With the January window and mid-way point of the season less than a month away, it is time to take stock of the signings made by Premier League clubs during the summer window of 2015. Here is then the best XI of Premier League signings:
GK: Petr Cech – Chelsea to Arsenal, £10 million
Arsene Wenger’s only signing of the transfer window, and perhaps the greatest possible signal of intent from the Frenchman of Arsenal’s ambitions this year. Enticed a once-key figure from fellow rivals Chelsea, the Czech Republic goalkeeper has been one of Arsenal’s standout players this year. Cech has displayed more consistency and matured authority this campaign compared to David Ospina and Roma loanee Wojciech Szczesny last season, and have kept a clean-sheet almost every other game, while being a key figure in the Gunners’ miraculous escape to qualify from their Champions League group. Cech’s importance to his new club was all the more evident when Wenger’s decision to bench him contributed to Arsenal losing their first two group games in Europe.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne – Southampton to Liverpool, £12.5 million
The current first choice right-back in the England side, barring an absolute error in judgement from national manager Roy Hodgson, Clyne has been an upgrade on former England and Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson. The former’s defensive stability has been a welcome sight for Reds fans, with good recovery pace. Clyne’s turn of pace is also useful going forward, where he has provided sufficient width for Liverpool’s attack. Whenever fellow Englishman Jordon Ibe is deployed ahead of him, the duo have worked well in tandem to provide a threat on the opposition’s right flank. Clyne topped off his consistent start to his Anfield career by opening his Liverpool account with the winner in a League Cup tie against Bournemouth – ironically as a left-back.
CB: Nicolas Otamendi – Valencia to Manchester City, £33 million
The Argentinean international has definitely added a much more solid and calming presence to a Manchester City backline usually fraught with nerves and rash decisions. With skipper Vincent Kompany missing numerous games already this season, Otamendi has helped City get through a rough patch, usually partnering either fellow Argentine Martin Demichelis or French international Elaqium Mangala, both of whom have lapses of concentrations on a regular basis. With an average passing accuracy of more than 80%, Otamendi’s distribution and threat going forward have been vital in City’s direct offensive plays.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – Celtic to Southampton, £11.5 million
The 1.93cm tall defender has adapted well to the rigours of the Premier League, though he should be no stranger to British football having plied his trade in Scotland. van Dijk has already scored a couple of goals in the Premier League, while boasting a good passing range, with an accuracy averaging more than 80%. The Dutchman has been an able replacement for former Saint Toby Alderweireld, who incidentally moved to Tottenham Hotspur, and has been able to work well with club captain Jose Fonte in the heart of Ronald Koeman’s rigid defence.
LB: Robbie Brady – Hull City to Norwich City, £7 million
Once a winger in his earlier Hull days, the former Manchester United trainee has certainly used his attacking instincts to good effect at his now usual position of left-back for Norwich City. Brady has created almost 2 chances a game, which is pretty impressive for a full-back. The Republic of Ireland international was part of the squad that qualified for Euro 2016, and will hope his good club form will secure his spot at next year’s tournament.
CM: Yohan Cabaye – PSG to Crystal Palace, £13 million
Perhaps the shock signing of the summer, the former Newcastle midfielder returned to English football after being persuaded by his previous Tyneside manager Alan Pardew. Who would have thought a current mainstay in the French national side would swap Champions League football for an unfashionable London outfit? Cabaye has undoubtedly been a key figure in Palace’s rise to the European spots this season, with his cultured playmaking and leadership from midfield absolutely vital in tying the whole Palace side together. Pardew has certainly took full advantage of Cabaye’s excellent passing range with his deploying of Palace’s pacey wingers on either flank. It is a wonder why supposedly bigger clubs like Arsenal and even Liverpool did not consider the French international, but this is to Palace’s benefit. With four league goals so far, Cabaye has definitely done his part in this topsy-turvy Premier League season so far.
CM: N’Golo Kante – FC Caen to Leicester City, £5.6 million
An almost unknown quantity to Premier League fans before joining Claudio Ranieri’s new side, Kante has managed to keep high-profile signing Gokhan Inler to the bench. The French midfielder’s physicality and tenacity has helped him adapt to English football. Though known for his ball winning abilities, averaging around four interceptions per game, Kante has managed to make an impact further forward, constantly rotating with fellow Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater. Kante’s powerful forward running on the ball, coupled with his accurate passing, has allowed him to play two roles as Ranieri’s preference of only two central midfielders still manages to dominate the more traditional three-men midfields right now.
RW: Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg to Manchester City, £54.5 million
The most expensive signing of the summer, De Bruyne has proved he is worth every cent at the moment. Though the former Chelsea man‘s best position is as a No.10, he has so far been mostly deployed on the right flank to accommodate the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva, while manager Manuel Pellegrini has even played him up top with the recurring injuries to hitmen Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony. In whatever role, De Bruyne has shined. His early rush of goals might have dried up a little recently, but his impact is still very evident. The Belgian international is high on the assist charts, only behind Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, and has given City another more threatening dimension compared to touchline-hugging winger Jesus Navas.
AM: Georginio Wijnaldum – PSV to Newcastle United, £14.5 million
His surprise transfer to Newcastle was overlooked by his former PSV team-mate Memphis’ move to Manchester United. The Dutch international has been a key player for Steve McClaren’s side so far this campaign, adding an additional goal threat from midfield – something Newcastle has lacked in recent years. Registering a goal every other game so far has been a good record, though most of them came in a 6-2 hammering of Norwich, where he scored four. Wijnaldum’s form will be key if McClaren is to avoid relegation at Tyneside.
LW: Andre Ayew – Marseille to Swansea City, Free
Having joined English football around the same time as his brother, the Ghanaian international has certainly been the more successful of the two brothers, having bagged a handful of goals already. Ayew is certainly a greater goal threat compared to previous Swansea wingers like Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge, especially since he can play as a striker and isn’t a winger like the latter duo. However, the former Marseille man has not neglected his defensive duties out wide, constantly tracking back to help his full-back, particularly during more difficult away games. Ayew was once tracked by many top European clubs, so when he was a Bosman last summer, it was definitely a wonder why he, like Wijnaldum before, wasn’t picked up by ‘bigger’ clubs. An absolutely remarkable piece of business by former manager Garry Monk.
ST: Shinji Okazaki – FSV Mainz to Leicester City, £7.5 million
With the goalscoring exploits of Jamie Vardy and the more explosive Riyad Mahrez grabbing the headlines at high-flying Leicester, Okazaki has been one of those key cogs of Ranieri’s side performing somewhat under the radar. Like many of his compatriots, the Japanese international began his European career in Germany, where he flourished in the Bundesliga for Mainz and VfB Stuttgart. Yet Okazaki has carried his enthusiastic displays to England, where he works as a perfect foil for the quicker Vardy. Okazaki’s hardworking runs down the channels as well as harrying of the opposition has made him a scorn for defenders throughout the country. Though Okazaki does not net many, Vardy would not have broken the goalscoring record without the industrious Japanese forward.
As seen from the majority of this best XI, there are bargains to be found, whether across the channel or in continental Europe. Besides City’s transfers, the rest of the team represents good value and have shown themselves to be perfect fits for their new teams, barely six months on. Agree with this team?