From big names, clubs and sums to Bosman’s flying under the radar, he are a list of some of the best performing signings of the season so far.
Eric Bailly – Villarreal to Manchester United (30 million pounds)
The Ivorian centre half is showing maturity beyond his years, acclimatising to Premier League football with minimal fuss. He carries a hefty price tag on his back but it doesn’t seem to bother him, taking Manchester United’s Player of the Month award for August. He has all the potential in the world to grow into one of the most physically imposing and dominant centre-backs in the Premier League under the watch of Jose Mourinho.
Joel Matip – Schalke to Liverpool (Free Transfer)
The departures of Kolo Toure and long-serving Red Martin Skrtel left a void in Liverpool’s defence, but one that had already been partially filled with news during the new year that Joel Matip’s contract at Schalke was expiring. Liverpool were picking up a 25-year old with World Cup and Champions League experience on a free transfer; a shrewd piece of business flying well under the radar. He has settled to the Premier League quite well, yet to taste defeat in a Liverpool shirt after his first seven starts for the club.
Raphael Guerreiro – FC Lorient to Borussia Dortmund (10 million pounds)
The Portuguese full-back impressed at the European Championships in France, but he had already caught the attention of Borussia Dortmund and Thomas Tuchel, with a transfer arranged prior to the tournament. He has hit the ground running and shown off his versatility, often being used in a central role. The 22-year old has racked up three goals and three assists already, showing great tactical awareness to play in different positions and offering a threat from dead-ball situations.
Idrissa Gueye – Aston Villa to Everton (7 million pounds)
The calamity that was Aston Villa’s 2015/16 campaign meant that any departures from the club wasn’t going to attract headlines, but that takes away from the fact that Gueye was at least decent for the now Championship side. He has gone on to become one of the hardest tackling midfielders in the Premier League, averaging more tackles (5.1) than any other player in the league. He has drawn serious praise from manager Ronald Koeman, who has made him an integral element of his squad so far by starting him in all seven league games, and has been rewarded for doing so. “Idrissa Gueye is fantastic – his energy, how he presses, how he keeps the ball. He’s important defensively and offensively,” said Koeman.
Arkadiusz Milik – Ajax to Napoli (27 million pounds)
When considering that Arkadiusz Milik is an international footballer with his native Poland and has experienced two leagues foreign to his own all by the age of 22, plus the profit that Napoli made when Gonzalo Higuaín controversially left for Juventus, it makes his transfer fee sound miniscule. He scored seven times from his first eight games, but there is recent horrible news for Milik and Napoli fans. The striker tore his ACL in Poland’s World Cup qualifier against Denmark, meaning he will miss at least six months, but his contribution so far makes him an easy choice for this list.
Sadio Mane – Southampton to Liverpool (34 million pounds)
The price-tag isn’t holding the Senegalese international back, enjoying the freedom he is offered by Jurgen Klopp to roam where he wishes. Provides a lethal change of pace to Liverpool, something they have lacked from deep positions for some time. Can play up front, but is mostly asked to play out on the right flank, where he has returned three league goals from six appearances.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester United (Free Transfer)
The mercurial journeyman has proved that age is just a number, quickly silencing doubters over his ability to perform in English football. He has scored four league goals from seven starts, and six goals from 11 appearances overall. An imposing presence with the knack for the unexpected, the 35-year old’s bosman deal, goal return and influence on young strikers like Marcus Rashford makes him a quality transfer decision.
Gonzalo Higuaín – Napoli to Juventus (75 million pounds)
Holds the largest transfer sum on the list, but his goal scoring return suggests he will be a worthwhile long-term investment. He is already Serie A’s top scorer, alongside Carlos Bacca and Mauro Icardi, despite concerns over his fitness. Juventus are already out to a four-point lead at the top of the table, with Higuaín scoring seven goals from his first nine appearances.
Mario Balotelli – Liverpool to Nice (Free Transfer)
The much-maligned enigma that is Mario Balotelli struggled to adjust to life at Anfield, registering just one Premier League goal and four in all competitions from his 28 appearances with The Reds. His second season saw him loaned out to the club that initially sold him, AC Milan, but the goal return was virtually identical, at three goals from 23 appearances. Fast forward to eight games into Ligue 1 this season, and Nice and Balotelli are firing on all cylinders. The Italian has returned to the kind of form that earned him a spot in the national side for Euro 2012 and the World Cup in 2014, scoring six goals in five games, as his side sits atop Ligue 1. Brought in on a free transfer, he is easily one of the best performing signings of the season so far.