Summer 2016 transfers by Premier League clubs The most pointless Premier League signings from the 2016/17 season …
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Summer 2016 transfers by Premier League clubs The most pointless Premier League signings from the 2016/17 season …

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The 10 best Premier League signings of 2016/17 so far

Matt Phillips, West Brom

It’s hard to know what represents good value these days, but this lot have done their sides proud since signing last summer

Alex Kebles picture

Alex Keble



19 January 2017

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When the Premier League’s £8 billion TV deal kicked in at the beginning of the summer – a 71% increase on the previous contract – a chaotic and decadent transfer window was inevitable.

More than £1 billion was spent by Premier League clubs, with 13 of the 20 breaking their transfer record. And while sizeable sums of cash has been burned, there have been plenty of success stories in the first half of the 2016/17 season.

Here are the 10 best signings so far…

10. Adama Traore (Aston Villa to Middlesbrough, £7m)

The 20-year-old La Masia graduate struggled badly at Aston Villa last season, with a metatarsal injury keeping him out for almost three months and neither Tim Sherwood nor Remi Garde willing to risk playing such an attacking winger during their team’s battle against relegation.

But Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has been richly rewarded for his bravery.

No player in the Premier League has completed more dribbles this season than Traore’s 8.6 per 90 minutes in 2016/17, and it’s his powerful runs that have been most impressive. He tore through Manchester United , Chelsea and Spurs earlier this term, beating an astonishing 29 players against those three teams.

Adam Traore

Has Traore’s speed seduced Antonio Conte?

Such fearlessness will prove invaluable for Middlesbrough as they fight for survival, and it could even lead Traore to Chelsea, who’ve been linked with a move this month.

9. Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia to Arsenal, £35m)

In Mustafi,  Arsenal  have finally found the ideal centre-back to partner Laurent Koscielny. The German’s no-nonsense defensive attitude and positional intelligence complement Koscielny’s more elegant, ball-playing instincts, which should provide the Gunners with a platform to challenge for honours.

His immediate importance to the team was highlighted by his absence in December, when Arsenal lost back-to-back games against Everton and  Manchester City . Arsene Wenger’s team have won 34 points from 14 games in which Mustafi has featured, and 10 from the seven when he hasn’t played.

Mustafi is exactly the kind of sensible – and expensive – signing that Arsenal have struggled to complete for much of the last decade. Fans will be hoping he represents a turning point in the Gunners’ transfer policy.

8. David Luiz (PSG to Chelsea, £34m)

Chelsea’s centre-back was criticised for being unreliable and erratic during his first stint at the club, but after two years at PSG the 29-year-old has returned to become an essential part of the Blues’ romp to the Premier League summit.

Luiz’s occasional positional errors have been eradicated by Conte’s ruthlessly effective system, and he clearly benefits from being part of a back three. It’s largely thanks to the Brazilian that Chelsea have the second-best defensive record in the division.

David Luiz

Chelsea fans were sceptical of his return but the Brazilian has impressed

7. Joe Allen (Liverpool to Stoke, £13m)


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The “Welsh Xavi” has lived up to his name this season with some stunning performances in an advanced midfield position for Mark Hughes. Allen was deployed in a deep-lying protector role at Swansea and  Liverpool , but it looks as though Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp may have missed a trick.

Unshackled at Stoke, Allen is dictating the tempo of matches with surprisingly adept positional skills; if the Welshman keeps up his good form, it might not be long before he moves back to a club like Liverpool.


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Premier League , Transfer news , Adama Traore , Middlesbrough , David Luiz , Chelsea , NGolo Kante , Shkodran Mustafi , Arsenal , Joe Allen , Stoke City , Victor Wanyama , Tottenham Hotspur , Joel Matip , Matt Phillips , West Bromwich Albion , Idrissa Gueye , Everton , Sadio Mane

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          West Ham’s summer 2016 a wasted window

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          Summer signings demonstrating that West Ham’s 2016 was a wasted window

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          Jan 5, 2017

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          It is worst spenders against biggest buyers. The first statement is an opinion, the second a fact. Yet when West Ham host Manchester City on Friday, it is fitting it is during the January transfer window. In different ways, they are defined by their summer recruitment. City spent £165 million, as well as hiring Pep Guardiola. West Ham tried to demonstrate their own ambition.

          If the intention was to take a team who threatened to qualify for the Champions League last season to the next level, it has backfired. West Ham finished seventh in May. They are 14th now. Meanwhile, in two of their league wins Slaven Bilic has named a starting XI comprising solely of players who were at Upton Park last season. It is all the more remarkable as West Ham’s arrivals numbered a dozen and if Manuel Lanzini, a loan signing in 2015 and a permanent recruit in 2016, straddles the categories of the old and the new, the Argentinian delivered more when he was a temporary addition.

          He is a reason why none of West Ham’s dodgy dozen can be deemed a success. While Hull, Leicester and Swansea have little to show for their summer spending, what sets West Ham apart is the sheer scale of the recruitment drive. It is rare to bring in 12 players without at least one being a bona-fide success.

          Especially as the Hammers had forged a reputation as savvy buyers. Their 2014 yielded Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafra Sakho, fine additions all. They fared still better in 2015, bringing in Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang, Darren Randolph and the loaned Lanzini. Then came 2016. Here’s how last summer’s recruits have fared in the Premier League through the first five months of the season:

          Edimilson Fernandes (£5.5m): 393 minutes played
          Ashley Fletcher (£750,000): 300 minutes played
          Andre Ayew (£20.5m): 502 minutes played
          Manuel Lanzini (£9.4m): 1,152 minutes played
          Toni Martinez (£2.4m): 0 minutes played
          Quina (undisclosed): 0 minutes played
          Havard Nordtveit (free): 677 minutes played
          Alvaro Arbeloa (free): 256 minutes played
          Sofiane Feghouli (free): 177 minutes played
          Jonathan Calleri (loan): 130 minutes played
          Gokhan Tore (loan): 239 minutes played
          Simone Zaza (£5m loan fee): 460 minutes played
          Arthur Masuaku (£6.2m): 527 minutes played

          Simone Zaza’s short time at West Ham has been little short of a nightmare for the Italian. Clive Rose/Getty Images

          Perhaps the eventual verdict will be kinder than the current analysis. Arguably the three worst arrivals — Zaza, Calleri and Tore — were borrowed not bought. The damage could be mitigated by their departures. Four youngsters — Martinez, Quina, Fernandes and Fletcher — could prove astute buys in the long term. The 21-year-old forward Fletcher scored a fine fashion at his former club Manchester United in the EFL Cup and, though that it is his lone goal, he was cheap and a justifiable gamble. The 20-year-old Swiss Fernandes is entertaining and adaptable. He has been involved regularly. His unpredictability could endear him to crowds, if perhaps not teammates. Meanwhile, the club-record-buy Ayew was unfortunate to be injured 35 minutes into his debut. If he replicates his Swansea form, he should be a match-winner.

          Yet on the debit side, Lanzini, for all his talent, has only scored once in open play. Feghouli’s recruitment seemed a coup but he has started a solitary Premier League game and only lasted 15 minutes then, even if he was unfortunate to fall victim to Mike Dean’s absolute certainty in his own flawed judgment when sent off against Manchester United. Nordtveit’s Hammers career seemed summed up when, brought on to protect a lead against Tottenham, he slid in on Son Heung-Min to concede a penalty and help transform victory into defeat. The Norwegian’s availability on a free transfer meant his arrival was a worthwhile gamble, yet he seems the definition of a versatile player who is not quite good enough in any position, and certainly not at right-back.

          Arthur Masuaku conceded a still more needless penalty with a handball against West Brom and looked an error-prone deputy to Cresswell. Arbeloa has only played 256 minutes of top-flight football and West Ham have conceded nine goals during them. He has not been risked since the 5-1 thrashing by Arsenal and an admirable career seems to be ending ignominiously. Tore is reportedly the subject of the strangest of tugs of war, with neither West Ham nor Besiktas wanting him for the second half of the season.

          And then there is Zaza. If he thought his fortunes could not plummet any further after his comically bad penalty in Italy’s Euro 2016 shootout with Germany, he was wrong. His Hammers career does not include a goal. Indeed, in 11 appearances, it only features two shots on target. The only saving grace is that they will not trigger a €20 million permanent deal that would make him the most expensive player in West Ham history. Factor in the failure of Calleri, who is yet to muster a shot on target in the Premier League, let alone a goal, and it explains why West Ham’s specialist strikers have scored the joint-fewest top-flight goals of any club’s.

          It is worth rewinding a few months when West Ham identified Carlos Bacca, Michy Batshuayi and Alexandre Lacazette in their bid to bring in a potent spearhead. Instead, they ended up with the impotent Zaza and Calleri. That can happen when transfer windows yield frustration and clubs respond by going ever lower down their list of targets for ever worse signings. But having started the summer needing a first-choice striker and a reliable right-back, they still need each now. It is why the close season will go down as a wasted window for West Ham.


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