Eden Hazard, Oscar, Santi Cazorla, Joe Allen and Jack Rodwell have dominated Premier League transfer headlines in recent times.
Sometimes fans forget that the Premier League doesn’t just revolve around Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Here are the top 10 unnoticed Premier League signings; this article won’t include players from the aforementioned big clubs and will not include loan deals.
From Melbourne Heart to Newcastle United
Melbourne Heart had three young studs in Eli Babalj, Curtis Good and Brendan Hamill.
Babalj sealed an eye-catching move to Red Star Belgrade, after being swayed by a phone call from the great Robert Prosinečki.
Hamill was pragmatic in his decision to play in a better league whilst receiving higher wages with South Korean club Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.
Good convinced Newcastle United how good a prospect he is.
During his short stay at the Heart, the 19-year-old showed composure beyond his years, as he played out from the back.
He’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, having been a midfielder and a forward during his youth days.
As long as he listens to Newcastle management and trains hard, he’ll receive opportunities to break into the first XI.
Newcastle’s scouting department receive high marks again, because they’ve signed one of Australia’s best young talents for $600,000, which is approximately £404,000.
Low risk, high reward.
From Burnley to Southampton
Jay Rodriguez has garnered some positive and negative attention. The positive being four goals against Burton Albion and a good goal scoring record in The Championship.
Rodriguez’s goal scoring record is good but it’s not Jordan Rhodes good. Mind you, Rhodes played in a division lower than Rodriguez.
Southampton, a club with new financial muscle, paid a club record £7 million for the 23-year-old, so their management believes he has the talent to succeed in the Premier League.
From Reims to Newcastle United
When Newcastle United signed Romain Amalfitano, some news outlets had reported the news as: ‘Newcastle sign Amalfitano’.
At first, the idea of Morgan Amalfitano joining Newcastle seemed odd because he was out of shape, he clearly struggled with the expectations of re-producing his Lorient form, and Marseille had just signed him.
Then when you read on, it wasn’t Morgan, but his younger brother, Romain.
Ligue 2 expert Steve Wyss commented on the younger Amalfitano brother:
As the younger brother of OM’s Morgan, you can see that football class clearly runs in the family. In many ways, he is similar to his brother in that he’s a superb creative player, although perhaps not quite as versatile. His preferred position is sitting in the hole behind the strikers, although he is also capable of playing a more deep lying playmaker role.
He is light on his feet and you can tell he has a high technique and skill level. Not so much of a goalscorer, or even someone who assists that often. His main strength is his excellent pass ability and vision is excellent.
This is another low risk signing for Newcastle because Romain was signed on a Bosman.
For the 22-year-old, he’s traded away the possibility of playing Ligue 1football, to become a member of the Toon Army—so he’s confident in his ability.
From Racing to West Bromwich Albion
During the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Claudio Yacob donned the No. 7 shirt, and naturally you wondered if he was the next Jorge Burruchaga. The number, well it was just a number, because there was no hint of Burruchaga in Yacob.
Yacob wasn’t one of the five players from Hugo Tocalli’s squad that the FIFA Technical Study Group deemed as an outstanding player (Sergio Agüero, Éver Banega, Maximiliano Moralez, Federico Fazio, Matías Cahais).
South American football correspondent Tim Vickery doesn’t rate Yacob:
I'm not a huge fan, to be honest. Those Argentina caps have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Recently they've had as many as three squads on the go at the same time, so caps have been handed out all over the place.
I've been following Yacob since the South American Under-20s in 2007 and I've never been over-impressed. He's neat enough and clearly has a strong personality and leadership qualities. But as a holding midfielder I'm not convinced by his tackling—I think he's off balance and a candidate for cards—or his range of passing.
From Mallorca to Wigan Athletic
Mallorca’s centre-back pairing were both sold to Premier League clubs: Iván Ramis to Wigan Athletic and Chico to Swansea City.
Who is the superior defender? Chico, who is a more tenacious marker and a stronger tackler.
Ramis does have pedigree having represented the Spanish U-19, U-21 and U-23 national teams, but he did have some Sébastien Squillaci-esque moments.
Chico and Ramis combined for 314 interceptions, but the faster pace of the Premier League is altogether different proposition to La Liga.
Ramis will need to overachieve just to ensure his reputation doesn’t go through the shredder like Squillaci.
From Hamburg to Fulham
A few years ago, Mladen Petrić was Papiss Cissé-effective for Borussia Dortmund, but the Croatian never continued his rich scoring streak.
Petrić endured a disappointing season for a Hamburg side that was hot and cold.
There was the temperamental Paolo Guerrero, who disgraced himself when he assaulted a defenseless Sven Ulreich.
Then there was Gökhan Töre habitually dribbling his way into an advantageous position, only to give up possession, thus leaving Petrić stranded in the box.
The 31-year-old Croatian didn’t help his cause by taking ill-advised shots. That’s the main reason why he scored only seven Bundesliga goals from 70 shots.
Pavel Pogrebnyak, like Petrić, came to Craven Cottage on loan with nonexistent form—but the Russian scored goals left, right and centre.
Can the Croatian international repeat Pogrebnyak's goal scoring exploits and become an instant hit at The Cottage?
From Leeds United to Norwich City
Last year when Scotland beat Denmark 2-1, Robert Snodgrass had some good moments against Ajax young gun Nicolai Boilesen.
Leeds United were so desperate to keep Snodgrass, that the club were willing to make the Scotsman their highest paid player.
Having scored and created a combined 27 goals in The Championship, no wonder Leeds were reluctant to sell Snodgrass.
Norwich City’s calculated risk on Anthony Pilkington worked out brilliantly and they’ll be hoping Snodgrass can be as productive at the highest level.
From Rayo Vallecano to Swansea City
Michu protects the ball well, he hassles defenders, he’s solid in the air and most importantly, he is a poacher.
It’s astonishing that only 1.4 percent of fantasy Premier League managers have him in their team, when he’s classified as a midfielder, even though he’s clearly a forward.
On paper, he was an attacking midfielder for Rayo Vallecano, but he spent most of his time as a deep-lying forward.
Evidently, 98.6 percent of FPL managers aren't aware of Michu's 15 league goals last season with a bunch of midfielders, who could only tackle.
Michu is at his most dangerous making a run from midfield unmarked, because the next thing you know, he’s wheeling away in celebration.
Chelsea are mulling over signing Victor Moses for £10 million, yet the Swans secured a bargain in Michu for just £2 million.
From Feyenoord to Aston Villa
Aston Villa signs Karim El Ahmadi, a midfield commando with an extensive body of work, for just £2.5 million.
Meanwhile Manchester City signs an inconsistent and injury-prone Jack Rodwell for £15 million.
Paul Lambert commented on El Ahmadi’s possible role in the team:
I won’t curtail him and will let him play with freedom because I think that is the way he plays. He is a very good footballer. I don’t think he’s a set player in terms of being defensive or offensive. He can do most things and could do both roles if I asked him to.
Last season, El Ahmadi showed leadership as he helped youngster Jordy Clasie grow into an elite midfielder.
Once again, El Ahmadi was making tackles and providing incisive passes. It was so clear how influential he was for Feyenoord, yet the media largely focused their attention on Clasie and goal scoring sensation John Guidetti.
From Sochaux to West Ham United
If West Ham United had signed Modibo Maïga during the January transfer window, it would have raised eyebrows just as their signing of Savio Nsereko did a few years back.
In Maïga's last seven games for Sochaux, he scored five goals and finally showed how productive he could be if he was focused.
There's quite a bit of Carlos Tévez in his personality: skipping training, feuding with then-manager Mecha Bazdarevic, giving up on the team in a 2-0 loss to Toulouse and getting himself sent off in a 3-0 loss to Bordeaux.
His wayward attitude shouldn't be the main concern, rather West Ham United supporters should be wary of his failed medical at Newcastle United. Demba Ba had a similar injury cloud hanging over his head, but it wasn't a problem with the Hammers.
There are two fascinating points about the Toon passing on Maïga:
1. West Ham United took a “massive risk” on Ba's knees and now they're doing the same with Maïga
2. If Maïga hadn't failed his medical, Papiss Cissé wouldn't be a Newcastle player.