8 Premier League players who've genuinely surprised us this season

Salomon Rondon Newcastle

We might not have had high hopes for these stars, but they're making themselves integral to their sides in 2018/19

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Salomon Rondon (Newcastle United)

There wasn’t a great clamour to sign Rondon following West Brom's relegation, and few would have predicted the scale of his impact on Tyneside. An old-fashioned target man, his strength, aerial ability and link-up play has already made him a favourite with Newcastle fans and helped propel the club towards safety after a difficult start.

Rondon has scored nine goals, and made another five, during his 25 appearances – but his importance to Rafa Benitez’s side is far greater than the figures would suggest. One of the most astute transfers of the season has been a focal point for hisd team and brought out the best in Ayoze Perez. The Magpies should comfortably survive thanks in no small part to his contributions.

Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

2 Matt Doherty

Several key members of last season’s Championship title-winning side were relegated to more peripheral roles after a summer transfer spree. Thirteen new players joined or had their loan moves made permanent, but Matt Doherty’s place has never come under threat – unlike left-back Barry Douglas, who clocked 14 assists in the second tier last term but was sold to Leeds.

Doherty remains one of Nuno Espirito Santo’s favourites, having started all but two league games and made a seamless transition to life in the top flight. The Irish wing-back's boundless energy and consistent crossing have been hallmarks of another fine season.

NEWS “You go through periods where you think: ‘I can’t play here’” – Wolves’ Matt Doherty on stepping up

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

Ralph Hasenhuttl's arrival has been good for Southampton as a whole, and in particular several players who were struggling with low confidence and a lack of opportunities. Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse were two of the most notable and have seized their chances under a new and more progressive manager.

Ward-Prowse had started just four times all season before Hassenhuttl took charge. He hasn’t missed a minute of action since the turn of the year and has just been called up to the England squad after scoring six goals in his last nine league outings for a resurgent Saints. Well done that lad.

Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)

4 Ryan Fraser

A joyously direct and dangerous winger, Fraser had already proved that he belonged at Premier League level over the past couple of years but has found another gear this season. His belief has grown and enabled his technical ability to shine.

The Scotland international has contributed six goals and 10 assists in his most productive campaign to date as Bournemouth push for a top-half finish.

NEXT: The keeper who almost drifted out of football...