AS the new Premier League campaign draws ever closer, it got me thinking: who will be the breakthrough stars this season?
Last year saw the rise of the likes of Rob Holding (Arsenal) and Leroy Sane (Man City), whilst players such as Victor Moses (Chelsea) and Josh King (Bournemouth) resurrected their careers from the dead.
In this article, I’ll be picking out just five of the new faces who arrived on our shores, that may be unfancied right now, but could go on to impress us all this season …
Davy Klaassen (Everton)
24-year-old central midfielder Klaassen has been widely regarded by many experts (in particular Eredvisie pundits) as one of the most underrated players in Europe over the past two seasons or so now.
Last year, he scored 14 goals and laid off 10 assists for his Ajax team mates in the Dutch league and helped them on their way to the Europa League final (where he also contributed 2 goals and 2 assists in 13 matches) before they lost to Manchester United.
For £26m or so, Everton are getting the complete midfielder, one that knows how to play a great through ball and an accurate long ball, as well as knowing how to score important goals for his team.
Having also captained Ajax on several occasions, I do believe that he could become that type of player for the Merseyside club eventually too and will show his leadership skills whenever possible.
This could turn out to be an absolute steal in my opinion.
Javier Hernandez (West Ham)
A familiar face to us fans of the Premier League, Mexican striker Hernandez was previously at Manchester United between 2010-2015, where he scored 37 goals in 103 games (being used mostly as a substitute).
He returns to England with new ambitions, hoping to turn West Ham’s fortunes around, alongside the likes of fellow new signings Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta.
Quick and agile, “Chicharito” is a great finisher in front of goal and despite the fact that he is not very tall, he’s actually very good in the air and is known for scoring headers in his own acrobatic style.
The Hammers have managed to secure the 29-year-old’s signature for just £16m from Bundesliga outfit, Bayer Leverkusen. I think for that price, especially in this day and age, you really can’t go wrong and it looks as though the club may have just secured a true bargain with this one.
West Ham have had a nightmare with strikers in recent times. They have signed 30 since 2010 and many of those have failed to shine. Hernandez is just different class though and I expect him to score 10+ goals this season.
Laurent Depoitre (Huddersfield)
I’m almost certain that not many of you will have heard of Depoitre before, but mark my words, this man is an absolute beast.
The 28-year-old Belgian target man has scored goals pretty much wherever he has gone. His most impressive period came whilst playing for Genk in his homeland, in which he scored 24 goals in 58 matches. He even scored in the one game he played for his national side too, so he’s a determined guy.
Despite struggling a little for Porto last season, where he managed just 1 goal in 7 appearances, Depoitre seems as though he’s built for the physical side of the game. Standing at 6ft 3′, his aerial presence will present even the best of PL defenders with a challenge this season.
It’s going to be a long hard slog for Huddersfield this season but I think by using Depoitre as a target man that they can hoof the ball up to will come in very handy, even if he is just chesting them down for Elias Kachunga!
Vicente Iborra (Leicester City)
Another criminally underrated midfielder, I do believe that Iborra could potentially become Leicester’s main man this season.
He made 165 appearances in La Liga for Levante between 2008 and 2013 before making the move to Sevilla where he made 113 league appearances. Therefore, he’s certainly no stranger to playing in a big European league and I think his experience could be vital to Leicester’s side.
The 29-year-old has signed for the Foxes for £15m on a four year contract and this deal looks to be a good one as the club has been lacking a commanding midfielder since N’Golo Kante left for Chelsea last season (and subsequently won the league’s Player of the Season award).
I think the Spaniard will fit in well alongside the dynamic Wilfired Ndidi and at 6ft 3′ offers something different in that midfield.
Adding the signing of Iborra alongside the already existing talent at the King Power including the likes of Islam Slimani, Ahmed Musa, Jamie Vardy and of course Riyad Mahrez (if he stays), will give Leicester some real squad depth this season.
Who knows maybe they can push for a European spot once again? I doubt it, but signing Iborra, who has played in Europe on several occasions with Sevilla and won three back-to-back Europa League titles with the club, can only be a good thing surely?
Kurt Zouma (Stoke City, loan)
A good move for both Zouma and the Potters here I think.
the 22-year-old French centre back joined Chelsea from Saint Etienne in January 2014 in a deal worth around £12m. At the time, he was regarded as one of French football’s next big things and was tipped to go on and become the national team’s captain.
Unfortunately though, things haven’t quite gone to plan for the big man. He has failed to cement down a first team place with the Blues, what with the likes of John Terry, David Luiz and Gary Cahill being preferred ahead of him. He also suffered a horrific knee injury against Manchester United back in February 2016, which kept him out of action for over half a year, so he’s been a little unlucky as well.
His move on loan to Stoke next season could be just what he needs as he looks to resurrect his Premier League career. I can see him becoming a first team regular alongside Ryan Shawcross in the heart of their defence and I think if he’s given the chance he won’t disappoint.
A decent season with another club could earn him a new reputation and remind everyone of us of just how good he can be. Watch this space!
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