With the transfer window now shut and the season well under way, here’s our very own Premier League New Boys XI. (Please note: These are players who have never played in England before the 2014-15 season started- signings like Kevin de Bruyne and Yohan Cabaye will not be included)
Goalkeeper — Sergio Romero — Sampdoria to Manchester United
Sergio Romero’s career has been full of ups and downs. At the end of the 2007 Argentine season he joined AZ Alkmaar in Netherlands, managed by Louis Van Gaal at the time, as a back-up keeper for Boy Waterman. Waterman suffered a long-term injury, giving Romero a chance to make a name for himself as he achieved 11th place. The following season he helped AZ to the Eredivisie title, going 950 minutes without conceding.
He then moved to Sampdoria in 2011, helping them gain promotion back to Serie A via the play-offs in his first season. However, he was sent out on loan to Monaco for the 2013-14 season, making only three appearances. He returned for the 2014-15 season and has since won 62 caps for Argentina, including a heroic 2014 World Cup performance against Van Gaal’s Netherlands.
Romero joined Manchester United ahead of the 2015-16 season to reunite with Van Gaal once again and now with the out of favour David de Gea- who dramatically couldn’t join Real Madrid as documents were sent a minute past the Spanish deadline- looking likely to be on the bench, the Argentine will look to secure his place as United’s no.1 .
Right Back – Matteo Darmian- Torino to Manchester United
Although he graduated from the youth system at AC Milan aged just 16, Matteo Darmian maybe one of the least known players that United have signed this summer. After making his Serie A debut at 17, the defender was soon loaned out to Serie B side Padova to gain first team experience. AC Milan later sold Darmian to Palermo but after one season he left for Serie B side Torino on loan where he helped them secure promotion to Serie A. Torino then agreed with Palermo to buy him permanently in 2012 where he’s since played 133 times for the club. An amazing 2013-14 lead to his international debut for the Azzurri and he was later called up for the Italian squad at the 2014 World Cup- where he went on to start each game. Another successful season was enough for Louis van Gaal to sign the versatile defender for around £12 million to try and sort out his defensive fragilities. Matteo has already shown he’s a more than capable defender at this level and has become a regular in the United side already.
Centre-Back — Virgil van Dijk- Celtic to Southampton
The transfer deadline day signing for Southampton could be a pivotal moment in their season. Regarded as the best centre back Celtic have seen this century, van Dijk comes to the Premier League with bags of potential. Obviously, the Scottish Premier League is nowhere near the standard of the English Premier League. But this doesn’t mean his consistent class performances should go unnoticed. Just 24 years old, the Dutchman had attracted interest from a host of English sides over the last couple of seasons as his performances for Celtic were eye catching. With Celtic missing out on the Champions League and van Dijk’s ability; he got his deserved move for £11.5 million- an absolute bargain in modern football. Not just does he offer outstanding qualities to the defensive line with his brilliant reading of the game, he is a genunine goal threat due to his ariel ability and strike- scoring 15 times in just 114 games. He’s yet to, however, be called up to the Dutch first team and with the European Championships next year, he’ll be giving it his all to try and get himself on the plane to France
Centre-Back —Nicolás Otamendi- Valencia to Man City
Man City signed the 27 year old Argentinian centre-back from Valencia for a fee of £28.5 million after he looked certain to sign for rivals Man United. Otamendi enjoyed a successful spell at Porto for four years before he signed for Valencia, making his debut in August 2014. His first and only season for Valencia saw him make the La Liga team of the season as he helped his team get to the Champions League for the first time in four years. A particular highlight was his headed winner against Real Madrid in January this year which ended Real’s 22 match win streak in the process. Earning 25 caps for Argentina, Otamendi has since been named in the 2015 Copa America team of the tournament, where he came runners up as Chile won a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Although Eliaquim Mangala and Vincent Kompany look to be first choice centre backs for Manuel Pelegrini, with the Champions League coming up and the amount of competitions City fans will demand their team go far in, Otamendi will definitely get his chance to show the Premier League why he was bought for such a big fee.
Left Back- Baba Rahman- FC Augsberg to Chelsea
A huge £21.7 million signing shows just how highly Jose Mourinho must rate the young Ghanian. Baba Rahman comes to the Premier League with a full season at the highest level with Bundesliga side Augsberg under his belt and will be hoping to establish himself as Chelsea’s number one left back option- although he is the only natural left back at Stamford Bridge. Felipe Luis and Ryan Bertrand’s departures meant that Cesar Azpilicueta has had to make do with filling the position, and he has done for many parts over the last year or so, but Rahman should fancy his chances to make this position his own. Chelsea, to say the least, have looked very suspect defensively and (like Man City) will be looking to do well in all competitions again, so Rahman will get a chance to justify his name in the Premier League. Only 21 years old, he has 14 caps for Ghana and a runners up medal in the African Cup of Nations- where he scored in a 9-8 penalty shoot-out loss to Ivory Coast.
Midfielder- CM Bastian Schweinsteiger- Bayern Munich to Manchester United
We don’t really need an introduction for this player. A world class talent who was probably the most eagerly anticipated new player for the 2015/16 season, Schweinsteiger has won almost everything he could in his path both club wise and internationally during his 14 year career. Highly regarded as one of the best players in his position, he has 500 games to his name in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich- winning 8 titles- seven DFB-Pokal Cups, a Champions League medal, FIFA Club World cup medal and a World Cup medal… not something many players can say. Over the last few seasons (or since Fergie left) United haven’t had a player to control midfield naturally but now seem to hold one of the modern greats in the game in this position. United fans will be praying that injuries won’t hinder his playing time at Old Trafford as his legs aren’t getting any younger. But if he stays fit, this really could be a pivotal signing as the Red Devils look to challenge for the title.
Midfielder- CM- Georginio Wijnaldum- PSV Eindhoven to Newcastle United
Mike Ashley splashed the cash with the 24 year old’s arrival at St James Park. Wijnaldum started his career at Sparta Rotterdam and developed rapidly before he was even 8. Dutch powerhouses PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord all gave interest in to the young player – but he declined all offers. When he eventually joined Feyenoord, his debut in April 2007 was a dream. Not only did he become the youngest player ever to play for the club, he even got man of the match. In 2011 he joined PSV for €5 million and just two years later was named captain ahead of the 2013-14 season. Sadly, a back injury meant he only featured 11 times, yet he still scored 4. He guided PSV to their first Eredivesie win in 7 years (meaning Champions League football) but decided to join a new-look Newcastle side for the 2015/16 season. As a fast fast, attacking, box to box player who has the capabilities to improve last season’s woeful performances, Wijnaldum has already scored for the Magpies and looks to be a key player for their season.
Midfielder- CAM Roberto Firmino- 1899 Hoffenheim to Liverpool
It’s certainly not the first time Liverpool have overspent on a forward, but the Brazilian has shown he’s more than capable in a top league in his career. Firmino started his career at Brazilian side Figueirense where he was a regular in the side’s promotion back to the Série A. Hoffenheim signed the centre forward in December 2010 which saw him score three goals from January to May 2011. The following season saw him play 30 of the 34 Bundesliga matches, scoring 7, but during the same season he was dropped from the squad as he turned up to a training session late. His best season came in 2013-14, where he played 33 times, scoring 16 along with 11 assists and named the league’s best ‘Breakthrough player’. He scored another 7 goals in 33 games last season which was enough for him to make Brazil’s Copa America Squad. He has gained 10 caps for Brazil and netted on 4 occasions. A young, fast talent with an eye for goal, unfortunately Firmino hasn’t got off to the best of starts at Anfield. But he will be craving to prove his worth throughout the next 9 months.
Forward- LW- Memphis Depay- PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United
At the age of 21, Depay has already established himself as a boy who can be up their with the best, and his £31 million move to Manchester United considered as good business justifies this. In 2011, he joined PSV’s reserves after a trial and later made his Eredivesie debut- scoring on 3 occasions throughout the season. In his second season he won the Super Cup and gradually started to break through in the line-up. During the 13-14 campaign he scored 12 times as PSV finished 4th and was called up for the Netherlands 2014 World Cup squad as they finished an impressive 3rd place- scoring twice whilst coming off the bench. PSV was hopeful to win their first Eredivesie since 2008 and they did just that by finishing 17 points clear over rivals Ajax. After winning the Dutch title points Depay was soon linked with top clubs and finally moved to Manchester United in the transfer window. Although he’s yet to score in the Premier League as of yet, do not be surprised to see the Dutchman become one of the best attacking players in England over the season.
Forward- ST Anthony Martial- AS Monaco to Manchester United
Another Deadline Day signing, French striker Anthony Martial arrived at Old Trafford for a staggering £36 million. This fee has made him become the most expensive teenager signed (beating Luke Shaw’s £27 million move last summer) much to the surprise of the football world. United fans won’t need reminding how their last signing from Monaco turned out so will expect much more this time round. At under-17 level, he got recognised for Lyon’s first team after scoring 32 times in just 21 matches. After just three first team appearances, he was snapped up for €5 million by Monaco. He scored just twice in fifteen games in his first season but improved his tally the following season with 12 goals in 45 games. A slow start for Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez leaving will mean Martial will no doubt get a chance to prove himself in one of the best leagues in the world- and with Euro 2016 approaching this could be the perfect time to breakthrough.
Forward- RW- Pedro Rodriguez- Barcelona to Chelsea
Pedro, like Schweinsteiger, doesn’t need much of an introduction. The 28 year old Spanish winger made over 300 appearances for Barcelona with a very respectable 99 goals in all competitions. Perhaps very unlucky to not be in the starting line-up for the Catalans (for obvious reasons), Pedro is guaranteed first team football week in week out for one of the best sides in the Premier League. Chelsea’s slow start to the season is surprising, but what hasn’t been surprising is how quickly he’s adapted to English football. He’s already scored and made two assists in just two games for his new side and looks to have finally filled in the gap which Chelsea have missed over the last few seasons- failed by Kevin de Bruyne, Andre Schurrle, Mohamed Salah, Cuadrado and Willian. Chelsea will pick up form sooner rather than later, and Pedro will be at the forefront of their (sort-of) revival.