SBN - Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: EPL's Biggest Signings Ranked - By Jesse Nagel

EPL's Biggest Signings Ranked - By Jesse Nagel

Our writer Jesse Nagel takes a look at which signings have been a hit or miss so far in the EPL.
Our writer Jesse Nagel takes a look at which signings have been a hit or miss so far in the EPL.
As week eight of the English Premier League approaches, I’ll be taking a closer look at how the big clubs’ transfer signings have fared so far in the “world’s toughest league”. The last transfer window that we witnessed saw the world record fee smashed through the roof with Manchester United completing the signing of Paul Pogba in an £89m deal. A player that didn’t cost the Red Devils a cent, but has proven to be just as important is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Their rivals, Manchester City, were also busy in the window, but it’s more of the players that were at the club before who are pulling the strings for the Citizens. Arsenal’s defensive crisis seemed to be resolved – for now – with the £69m duo of German international, Shkodran Mustafi, and Swiss defensive midfielder, Granit Xhaka.

Chelsea have strengthened big time after their catastrophic 2015/16 campaign, finishing 10th in the league. They’ve brought in three key players to Antonio Conte’s team in N’Golo Kante, Michy Batshuayi and David Luiz. With the trio joining, it sort of looks like the Blues have got a new engine, a spare for Diego Costa, and an old part that they so dearly missed to their driving force.

Another player who has done exceptionally well since his move is Sadio Mane. The Senegalese forward has made Liverpool an exciting team to watch again, and although it may be the early stages of his Reds career, we could be seeing the next John Barnes in the making.

With all that said, let’s see who has been a hit or a miss so far this season!

Paul Pogba
Starting off with the world’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba. Since the Frenchman’s move back to Manchester United, we’re yet to see the glitz and glamour that Pogba has previously produced when he’s been on the field. However, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the former Juventus man. We’ve still seen glimpses of what’s to come from Pogba, and despite scoring just once this season, he’s played a vital role in the Man United midfield. Look at the Leicester game in particular, Pogba pulled all sorts of strings to guide his team to victory, doing so with such ease at times. That performance stood out for me and although we’re yet to see Pogba at his best so far, it shouldn’t take him too long to get the ball rolling again.

John Stones
Onto the most expensive defender in Premier League history. John Stones moved to Manchester City from Everton for a ridiculous amount of money, costing the Citizens £47.5m. If you give me that amount of money to spend on a centre-back, trust me, I will not return with John Stones – but that’s just me. Judging on the English defender’s season so far, we’re yet to really and truly see him tested. One thing he did survive though, is a windy trip away to Stoke City. Stones obviously suits Pep Guardiola’s style of play, and certainly has a bright future ahead of him. He was pretty decent up until the Spurs game, where Mauricio Pochettino’s men piled a large amount of pressure that he failed to deal with. Before that, though, I kind of liked John. Unfortunately, he just misses out as a hit for me.

N’Golo Kante
Finally we get to open up Chelsea’s bonnet and take a closer look at their engine. Over the past year, N’Golo Kante has established himself as one of the most hardest-working players in world football. I do, however, pity the player at times. He always puts in a 110% work rate, but when his team are winning, it’s often the strikers to get praised, but as soon as his side lose, it’s Kante who gets the blame. Just look at Chelsea’s trip to the Emirates stadium. The Blues were all over the place, but still it was Kante who received most of the stick from the media. In his last game for Chelsea, Kante completed 70 passes – the most he had ever completed in a Premier League game. So that just shows how he has somewhat bettered his performance, proving that he is not just a one-season wonder. He has a hell of a long way to go to get to the level of Claude Makelele, but he is certainly on the right track.

Skhodran Mustafi
For long now, Arsenal have waited for somebody good enough to partner Laurent Koscielny at centre-back. Skhodran Mustafi has played the part exceptionally well since his £35m move from Valencia. Many questions were asked, whether the German international can keep up with the pace of the Premier League, but it seems as if his time with Everton at youth level has played a vital role in shutting up all doubters. Since Mustafi’s arrival, Arsenal are undefeated in all competitions, keeping four clean sheets in a row now. It’s not as if he hasn’t been tested, Skhodran has come up against Sam Vokes, Edinson Cavani and Diego Costa. At the age of just 24, Arsene Wenger has signed an absolute gem.

David Luiz
Sticking with defenders, David Luiz has been sort of a bargain buy for Chelsea, with the London club signing him for just £34m – two years after selling him for £50m to PSG. Luiz has had things tough since his arrival, with Blues captain John Terry – his preferred partner at centre-back – out injured. In that time, the Brazilian was paired with Gary Cahill, who has been a ticking bomb at the back for Chelsea. Usually it is Luiz who is the one causing nervousness to the Blues faithful, but now times have changed and the Brazilian has to play sheriff in the absence of Terry. Chelsea have lost twice since Luiz’s arrival, going down to Liverpool and Arsenal. His only victory with the side since his return was their trip to the KCOM stadium where they overcame a stern test against Hull City, winning 2-0 in a game which he was never truly tested. I don’t say he has been a bad signing, but he has failed to solve Chelsea’s defensive crisis in the absence of Terry and Kurt Zouma.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Up next, we take a look at the self-proclaimed “God of Manchester”, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The former PSG man has been a mainstay in Jose Mourinho’s team, scoring four goals in seven appearances for the Red Devils. Despite his performances so far, Zlatan has been a key figure for United, helping younger players to grow around him like Marcus Rashford, and even Anthony Martial. At age 35, Ibrahimovic has showed that he is still a class above the rest and remains as one of the best strikers in world football. So what if he only has another season or two in him? He didn’t cost United a cent and has been a worry for opposing defenders. Ibra also popped up with the winner for Man United in their FA Community Shield clash against Leicester City. My only concern is that too much football could burn him out. Let the fringe players have a chance to prove themselves in the Europa League and make Zlatan play all the weekend games; that is when we could see the best of him.

Granit Xhaka
From the little of what we’ve seen from Granit Xhaka so far, he looks pretty decent. When he’s on the pitch, you cannot allow him any space to shoot. He also has a high successful-pass rate for the Gunners. However, so early into the season is tough to call on such a player. Francis Coquelin has been preferred over Xhaka in the opening stages of the season, but now that the Frenchman has been ruled out injured, we could see what the Swiss international is all about. Granit has been nicknamed “Xhakaboom” by the Arsenal faithful, for obvious reasons of course. He’s got a sweet left foot, which has seen the Gunners fans cry “shooooot” every time he is around the box. A chant I haven’t heard upon any Arsenal player since Andrey Arshavin. Xhaka’s only worry is his disciplinary record, other than that, he has been a good-enough signing for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Sadio Mane
Since Luis Suarez’s departure, Liverpool have lacked that missing ingredient in attack. Those days are over! Sadio Mane has been the best thing to happen to the Reds in recent history, and is capable of humiliating the most solid defenders. Mane has been involved in a Liverpool attack that has scored 28 goals in all competitions this season – 18 of those have been in the league. The Senegalese international got off to a remarkable start, scoring on his debut against Arsenal in a 4-3 win. Since then, Mane has played a part in six of the Reds’ 18 domestic goals, netting and assisting three times each. Liverpool’s only defeat this season came when Mane was out injured, a game they lost 2-0 to Burnley. Aged at just 24, Mane looks a brilliant signing for the Reds and is an example of another Jurgen Klopp masterpiece. The £36m that Liverpool paid for his services seems like a bargain now.

Claudio Bravo
Claudio Bravo, signed as a goalkeeper from Barcelona, has used his feet more than his gloves for much of the season. Anybody who has seen Manchester City play this season would know what I’m talking about. Stones and Bravo in defence? What was Pep Guardiola thinking? Not even the return of Vincent Kompany will save them. It didn’t take Bravo long to make his first error in the Premier League, causing a few mistakes on his debut against Manchester United. The £17m used to bring in Bravo could have been used better in my opinion. He hasn’t pulled off any remarkable saves that have been eye-catching so far. This signing is far off from a top signing.

BEST SIGNING: Sadio Mane (Liverpool, £36m)
BIGGEST BARGAIN: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United, Free)
MOST INFLUENTIAL: Skhodran Mustafi (Arsenal, £35m)
WORST SIGNING: Claudio Bravo (Manchester City, £17m)