Premier League Watch: 10 Players to Monitor
With the English Premier League just days away from kicking off another much anticipated season, it is a good time to look at who will be the players to watch in the next eight months.
Between transferring stars and returning squad members, there are a handful of them poised for a breakout year or simply a memorable season.
Put these players on Premier League Watch.
Javier Hernández, FW, Manchester United
Javier "Chicharito" Hernández comes to Old Trafford with high expectations.
The 22-year made a quick impact for the Red Devils in the FA Community Shield against Chelsea, netting a goal in the most peculiar of fashions.
Hernández joins Gabriel Obertan (21) and Federico Macheda (18) in a group of very young, but talented forwards for United.
He is the first Mexican ever to play for the home side at Old Trafford, and his progression for the mighty English club will be watched world-wide.
Adam Johnson, MF, Manchester City
In what will be his first full season at Eastlands, Johnson looks to build on an impressive showcase for City last year.
Despite the changes City has gone through this transfer season, Johnson's game and delivery tactics should remain undisturbed.
Manager Roberto Mancini will likely keep the left-footer playing the right wing to service Carlos Tevez and whichever striker City manages to obtain, whether it's current squad member Emmanuel Adebayor or Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli—who is inching closer towards a City switch.
The former Middlesbrough standout has developed smooth footwork and flair with the ball, a skill set that many clubs covet.
Jack Rodwell, MF, Everton
Although Everton's midfield is littered with talent like Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Rodwell's emergence as a reliable option in the center may be now.
Arteta solidified his role at Goodison Park with a recent five-year extension, but Pienaar was rumored to be negotiations with a move away from Everton—possibly opening up playing time for the 19-year old Rodwell.
He brings a big presence and athleticism to the midfield and has shown his potential for long range attempts on goal.
For an Everton side that lacks true scoring power in the final third, Rodwell presents a potential threat from far outside the box. A breakout season could put the youngster on the map for bigger clubs in Europe.
Gareth Bale, DF/MF, Tottenham
The Spurs defender will spend plenty of time in the final third and will make a significant impact for Tottenham this season.
Bale possesses a relentless pace and motor, which he combines with great ball delivery.
Though he may be overshadowed by the flashier Luka Modrić and Aaron Lennon, the Welshman will have his displays of brilliance this season.
Bale's diversity to play as a defender as well as in the midfield will mildly ease the selections of manager Harry Redknapp should the injury bug plague his team.
Kenwyne Jones, FW, Stoke City
Yesterday meant a new beginning for striker Kenwyne Jones.
The Trinidadian made the move from Sunderland—where it was reported that he was unhappy at times—to Stoke City, where the Potters have secured mediocrity since their promotion to the top flight league three years ago.
Jones was a beast at Sunderland, often elevating high above defenders to redirect corners and crosses into the net.
The 25-year old is an intimidating figure in the final third for most defensive units, and his introduction to Stoke could bolster the numbers in the win column.
Joe Cole, MF, Liverpool
Cole's negotiations were headline material this off-season, with Liverpool and Tottenham atop the list of clubs favoring his services.
Despite claims of his desire to play for Spurs, he made his move to Anfield on a free transfer from Chelsea.
The 28-year old joins Steven Gerrard, Maxi Rodriguez and newcomer Christian Poulsen in a skillful midfield for the Reds.
Liverpool's recent transfers coupled with the existing roster of dynamite forwards and steady defenders makes for another formidable squad to challenge for a top position in the English tables.
Gerrard even said of Cole that he is "as good as Messi." While that remains to be seen, there is little doubt that Cole possesses flash and flair with the ball.
Marouane Chamakh, FW, Arsenal
After making the switch to Arsenal following four seasons with French side Bordeaux, Chamakh joins a skilled front line providing more options for manager Arsene Wenger.
Nicklas Bendtner proved inconsistent for most of last year, which could spell more pitch time for the 26-year old Chamakh.
Akin to Bendtner and Robin van Persie, Chamakh is a good target in the air, but possesses more creativity and finesse than his counterparts.
It may be tough for him to see the field with frequency, but his goal scoring abilities should not be overlooked.
Yossi Benayoun, MF, Chelsea
Benayoun transferred to Chelsea from Liverpool and will likely play a similar role as the recently departed Joe Cole.
The Israeli captain brings an intelligent game the attacking midfield at Stamford Bridge and should complement the pieces already there.
Though he isn't what one would call an elite goal scorer, he won't have to be for Chelsea where some of the best finishers in Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard play in the final third just above him.
Don't discount Salomon Kalou or Florent Malouda either, as Benayoun has the ball delivery skills that will see plenty of goals scored for the defending Premier League Champions.
Christian Poulsen, MF, Liverpool
Liverpool, which is trying to climb back to the top of the Premier League a year after financial troubles drowned the organization in disarray, completed a transfer for the 30-year old Christian Poulsen today.
The Danish midfielder and former Juventus standout has taken heat for his aggressive style of play, but that will do justice at Anfield and in the EPL where strength and power isn't a commodity, it's a must-have.
The move comes in the same time frame as Javier Mascherano's agreement to a switch to Barcelona, leading many to believe that Poulsen is destined to play a similar role as the Argentinian.
Poulsen looks to be a key anchor for a Liverpool side that had its share of struggles last year, and his presence could weigh heavily in the results this season.
Mario Balotelli, FW, Manchester City
In a deal that is looking more and more imminent, Mario Balotelli's potential move from Inter Milan to Manchester City is one that has grabbed headlines in England and Italy.
Balotelli's strength and power presence in the final third should fit nicely in the English league and complement the play of Carlos Tevez.
Although he has yet to make his name as a goal scorer, he will get added to the list of players this off-season to reach into Manchester City's deep pockets.
Should the Balotelli negotiations go south, and he remains at Inter this season, look for another City newcomer to show his worth: David Silva.