The breakout Premier League star to watch at your club this season
Arsenal’s January arrival didn’t feature much in the second half of last season, but Arsene Wenger is extremely positive about the Brazilian centre-back’s future at the club. A committed, proactive, no-nonsense defender in the mould of his compatriot Lucio, Gabriel seems like the type of defender who will make mistakes while he acclimatises to English football, but he has the potential to become a top-drawer defender. Per Mertesacker’s place may come under threat, with a regular partnership between Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny likely by the end of the campaign.
Aston Villa (Carles Gil)
The Spanish attacking midfielder seemed an exciting signing in January, at a time when Aston Villa were playing truly dreadful football under Paul Lambert. His stunning strike against Bournemouth in the FA Cup hinted at a wonderfully talented footballer.
The change of manager didn’t suit Gil, however, and among niggling problems with a groin injury, he received few opportunities under Tim Sherwood. Nevertheless, Sherwood is keen to give him opportunities after some impressive pre-season friendly performances.
“Carles Gil is going to play a lot more football this year because we’re not in that situation where it’s a relegation battle,” he said. “I didn’t know him [last season] and we were playing a different way. It was almost like we needed to get over the line. It’s different now, hopefully we can get him on the ball in important areas of the field. I see his best position as a No.10.”
Bournemouth (Tyrone Mings)
He has very good physical attributes, he is tall and quick. He really does tick all the boxes in terms of his physicality
Maybe it’s obvious that Bournemouth will expect a good season from their club record signing, but £8 million Mings is completely unproven at the highest level, and still yet to turn his potential into consistency. Nevertheless, he appears to have all the qualities needed to succeed in the Premier League. A composed, intelligent and physically dominant defender capable of playing either in the centre of defence or at left-back, Mings has also impressed with his humility and professionalism. Chased by Arsenal over the last year, his move to Bournemouth came as something of a surprise.
It’s not unreasonable to think Mings could be in the England reckoning by the end of the campaign, especially with Roy Hodgson’s lack of options in defence.