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Four of the Premier League’s best summer signings

Rob Meech

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Now the Premier League season is more than three months old, the table is taking a familiar shape with the cream rising to the top. It’s also an ideal time to assess how the summer signings have fared.

Remarkably, 13 of England’s top-flight clubs broke their transfer record at least once in the previous window, with the total outlay amounting to more than £1.47 billion.

While some new arrivals have floundered, many have justified their transfer fee, however big or small. Here The Boot Room analyses four signings that, irrespective of how much they cost, have had a major impact.

Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

The former Chelsea misfit joined Liverpool from Roma for the not inconsiderable sum of £37 million. Salah had struggled to establish himself under Jose Mourinho at the Blues, but his consistent form for the Italian giants persuaded Jurgen Klopp that he would be worth a chance. It has proved to be an inspired acquisition.

The Egyptian has made a blistering start to his Liverpool career, scoring 15 goals and laying on three assists in all competitions. He has complemented the myriad attacking options that Reds manager Klopp already had at his disposal and become a real fan’s favourite at Anfield.

Any new signing is a risk and given how he struggled during his previous stint in the Premier League, many were unsure whether the 25-year-old would be up to the task. Those doubts have since been completely eradicated, though. Salah is one of the first names on the Liverpool team-sheet and supporters will hope he can spearhead their quest for silverware, both domestically and in Europe.

Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Pep Guardiola had identified the ageing full-backs as an area he needed to improve if Manchester City were to challenge for the Premier League. Out went Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov, while in came Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker.

Although he cost the enormous sum of £50 million, Walker has been a superb acquisition from Tottenham Hotspur and helped to take City to a new level. The England international’s pace is suited to Guardiola’s high-intensity brand of football, something that his predecessors struggled to cope with last season.

Pace isn’t his only quality, however. Walker is very confident on the ball and able to pick a pass. It took him no time at all to meet the demands Guardiola places on his players. The former Spurs right-back has quickly become an integral part of a team that has conceded just eight goals this season and currently looks set to run away with the title.

Richarlison – Watford

The precocious Brazilian was an unknown quantity when he arrived in England, but he has cemented himself as one of the most exciting prospects in the Premier League. Signed from Serie A club Fluminense – where he had made 42 appearances over the previous two seasons – for £11 million, Richarlison quickly endeared himself to Watford fans with a string of exciting, if raw, performances.

He came off the bench for his debut in the curtain-raiser against Liverpool, before netting his first goal for the club in the following fixture, a 2-0 victory away to Bournemouth. Richarlison already has five goals in total, to go alongside three assists, which have had a massive impact on Watford’s tremendous start to the campaign.

There has been controversy too, with accusations of diving levelled against him, but that has only added to the intrigue. The modest transfer fee now seems to be one of the bargains of the summer.

Nathan Ake – Bournemouth

Bournemouth smashed their transfer record in the summer window to capture Nathan Ake. The Netherlands international had spent the first half of last season on loan from Chelsea, before being recalled by boss Antonio Conte. But Eddie Howe had not given up on bringing his number one priority back to the Vitality Stadium and a transfer fee of £20 million was agreed between the clubs.

Ake’s influence is reflected in the Cherries’ improved defensive displays this campaign. Bournemouth had made a rocky start but the dreadlocked defender looked a class act as he slotted seamlessly into the back-line. Dominant in the air and composed on the ball, Ake is a perfect fit for Howe.

Many gasped when Bournemouth parted with such a huge amount of cash, but the impressive 22-year-old is already repaying the fee. Under Howe’s guidance and playing regular football, he is surely only going to get better, too.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Bournemouth

Can Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe become Everton’s next ‘David Moyes’?

Eddie Howe could follow in the footsteps of former Toffees boss David Moyes.

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Eddie Howe
Photo: Getty Images

On Wednesday night, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side were unlucky to fall to a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, as the Premier League 11th ranked club gave the Red Devils a torrid time.

The remarkable success of the young English manager at Dean Court bears an uncanny resemblance to the career path of David Moyes. Just like Moyes, Howe would be a perfect fit at Goodison Park.

In 1998, Moyes began his managerial career at the tender age of 34 at Preston North End, who were then struggling at the foot of the third division of English football. The Scot proceeded to engineer a fantastic turnaround at the club, avoiding relegation in his first season and achieving promotion just two years later.

Moyes brought Preston within inches of promotion to the Premier League the very next season, but the Lilywhites were defeated in the play-off final by Bolton.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League

(Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

In 2002, the Merseyside club came knocking, signing Moyes in March with the club in the relegation dogfight. The Glaswegian kept the Toffees up that season, and the rest is history.

11 years at Goodison Park brought unprecedented success, with Champions League qualification, a string of top-seven finishes, and even finishing above dreaded rivals Liverpool on occasion.

Just like Moyes, Eddie Howe started his career in coaching in his early thirties, and has enjoyed immense success in lifting a lower-league club up the English league system.

Howe took over at Bournemouth when he was 31, steering them clear of the League 2 relegation places in 2009, gaining promotion to League 1 in 2010, going up to the Championship in 2014, and reaching the Premier League in 2015.

If anything, Howe has experienced more success than Moyes before joining Everton, as his Bournemouth side have tremendously overachieved in the top flight and look set to secure their Premier League status for the third consecutive year.

Everton would do well to acquire the services of the youthful English manager in the summer, as his arrival just might spark a similar revival to that of David Moyes.

With his incredible knack of getting the best out of his players, Howe would revitalise the Toffees and breath fresh life into a directionless club; just like the Scot did 16 years ago.

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Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook looks destined for a top-four club

The 21-year-old has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s squad as a reward for his recent form.

Rob Meech

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Photo: Getty Images

His form has largely gone under the radar, but Lewis Cook’s England call-up for the prestige friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy has brought him fully into the public consciousness.

The Bournemouth midfielder has been rewarded for his eye-catching performances since establishing himself as one of the first names on Eddie Howe’s team-sheet.

Keeping the likes of Harry Arter out of the starting XI, Cook has become a fans’ favourite at the Vitality Stadium.

With each appearance, the 21-year-old looks increasingly at home in the top-flight and is growing in maturity.

Cook had been enlisted as cover by Gareth Southgate during last November’s friendlies but didn’t feature. This time, however, he is in the 27-man squad on merit alone.

Despite being a newcomer, Cook has international pedigree.

He captained England at the Under-20 World Cup and followed Bobby Moore as only the second Englishman to lift a global trophy when the Three Lions defeated Venezuela in South Korea.

His progress has been tracked by Southgate, who wants to build a pathway from the age groups to the senior team.

It is a model that has proved successful in Germany, whose 2014 World Cup winners featured a nucleus of the dominant under-21 outfit.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Southgate has made it clear that, ideally, he wants to pick those who are performing regularly for their clubs.

With an increasingly shallow pool of players to choose from, this is not always possible.

But for the likes of Cook and James Tarkowski of Burnley, their call-ups are proof that you do not have to play for a so-called ‘big club’ to receive England recognition.

It gives hope to all those who harbour international ambitions.

Cook arrived in Dorset with high expectations after joining from Championship outfit Leeds United in the summer of 2016, but his maiden season was bedevilled by difficulties.

He lined up for his competitive debut in the 2016/17 Premier League curtain-raiser against Manchester United, only for a persistent ankle injury to sideline him for seven months.

He featured only sporadically at the back end of the campaign.

This season began similarly frustratingly for Cook, who failed to make the match-day squad for the opening fixtures.

However, he made his first Premier League start of the term against Leicester City last September and never looked back.

First, in partnership with Andrew Surman and latterly alongside Dan Gosling, it is no coincidence the Cherries’ revival has occurred with Cook at the heart of the action.

He has been instrumental in their improvement.

Cook’s style has been compared to Jack Wilshere, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth.

Howe has credited the Arsenal man with aiding his protege’s development, culminating in this England selection.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Like Wilshere, Cook could not be described a prolific goalscorer. In fact, he has netted only two goals in 120 career appearances.

Where he shines is in possession of the football.

Linking defence with attack, Cook’s vision and ability to execute a pass are stand-out qualities. He rarely gives the ball away and always wants to move the play forward.

Occasionally he picks the wrong option, but at such a tender age mistakes are inevitable.

Despite the microscopic scrutiny involved in the top-flight, he can never be accused of hiding.

Cook always demands the ball from his team-mates, no matter how well he is playing.

Speculation has risen that Cook might be a target for some of the Premier League’s elite clubs, most notably Liverpool, who were reported to be targeting him to replace the Juventus-linked Emre Can.

Whether this interest materialises remains to be seen, but should Cook’s form continue then Howe may face a fight to keep his prized asset on the south coast.

There is little doubt from those who watch him regularly that Cook has the potential to reach the very top.

England recognition – and a spot at this summer’s World Cup – will only accelerate his rise.

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Bournemouth

Junior Stanislas winner cliches Premier League survival for Bournemouth

The Cherries came from behind to beat West Brom on Saturday.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Bournemouth fought back from 1-0 down to secure a vital three points against West Bromwich Albion, as they took a huge step towards Premier League survival.

It wasn’t the best performance from the Cherries, but one player to standout was Junior Stanislas. The winger has been in good form during recent weeks and scored the winning goal on Saturday with a superb free-kick from range.

The 28-year-old is reaching the peak years of his career and he will want to be a regular starter in the top-flight. Bournemouth are a good fit for him, as there are no superstars and the team is greater than the sum of its parts. There are sprinklings of quality throughout and Stanislas is one of the players that can produce moments of brilliance on the pitch.

During the second half of the season, he has been one of the key attacking elements for Bournemouth. He has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League matches, but the one on Saturday was the most important of those as it was directly responsible for the win.

There were only minutes remaining and the chance came from a free-kick that was a long way out. Stanislas showed great confidence to take a shot and the resulting goal will go down as one of the best in his career to date.

(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

The overall performance from Stanislas was a positive one, as he worked hard and contributed in both halves of the pitch from the left wing. The 28-year-old completed two dribbles and made one key pass during the contest, while his pass completion rate was 80%.

He was effective in possession and rarely gave the ball away, which aided the team’s attacking play. In addition to his goal, the winger offered a threat for the entire game and had four attempts on goal. This was the joint-most of any player on the pitch.

Eddie Howe demands total commitment from his players and everyone is expected to contribute to the defensive effort. Stanislas certainly did that on Saturday as he completed both of his attempted tackles. It is important for the wingers to work back and help their full-backs in a 4-4-2 formation. Both Stanislas and Jordon Ibe did their bit for the team.

With their victory over West Brom, Bournemouth moved into the top ten of the Premier League and sit on 36 points. That should put an end to their relegation worries, as they are eight points clear of the bottom three with only seven matches left to play. Although the Cherries have been in the top-flight for three seasons now, it remains a huge achievement to stay in the division given the size of the club.

The success has been due to the team spirit and players stepping up to the highest level. Stanislas is a great example of that, as he has spent the majority of his career in the Football League. He helped Bournemouth get promoted and has continued to improve since the club arrived in the Premier League. Now he is one of the Cherries’ best players and moments like his goal on Saturday reflect that.

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