The Premier League transfer window is shut and all eyes now turn to the opening weekend of fixtures.
Manchester United v Chelsea, the champions defending their crown and the battle to stay in the top flight; the Premier League is well and truly back.
And as ever on the opening weekend, there are a host of players (and managers) making their debuts, some of which will attract a huge amount of attention from supporters and pundits around the country.
So, without further ado, here are the 15 we’re most excited about, including some bonus ball entries.
1. Moise Kean
It’s been some summer window for Everton and while Alex Iwobi stole the deadline day headlines at Goodison Park, most of the excitement will be around 19-year-old striker, Moise Kean. Most are still trying to wrap their heads around the fact that Marcel Brands managed to negotiate such a cut-price fee for the Italy international but all will be keeping an eye on what effect his pace and lethal finishing could have. The final piece of the jigsaw for Farhad Moshiri’s Everton revolution? We’ll start to find out when Everton travel to Crystal Palace this weekend.
2. Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic has been the poster boy of the USMNT for some time now and looked on the edge of absolute brilliance whilst at Borussia Dortmund. Coming in as a replacement for Eden Hazard is going to hold its own set of pressures but if he can get off to a good start, there’s no reason why Pulisic can’t be a huge success. His pace and trickery will be put to the test against the best Premier League defenders have to offer, starting at Old Trafford on Sunday.
3. Daniel James
No Premier League team managed more fast breaks in the Premier League than Manchester United (18) following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment, while Daniel James ranked third in the Championship for fast breaks per 90 minutes (0.25) last season. The counter-attacking king signs the counter-attacking prince. Given his lack of top-level experience, James won’t go down as United’s most glamorous signing but his sheer, raw pace sure makes him exciting. And it’ll be interesting to see what he can do against a Chelsea side without last season’s first-choice centre-back pairing: Antonio Rudiger, who is injured, and David Luiz, who has left for Arsenal.
4. Tanguy Ndombele
After two transfer windows of signing absolutely nobody, Spurs really have done some impressive business over the summer. Arguably the most eye-catching of the lot is 22-year-old midfielder, Tanguy Ndombele. Signed for £63m from Lyon, Ndombele has the perfect passing repertoire, reading of the game and bullish strength to become the perfect Premier League all-rounder at the heart of the Spurs midfield. Can he hit the ground running? We’ll find out on Saturday evening against Aston Villa.
5. Giovani Lo Celso
Of course, Ndombele wasn’t the only midfielder Mauricio Pochettino added to his ranks. The deadline day signing of Giovani Lo Celso was one which felt like it had been coming for quite a while but still constitutes some seriously impressive business. Whether or not Lo Celso has been signed as a replacement for Christian Eriksen remains to be seen, but the Argentina international completed more dribbles (63) than any other Real Betis player last season and watching him dovetail off the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min is a mouthwatering prospect.
6. Nicolas Pepe
Second only to Kylian Mbappe in the Ligue 1 scoring charts last season with 21 goals, Nicolas Pepe is one hell of a statement signing for Arsenal. A £72m club-record fee may seem steep to some but the Ivorian has already proved he can cut it with the big boys, helping Lille to second place in the French top flight in 2018/19. Now, he will form a truly deadly front three alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with a trip to St James’ Park our first potential chance to glimpse this terrifying trio.
7. Joelinton & Allan Saint-Maximin.
Rafa Benitez is gone, Ayoze Perez is gone, Salamon Rondon is gone. But that doesn’t mean Newcastle United fans have nothing to look forward to. The Magpies once again broke their transfer record to bring Joelinton from Hoffenheim this summer and his supreme link-up play will be key in getting the best out of Miguel Almiron and fellow new signing Allan Saint-Maximin this season. Besides, we all know what happened to the last Brazilian forward a Premier League club signed from Hoffenheim…
It wasn’t quite Fernandinho himself as much as it was the role he played that was so important to Manchester City last season and, well, during the entirety of Pep Guardiola’s reign so far. But the Brazilian is only getting older and needed some help. What he’s got is more than help, it’s probably an outright replacement. Rodri is just as aggressive as Fernandinho, and just as intelligent.
However, where Fernandinho can sometimes panic and lose possession when targeted by the opposition press, Rodri is totally unflappable, as shown by the Spaniard losing possession just 7.58 times per 90 minutes and completing 91.13% of his passes in La Liga last season, compared to 12.06 and 87.46% respectively for Fernandinho in the Premier League. An away trip to West Ham should force every trick in his book to be on show.
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9. Ismaila Sarr
The talent level being recruited at Vicarage Road has been steadily increasing for some time now, as shown by the likes of Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu joining. However, the losses of the likes of Richarlison have still gone some way to holding Watford back.
That may just change with the capture of highly-sought-after winger Ismaila Sarr from Rennes. Sarr’s name had been uttered in the same breath as many of the Premier League’s very top sides so for Watford to secure his signature on deadline is some coup for Javi Gracia. The Hornets face Brighton at home in their first game of the season and Sarr will be targeting nothing less than a goal on his debut.
10. Pablo Fornals
Watching Pablo Fornals tear Europe’s best young talent apart alongside Dani Ceballos in this summer’s Uefa European U-21 Championships was an absolute joy. He’s got vision, can pick a pass and is almost impossible to dispossess, playing a key role in Spain’s triumph on Italian soil. Alongside Felipe Anderson, he will be key to creating chances for Manuel Pellegrini’s new star striker Sebastien Haller, and he’ll get his first chance to show exactly what he’s capable of against none other than defending champions Manchester City.
11. Sebastien Haller
As we mentioned, Pellegrini has a new star forward. The outgoing Marko Arnautovic was always going to need replacing and in Haller the Hammers have arguably upgraded. He’s younger, a more natural centre-forward and seems far more hellbent on impressing at the top level than the man he replaced. Haller scored 19 goals last season as Eintracht Frankfurt reached the Europa League semi-finals and finished seventh in the Bundesliga. If he can use his strength and goalscoring prowess to have a similar effect on West Ham’s fortunes he’ll go down as a hero among supporters.
12. Harry Wilson
You are born, you breathe and you die. These are the few certainties in life. Oh, and Harry Wilson scores wordlies for fun. After watching Harry Wilson score a combined 25 goals across two loan spells with Hull City and Derby County in the Championship, we are finally going to see if the Wales international can cut it in the top flight as he makes a temporary home at Bournemouth. Wilson is full of technical ability and watching strike a ball has to be up there with the biggest excitement in football. Backing him to score from outside the box against Sheffield United on Saturday wouldn’t be the world’s worst punt.
13. Joao Cancelo
Once unloved and underappreciated, Guardiola has shown just how important full-backs are to the modern game, using them to create overloads and providing cut-backs for the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero to plunder goals at will. The arrival of Joao Cancelo takes Pep’s spending on full-backs beyond the £190m barrier in the past two seasons and gives Kyle Walker real food for thought on the training ground. The prospect of Cancelo bombing down the right-hand side, or even the left in place of Oleksandr Zinchenko, at West Ham this weekend should fill City supporters with plenty of promise.
14. Dani Ceballos
One of the real mysteries of Real Madrid’s disastrous 2018/19 campaign was how Dani Ceballos couldn’t get a regular starting place. He is a more agile and press-resistant midfielder than any Julen Lopetegui, Santiago Solari and Zinedine Zidane had at their disposal, while he is more than capable of getting his foot into a tackle. His MVP performances in Italy this summer at the European U-21 Championships showed just how ruthlessly and effectively creative he can be at the other end of the pitch.
Arsenal’s last Spanish loanee, Denis Suarez, was a complete disaster but Ceballos is a different breed altogether. He’ll have a point to prove against Newcastle United this weekend.
15. Mason Mount
Alongside Wilson, Mason Mount was one of the cornerstones of the Derby side which raced to the play-off finals last season, with his form impressive enough to earn him a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad. Following the arrival of Lampard as Chelsea boss and with The Blues currently under a transfer ban, the stars seem aligned for him – as well as a host of other youngsters – to finally get their Premier League chance for the Londoners. A trip to Old Trafford will be a great acid test and one that we’re seriously looking forward to.
Bonus ball: Frank Lampard, Chris Wilder, Daniel Farke and Dean Smith
Remember when we were all purring about the prospect of having the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Guardiola, Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte all managing in the Premier League at the same time? Well, this season has its own level of managerial excitement, only for a whole different reason. Frank Lampard, Chris Wilder and Dean Smith all proved themselves to be talented, progressive and expansive managers in the Championship last season – despite what Danny Mills may think – and could prove to be really important bannermen behind Gareth Southgate in changing the perception of English managers.
And then there’s Daniel Farke. The German, trained in the same school as the likes of Klopp and David Wagner, takes his high-scoring, buccaneering Norwich City side into the Premier League and our main hope is he doesn’t abandon his principals in favour of trying to attain safety. If he stays true and the Canaries do stay up, Farke will be a credit to the Premier League.