Ranked! The 10 best Premier League transfers of the 2017/18 season
10. Nemanja Matic (Chelsea to Manchester United)
With their league form so poor, it’s not really the time to extol the virtues of Manchester United players. Neither is it easy to make a really enthusiastic case for Matic, whose role has narrowed since leaving Chelsea and who is now as passive as he has been at any point during his Premier League career.
Yet his value can be seen in the performance of others - particularly Paul Pogba, who has improved dramatically with the benefit of stability behind him. More than anything, though, Matic (ever-present through the first 22 games) has delivered solidity to a Manchester United midfield which, in previous seasons, was seemingly always under construction. Whatever criticisms people may have of Jose Mourinho, Matic has certainly done the job he was signed to perform.
9. Pascal Gross (Ingolstadt to Brighton)
Outrageous business. Gross may have been part of an Ingolstadt side which was relegated from the Bundesliga last season, but £2.5m was still well beneath his valuation - particularly in such an overheated market.
Brighton may not be the most eye-catching team in the division, they’re built on organisation rather than flair, but Gross has still stood out. His delivery from set pieces has been superb and the breadth of his passing has added a different dimension to a midfield which has been built to outwork opponents and grind its way to safety.
8. Jack Cork (Swansea to Burnley)
Identifying Burnley’s most important player is a tricky business. James Tarkowski has been excellent, so too Steven Defour, but Cork - an ever-present in the league after 22 games - has also been highly visible in central midfield.
One of the measures of Sean Dyche’s coaching acumen is how well his side congest the middle of the pitch and just how much protection his central defenders are typically afforded. Also notable is just how much better they seem to have got at that, particularly away from home, and it’s impossible to detach Cork (who cost barely £8m) from that success.
7. Jordan Pickford (Sunderland to Everton)
The law of averages suggests that at least one Everton transfer was likely to prove astute and Pickford is that one.
At 6ft 1in, his lack of height has always been a concern, but his reflexes and agility more than compensate. A fabulous shot-stopper, he’s been the one continuous positive at Goodison Park and, if the season were to end tomorrow, would already have a full year’s worth of highlights. He’s conceded an awful lot of goals for someone on a 'good signings' list, but that really illustrates the extent of the pre-Allardyce issues in front of him. He’s been let down. Badly.
Everton got a lot wrong last summer, but perhaps this was the most important move to get right. After all, continuity is key to goalkeeping and, provided they can fend off outside interest when it inevitably arrives, Everton might already have their No.1 in place for the next decade.