Updated:Sep 2, 2022 9:21 pm
At last, we can take a breath. This summer transfer window has been one of the busiest in recent memory, with countless big-money signings for Premier League sides. On one hand, we have Nottingham Forest, who “have broken the British record for most signings in a single transfer window after an unprecedented summer of deals.” On the other, we have Chelsea, who “lead the way for a total spent this summer on new signings with £278.4m”.
With so many stellar signings, it’s hard to decide on the best of the bunch, but this is where I come in. I’m going to try and narrow it down to ten players in no particular order. There are several factors involved in my picks, including the transfer fee, player ability, player potential and their importance in their new team. Also, I’m only counting permanent transfer, otherwise Dean Henderson would be here.
Erling Haaland (Manchester City, from Borussia Dortmund)
This was the obvious place to start. Erling Haaland is perhaps the most discussed transfer from this summer, due to his immense goalscoring ability. When it was revealed Haaland signed for the blue side of Manchester, the internet erupted because Haaland is a future Ballon d’Or winner and this acquisition confirms Man City have the Premier League’s best starting eleven.
According to Transfermarkt, Haaland is the second highest footballer in the world at £135 million, only behind Kylian Mbappe, who is valued at £144 million. Yet, Man City was able to activate his release clause, said to be between £55-65 million. While there are said to be plenty of add-ons, this is an incredible bargain if he reaches his potential. Even at this level, Haaland is one of the best players in world football. The Norwegian astonishingly managed 86 goals and 23 assists in just 89 Dortmund games; you’d be lying if you regarded Haaland as anything less than world-class.Embed from Getty Images
At the time of writing, “He already has nine goals to his name in the Premier League and that’s after only five games.” If there is a player to beat Mohammed Salah’s record of 32 goals in a Premier League season, it is Haaland. His arrival makes Champions League triumph very possible within the next couple of seasons and who knows, Man City could be on for a treble! Then, if Real Madrid renews their interest in Haaland, the Citizens could earn an even bigger fee.
Nick Pope (Newcastle United, from Burnley)
Since 2017, Premier League fans have rated Nick Pope highly! At the time of writing, Pope has a staggering 73.6% save ratio across his 146 Premier League appearances. On top of being a standard shot-stopper from any range, Pope is a great distributor. This goes under the radar, especially when part of the reason Jordan Pickford is picked for England is due to his distribution. Nonetheless, he’s a confident and consistent goalkeeper, who finally has his chance to shine in a team with a promising long-term plan.
For the longest time, Newcastle has lacked a consistently reliable goalkeeper. While Martin Dúbravka was okay between the sticks, he was susceptible to a costly error. As for the likes of Karl Darlow and Freddie Woodman, they were unfortunately not at the level Newcastle required. So, this is a great step forward for the club and while Pope is 30, he still has some good years ahead!Embed from Getty Images
This transfer is another example of Newcastle spending wisely. The Magpies have spent carefully rather than splashing cash for the sake of it, as is the case with spending just £10 million for Pope. Rather than simply the name, Newcastle are buying the players who fit the system and who’re wanted by Eddie Howe.
Fabio Carvalho (Liverpool, from Fulham)
Fábio Carvalho has very recently turned 20. Such a young player, yet already such a terrific footballer! Carvalho joined the Fulham academy back in 2015 and rose through the ranks before being promoted to the first team for the 2021/22 season. Carvalho then managed 10 goals and eight assists in the Championship, establishing himself as one of Fulham’s top players.
ESPN reported that Carvalho “will join Liverpool for a reported fee of £5 million when his contract with Fulham ends in June. The winger is not available on a free due to his age, so the two clubs have reached a compromise to prevent the deal from going to a transfer tribunal.” The fee itself is an absolute bargain for a young player with such potential, and the Portuguese winger has already begun to prove himself for the Reds.Embed from Getty Images
Carvalho has played five games and scored twice for Liverpool at the time of writing, including the recent last-minute winner against Newcastle. To already get minutes in a competitive Liverpool attack is to be praised, let alone to start proving himself already in the Premier League. Perhaps he’s the long-term replacement for Mohammed Salah, just some food for thought.
Raheem Sterling (Chelsea, from Manchester City)
Unlike Newcastle (aside from Alexander Isak of course), Chelsea has splashed the cash this summer. The departing Antonio Rudiger and Romelu Lukaku among others have forced the Blues’ hand and they’ve made some solid signings: the first of these is Raheem Sterling. Unlike many of Chelsea’s attackers, Sterling is guaranteed to bag goals – as his ‘100 club’ status proves – so I fully expect him to be Chelsea’s top scorer this season. In fact, he’s already scored thrice in his first five Chelsea games.
It feels as though Sterling has been around for many years now. While this is true, its hard to believe the England hero is only 27. You could still consider Sterling to be in his prime as a result so for that reason, £50 million is a bargain. For seven seasons (six under Pep Guardiola), Sterling was a mainstay for Man City, playing at least 30 Premier League games in each season. However, Phil Foden, Erling Haaland and Julián Álvarez are ultimately younger (all 22 years of age) so will be around for much longer, thus Man City have prioritised the long-term future.
Could Sterling score 20 goals this season? It wouldn’t be a surprise, as he’s unlikely to be rotated as much as he was at Man City, for the past two seasons, even with the increase to five substitutions.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea, from S.S.C Napoli)
The second Chelsea player that deserves to be mentioned! Over the past five/six years, Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of the most consistently solid centre-backs in all of Europe, with it being a surprise to many that he remained at Napoli for so long. Whether it’s Gennaro Gattuso, Maurizio Sarri or the fantastic Carlo Ancelotti, Koulibaly remained a integral player and consistent starter.
Koulibaly played a staggering 344 games for the Italian side. In Serie A, Napoli managed just over 2 points per game with Koulibaly in the team, staggering when you consider the number of brilliant teams in Italy’s top flight. Napoli only conceded 31 times in Serie A last season, Koulibaly only not playing due to injury or suspension.Embed from Getty Images
Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen were big losses for Chelsea but Koulibally can mostly fill the gap created. Capable in a four or five-man defence, he adds versatility to play in any role of Chelsea’s defence. He will also play a key role in the builld-up play as the ball-playing defender most clubs can only dream of. Chelsea has made the best of a bad situation with Koulibaly’s arrival and £34 million is a bargain for such a proven, consistent player. Now Koulibaly hasn’t had the perfect start (the red card doesn’t help) but he will kick on and become one of Chelsea’s predominant figures.
Casemiro (Manchester United, from Real Madrid)
Manchester United have made a habit of making previously world-class or promising players look average in recent years. From Alexis Sanchez to Juan Mata, Donny Van de Beek to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. However, I have extremely high hopes for Casemiro. The Brazillian defensive midfielder is exactly the kind of player Man Utd has needed for a few years now. Nemanja Matić was okay in this role for a couple of seasons but is now 34, lost his pace and opened up on the poor atmosphere in the dressing room during his final season in Manchester. Oh, and of course, he linked up with former manager José Mourinho at AS Roma over the summer.
For a time, this left just Fred and Scott McTominay as defined defensive midfielders. Safe to say that Fred looks better pushed further up the pitch whereas serious questions have been raised over McTominay’s ability. As for Christian Eriksen, the recent game against Brentford showcased why he should be played higher and shouldn’t be used as a defensive midfielder.Embed from Getty Images
According to Sky Sports, “Man Utd have paid Real Madrid an initial £60m plus £10m in add-ons for Casemiro”. Despite being 30, this could be a signing well worth the money because Casemiro is one of the world’s best defensive midfielders. Casemiro played 336 games for Real Madrid, winning an outstanding amount of trophies, including five Champions League of course. The question is, can Casemiro’s influence get Man United back into the Champions League? I believe so, not simply because of his ability but the fact that Man United can play with even more freedom and attacking intent.
Boubacar Kamara (Aston Villa, free transfer – formerly at Marseille)
Now, Aston Villa hasn’t had the best start to the season. Steven Gerrard is under pressure so unless his side improves in the next five games, it’s likely he leaves. It’s a shame because the squad at his disposal should finish in the top half of the Premier League table: instead, they currently operate in the relegation zone.
Villa has brought in some great players this summer, including Diego Carlos from Sevilla FC and Phillipe Coutinho from Barcelona. However, the free transfer of Boubacar Kamara excites me the most, being an unbelievable talent, with the world as his oyster. The 22-year-old arrives from France (being awarded three french caps) as a promising, physical defensive midfielder. “He often commits to 1v1 duels, trying to regain possession where possible. He is aggressive but controlled, often attempting to stretch his leg around his opponent and poke the ball away”. Playing 170 games for Marseille has undeniably allowed him to flourish at such a young age; who knows how good he will be at 28!Embed from Getty Images
Kamara will be fantastic for protecting the back four, particularly the centre-backs duo the nature of Villa’s attacking full-backs. His inclusion will invite Lucas Digne and Matty Cash to contribute more to the attacking side of the game, especially if Villa are to continue playing narrowly. He will continue to form into a star and could very well be sought after by the big clubs in a couple of seasons. If this comes to fruition, Villa has a player now who offers so much to the side and a player in the future who can turn a tidy profit.
Cheick Doucouré (Crystal Palace, from RC Lens)
We must give credit to Crystal Palace regarding their transfer business, for this and last summer. Sam Johnstone and Chris Richards also look to be solid pieces of business for offering squad depth, although it’s Cheick Doucouré I’m most impressed with. Looking at the team before the transfer window, the midfield was arguably the weakest area of this Palace team. Right-back is also a concern, but with defensive stability across the remainder of this back four, this is minor for the moment.
Conor Gallagher of course returned to Chelsea after his loan spell and we’ve seen Cheikhou Kouyaté depart on a free transfer to Nottingham Forest. Kouyaté was integral to Palace in defensive midfield, being magnificent in the air and in tackles. While Doucouré is not solely a defensive-minded player, he has played in defence in the past and is willing to drop deep, supporting his back line. He’s most effective as a box-to-box midfielder, with great vision and passing ability. In fact, he’s already earned an assist so far this Premier League campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Doucouré is exactly what we expect from a Palace signing. At 22, he’ll have plenty of room to grow and become one of Palace’s star players in the near future. The likes of Luka Milivojević and James McArthur are past their prime, so Doucouré is expected to step up and be at the heart of this Palace side. Fortunately, he already has vast experience and quality; I can see his value increasing quite quickly now he’s at an established Premier League side.
Bernd Leno (Fulham, from Arsenal)
It’s looking likely that Fulham will, at last, survive the drop! Rather than simply spending for the sake of it (as they did in 2018), many of their signings are intelligent. Experienced heads such as Willian and Shane Duffy have joined the Cottagers, whereas João Palhinha should be a terrific midfielder for a few years (he was just outside of my top ten). Bernd Leno however is a significant addition to the West London side, being a massive improvement over Marek Rodák.
Rodák is still a decent goalkeeper (and only 25 years old) but Leno has 101 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, being the Gunners’ first choice for three seasons. He has the occasional error, but overall he was decent for Arsenal. Unfortunately for Leno, Aaron Ramsdale made a noticeable impact when he joined Sheffield United in 2021. This plays amazingly in Fulham’s favour, who signed Leno for roughly £8 million.Embed from Getty Images
This is one of the cases in which the player is more a colossal upgrade than a world-class player of one for the future. With the likes of Carvalho, Christian Eriksen or Marc Cucurella, they came into sides already with sublime (and sometimes better) options in their specific position, or they replace outgoing players with similar quality. Leno however is a difference maker and will offer a much safer pair of hands, which could ultimately be the difference between survival and relegation.
Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal, from Manchester City)
Arsenal spending £45 million on Gabriel Jesus is a risk. Man City let Jesus move to North London due to the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Julián Álvarez. So, to see a player offloaded to make away for somebody else raises questions about said player’s ability. So far, however, the risk is paying off because Jesus is sharp. The Brazillian striker already has three goals and three assists in his five Premier League appearances for Arsenal. This has helped lead Arsenal to the top of the Premier League, earning maximum points in their opening five games.
Arsenal has been crying out for a top striker for a couple of seasons. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal tally gradually reduced at Arsenal from 2020 before departing in February 2022 for FC Barcelona. As for Alexandre Lacazette, he immensely struggled to find the back of the net last season, scoring just four goals in 30 games in the Premier League. So to bring Jesus in is a great bit of business because he’ll be the star man, with plenty of creative talents surrounding him.Embed from Getty Images
Jesus has already scored double figures twice in the Premier League (13 in 2017/18, 14 in 2019/20). So, it would be reasonable to predict at least 15 goals this season, while being Arsenal’s top scorer. If Jesus achieves this, and the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli continue to improve, the Gunners will score goals galore and could very well be back in the Champions League next season.
Plenty of players missed out on a spot. In another season, many of these talents below would’ve made this list:
James Tarkowski (Everton, free transfer – formerly at Burnley),
Ivan Perišić (Tottenham Hotspur, free transfer – formerly at Inter Milan),
Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United, from Feyenoord),
João Palhinha (Fulham, from Sporting CP),
Gonçalo Guedes (Wolverhampton Wanderers, from Valencia CF),
Julio Enciso (Brighton & Hove Albion, from Libertad),
Lucas Paquetá (West Ham United, from Olympique Lyonnais).
Who do you agree/disagree with? Be sure to let us know your opinions.