New Fan Favorites for Every Premier League Club
The 2013-14 Premier League season is fast approaching, and that means fans of all 20 clubs are scoping new talent for the best of the summer transfers.
Which players will become fan favorites? Which players have the personality, skills and intangible qualities to endear themselves to the home supporters?
Keep reading as we select a candidate for (almost) every team.
Arsenal: To Be Determined
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To this point, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has put that vaunted £70 million war chest to excellent use by signing 20-year-old French striker Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer. In the event Wenger realizes the transfer window is still open, we'll have to hold out on naming a new fan favorite.
Unless, of course, this guy signs on.
Aston Villa: Antonio Luna
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This space would be reserved for Andi Weimann, Aston Villa's hard-working, Twitter-interacting, semi-homegrown Austrian forward. But Weimann has been associated with Villa since 2007.
Alternately, Christian Benteke could slot in here after scoring 19 goals in 2012-13, his debut Premier League season. But after this summer's transfer tomfoolery, Benteke's stock took the slightest of hits among the Villa Park faithful.
So instead we'll go with Antonio Luna, a 22-year-old Spanish left-back who signed with Villa from Sevilla in June. Danish defender Jores Okore was the more eye-raising transfer, but Luna has something Okore can't match: a first-rate beard that simultaneously says chic style and macho brawn.
Andrea Pirlo approves.
Cardiff City: Andreas Cornelius
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This month, Premier League newcomers Cardiff City signed 20-year-old Danish striker Andreas Cornelius from Copenhagen for a club-record £7.5 million. In 32 league appearances last season, the 6'4" striker scored 18 goals.
Similar production this season would give Cardiff a huge boost in their bid for Premier League survival—and endear Cornelius to his new fans. And to hear manager Malky Mackay tell it, Cornelius is ready.
"He fits in perfectly into our style. It's off the pitch too, his chat, his conversation, just the boy that he is really," Mackay told Mirror Football. "He's still young and he's still learning, but I believe we've got a really good talent on our hands."
Chelsea: Mark Schwarzer
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Why Mark Schwarzer?
Because Andre Schurrle was an unnecessary signing. Because Marco van Ginkel will be competing for playing time with approximately 37 other midfielders.
But really, who doesn't like a 40-something backup keeper? (Hello there, Brad Friedel.) And anyway, because Petr Cech clearly enjoys the company.
Crystal Palace: Kevin Phillips
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Phillips actually joined Crystal Palace on loan in January and played a crucial role in the Eagle's promotion push. He scored the winner in the playoff final against Watford and finished the campaign with seven goals in 16 appearances. Over the summer Palace signed the veteran to a one-year deal.
Returning to the Premier League will be a bigger challenge, but maybe age is just a number after all.
Everton: Gerard Deulofeu
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However you spell his name, signing midfielder Gerard Deulofeu on a season-long loan from Barcelona was a real coup for Everton.
Last season with Barca's B-team, Deulofeu netted 18 goals in 33 matches. According to The Guardian's Sid Lowe, Deulofeu wanted to come to Everton because he will be able to learn under new manager Roberto Martinez.
And Martinez shares Deulofeu's enthusiasm. "Gerard is a real diamond of Spanish football and has incredible footballing talent," Martinez said, per BBC Sport. "I am delighted that he has chosen to take the next step of his career with Everton."
Fulham: Maarten Stekelenburg
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Back in January, when Fulham initially tried to sign goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, the move fell apart while Stekelenburg was on a plane from Rome to London.
Undeterred, the Flying Dutchman joined Fulham on a four-year contract in June, long before anyone could change their mind.
"I am very happy to be joining Fulham, and to have everything sorted out so early in the summer," Stekelenburg told FulhamFC.com, "so I can really focus on preparations for playing in the Barclays Premier League next season."
What's not to like, Fulham fans? Sure, he makes the odd mistake here and there, but he tried to join the team twice, and not even an errant flight across the continent could keep him away.
Hull City: Ahmed Elmohamady
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He's not technically new, of course. Right-wingback Ahmed Elmohamady spent most of the 2012-13 season with Hull on loan from Sunderland and was named the Tigers' player of the season.
After the successful promotion push, Elmohamady signed permanently for £2 million in June. Another strong season will be needed to keep Hull in the top flight.
Liverpool: Iago Aspas
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As the season edges closer, the opposition will only become better, and Aspas will encounter fierce competition for playing time. But he's off to a fine start and will have already earned plenty of admirers.
Manchester City: Jesus Navas
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Manchester United: Wilfried Zaha
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Much has been made of the fact that new Manchester United manager David Moyes has not completed a big-name signing this summer.
No matter. Sir Alex Ferguson wrapped up the signing of Wilfried Zaha last winter, and after spending the rest of the 2012-13 season on loan with Crystal Palace, Zaha is set to make his mark with United this season.
He's already got the backing of a United legend.
"Give him the ball and all he wants to do is beat defenders and smash the ball into the back of the net," Sir Bobby Charlton said of Zaha, per talkSPORT. "I think our crowds are going to love him.”
Newcastle United: To Be Determined
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Two months after ending ending a frightening flirtation with relegation, the news coming out of Newcastle isn't exactly music to fans' ears.
Per the Independent:
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has revealed he is badgering director of football Joe Kinnear to make a breakthrough in the transfer market.
Kinnear vowed to implement the club's recruitment plans swiftly after holding talks with Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr following his appointment last month.
However, the Magpies went into last night's 1-1 friendly draw with Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal without a new signing on board…
Pardew told the Chronicle: "I'm pushing Joe to get a transfer in. I think we need a boost now.
"We are in a situation where we want to progress now. The team is in a good place."
Sure thing, boss.
Norwich City: Ricky van Wolfswinkel
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Southampton: Victor Wanyama
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Southampton signed Kenya international midfielder Victor Wanyama from Celtic this month in a deal reportedly worth a club-record £12.5 million.
Wanyama, 22, was a hit in Glasgow for his strength in midfield—and the goal he scored in the memorable win over Barcelona last season. Now that he's in England, Southampton will expect more of the same.
Stoke City: Marc Muniesa
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Admit it: You were as surprised as everybody when Marc Muniesa, a member of the Spain squad that won the European Under-21 title this summer, joined Stoke City from Barcelona.
Pardon, that's La Masia graduate Marc Muniesa, a ball-playing center-back unlike anything Stoke supporters are accustomed to cheering for.
On second thought, fan favorite might not be the right way to say it. More like fan curiosity.
Sunderland: Jozy Altidore
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He's big, he's strong, he's American, he scores goals in bunches, and his name is Josmer Volmy Altidore.
Sure, he struggled in his last tour of the Premier League, but Jozy Altidore has matured and improved enough to become a hit with the Black Cats.
Swansea City: Wilfried Bony
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Speaking of scoring goals in bunches, Wilfried Bony netted 31 times in 30 Eredivisie appearances last season with Vitesse Arnhem.
That earned him a move to the Premier League and Swansea City, who spent on club-record £12 million on the transfer. Playing in England will be a step up in competition, but if Bony comes anywhere close to matching his production from last season, he'll be worth every penny.
Tottenham Hotspur: Paulinho
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Everybody loves a Brazilian, and after the Confederations Cup, Paulinho's stock is sky-high.
At £17 million, Paulinho didn't come cheap, but if he helps Spurs overtake Arsenal this season, that might come to be seen as a bargain.
West Bromwich Albion: To Be Determined
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What? You didn't think we were going to say Nicolas Anelka, did you?
Le Sulk is the Baggies' only acquisition so far this summer. Until another new recruit arrives, we'll reserve judgment.
West Ham United: Razvan Rat
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Few men in the history of mankind have borne a name so perfectly suited to a heavy metal bassist.
Fewer still have also set their sights on becoming as popular as a cartoon rodent.
Well played, sir.