Ranking the Top 20 New Faces in the Premier League so Far This Summer

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2014

Ranking the Top 20 New Faces in the Premier League so Far This Summer

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    Only a few short weeks into the summer transfer window, a whole host of new arrivals have put their name to deals with clubs to play in the 2014-15 Premier League season.

    While fans will be familiar with many of the names changing clubs within the league itself—Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Mathieu Debuchy are three such players—some of the overseas imports might have escaped common attention.

    Even if they haven't, with arrivals already from the Bundesliga, Eredivisie, La Liga and Ligue 1, it's intriguing to see how they stack up against each other and how they might fare in the coming campaign.

    Here's our top 20 new faces for the new season, all players signed from clubs outside England.

    Players are ranked according to their own ability, but also for how well they fill a particular need from the buying club, their relative cost or value and also how quickly they might have an impact during 14-15, rather than long-term success they might have.

    Only signings from overseas clubs are counted and only if the transfer has been completely finalised, subject to work permits in certain cases, and are confirmed on the official Premier League website.

20. Cheikhou Kouyate

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    Cheikhou Kouyate has moved from Anderlecht to West Ham United, costing the Hammers around £7 million.

    The holding midfielder brings plenty of strength, mobility and stamina to the centre of the park, being a thoroughly capable ball-winner who also looks to break forward off the ball from deep at times, though his primary role is certainly defensive.

    He can also play in the centre of defence, though we'd expect to see more of him in midfield to begin with at least.

19. Brown Ideye

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    West Brom have brought in Nigerian forward Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kyiv, a club record signing at around £10 million.

    Capable of playing through the middle or from the flank, the pacy striker will bring a threat on the counter-attack for the Baggies and a focal point for the attack, though they'll be looking for a better return than his five league goals last season.

    West Brom were blunt in attack for too much of last term, and Brown is a good start to remedy that issue.

18. Bafetimbi Gomis

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    Swansea eventually picked up the free-transfer signing of Bafetimbi Gomis, ending more than a year of speculation about the French striker's future.

    Powerful, tall and with decent acceleration, Gomis is an experienced forward who perhaps just lacks the extra class to have been a regular scorer at the highest level. For Swansea he'll be a goal threat—if he can win a regular place in the team.

    Pairing Gomis and Wilfried Bony together would give the Swans one of the strongest attacks in the league, but would it work tactically?

17. Mauro Zarate

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    Sam Allardyce's summer signings have shown an intent to attack, certainly, though it remains to be seen just where all his players fit in.

    Mauro Zarate certainly has plenty of skill and ability in and around the penalty box, but it's unclear at present whether he'll play as the main striker, just off or else from the flank, with the latter maybe the best bet initially.

    Zarate has good close control, is inventive in tight spaces and showed his goalscoring prowess with 18 in 28 for Velez Sarsfield.

16. Graziano Pelle

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    Southampton's new main striker is Italian forward Graziano Pelle, who has joined from the Eredivisie to replace Rickie Lambert.

    Pelle will be utilised for both constructing attacks and as a goalscorer, as B/R's Sam Tighe tells us in his profile of the forward:

    His use of the chest to link play is eerily similar to Rickie Lambert, and in many ways the two compare very closely. 

    Pelle heads well, finishes instinctively, drags markers around superbly and is capable of the odd flick or trick to spring a runner into space. With Dusan Tadic providing ammunition and Jay Rodriguez (eventually) running in behind off him, it's a goalscoring trio created in the ideal world.

15. Enner Valencia

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    Another West Ham signing now in the form of Enner Valencia, who impressed with Ecuador in the World Cup qualification campaign and during the finals itself this summer.

    Having originally made his name out wide, Valencia has thrived in a more central role, playing behind a centre-forward, for the national team.

    It is in this position we're most likely to see him for West Ham, with his great aerial threat, clever running and movement into the penalty area late-on in attacks looking a great fit for the Hammers' forward line.

14. Emmanuel Riviere

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    Newcastle United desperately needed to add final-third presence and quality this season, and Emmanuel Reviere heads a trio of players who can help with that.

    The former Monaco man is a goal getter: not terribly inventive or especially involved in the build-up play, but a definite threat running beyond the defence. He can be an explosive player who can find the net and cause problems for defenders with his sudden movement.

    He might not be a regular starter all season long for the Magpies, but he could just be a good signing to start some games and have an impact off the bench in others.

13. Siem de Jong

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    More of a name and a marquee signing is former Ajax captain Siem de Jong, who could fill a variety of roles for Newcastle.

    Of course, he's most frequently seen as a No. 10, but the addition of another player—more on him shortly—means he might play up front, from the flank or even in a deeper central midfield position.

    De Jong is committed, technically reliable, a good tactical player to have in the team and gets his share of goals. In short, he's a quality addition in the final third and should prove a good signing for the team.

12. Sebastien Pocognoli

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    Sebastien Pocognoli is a Belgian left-back who has joined West Bromwich Albion from Hannover for around £2 million. An international squad member in normal circumstances, he missed the summer World Cup through lack of fitness.

    The Baggies have let a number of players go in the close season and didn't look in great shape toward the back end of 13-14, so the addition of Pocognoli is a good step toward both defensive solidity and improving the overall ability within the team.

    If he plays to his full potential, Pocognoli could quickly be seen as one of the top handful of left-backs outside the Champions League sides.

11. Daryl Janmaat

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    Dutch international right-back Daryl Janmaat has signed for Newcastle United, replacing the outgoing Mathieu Debuchy at St. James' Park.

    A solid defender with a great engine, Janmaat will cover the right flank for the Magpies with his constant runs from deep, and while not noted as a great crosser of the ball, he is technically proficient in his link-up play and will support the attack when required.

    He's a reliable and value-for-money signing who safeguards the position and should prove a big hit for Newcastle.

10. Dusan Tadic

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    Into the top 10, Southampton's Dusan Tadic has the potential to be a big hit in his debut season.

    The creative and talented left-sided player was clearly one of new boss Ronald Koeman's big priorities, and he moved quickly to bring him to the Saints after being appointed.

    Tadic is capable of scoring as well as creating and should prove an excellent foil for the likes of Jay Rodriguez and Pelle.

9. Lazar Markovic

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    Liverpool's latest signing is a gifted, though raw, attacking midfielder.

    Lazar Markovic can play from either flank or in a more central role, though the Reds might play him from the left side initially, giving him licence to roam infield and create or drive for goal with his acceleration and dribbling play.

    He'll have his work cut out for a regular spot but is well capable of becoming a far better player over the course of the season, having an impact along the way.

8. Emre Can

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    German midfielder Emre Can is another addition to Liverpool this summer, a versatile player who can feature in a range of midfield roles as well as cover at full-back.

    A powerful and technical player, Can has a good passing range and vision but also loves to drive forward down the channels, taking on players and looking to open up the pitch.

    His regular role in the side might depend on which formation Brendan Rodgers favours this year, but he is good enough to nail down a place in the team early on and show why he is so highly regarded.

7. Fernando Reges

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    Manchester City's signing of Fernando ticks a number of boxes: good value, quality performances, squad depth in the centre of midfield and insurance for the future.

    The latter is against injuries to main starters Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, but also in the case of the former departing.

    A combative and aggressive holding midfielder, Fernando will prove a shield for the back line when in the side and brings plenty of experience, proven Champions League ability and competition for places in the City side.

6. Filipe Luis

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    Chelsea's summer of big signings has seen Ashley Cole depart on a free transfer and Filipe Luis replace him for around £20 million.

    Naturally, he fills an important void in the side at left-back and has shown his immense quality and reliability in La Liga with Atletico Madrid over the past couple of seasons.

    He's good in possession, not lightning-quick but certainly with pace, a good competitor in defensive situations and excellent in moving play between middle and final thirds. In short, Filipe is a well-rounded, modern offensive full-back and should prove a top signing for the Blues.

5. Ander Herrera

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    Manchester United's capture of Ander Herrera marks a year-long chase for the Athletic Bilbao midfielder; now he needs to win himself a place in the team and display his great qualities.

    Capable of playing anywhere through the centre from a holding role, a box-to-box passer or as a playmaker behind a forward, Herrera offers Louis van Gaal plenty of options to change his midfield shape in-game.

    Confidence on the ball, endless running and exceptional vision are all some of Herrera's top attributes.

4. Remy Cabella

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    Newcastle's massive failing of last season was not replacing Yohan Cabaye with anybody at all who could pick a pass in the final third and make things happen for the team in attack. They looked stunted, unimaginative and blunt without him.

    Remy Cabella is their step toward resolving that issue and, if he plays to his best level, he is a fine choice indeed.

    Cabella could play straight from the No. 10 role Cabaye vacated, though he may also be used off the flank, with De Jong central. Good at running with the ball, moving quickly into spaces in possession and finding clever through passes, Cabella is a fine signing for the Magpies.

3. Diego Costa

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    Chelsea's striker woes are over, they will hope, after the big-money capture of Diego Costa.

    The former Atletico Madrid forward is basically a perfect fit for a Jose Mourinho team: He's strong, full of running, aggressive, plays alone up top and works the entire width of the pitch, harrying centre-backs out of possession and darting behind full-backs to open up space for others.

    Costa is good at dribbling and can shoot from all angles with both feet—now he just has to replicate his great scoring record from last season.

2. Cesc Fabregas

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    More impressive than Diego Costa is Chelsea's signing of Cesc Fabregas.

    Mourinho's side could certainly be accused of being too one-dimensional at times last term, but Cesc will bring a dynamic factor to their midfield play with his runs from deep, goalscoring ability and immense technical capacity.

    Whether from a 4-3-3 or a more central position in a two-man midfield pivot, Cesc has the ability to influence games for his new side and should be a great success, back in the Premier League.

1. Alexis Sanchez

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    The top import for the summer so far is Arsenal's capture of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.

    Regardless of who else they sign or sell, signing Sanchez means Arsenal's attack will be significantly stronger than last year; he's better than anything they've got in the final third and, depending on where he's used, could aid the midfield too.

    Strong running in and out of possession, lightning acceleration in the penalty box, a great work ethic and the ability to find the net all make Alexis a top player.

    If Wenger can alter his system to get the best out of Alexis and not merely stick him on the right wing in a fairly predictable 4-2-3-1, Arsenal would have upgraded their side terrifically.