15 Transfers from Last Season Who'll Have Breakout Years
With less than a fortnight to go before the summer transfer window slams shut for business in 2014, we take a look at those Premier League arrivals from last season who are now set for a breakout year in England (as opposed to in their previous careers elsewhere).
These are the 15 players we predict big things for in this current top-flight campaign.
Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur)
Argentina international Erik Lamela arrived at White Hart Lane from AS Roma last summer for a club-record fee that could ultimately rise to £30 million on the back of a reputation for being one of the most exciting young players in Serie A.
However, after failing to find the back of the net in the Premier League all campaign, the 22-year-old’s days in north London appeared numbered. That is, until compatriot Mauricio Pochettino took over as manager in May.
And already, the new Spurs boss is predicting bright times ahead for his big-money forward, who even started Saturday’s season-opening win at West Ham United.
Pochettino told Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail: “We know the Erik Lamela from Argentina and Italy. But he is still young and the Premier League is the most difficult league to play; the style, the language. But after one year we believe that Erik is ready to show his quality.”
So watch this space…
Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea)
Just two months after promising Netherlands international Marco van Ginkel had arrived at Stamford Bridge from Eredivisie outfit Vitesse Arnhem in a deal worth £8 million last July, the young midfielder was cruelly ruled out of the rest of the season with a knee injury.
However, after making only four appearances in all competitions in his debut campaign in west London before tearing his anterior cruciate ligaments against Swindon Town in the League Cup, the 21-year-old has now fully recovered and is raring to go.
Van Ginkel told Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard: “In the summer I did some extra work, especially on my right leg for the knee and now it is much better. I am feeling good. I took a rest for maybe one week and then I started doing some exercises.”
And following experienced midfielder Frank Lampard’s departure from the Blues earlier this summer, do not be surprised at all if Van Ginkel is to be the man to now take over for the club legend in the centre of the park this season.
Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace)
There were more than enough eye-catching moments in attack in his debut campaign for Crystal Palace last season to feel that striker Dwight Gayle is now set for a breakout year with the Eagles.
Gayle, 23, arrived at Selhurst Park from Peterborough for a club-record fee of £4.5 million last July and managed to register eight goals and one assist in his 25 games in all competitions for the south-east London side last time around.
However, when the forward was actually given the confidence of his manager by starting games, rather than entering the action late on from the substitutes bench, Gayle was able to demonstrate a real nose for goal in the closing weeks of the campaign.
And now, the player is all set to take that new goalscoring confidence at the highest level with him into this season.
Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Belgium wideman Nacer Chadli recorded a respectable five goals and six assists in 34 matches in all competitions in his debut campaign for Tottenham Hotspur last season, following a £7 million switch from FC Twente in the Eredivisie.
And yet, it is safe to say that fans of the north London club did not get to see anywhere near the very best of the 25-year-old last time out, much like with his country at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
However, Chadli simply has too much talent—the winger registered an impressive 40 goals and 26 assists in 123 games during three brilliant campaigns with Twente—not to further make his mark at White Hart Lane this season.
Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool)
There is no doubt that Liverpool fans did not get to see the very best of new signing Mamadou Sakho last season following the tough-tackling France international’s arrival at the club from Paris Saint-Germain on transfer deadline day in September.
The 24-year-old made 19 appearances in all competitions for the Merseyside giants in the previous campaign, although a combination of both untimely injuries and a constant changing of his central-defensive partners made it hard for Sakho to settle fully at Anfield.
However, despite Reds boss Brendan Rodgers opting to go with Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren as his first-choice centre-back pairing for Sunday’s Premier League opener with Southampton, the duo’s unconvincing display at the back against the Saints means Sakho may not have long to wait for a first-team recall.
And when the defender—nicknamed Killer by his manager last season—gets a chance, expect him to grab it with both hands and demonstrate the speed, strength and all-round reading of the game that first persuaded the Northern Irishman to splash out a whopping £18 million on his services.
Marc Muniesa (Stoke City)
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes was able to use his connections at former club Barcelona in order to lure highly rated defender Marc Muniesa from Camp Nou to the Britannia Stadium on a free transfer last summer.
And the Potters boss sensibly opted to allow the Spain U-21 international to become slowly adjusted to the hurly-burly of life in the Premier League, with Muniesa making just the 13 appearances in his debut campaign in the top flight.
But now, the 22-year-old looks more than ready—if given his chance by the Welshman—to fulfil Bleacher Report’s prediction last July of being a “stunning transfer” for Stoke, especially after being left on the bench for Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 home loss to Aston Villa.
Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur)
Just six goals in 28 Premier League appearances was a poor return in his debut campaign in north London for striker Roberto Soldado following his then-club-record £26 million move from Valencia to Tottenham Hotspur last August.
However, the highly experienced Spain international is just too good a player, with too much pedigree—as seen by Soldado netting 20-plus goals in all competitions for both Los Che and Getafe in each of his four seasons prior to transferring to White Hart Lane—not to succeed this time around.
And with the backing of new manager Pochettino during pre-season, the 29-year-old now appears a player reborn, which bodes well for everyone associated with the club as they enter the new campaign.
Jozy Altidore (Sunderland)
Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore may have netted just once in 31 Premier League matches last season, following his £6 million move from Eredivisie outfit AZ Alkmaar in July 2013.
However, the youngster is still confident of turning things around on Wearside this campaign, telling Sky Sports: “It was a tough year for me last year. I struggled, everybody struggled. When things don’t go well, you analyse what you can do better. I’ve done that and hopefully this season I can start out on the right foot.”
So keep a close watch on the powerful frontman going forward as this is after all a player who scored 51 times in only 93 appearances during two hugely successful seasons in the Netherlands before joining the Black Cats. The 24-year-old also has 22 international goals to his name for the United States.
Victor Anichebe (West Bromwich Albion)
There were enough glimpses in attack last season from muscular frontman Victor Anichebe—signed from Everton on transfer deadline day in September for a fee that could eventually be as much as £6 million—to offer West Bromwich Albion fans encouragement for this campaign.
The Nigeria international managed three goals and three assists in his 25 Premier League contests for the struggling west Midlands side last time out, including what turned out to be two crucial equalisers against both title-chasing Liverpool and Chelsea at the Hawthorns in February.
And with the backing of new West Brom boss Alan Irvine, Anichebe, a striker who has always thrived on confidence, is in line for a breakout year this time around leading the line for the Baggies.
Etienne Capoue (Tottenham Hotspur)
Defensive midfielder Etienne Capoue endured a difficult start to life at White Hart Lane last season following his £9 million transfer from Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, with the young France international making only 12 Premier League appearances all campaign.
Capoue was quoted by L'Equipe (via ESPN.co.uk) at the turn of the year as saying, "It's tough. I've gone from first-team regular to someone who is putting themselves forward to play. It's the first time I've experienced this."
However, now that previous Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood has been replaced by new coach Pochettino, expect to see far more of the highly rated 26-year-old for the north Londoners this season.
And if the player’s sound display putting out fires in front of the visitors’ back four at West Ham on the opening day of the 2014/15 campaign was anything to go by, then Spurs supporters are set to witness a breakout year from the water carrier under the Argentinian’s shrewd management.
Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City)
Montenegro international Stevan Jovetic arrived at Manchester City last July for a whopping £22 million with a reputation to match his transfer fee after five eye-catching seasons in Serie A with Fiorentina.
However, the forward’s debut campaign at Eastlands failed to match all that hype, with Jovetic hitting the target on only three occasions for his new club in the Premier League due to a succession of disruptive injuries.
But with a full and uninterrupted pre-season now behind him, Jovetic is set to showcase his full array of attacking talents in the north-west, with City coach Manuel Pellegrini even confident enough to start the 24-year-old upfront in both last weekend’s FA Community Shield at Wembley and Sunday’s season-opening win at Newcastle United.
Mohamed Salah (Chelsea)
While questions are already being asked about just how much game time winger Mohamed Salah will get at Chelsea this season after yet another summer of heavy investment by the west Londoners, it would be foolish to write the Egypt international’s chances off just yet.
Salah, 22, arrived at Stamford Bridge from Swiss giants FC Basel in the January transfer window for an initial outlay of £12 million, although that sum could ultimately rise to as much as £16 million depending on add-ons.
However, the tricky wideman’s two goals and two assists in 10 Premier League contests in the second half of the previous campaign are enough of an indicator to suggest that Blues boss Jose Mourinho will make full use of the player in what is sure to be a long and draining season for the club.
And having more than demonstrated his skills with Basel in last season’s UEFA Champions League, Salah is now ready to also take the English top flight by storm.
Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur)
When skilful Tottenham centre-back Vlad Chiriches fully recovers from the back injury that cut short his pre-season, then fans of the north London club will start to see further evidence of just why previous boss Andre Villas-Boas was so keen to splash out €9.5 million in order to land the player from Steaua Bucharest last August.
The Romania international ended up featuring in 27 matches in his debut campaign at White Hart Lane, scoring one goal. Having fully acclimatised now to the physical demands of the Premier League, Chiriches should have no problems whatsoever slipping straight back into the heart of the Spurs back four.
And when that does happen, expect the 24-year-old to remain there for the whole season after showing more than enough promise at the back last time out.
Aiden McGeady (Everton)
With just one assist to his name in 18 matches in all competitions since joining Everton from Spartak Moscow for an undisclosed fee in the January transfer window, winger Aiden McGeady went into the new campaign under pressure to justify manager Roberto Martinez’s purchase of him.
However, it took the 28-year-old all of 20 minutes of the Toffees’ season opener at newly promoted Leicester City on Saturday afternoon to start repaying the Spaniard’s faith in his abilities.
And now, having already scored a contender for Goal of the Season, the Republic of Ireland international is at last all set to enjoy a breakout year on the flanks at Goodison Park.
Yaya Sanogo (Arsenal)
It is fair to say there were more than a few raised eyebrows following Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s capture of then-France U-20 international Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer from Auxerre last July.
However, while the lanky striker hardly set the world alight on the admittedly few occasions he was called upon to lead the line for the Gunners last season—failing to score in any of his 14 appearances in all competitions for his new side—there were definitely some signs of promise from the 21-year-old.
And now, following an impressive pre-season from the attacker—Sanogo netted four goals against Benfica earlier this month—the frontman looks ready to show just why his fellow countryman was so keen to lure him to the Emirates in the first place.
So much so, in fact, that Wenger has even opted to start the player upfront in place of fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud in both last weekend’s FA Community Shield victory over champions Manchester City and Saturday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace that kicked off the new Premier League campaign.
All stats are taken from Transfermarkt.