EPL: Picking a Confirmed Summer Transfer Window XI
The Premier League season may be over, and most of the players may be on their summer vacations, but work for the management and scouting teams goes on throughout the year.
The high volume of confirmed deals this summer—before the transfer window has even opened—is an example of clubs wanting to do their business at the earliest possible time, to beat the competition and integrate new signings into their preseason training.
We are still a week away from July 1, when the summer window officially opens, but clubs around the Premier League have been so busy that we already have a big enough pool of confirmed new signings from which to pick a best XI.
So here is ours, in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham)
As early as June 5, just days after the 2012-13 Premier League season had ended, Fulham announced their fourth capture this summer.
Following Fernando Amorebieta, Derek Boateng and Sascha Riether, Maarten Stekelenburg from AS Roma is the Cottagers’ most astute signing yet this summer, and could become one of the best goalkeepers in the English top flight.
David Moyes would do well to keep an eye on his performances and progress.
Right-Back: Guillermo Varela (Manchester United)
But first, David Moyes should keep an eye on the development of his new young prospect at right-back, Uruguayan defender Guillermo Varela.
Manchester United confirmed the signing of 20-year-old Varela on June 11, according to BBC Sport, after the youngster enjoyed a productive spell at Old Trafford on trial when Sir Alex Ferguson was still with the club.
An attacking right-back in the Rafael da Silva mold, Varela will hope to be a direct challenger to the Brazilian’s first-team slot.
Left-Back: Razvan Rat (West Ham United)
Here’s what Sam Allardyce is getting on a free: Eight league titles (six with Shakhtar Donetsk and two with Rapid Bucharest), one UEFA Cup, extensive Champions League experience and 89 international caps.
Aston Villa’s new signing Antonio Luna might be an exciting prospect, but 31-year-old Rat will provide plenty of experience, as well as the odd assist or two from the flanks.
Center-Back: Dejan Lovren (Southampton)
For a fee estimated at £8.5 million, according to the Daily Echo, Mauricio Pochettino and co. are getting a 23-year-old with extensive experience at the top level.
With 37 league appearances for Dinamo Zagreb, 73 for Lyon and 17 full international caps, Lovren will add plenty of steel and style to the Saints backline.
Center-Back: Jores Okore (Aston Villa)
Going with the surprise theme, Jores Okore was linked with Chelsea just a few months ago in the January transfer window, and confirmed that he had turned down the Blues in favor of a move to Aston Villa, according to Sky Sports.
Wait. A 20-year-old Denmark international with Champions League experience (also against Chelsea) turning down Stamford Bridge?
We were just as surprised, but it is off to Villa Park he goes, where he will join Paul Lambert’s burgeoning starlets in a footballing revolution.
The most exciting aspect of the Okore transfer is that he isn’t a typical Lambert unknown youngster. Okore will be an integral piece in the Villa jigsaw.
Defensive Midfielder: Jose Canas (Swansea City)
There is Fulham’s Derek Boateng, joining from Ukrainian side Dnipro, but in the defensive midfield position we opted for ex-Real Betis man Jose Canas.
A product of the Betis youth system, Canas will add tenacity, bite and a passing foundation to a classy Swansea side.
After the memorable success of Michu as a bargain buy last season, will Canas, on a free transfer, prove to be even more astute?
Central Midfielder: Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Considering that our back five consists entirely of transfers in the bargain bracket, it was only a matter of time before a big-name signing made it onto our XI.
Fernandinho, Manchester City’s new signing from Shakhtar Donetsk, belongs in that category.
Some might argue that the Brazilian midfielder, signed for a reported £30 million according to BBC Sport, may be overpriced, but in the context of the City revolution, the transfer makes perfect sense.
A Ramires-type dynamic midfielder, Fernandinho would make an ideal complement (or stand-in in rotation) to the all-conquering Yaya Toure.
A sizeable upgrade on the likes of Javi Garcia, to say the least.
Right Attacking Midfielder: Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
As ever when it comes to Manchester City, one league-shattering signing isn’t enough, so on the right side of our three-man attacking midfield line is Jesus Navas, a £14.9 million signing from Sevilla, according to BBC Sport.
Navas is a winger who will add real width to the City frontline. His pace and dribbling will stretch defences, allowing a dynamic central midfield to push up and pile the pressure on opposing defences.
Manuel Pellegrini arrives at a City side brimming with talent and eager to show the Premier League what it can do.
Watch out for a formidable season at the Etihad Stadium.
Left Attacking Midfielder: Andre Schurrle (Chelsea)
On the left side of our attack isn't necessarily a good or necessary signing for Chelsea, but nonetheless is an exciting player.
Andre Schurrle, signed for a reported £18.7 million according to the Guardian, will slot into an incredibly stacked attacking midfield line at Stamford Bridge.
Even accounting for his sterling reputation during his time as a Bayer Leverkusen player, Schurrle will be competing with the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard—all three of whom excelled last season—for a starting spot.
In Marko Marin, Schurrle has the perfect warning of a highly-rated German squad player who failed to make his mark at Chelsea. Someone will be waiting to snap him up if it doesn't work out—and they themselves might be getting a good deal then.
Second Striker: Iago Aspas (Liverpool)
Following Kolo Toure and Luis Alberto's confirmations as Liverpool signings comes ex-Celta Vigo frontman Iago Aspas.
If this article on Aspas' attributes from Bleacher Report's Allan Jiang isn't enough to stir up the hype surrounding the Spanish forward, perhaps the fact that he signed for £7 million, according to BBC Sport, will.
As part of an interchangeable and dynamic front three with Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, perhaps the rumored exit of Luis Suarez might not damage the club as badly as feared.
But if Suarez does stay, this front four would be right up there as one of the best in the Premier League—and that's not even including Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Striker: Andy Carroll (West Ham United)
Ahead of new Liverpool signing Iago Aspas in our lineup is a name with infamous Anfield connections: Andy Carroll has been confirmed as a £15 million signing for West Ham United, as reported by BBC Sport.
Before he even set foot on the Anfield pitch, Carroll's immense price tag of £35 million meant that it would have taken a miracle for him not to have been considered a flop, and things were made worse after Brendan Rodgers' arrival.
So it is at Upton Park that he will continue his journey, and in Sam Allardyce's team he might just find the right environment to fulfill his potential as a fearsome target man.
Stay tuned for a breakout year from the English forward, especially in a season leading up to the 2014 World Cup.