Saturday 7 March 2015

Five new Premier League signings to watch out for

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Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal, £35m from Barcelona
 For once, Arsene Wenger has done his transfer business early this summer. With a good pre-season under his belt, Alexis Sanchez could make a big difference very quickly for Arsenal, who were excellent for long periods last season but faded away. If Sanchez sparks, then Olivier Giroud should come alive as well. Giroud is a great player, especially away from home with his back to goal and players running off him, but Sanchez operates differently. He is an Arsenal-type player who does things at pace. His movement and reading of the game will offer Arsenal a different dimension going forward.
Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal, £35m from Barcelona For once, Arsene Wenger has done his transfer business early this summer. With a good pre-season under his belt, Alexis Sanchez could make a big difference very quickly for Arsenal, who were excellent for long periods last season but faded away. If Sanchez sparks, then Olivier Giroud should come alive as well. Giroud is a great player, especially away from home with his back to goal and players running off him, but Sanchez operates differently. He is an Arsenal-type player who does things at pace. His movement and reading of the game will offer Arsenal a different dimension going forward.
Diego Costa, Chelsea, £32m from Atletico Madrid Chelsea came very close last season despite none of their strikers impressing me. But what they lacked, Diego Costa will provide. He is a real gem. Costa brings resilience, steel and strength as well as goals. Physically, he is a tough proposition for defenders and his tenacity and work rate should really liven up Chelsea’s forward line. One word of caution: when a player has played such a huge role in the rise of a smaller club then moves to a more established club in a different country, they often fail to replicate their form. Jose Mourinho though, I’m sure, will get the best out of him.
Ander Herrera, Manchester United, £29m from Atletic Bilbao Manchester United have been blessed with quality midfielders but they were short in that department last year – I think they only realised how good Paul Scholes was when he finally retired. Ander Herrera is a bright and intelligent midfielder, who I think will have a huge year. He’s very creative and sees things early, always aware of things going on around him. He is always wanting to influence games and rarely drifts in and out . I imagine he will sit quite deep but he has the ability to mix the play because he has such a wide passing range.
Rickie Lambert, Liverpool, £4m from Southampton Under no circumstances should Rickie Lambert be considered a replacement for Luis Suarez, but he will allow Liverpool to be more direct when he plays. Too many times towards the end of last season, Suarez was heavily marked and they had no plan B, which Lambert provides. He easily out-muscles the opposition and is expert at pulling defenders wide to create space. He thrives on diagonal play but can also handle the short stuff – he’s as good a target man as there is in terms of receiving the ball to feet. I hope he gets good game time to show his value and enjoy a great swansong . He could prove to be a very useful and shrewd purchase.
Bacary Sagna, Manchester City, free from Arsenal Bacary Sagna’s decision to leave the safety of playing week-in week-out at Arsenal to join Manchester City is an interesting one. Is he going to give everything he has to force his way into the team? Does he bring something unique that compels Manuel Pellegrini to play him over Pablo Zabaleta? Or is this a comfort move at the end of his career? If it does not work out and he spends the year collecting big money then it will further damage the reputation of the modern kind of player, but if he displaces Zabaleta then I will be his biggest fan. I’m yet to be convinced either way.

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