What the Premier League's late signings will bring this season

Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

Arsenal fans were crying out for Arsene Wenger to splash out on a striker before the closing of the annual Jim White Jamboree, and in the closing moments of deadline day (well, an hour after actually, due to special dispensation) their prayers were answered.

Sort of. Welbeck came in, signing for £16 million from Manchester United and joining an elite brotherhood of players to play for both clubs that includes Robin van Persie, Brian Kidd and, er, Mikael Silvestre. The deal disappointed many Gunners supporters, who were after a more proven name, but already there’s been a growing realisation that, actually, the 23-year-old could prove a shrewd purchase.

Welbeck left United to find first-team football in his favoured position as a main striker, and while his goal record there was mediocre (29 in 142 appearances) the hard numbers neglect the many nuances. A sizeable chunk of Welbeck’s appearances came either out of position or from the bench. As an out-and-out striker his record is far better. When played as a striker, as at Aston Villa last season, Welbeck does provide predatory prowess. In said game he received just 5 passes in the box, got a shot away 4 times and scored 2 goals. A sign of things to come?

Radamel Falcao (Man United)

Linked with Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and, well, everyone BUT Manchester United, this deal came way outta leftfield. Another transfer that wasn’t confirmed until the early hours of Tuesday morning, Falcao’s loan move to Old Trafford leaves Louis van Gaal’s side looking very top-heavy, with the Colombian, Van Persie and Wayne Rooney now competing for two positions – possibly even one should Van Gaal switch back to 4-2-3-1/4-3-3.

Though only recently recovered from a serious knee injury which raises question marks over whether he can ever rediscover peak performance levels, it’s worth remembering just how exceptional those performance levels were, and could still be. This is an exceptional, truly world-class player – one of the very few who can move to United and be considered an upgrade on Rooney and Van Persie. A scorer of extraordinary goals as well as a great goalscorer, El Tigre will add bite to a forward line that has looked increasingly blunt lately.

Esteban Cambiasso (Leicester)

Leicester pulled off one of the summer's biggest coups by luring the decorated Argentine, who netted in a behind-closed-doors friendly against MK Dons in midweek. Indeed, the 34-year-old has won 15 major trophies since the Foxes were last in the top flight, and it's this experience that Nigel Pearson can call upon as his newly promoted side bid to beat the drop. 


Cambiasso started 32 matches en route to Inter's fifth-placed finish in Serie A last season, averaging 49 passes per game – his highest amount in three seasons – and successfully completed a healthy 164 of his attempted 225 long balls. His passing is incredibly varied, so don't expect to see a straightforward holder in action. Essentially, he's still got it. 


Defensively he'll prove a big asset for the Foxes, too: in 2013/14 he averaged 3.3 tackles per match (among the league's best), and 1.8 interceptions. 


Daley Blind (Man United)

Blind’s £13.8 million move to Old Trafford passed somewhat under the radar amid all the hullabaloo of Radamel Falcao’s arrival from Monaco, but the versatile former Ajax man may turn out to be just as valuable an asset to Louis van Gaal in 2014/15. Able to operate as a left-sided centre-back, full-back and defensive midfielder, the 24-year-old – along with fellow recruit Marcos Rojo – will help shore up a defence that has looked vulnerable in the early stages of the season against Swansea, Sunderland and Burnley.

Blind picked up the Dutch Player of the Year prize last season as Ajax won a fourth consecutive Eredivisie title before impressing in Brazil; providing the exquisite long pass for Robin van Persie’s acrobatic header against Spain that United supporters will be hoping to see much more of.


The son of Dutch legend Danny may also be seen screening in front of the Red Devils’ back three/four as the campaign progresses, a role he fulfilled at the World Cup when Nigel de Jong was forced off after just nine minutes against Mexico. While Blind’s raking balls forward reduced, he proved a reliable distributor in the middle of the park, misplacing just 7 of his 52 passes during the round of 16 success.


Alex Song (West Ham)

Barcelona fans might be jumping for joy at the Cameroonian's departure, but that doesn't mean West Ham fans should have their spirits dampened. Far from it, in fact – the ex-Arsenal man will provide much-needed class and creativity in the Hammers' midfield if he picks up from where he left off in the Premier League. The 26-year-old bragged passing accuracy of almost 92% in a frustrating 2013/14 campaign at Barcelona, though that was largely down to him being shackled behind the likes of Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas (when he actually played).  


Instead Hammers fans will be craving the Song of 2011/12, and his last season at the Emirates Stadium. He was a key contributor to Robin van Persie's 30-goal haul, weighing in with 8 assists overall, and excelled with more freedom slightly further forward. He should get that at Upton Park.

Benjamin Stambouli (Tottenham)

Tottenham spent much of the summer chasing French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who played with some distinction under new Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino during the Argentine's 18 months as manager of Southampton. Yet, with the Hampshire side seemingly unwilling to do business, the north Londoners switched their focus to Montpellier's Stambouli.


The 24-year-old is in a similar mould to Schneiderlin, reading the game well from the centre of the park and distributing the ball tidily, but is a little more forceful in the tackle. Yet, despite being a decent passer, Stambouli isn't always a big influence in the attacking third. He scored just 3 goals and served up 5 assists in 115 Ligue 1 matches with Montpellier, and generally prefers to sit deep. Spurs' defence regularly looked exposed last season, and Stambouli may just help provide the cover they sorely need.

Toby Alderweireld (Southampton)

Southampton completed one of the shock deals of deadline day by taking Belgium international defender Alderweireld on loan to St Mary's. The 25-year-old certainly has a point to prove, having failed to stamp his mark on La Liga during his 12 months with Atletico Madrid, who he joined from Ajax last summer.


Alderweireld didn't enjoy the best of seasons in the Spanish capital, but was able to show his worth in flashes. In March's 1-0 victory over Espanyol, for example, the Belgian made 9 clearances – 6 of them headed ones – in the centre of defence, while also covering the right flank by making 4 successful tackles.

And therein lies another of Alderweireld's strengths – he can also play at right-back, the role he regularly fills for Belgium. During the Red Devils' World Cup last 16 victory over the United States, Alderweireld attacked with relish, attempting 6 crosses (although only 1 was successful) and making 14 passes in the attacking third. That's not to say he abandoned his defensive duties – he dropped back to make 4 clearances and 4 successful tackles. If Alderweireld finds his feet better than he did in La Liga, Dejan Lovren will not be missed on the south coast.


Ricky Alvarez (Sunderland)

A player repeatedly linked with Arsenal in recent years, Sunderland boss Gus Poyet will hope to get the best out of the fellow South American who has undoubted quality but struggles to show it on a consistent basis.

The former Velez Sarsfield attacking midfielder eventually joined Inter Milan for €12.8 million in 2011, but his performances at San Siro have resulted in just seven caps for Argentina since. Armed with a lethal left foot and exemplary skill and vision, the 26-year-old scored 4 goals, assisted 8 others and completed 50 key passes in 29 Serie A outings in 2013/14; figures Poyet will be looking to exploit at the Stadium of Light.

An ever-keen dribbler, Alvarez completed 77 take-ons in Italy’s top flight last term at an average of 3 per game, and will likely look to do his damage just behind the striker. In Inter’s Derby d’Italia draw with eventual champions Juventus last September, he set up 4 chances for team-mates, including the assist for Mauro Icardi’s goal.

In Inter’s 7-0 tonking of Sassuolo in the very next game he fired in 4 efforts on goal on top of creating 3 chances for others, running his opponents’ backline ragged with 8/11 successful take-ons.

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Joe Brewin

Joe was the Deputy Editor at FourFourTwo until 2022, having risen through the FFT academy and been on the brand since 2013 in various capacities. 

By weekend and frustrating midweek night he is a Leicester City fan, and in 2020 co-wrote the autobiography of former Foxes winger Matt Piper – subsequently listed for both the Telegraph and William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards.