Profiling the latest under-the-radar Premier League arrivals
With the Premier League now underway – only two months after the 19/20 season reached its climax – the turnaround for clubs and players has been a quick one with minimal rest and a somewhat unusual pre-season.
An aid that is also far from normal is the Summer transfer window which has been extended into October this year. Nonetheless, hazards such as finances and quarantine periods have affected the way some clubs in England have gone about their business.
Other clubs have made a breakthrough though, with Chelsea especially making moves for big name players including Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz – But just who are some of the Premier League’s new signings who have gone under the radar?
VALIANT VILLA SIGNING POTENTIAL
Arguably Dean Smith’s Aston Villa are very fortunate to still be in the Premier League for a second consecutive year after survival on the last day of the season in July.
However, the former European Cup winners are looking to build the foundations to remain at the top for years to come.
Their approach has not changed though as the signings of Championship starlets Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash provide promise and quality yet no top flight experience.
Named in the Championship team of the season for 19/20, Watkins flourished in helping Brentford into the play-off final
Goals from attacking areas were hard to come by for Villa last campaign with just seven strikes between attacking trio Wesley, Samatta and Davis incomparable to Watkins’ 26 Championship goals.
And the arrival of 24-year-old Watkins potentially brings much needed energy and composure to Villa’s forward ranks and the forward behaves mostly as a mobile striker and a poacher.
His offensive contribution rated highly in comparison to Championship strikers last season with his shooting, crossing and dribbling pointed out as particular strengths – as seen through this Contribution Ratings chart.
Figure 1. Ollie Watkins attacking contributions in comparison to fellow Championship forwards
Fellow new signing Matty Cash resides at the opposite end of the field at Right-back, and with youth on his side at 23 he may prove a long term replacement for Ahmed Elmohamady and competition for Frédéric Guilbert.
BRIGHTON BUILDING AT THE BACK
Graham Potter looks to have done some clever business this transfer window, though despite losing star midfielder Aaron Mooy to Shanghai SIPG he boasts a competitive squad.
Additions such as Adam Lallana add experience and quality in midfield areas; however, it’s in defence where Potter has a plethora of options to choose from.
With Shane Duffy heading for the exit door – a loan move to Celtic – Brighton start the campaign with five high profile centre backs looking to make the grade.
Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster and Dan Burn proved to be a dependable trio in 2020, all making over 30 Premier League appearances in the campaign.
Such strength allowed Potter to facilitate a back three at times, whilst Dan Burn excelled when needed in the left back position.
And the arrival of experienced Ajax defender Joël Veltman – as well as Ben White returning from a Leeds loan spell – adds exciting competition for places.
The Dutchman has eight seasons under his belt with the Ajax first team making over 170 Eredivisie appearances – though a serious cruciate injury hampered his game in 2018 and 2019.
After a return to fitness Veltman did start 18 of 25 Eredivisie games in 19/20, and certainly did his bit to help the team but ultimately the season was cut short and Ajax were not awarded the title.
Both his offensive and defensive contributions ranked highly, and his passing proved a strong point similarly to Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster.
Veltman may suit Brighton’s slick passing style, and with a SciSkill Rating of 81.0 he ranks as a first team player at the club.
ALL ROADS LEED TO SURVIVAL?
After sixteen years away from the Premier League, 1992 top flight winners Leeds United have finally returned after a long road of administration and relegations along the way.
Under highly acclaimed Argentinian manager Marcelo Bielsa the Yorkshire club have become a strong force who were extremely hard to beat as they eased to the Championship title.
Nonetheless like any promoted team strength in depth and quality additions are needed for survival and Leeds have gone about doing this so far.
The acquisitions of Spain’s current number nine Rodrigo and an experienced centre back at top flight level in Robin Koch could well be a good starting point,
The undoubted quality the pair bring reflects in the squad SciSkill Ratings, and when pitted against their fellow team mates Rodrigo and Koch come out 1st and 3rd respectively.
Figure 2. Rodrigo and Koch SciSkill Ratings and potential comparative to Leeds United squad
Koch also boasts the highest potential of any squad member and at 24 he already has 82 Bundesliga appearances to his name in three seasons at SC Freiburg.
The German completes an essential part of the jigsaw, as a centre back was a must after the club failed to get a deal for Ben White over the line after a successful loan spell from Brighton.
Arguably Koch struggled to get to grips with the frightening force of Liverpool’s attack in Leeds’ 4-3 defeat at Anfield on his debut on Saturday.
Though a make shift back four was missing captain Liam Cooper who should be a glue that sticks the defence together when he returns.
Rodrigo also provides potential to slot in well for Bielsa though after starting on the bench in the opening game we will have to wait to see how he is fully utilised.
The 29-year-old is short of football after long term injury, but with his playing style undoubtedly matching up to that of a shadow striker he could well be a perfect partner for Patrick Bamford or pushing forward himself.
Bielsa wants hard work from his team and for the forwards to press from the front and defensive positioning does prove to be a strength for the Spaniard.
OTHER ONES TO WATCH
From our list we can see some of the teams who may be fighting for safety have bought well from outside the Premier League, though they are not the only ones to have delved into other markets.
Chelsea have considerably done the best business on paper in the league, however the likes of Sheffield United and Everton have also added resources in numbers and in important areas of the pitch.
Everton are looking to reshape a midfield which has been passive in recent seasons and the stellar signing of former Real Madrid star James Rodríguez could be a catalyst for betting things to come – and certainly proved it creating more chances than anyone out on the field in Everton’s 1-0 victory at Spurs.
Arsenal are once again looking at defensive stability being the last piece of the jigsaw if they want to climb the table and the arrival of Gabriel from Lille and 2019 acquisition William Saliba will provide more strength in depth for manager Mikel Arteta after his defence was questioned on many occasions last season.
Take a look at your club’s new signing
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