The season's best signings: The pass master, the midfield maestro, the diligent destroyer and the dead-eyed marksman

FourFourTwo's online features editor James Maw uses the award-winning Stats Zone app to assess a baker's dozen of top-flight new boys...

Joe Allen, LiverpoolMidfielder - signed from Swansea City - £15m

The Welshman completed 103 passes in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland, a total surpassed just five times so far this season (Paul Scholes leads the way with 135 vs Spurs). Two weeks later he completed 91 in the Reds' first, and to date only Premier League victory of the season at Norwich. Only Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) and Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) have a better pass success rate than Allen's 92.6%.

While Allen has come under criticism for 'only passing the ball sideways', that's pretty much what he's in the team to do – to help Liverpool keep possession of the football and enable the Reds' attacking players to find the time and space to strike, and give the defence the odd breather. 

It's perhaps not the most glamorous of roles and certainly not one given much praise on these shores (see Carrick, Michael), but Allen is certainly the right man for it, and in time that will show.

Dimitar Berbatov, FulhamStriker - signed from Manchester United - £5m

The languid striker's arrival at Craven Cottage did a lot to alleviate the funk which had befallen the locals after the departures of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele, and he certainly appears to have hit the ground running (a bit).

Although the Bulgarian was unable to make an impact on his debut – a second-half substitute appearance at Upton Park with his side already trailing 3-0 – he has made a telling contribution in both of his outings since, albeit operating in two slightly different roles.

In his home debut against West Brom, he played upfront alongside Hugo Rodallega, regularly popping up in the final third, attempting seven shots over the course of the match, scoring twice. Yet in his next match – at Wigan – Berbatov played slightly deeper, in behind the Colombian. He provided an outlet for longer passes, particularly from goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who picked him out in the opposition half six times. Although he only attempted five shots, he did provide an assist for Damien Duff to open the scoring.

Could this outlet enable Fulham to improve their traditionally dismal away form?

Santi Cazorla, ArsenalMidfielder - signed from Malaga - £15m

The Spanish playmaker may not be a direct replacement for Robin van Persie, but someone needed to step into the breach. The Dutchman chipped in with 13 assists last season, so replacing that contribution was crucial – particularly as they had yet to directly replace Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, lost 12 months previously.

Enter Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard needed to be shipped out by Champions League-bound Malaga in a summer of uncertainty for the briefly rich La Liga outfit, all of which enabled Arsene Wenger to negotiate a fantastic price for the playmaker.

Only Everton's Leighton Baines has created more goalscoring opportunities in the Premier League than the Spaniard so far this term, and his sensational goal at Upton Park on Saturday underlines the fact he'll be more than capable of contributing on the goalscoring front too. 

Mousa Dembele, Tottenham HotspurMidfielder - signed from Fulham - £15m

Much like Cazorla down the road, Dembele was indirectly replacing a departing star man at his new club. With pass-master Luka Modric finally wangling his move to Real Madrid, Spurs were left with a void to fill in the centre of the park. Although not as prolific a passer, Dembele's impressive strength, close control and willingness to contribute defensively have seen him become an quickfire hit with the White Hart Lane faithful.

His impact was so instant that, not only did he score within minutes of coming on for his debut against Norwich, but he also topped both the tackling and passing charts in his first start in the win at Reading. He once again demonstrated his broad skill-set in his most recent outing, against Aston Villa (above).

The Belgian already looks to have forged an impressive partnership with midfield comrade Sandro, which has been a key factor in the North London side's steady rise up the Premier League since early September.

Mohammed Diame, West Ham UnitedMidfielder - signed from Wigan Athletic - Free

Diame's move from the DW to Upton Park perhaps snuck under the radar given it was completed just as England were beating Ukraine at Euro 2012, but the Senegal international has so far eclipsed the likes of Andy Carroll, Matt Jarvis and Alou Diarra as the Hammers' most impressive summer acquisition.

The above dashboards show how broad Diame's contribution has been. In the 3-0 victory over Fulham he largely occupied himself by making neat-and-tidy short passes out from the centre of the pitch, but in the 1-1 draw with Sunderland he showed a little more invention by attempting seven 'take-ons', but without sacrificing the defensive side of his game – six of his aerial duels were in his own half.

Steven Fletcher, SunderlandStriker - signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers - £14m

While Fletcher's sizeable transfer fee may have raised a few eyebrows, his Premier League goalscoring record in recent seasons – 30 in 96 matches for Burnley and Wolves teams both battling the drop – suggested he could be somewhere close to prolific in a stronger side with better service.

Sure enough, the newly-reinstated Scotland international has banged in five goals in his first five Premier League outings for the Black Cats, with each of his first five shots on target hitting the back of the net.

Although he is likely to be a target for crosses from James McClean and Adam Johnson, in his league debut at Swansea his supply came largely in the form of long balls from deep. His presence will enable Sunderland to get the ball from back to front very quickly – something Martin O'Neill is always very keen on.

Eden Hazard, ChelseaForward - signed from Lille - £32m

Roman Abramovich would've expected a speedy return on his £32 million investment, and that's exactly what Eden Hazard has provided.

Arguably the Premier League's highest-profile Belgian import to date, Hazard has been a relentless creative force as the Blues have taken an early lead in the Premier League, forging six openings in the wins against Reading and Norwich. As a result, Hazard is currently sat joint top of the assist table – alongside Adam Lallana (Southampton) and Juan Mata (Chelsea) – with four to his name.

With Juan Mata and fellow bew boy Oscar alongside him in Chelsea's attacking-midfield three, the European champions shouldn't be found wanting as far as creating chances is concerned. Over to you, Nando...

Michu, Swansea CityMidfielder - signed from Rayo Vallecano - £2m

The Spaniard was La Liga's top scoring midfielder last season, with 15 strikes to his name, and he's started his debut Premier League season in a similar vein.

The 26-year-old netted twice on his Swansea debut as the Welsh side won 5-0 at Queens Park Rangers, before scoring his third and fourth goals of the campaign against West Ham and Sunderland. Three straight defeats followed, but the end of that losing streak in their recent draw with Reading also signalled a return to the scoresheet for Michu.

Kevin Mirallas, EvertonForward - signed from Olympiakos - £6m

It turns out there are a fair few particularly talented Belgian players knocking about at the moment: you may have read about it in a million different articles over the last two months.

Not wanting to restrict himself to just one – Marouane Fellaini – Everton manager David Moyes made what was by the Toffees' standards a 'big money move' for a second, in the form of Olympiakos forward Kevin Mirallas. The 25-year-old won back-to-back Greek titles before arriving at Goodison Park on transfer deadline day,

In the absense of Nikica Jelavic against Swansea, the versatile Mirallas operated in a more central role, picking up the ball through the middle, often around the edge of the area, attempting six shots at goal. When the Croatian returned to the starting XI against Southampton, Mirallas reverted to slightly wider position, generally receiving the ball on the right flank rather than in or around the penalty area.

Oscar, ChelseaMidfielder - signed from Internacional - £25m

The young Brazilian playmaker has been eased into the Chelsea side a little more gently than Eden Hazard – perhaps no surprise, given he was so heavily involved in his nation's silver medal-winning Olympic side – yet thanks partly to his superb Champions League goal against Juventus, he's earned almost as many headlines.

In his first Premier League start against Stoke, Oscar attempted the most shots of any player on the pitch over 90 minutes, and also the most take-ons. In the same match, only Juan Mata attempted more final third passes. Expect the 21-year-old's impact to increase further as he gets his feet under the table.

Robin van Persie, Manchester UnitedStriker - signed from Arsenal - £24m

With such fierce competition for a starting berth in Manchester United's front line, as soon as Van Persie arrived at Old Trafford he was instantly under pressure to perform or risk losing his starting place, arguably for the first time since Thierry Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona.

Fortunately for Van Persie, like many of the players on this list, he has made an instant impact at his new club, scoring on his first start (against Fulham) and then grabbing a hat-trick on his second (at Southampton). The goals haven't flowed quite so effortlessly since – he's 'only' scored three in his last six – but there have been signs of a blossoming partnership with Wayne Rooney, particularly in the Champions League win at Cluj.

The Dutchman also created more goalscoring chances than any other United player in their most recent victory, at Newcastle.

Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham HotspurDefender - signed from Ajax - £9m

Yes, yes – another Belgian. The former Ajax skipper began the season at centre-back before injuries to Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Naughton saw him shifted across to left-back, where he has remained since the second half of his new side's win over Queens Park Rangers. The above dashboards show the differences in his performances at centre-back (vs Reading) and at left-back (vs Aston Villa).

Although Spurs have won all of their league matches since – including a 3-2 victory at Manchester United – and Vertonghen has attacked superbly down the left, he has at times looked exposed defensively. This was particularly true at Old Trafford, where Nani was able to make 13 crosses from wide on the United right.

In the longer term, Andre Villas Boas may opt to shift Vertonghen back to centre-half against stronger opponents, and use him at full-back for games in which he expects the opposition to attack less frequently.

Claudio Yacob, West Bromwich AlbionMidfielder - signed from Racing Club de Avellaneda - Free

While he may not have been afforded the same fanfare as the likes of Hazard, Cazorla or Vertonghen upon his arrival in English football, Claudio Yacob already looks like being the bargain of the summer.

The Argentine international was snapped up by new West Brom boss Steve Clarke on a free transfer, following the expiration of his contract at Racing, and has slotted in effortlessly to the Baggies' midfield and certainly seems capable of coping with the 'hustle and bustle' of the Premier League.

Predominantly a defensive midfielder, Yacob has been given the primary function of shielding the back four – but as the above passing diagram from last month's impressive win over Everton demonstrates, the 25-year-old is more than capable of spreading the ball to wide areas with mid-range passes.

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