammate full of praise for Maddison’s eye for a pass. “When he has the ball it’s amazing. As soon as I have the ball, I look for space and look to run in the space because he’s a very good passer,” Kulusevski said. DM