15 Under-the-Radar Signings Who Could Have Big Seasons in 2014/15
They come without fanfare, they come without "explosive" headlines, and they come without a price tag that has reached astronomical proportions.
They are this summer's under-the-radar signings.
In this slideshow, we take a step away from the blockbuster moves of the transfer window and bring you 15 players who arrived relatively quietly yet could have a big impact with their new teams this season.
Perhaps their moves were overshadowed by other high-profile arrivals, or maybe their deals were swiftly wrapped up with no fuss. Whatever the reason for their unheralded arrivals, this is not a selection of unknown players or a tip for the next big thing, but an article where we take a look at those signings that are less Diego Costa and Luis Suarez and a bit more Aaron Hunt and Hakan Calhanoglu.
Arranged in alphabetical order, read on for more.
Position: Defensive midfield
When Muhamed Besic signed for Everton, there weren't many outside Goodison Park who were expecting his arrival. The focus was set more heavily on Romelu Lukaku's will-he, won't-he switch from Chelsea.
We got to see Besic play over the summer, as he made three appearances for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 2014 World Cup—the 21-year-old acquitting himself well against Argentina, Nigeria and Iran.
Toffees boss Roberto Martinez was also watching.
When it was announced that Everton had signed the former Hamburg and Ferencvaros midfielder, Martinez told The Guardian's Andy Hunter:
Muhamed is a young footballer who has developed massively in the last two seasons. He has been playing as a centre-half and as a defensive midfielder at an incredible level. What he did with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the World Cup, he showed that he is a really mature footballer, that he covers the ground really well, that he is very dynamic and technically very gifted. He is bringing us really good strength in an important part of the side.
Everton have found a fantastic holding midfielder, and they have found him at a bargain price of £4 million. Expect him to be the envy of many a Premier League side this season.
Position: Attacking midfield
To: Newcastle United
Signing Remy Cabella over the summer could turn into quite the coup for Newcastle.
The 24-year-old French international put away 14 goals and bagged 7 assists for Montpellier in Ligue 1 last season, a competition he won with the club in 2011/12.
The former teammate of Arsenal's Olivier Giroud has incredible speed, can play on either wing or just behind the striker, possesses a mean shot and oozes creativity. The Magpies have spent very well this summer, and a possible midfield partnership between Cabella and fellow new recruit Siem de Jong, along with striker Emmanuel Riviere, is an exciting prospect for fans of the club.
Position: Attacking/central midfield
To: Bayer Leverkusen
The German-born midfielder will play a big part for Leverkusen, where he should step right into the spot that was made vacant when Emre Can signed for Liverpool. His versatility across midfield could also see him take up Sidney Sam's former attacking role.
Last term—his debut Bundesliga season—Calhanoglu scored 11 goals and notched four assists from 28 starts. Four of those goals were from direct free-kicks, and he knows how to hit them. This goal, scored against Borussia Dortmund on February 22, 2014, is a perfect example of what Calhanoglu can do from set-piece positions.
At €14.5 million, the 20-year-old did not come to the BayArena cheaply but he looks to be worth every penny and more. He may also not be one of the biggest names in the current transfer window, but after the 2014/15 season, expect that all to change.
Position: Defensive/central midfield
From: Bayer Leverkusen
Emre Can came to Liverpool in the same week that Adam Lallana swapped Southampton for Merseyside. The latter came with a hefty price tag of £25 million, so it's easy to see why Can's £9.8 million arrival was a relatively quieter affair.
However, the German under-21 international looks set to make an impact at Anfield this season. He spent just one Bundesliga campaign with Bayer Leverkusen, who he joined in 2013 after coming up through the ranks at Bayern Munich.
Under former Liverpool man Sami Hyypia, Can became an integral member of Leverkusen's side in 2013/14, where he made 29 Bundesliga appearances and played seven games in the Champions League. As Hyypia told the Daily Mirror's Phil Cadden, "He’s still a young player, but, physically, he is very ready for big things. He can play a lot of positions."
At his best playing in central midfield, Can is also versatile enough to be used in both full-back spots and in central defence—all positions that the side needed cover for last term. His ability to slot into a number of roles and an impressive pre-season should see Can becoming a regular starter and an integral Liverpool player under Brendan Rodgers.
Arsenal's big-money signing of Alexis Sanchez, coupled with Southampton's summer exodus of talent, ensured that Calum Chambers went relatively unnoticed when he swapped St Mary's for the Emirates, despite a £16 million fee.
Chambers is following in the footsteps of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both moved to Arsene Wenger's side from Southampton when they were in their teens, and Arsenal look to be getting excellent value for money.
An attacking right-back with the Saints, Chambers made 25 appearances for his former club before getting the move to north London. Versatile, he's able to play in a number of roles and has already impressed for the Gunners in a central defensive position during last weekend's Community Shield.
Sanchez, a Chilean international and formerly of Barcelona, may have stolen all the headlines this summer, but the England under-19 defender might sneak under the radar as one of the club's best buys.
Siem De Jong
Position: Attacking midfield
To: Newcastle United
After last season's failings in the transfer market, we all expected little in the way of new additions at Newcastle this summer. Yet the North East club has been quietly going about its business, adding a raft of new faces who look set to impress at St James' Park this season.
Remy Cabella (who we discussed earlier in the slideshow) is one such arrival, as is Emmanuel Riviere (Monaco) and Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), but former Ajax captain Siem de Jong looks set to make a huge impact with Alan Pardew's side.
The 25-year-old, who scored 78 goals and registered 48 assists in 244 games, won four consecutive Eredivisie titles with Ajax. He has already been handed the No. 10 shirt at Newcastle, as reported by Alex Harris in the Daily Star.
Alan Pardew told David Wright in the Express, "I absolutely think he's a terrific player, I've been lucky enough in my career to manage some great players and I think he could be one of the best."
Stefan De Vrij
It came as somewhat of a surprise to those outside of Serie A when Stefan de Vrij put pen to paper with Lazio last month. The Dutch international was being linked with a move to Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton and Newcastle following his World Cup campaign, as reported by Ben Jefferson in the Daily Express.
Lazio, who finished ninth in Serie A last season, picked up De Vrij for €8.5 million, a snip considering how many European clubs are in need of experienced new recruits in central defence.
An excellent acquisition for Lazio, De Vrij—who made over 150 appearances for Feyenoord—joins midfielder Marco Parolo (Parma), striker Filip Djordjevic (Nantes), left-back Edson Braafheid (Hoffenheim) and right-back Dusan Basta (Udinese) as a fellow new face at the Stadio Olimpico.
To: Swansea City
In Bafetimbi Gomis, it looks like Swansea City have executed an excellent piece of business. Not only did the former Lyon man arrive for free after his contract had expired at the Stade de Gerland, but he also comes with a consistent scoring rate in France.
He has scored 20 or more goals (in all competitions) per season over the last three campaigns with Lyon and scored 94 goals for the club in total over the course of five years and 243 games.
A long-term target for Newcastle United, as reported by Louise Taylor in The Guardian last summer, Swansea have done well to sign the striker, who has been capped 12 times for France.
Position: Attacking midfield
From: Werder Bremen
Not only does Aaron Hunt come to Wolfsburg for free, he also comes with over 10 years of experience in the Bundesliga.
Formerly Bremen's team captain, Hunt made almost 300 appearances for the club he joined at the age of 14, and he put away 51 goals and registered 52 assists during his time in the senior squad until his contract expired in June.
As Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking told Skysports.com earlier this summer:
He's a real all-rounder. He can play in practically every position across the midfield and is always very dangerous in front of goal, and that makes him precisely the player we were looking for.
He has also played many games in the Bundesliga and in Europe, and he will pass that experience on to our young team.
Hunt's name might not receive star billing in transfer columns, but he will play a huge part in Die Wolfe's domestic and European campaigns this season.
Position: Right wing-back
To: Queens Park Rangers (loan)
A week later and it's still somewhat surprising to think that Mauricio Isla will be playing in the Premier League this season with Queens Park Rangers.
An ever-present player with Chile at the 2010 World Cup, he impressed again at Brazil 2014, playing every minute of every game as Jorge Sampaoli's side progressed to the last 16.
Isla is a non-stop, high-intensity player who is excellent in a right wing-back position or in a central or left midfield role. With 51 international caps, the former Udinese man has serious quality and before joining QPR on a season-long loan made 47 appearances for Juventus.
The 26-year-old's arrival is a major coup for Harry Redknapp, who told the club's official website, "He's a top player and we're delighted to have him here. He showed his quality in the World Cup for Chile and it’s a great loan signing for us. He's a versatile player, he's full of energy. I'm confident he'll be a really big asset for us this season."
No one saw this move coming.
From: Eintracht Frankfurt
He won't have made many headlines for his move from Eintracht Frankfurt to the Volkswagen Arena, but in Sebastian Jung—the second Wolfsburg player to appear in this slideshow—Dieter Hecking has made another shrewd buy in the summer market.
Jung was Wolfsburg's first signing of the window. At €2.5 million, he represents incredible value for money as a young, talented and internationally capped full-back.
Jung racked up 164 appearances for Die Adler's senior team and was being linked with a move to Arsenal as a potential replacement for Bacary Sagna in April, as reported by Ben Jefferson in the Daily Express.
With Swiss international Ricardo Rodriguez at left-back and Jung on the right, Wolfsburg can lay claim to having two of the best young full-backs around. This season, they'll play an integral role in the team both domestically and in the Europa League, Wolfsburg's first European competition in five years.
Enrique "Kike" Garcia Martinez
From: Real Murcia
Known simply as "Kike," it's fair to say that the signing of Enrique Garcia Martinez did not make waves in the football world. However, Championship side Middlesbrough may have pulled off a move that will impact their season in a big way as they chase promotion in 2014/15.
Manager Aitor Karanka, in the role since November 2013, has acted well, bringing in goalkeeper Tomas Mejias permanently from Real Madrid and Kenneth Omeruo in on loan from Chelsea.
Yet it's Kike who looks like he could be key to the Teessiders' fortunes this season. Last term, the former Spain under-20 international put away 23 goals in 41 games in the Spanish second tier.
So far, the 24-year-old has played twice for Boro, with a return of two goals, one in the Championship against Birmingham City and the other against Oldham Athletic this week in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
Hardly one of the biggest names in the transfer window, Kike could have one of the biggest impacts.
Position: Right wing
To: Stoke City
It may take some time to get used to the idea that Bojan Krkic is a Stoke City player. No one could have predicted that the former Barcelona, Roma, AC Milan and Ajax (loan) player would be on his way to the Britannia Stadium this summer.
However, Bojan, who used to be viewed as the next star of world football, signed a four-year deal with the Potters last month.
Still only 23, the winger never fulfilled the potential and high expectations that surrounded his breakthrough at Barcelona and subsequent moves around Europe. It appears now that he is keen to impress with Stoke in the Premier League. As manager Mark Hughes told the club's official website:
Anyone who knows European football will be aware of him as a player and the fact that he sees his future at Stoke City is really exciting and an endorsement of the Club itself.
He's desperate to prove himself in the Premier League and we're pleased to be able to offer him that platform.
With three goals for Stoke in pre-season, the two-time Champions League and three-time La Liga winner is one of the most surprising signings of any transfer window in recent memory. Hughes, a former Barcelona player himself, has pulled off an incredible piece of business.
To: Atletico Madrid
Jan Oblak received little fanfare when he swapped Benfica for Atletico Madrid last month. With Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois all leaving the Vicente Calderon for Chelsea, it's easy to understand why the headlines were focused elsewhere.
However, Oblak looks to be some signing for the reigning La Liga winners. Although he has less than one full season under his belt with Benfica's senior squad, he won the Portuguese treble with Jorge Jesus' side in 2013/14 and was responsible for keeping 22 clean sheets in 28 games (in all competitions).
The 21-year-old was named the best goalkeeper in Portugal last season despite not making his first Primeira Liga outing until the 13th game of the campaign.
Still young and with a long career ahead of him, Oblak will be up against fellow new recruit Miguel Angel Moya for a starting berth in Diego Simeone's side this season. Signed for a La Liga record spend for a goalkeeper at £12.6 million, there is a lot to come from the Slovenian international.
Position: Left wing
From: FC Twente
In the Premier League, much of the summer's transfer talk has been focused on Southampton and the sale of several of the club's senior players. Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw have all exited St Mary's, but (dare we say it) the side has also spent well on incoming players.
In Serbian winger Dusan Tadic, whose arrival in England has gone largely under the radar, there is a player who could go on to play a pivotal role for Ronald Koeman's side.
A look at his numbers over recent seasons makes for encouraging reading. Tadic has put away 32 goals and registered 36 assists since moving from Groningen to Twente in 2012. Just last term, he bagged 16 goals and topped the assist charts in Holland with 14.
Fellow Eredivisie import—and second top-scorer of the division in 2013/14—Graziano Pelle has also moved to the South Coast club. If the pair keep these kind of numbers up in the Premier League, perhaps it won't be such a disastrous campaign for the Saints after all.