The 10 best Premier League signings of 2016/17 so far
When the Premier League’s £8 billion TV deal kicked in at the beginning of the summer – a 71% increase on the previous contract – a chaotic and decadent transfer window was inevitable.
More than £1 billion was spent by Premier League clubs, with 13 of the 20 breaking their transfer record. And while sizeable sums of cash has been burned, there have been plenty of success stories in the first half of the 2016/17 season.
Here are the 10 best signings so far…
10. Adama Traore (Aston Villa to Middlesbrough, £7m)
The 20-year-old La Masia graduate struggled badly at Aston Villa last season, with a metatarsal injury keeping him out for almost three months and neither Tim Sherwood nor Remi Garde willing to risk playing such an attacking winger during their team’s battle against relegation.
But Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has been richly rewarded for his bravery.
No player in the Premier League has completed more dribbles this season than Traore’s 8.6 per 90 minutes in 2016/17, and it’s his powerful runs that have been most impressive. He tore through Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs earlier this term, beating an astonishing 29 players against those three teams.
Such fearlessness will prove invaluable for Middlesbrough as they fight for survival, and it could even lead Traore to Chelsea, who’ve been linked with a move this month.
9. Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia to Arsenal, £35m)
In Mustafi, Arsenal have finally found the ideal centre-back to partner Laurent Koscielny. The German’s no-nonsense defensive attitude and positional intelligence complement Koscielny’s more elegant, ball-playing instincts, which should provide the Gunners with a platform to challenge for honours.
His immediate importance to the team was highlighted by his absence in December, when Arsenal lost back-to-back games against Everton and Manchester City. Arsene Wenger’s team have won 34 points from 14 games in which Mustafi has featured, and 10 from the seven when he hasn’t played.
Mustafi is exactly the kind of sensible – and expensive – signing that Arsenal have struggled to complete for much of the last decade. Fans will be hoping he represents a turning point in the Gunners' transfer policy.
8. David Luiz (PSG to Chelsea, £34m)
Chelsea’s centre-back was criticised for being unreliable and erratic during his first stint at the club, but after two years at PSG the 29-year-old has returned to become an essential part of the Blues’ romp to the Premier League summit.
Luiz’s occasional positional errors have been eradicated by Conte’s ruthlessly effective system, and he clearly benefits from being part of a back three. It’s largely thanks to the Brazilian that Chelsea have the second-best defensive record in the division.
7. Joe Allen (Liverpool to Stoke, £13m)
The “Welsh Xavi” has lived up to his name this season with some stunning performances in an advanced midfield position for Mark Hughes. Allen was deployed in a deep-lying protector role at Swansea and Liverpool, but it looks as though Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp may have missed a trick.
Unshackled at Stoke, Allen is dictating the tempo of matches with surprisingly adept positional skills; if the Welshman keeps up his good form, it might not be long before he moves back to a club like Liverpool.