20 Best Signings of the 2013/14 Premier League Season
Here are the 20 best signings of the 2013/14 English Premier League season.
The list is subjectively ranked via two key determinants: economic efficiency and performance.
Explaining Notable Omissions
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal CAM, Age: 25 | Signed From Real Madrid For £42.5 million
In Ozil's last three seasons at Real, he tallied up 17, 17 and 13 assists in league play. This season for the Gunners, he has nine.
Quality is not the issue, it is psychological.
He has given up on games, and if he does not improve his resolve to fight through adversity, he risks turning into Arsenal's answer to Juan Sebastian Veron.
Mata has scored six times and created four goals in 15 Premier League games for United, so he is statistically solid.
However, his £37.1 million price tag dictates that he needs to consistently come up big in major games, which he has yet to do.
Willian, Chelsea RAM/CAM, Age: 25 | Signed From Anzhi Makhachkala For £32million
Willian is an aesthetically pleasing player to watch.
Though, he has not been productive enough this season with only four goals and two assists in 25 Premier League games.
Alvaro Negredo, Manchester City CF, Age: 28 | Signed From Sevilla For £16.4 million
Negredo started the season in top form but has not scored a goal in the Premier League since January.
He finished the season on a 12-game scoreless run in league play.
Mignolet has been hit-and-miss.
While he had an outstanding game in the 1-0 win over Stoke City, he has committed several Pepe Reina-esque mistakes.
20. Marc Muniesa, Stoke City LB/CB, Age: 22
Signed From Barcelona For Free
Marc Muniesa is helping Stoke City manager Mark Hughes overturn the anti-football, rudimentary and monotonous style of play former manager Tony Pulis incorporated.
It was a transfer coup for Stoke to convince Muniesa to abandon La Liga and come to the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur right attacking midfielder Aaron Lennon found out how tough a competitor Muniesa was during Spurs' 1-0 win over Stoke.
Lennon was in Muniesa's back pocket, and the Spaniard then slotted in at centre-back after Ryan Shawcross was sent off.
On the ball, Muniesa is secure and classy.
Muniesa's upside is so much higher than that of Stoke left-back Erik Pieters.
The only reason why Muniesa is not ranked higher is due to his limited starts in the Premier League this season (six).
19. Scott Parker, Fulham CM, Age: 33
Signed From Tottenham Hotspur For £3.96 million
Fulham manager Felix Magath chastised Spurs loanee Lewis Holtby for not being "a fighter," per Sky Sports.
Well, you would never be able to say that about Scott Parker, who along with team-mate Steve Sidwell played with frenzied intensity.
Parker won back possession 137 times via 84 tackles and 53 interceptions in 29 Premier League games this season.
18. Steven Caulker, Cardiff City CB, Age: 22
Signed From Tottenham Hotspur For £8 million
Despite Cardiff City centre-back Steven Caulker leading the Premier League in blocked shots (59) and shots blocked per game (1.6), Cardiff were still relegated.
Cardiff players such as Caulker, goalkeeper David Marshall and central attacking midfielder Jordon Mutch upped their game.
Unfortunately, their team-mates and management didn't.
17. Martin Olsson, Norwich City LB, Age: 25
Signed From Blackburn Rovers For £2.5 million
Trolls hijacked Norwich City's official Facebook account to put third-string 40-year-old goalkeeper Carlo Nash up for the club's Player of the Season award.
Nash is a "keep gettin' dem checks" player, like Los Angeles Lakers veteran point guard Steve Nash.
While Nash has been inadvertently propelled into the spotlight, left-back Martin Olsson is flying under the radar.
Olsson has completed 45 tackles and intercepted 40 passes while only conceding eight free-kicks.
He would receive more recognition if he played on a bigger team.
16. Ahmed Elmohamady, Hull City RB/RWB/RW, Age: 26
Signed From Sunderland For £2 million
Ahmed Elmohamady's willingness to motor forward has contributed to him attempting 243 crosses.
Elmohamady is suited to playing right wing-back because he is an industrious player who thrives on covering the entire right flank.
He has created 42 goalscoring opportunities this season.
15. Jason Puncheon, Crystal Palace RW, Age: 27
Signed From Southampton For £1.75 million
Crystal Palace right winger Jason Puncheon's penalty miss against Tottenham Hotspur was awkward, cringeworthy and graceless.
It should only be a footnote in Puncheon's career-best campaign in the Premier League.
He scored more league goals (seven) than Chelsea's £32 million-valued right attacking midfielder Willian (four).
14. Leandro Bacuna, Aston Villa RB/RW, Age: 22
Signed From Groningen For £880,000
In Leandro Bacuna's last season for Groningen, four of his five Eredivisie goals came via a dead-ball situation (three penalties, one free-kick).
Bacuna has continued his set-piece prowess for Aston Villa with expertly placed free-kicks against Cardiff City and Manchester City.
For a while, it seemed Bacuna's career would fall by the wayside like Groningen team-mate David Texeira.
But signing for Villa has given Bacuna's career a boost.
13. Tom Huddlestone, Hull City CM, Age: 27
Signed From Tottenham Hotspur For £5.25 million
Hull City central midfielder Tom Huddlestone has been a mainstay in Steve Bruce's team.
Huddlestone has appeared in 36 of the 38 Premier League games, making 94 tackles and providing a box-to-box threat.
He needs to work on his attacking productivity, but he is a crucial component of Hull's plans moving forward.
12. Jonjo Shelvey, Swansea City DM/CAM, Age 22
Signed From Liverpool For £5 million
Jonjo Shelvey went from a pariah at Liverpool to being lauded as a genius after scoring a wonder goal against Aston Villa.
Centre-back Ron Vlaar cleared the ball, Shelvey chested the ball just inside the attacking half and volleyed the ball over Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Shelvey has displayed attacking potential scoring (six goals) and creating (six assists) a combined 12 goals in the Premier League.
11. Marko Arnautovic, Stoke City LAM/CF, Age: 25
Signed From Werder Bremen For £2 million
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has played a salient role in Marko Arnautovic turning his career around.
Just when he looked like making Inter Milan regret letting him go, Arnautovic imploded at Werder Bremen and was let go after a series of misdemeanours.
Arnautovic has had some superb individual moments like tormenting Manchester United right-back Chris Smalling, registering two assists against Liverpool and being directly involved in two of Stoke's four goals against Fulham.
10. Wilfried Bony, Swansea City CF, Age: 25
Signed From Vitesse For £12 million
Wilfried Bony has scored more Premier League goals in one season (12) than Fernando Torres' personal best for Chelsea (eight; 2012-13).
When Bony is on form, he is hard to stop—he's notched up four braces in league play this season.
He was outstanding in Swansea City's 3-2 defeat to Manchester City, scoring twice and hitting the woodwork.
9. Dejan Lovren, Southampton CB, Age: 24
Signed From Lyon For £8.5 million
At the time of the transfer, Southampton spending £8.5 million on Dejan Lovren was a reach.
Why? He was a walking liability at Lyon: He lacked discipline, his positional awareness was non-existent and his marking was loose.
Lovren's exponential improvement justified Southampton's high-risk signing.
He has been world-class for patches of the season, but his mistake against Tottenham Hotspur conjured up flashbacks of the Lyon Lovren.
If he can continue playing a clean game while being a dominant force at the back, he is ready for a big move to a major Premier League club.
8. Loic Remy, Newcastle United CF, Age: 27
Signed On Loan From Queens Park Rangers
QPR have a cash-cow in Loic Remy.
Loaned out to Newcastle United, Remy has scored 14 goals and registered three assists in 26 Premier League games this season.
His form this campaign suggests he can make the step up, which is why Newcastle may struggle to extend his loan into a permanent transfer.
7. Romelu Lukaku, Everton CF, Age: 20
Signed On Loan From Chelsea
What is Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's problem with Romelu Lukaku?
It can't be a technical one, so it must be a personal beef between the two, which was evident when Mourinho questioned Lukaku's integrity.
"He's a young boy who likes to speak," Mourinho said, per Tom Cary at the Telegraph. "But the only thing he didn't say is why he went to Everton on loan."
Lukaku has once again reinforced how great of a prospect he is after a 15-goal season in the Premier League.
6. Nemanja Matic, Chelsea DM, Age: 25
Signed From Benfica For £21 million
Chelsea signed Nemanja Matic in the prime of his career after carelessly throwing him away in a packaged deal to bring David Luiz to Stamford Bridge in 2011, per Jason Burt at the Telegraph.
In half a season, Matic is already a better footballer than Luiz and offers more on the ball than John Obi Mikel.
Matic averaged 2.1 more tackles per game than Luiz and accumulated three more assists than Mikel.
5. Vito Mannone, Sunderland GK, Age: 26
Signed From Arsenal For £2 million
Vito Mannone was an anxious, error-riddled and inexperienced goalkeeper at Arsenal.
He has turned a corner since signing for Sunderland.
He was world-class in a League Cup win over Manchester United with penalty saves against Adnan Januzaj and Rafael.
If Mannone continues to improve, his dream of signing for AC Milan, per Corriere della Sera (h/t Football Italia) could turn into a reality.
4. Christian Eriksen, Tottenham Hotspur LAM/CAM, Age: 22
Signed From Ajax For £11.5 million
Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado were big transfer disappointments for Tottenham Hotspur.
Paulinho and Vlad Chiriches were up-and-down.
Christian Eriksen is the only Spurs signing who was a breakout Premier League star.
What a player: He has brilliant balance, is technically flawless, is a set-piece specialist and has been elite, despite not having the team built around him.
Eriksen's attacking statistics (seven goals, eight assists) would have been better if he started as the "1" in a 4-3-1-2, rather than playing on the left side in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1.
3. Curtis Davies, Hull City CB, Age: 29
Signed From Birmingham City For £2.25 million
Curtis Davies has been a first-rate centre-back for Hull City.
He deserves more credit for the herculean season he's just had.
Underrated players such as Davies, Papy Mison Djilobodji (Nantes), Robin Knoche (Wolfsburg) and Stefan Mitrovic (Real Valladolid; Benfica loanee) have been consistently outperforming more heralded centre-backs this season.
Davies is a well-rounded defender: He tackles efficiently, consistently cuts off passes and dominates aerially.
He would be a handy squad player for a major Premier League team.
2. Fernandinho, Manchester City CM, Age: 29
Signed From Shakhtar Donetsk For £30 million
Yaya Toure, who has never averaged 2.1 tackles per game or more in a Premier League season, has played more like a deep-lying forward than a central midfielder.
Fernandinho's up-tempo play, his defensive nous and his ball-winning proficiency have given Toure freedom to roam.
The Fernandinho-Toure partnership was a big factor in Manchester City winning the Premier League title.
1. Adrian, West Ham United GK, Age: 27
Signed From Real Betis For Free
West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian's astonishing save to deny Chelsea central attacking midfielder Oscar a certain goal is one of the best saves in European football this season.
Oscar went on a 10-game scoreless run in Premier League/UEFA Champions League play after that save.
Meanwhile, Adrian was arguably West Ham's most important player as he kept Sam Allardyce's side in game after game.
West Ham found a world-class keeper in Adrian via a Bosman transfer—talk about great scouting.
Statistics via WhoScored.com
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