With the World Cup ultimate finale looming over football fans’ heads on Sunday, it’s nearly time to focus our collective attention back to the club competition. Squads are back together and preseason training is already underway for every team in England, including the clubs outside the Top 6 that we focus on here at the blog.
As players slowly trickle back from the World Cup, new signings and loanees are introducing themselves to new teammates and supporters. But who among the lot of new transfers are going to have the biggest impact on their new club?
Let’s examine a couple of the moves clubs outside the top 6 have made (so far) this transfer window. Remember, the transfer window closes Thursday, August 9, two days before the beginning of the Premier League season.
Southampton – Mohamed Elyounoussi (FC Basel)
Southampton effectively swerved relegation last season and the enduring shame that would have rained down on a club who sold their best player for $99 million in January and got squat in return.
This summer, they’re making a hard push to spend all that Liverpool money. According to what has been reported so far this summer, Southampton have spent $75 million on four players in the transfer window.
Norwegian Mohamed Elyounoussi is the most electric among the new signees. The former FC Basel left-winger scored 21 goals in his two seasons in the Super League. But what really jumps out is his playmaking ability and his flawless crosses. He collected 28 assists in 65 matches.
He also joins the Saints with 10 matches of experience in the Champions League, with his last appearance coming in the Round of 16 against Manchester City.
The 23-year-old Elyounoussi (24, when the season begins) joins Nathan Redmond on the left wing for the Saints. But with the selling of Dusan Tadic to Ajax, the right side will be open. It will be curious to see if Redmond and Elyounoussi can fit on the same field together, or if one slides inside or to the left. Either way, center forwards Charlie Austin, Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini have to be licking their chops after watching what Elyounoussi has done over the past two season in Switzerland.
West Ham – Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
West Ham have been one of the busiest clubs this summer. They have signed seven new players with five or six almost guaranteed to be featured in their season-opener.
Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was supposed to headline the group of signees this summer. The 26-year-old has joined the Hammers on a free transfer after new Arsenal manager Unai Emery informed the once-prodigy there’s no room for him in the starting XI.
Since Wilshere’s signing, West Ham have purchased Borussia Dortmund’s Andriy Yarmolenko, Toulouse’s 21-year-old centerback Issa Diop, Corinthian’s Fabian Balbuena, and Lazio’s Felipe Anderson. All four have garnered massive attention from fans and has almost put Wilshere’s introduction on the back burner. It could be the best thing that has happened to the former English international.
Wilshere has been on the receiving end of jokes about his flame-out at Arsenal. But now, the midfielder is free. He has broken away from the disease and shadow of Arsenal and Arsene Wegner, and will now fortify the midfield for West Ham. And the best part? He cost nothing for the Hammers to sign.
Leicester City – James Maddison (Norwich City)
The 21-year-old starlet of the Championship has finally arrived in the Premier League. Attacking midfielder James Maddison has been on the radar of numerous clubs in the Premier League since his time at Coventry. He’s been pinned as the future of the English national team by pundits, and he’ll be given a trial by fire with Leicester City this season.
Maddison scored 14 goals and made eight assists last season in the Championship. The Foxes are looking for similar production out of the creative midfielder who’s dribbling and pace have developed into Delle Ali comparisons.
It’s far too early to tell if Maddison is the next big thing in the Three Lions midfield. However, Leicester will give him the opportunity to share the midfield with proven players like Wilfred Ndidi and Adrien Silva.
Wolverhampton – Diogo Jota (Atletico Madrid)
The then 20-year-old led Wolves with 17 goals last season in 44 Championship games. He was the spark plug for the Wolves attack and now the former Porto man is looking to prove his worth in the Premier League.
Jota was left off the Portugal side for the World Cup. After this season, we could be scratching our heads, asking how they could’ve done such a thing.
Wolverhampton – Willy Boly (FC Porto)
Wolves are all in. It’s either going to be a spectacular fuck up or an amazing spectacle that sees this west midlands team rise through the Premier League ranks. We’re talking big-time shake-up that could see them developing into a club that’s no longer considered eligible for this blog.
Willy Boly’s path to Wolves is similar to Jota’s. He was sent on loan from Porto last season and the move became permanent this summer.
Like Jota in the attack, Boly will anchor the defense from his center-back position. The 26-year-old made 36 appearances in the Championship last season and should be a constant in the Wolves starting XI in their return to the Premier League.