Here are a few more of the recent additions to this season’s Premier League:
Joe Allen to Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers’ pursuit to bring Allen to Liverpool finally ended with Swansea receiving a £15m fee for the deep-lying playmaker. Allen’s rise has been meteoric. This time last year he was lingering in near obscurity to most football fans but impressive performances dictating the passing tempo at the heart of the Swansea midfield has earned him a plethora of admirers. You would be hard pushed to find any player more reliable on the ball in the EPL than Allen.
Transfer Rating – 7/10. Eyebrows were raised at the transfer fee but Allen fits beautifully into Rogers’ philosophy. For all of Lucas’ qualities, he does not possess the ability to dictate the tempo of matches and this is what made the Allen signing so important to Liverpool. Now with him beside Lucas in the middle of the pitch, Rodgers has the engine room of his team in place. At 22, Allen is also a considerable prospect for the future given how he excelled in his debut season in the top flight.
Vurnon Anita to Newcastle
Anita is a player whose career has changed drastically over the past 18 months. Anita found himself playing at left-back at Ajax under the Martin Jol. At times he became almost somewhat of a comedy figure for his lack of attacking awareness. With the arrival of Frank de Boer Anita now found himself playing as the midfield anchor and a different beast was born. Anita was a central figure in Ajax’s two Eredevisie titles, his mobility and defensive awareness in the anchor role even gave the likes of Vertonghen freedom to maraud forward freely safe in the knowledge Anita was comfortable covering him.
Transfer Rating – 8/10. This signing flew under the radar seen as more headline grabbing transfers were happening at the time. Newcastle already have one of the strongest midfield partnerships in the league with Tiote and Cabaye, adding Anita to that makes it even more comfortable. Newcastle’s shortcoming for the fourth Champions League spot was lost mostly by the number of away defeats they suffered last season. Anita’s presence gives Pardew the option to play a 4-1-4-1 away from home and make his Newcastle an obstacle and a half to play against. The £6.5m price tag is a fair reflection of Anita’s ability and given his age, there is still a big ceiling of potential for him.
Kevin Mirallas to Everton
Another player from the seemingly infinite pool of young talented Belgians, Mirallas is a very exciting addition to the league. His versatility allows him to play in any number of roles such as left winger, just behind the striker or even left midfield. At Olympiakos, he mostly played at the left hand side of a front three but with the ultra attacking mentality of the side he spent most of his time drifting inside allowing the left fullback freedom to join attacks.
Transfer Rating – 8/10. Mirallas is a sound addition to the Everton attack. It will be interesting to see him adapt to Everton’s playing style as he has arrived from an Olympiakos side that dominate every single domestic match they play in. His pace and directness give an added dimension to Everton and I have no doubts in a year’s time we will all be saying the £6m fee for him was a bargain.
Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea
The summer long pursuit of Azpilicueta has finally ended. The Spaniard is as good as young right-back as there possibly is at the moment. Although Marseille may be disappointed they weren’t able to make a profit on him, the player himself says he has learnt a lot during his time at France – he learned to win, how to adapt to play against more physical payers and how to handle Europe. Even during spells of Marseille’s absolutely dismal run in the second half of last season, almost all of the spark in the side came from Azpilicueta’s composure and creativity on the ball.
Transfer Rating – 9/10. Azpilicueta is another young scintillating move by Chelsea in this transfer market. His time in France will make him ripe to dive straight into the frantic tempo of the EPL. His comfort in possession will give Chelsea extra quality on the ball compared to Ivanovic (when he plays right-back). He also may not be as strong an out-and-out defender as Ivanovic is but he can still more than hold his own defensively. When coming forward, Azpilicueta is very intelligent in picking his passes. During his time at Marseille he built a very strong bond with Argentinian midfielder Lucho Gonzales, both players became so important to the other’s game. It wuoldn’t be surprising to see Azpilicueta form the same relationship with Frank Lampard.
Ki Sung-Yueng to Swansea
After receiving the fee for Joe Allen, Swansea made no hesitation in finding a like for like replacement instantly. Ki has spent the past two and a half seasons at Celtic. After being strongly linked to Rubin Kazan and Arsenal, a strong showing in South Korea’s Bronze medal at the Olympics only served to earn him even more suitors.
Transfer Rating – 6/10. Ki’s technical ability cannot be questioned. Whether it be with his left or right foot, he can zip passes all day long. Despite all of Ki’s quality, there are still question marks over him. At Celtic he never cemented his place in the starting eleven in the long-term. Neil Lennon preferred to start the likes of Brown, Ledley, Kayal and Wanyama over Ki. He did break into the starting line-up from time to time but he rely ever held his own place for more than three games. Ki also took a while to adapt to the pace of physicality of the SPL and when he plays in the EPL, the pace and power of the league is on a whole new scale. The £6m fee is one both clubs will be pleased with, Celtic have sold a dispensable member of their squad for a decent fee and Swansea have picked up a player who, if he can cope with the pace of the league, could potentially become the next Asian superstar. The jury is still out though.