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Stoke, Arsenal, Chelsea & Liverpool: Top Five most exciting signings in Premier League so far?

The Boot Room

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In the aftermath of an international tournament it is not abnormal for Premier League clubs to adopt a more adventurous approach to recruitment. This becomes apparent for anyone who takes the time to browse daily gossip columns or follow transfer related accounts on Twitter – so far, this window has been pretty crazy.

Indeed with just less than a month remaining before the closing of the annual summer transfer window already a host of high profile names have officially put pen to paper with new clubs, with many more rumoured deals likely to materialise in the coming weeks as the pressure mounts to form the most competitive squads possible.

Below I take a look at the done deals deserving of the utmost excitement.

Alexis Sanchez – FC Barcelona to Arsenal FC – £35 milion.

Sanchez 1

Do not underestimate the symbolic importance of this deal.

‘Arsenal don’t sign big players’, ‘Wenger doesn’t like spending money’ – nowadays such criticism can be dispelled as myth no longer relevant to the current Arsenal regime. The acquisition of Sanchez not only stands alone as a tremendous piece of business but reinforces the notion that Ozil’s arrival this time last year was far from a flash in the pan. The club have spent big money and now, to the delight of Arsenal fans, has a taste for it.

Let us not underestimate the pitch-level importance of the deal, either. Alexis Sanchez is a freakishly-talented footballer. With the ability to operate anywhere across the front three more than competently, Alexis is comparable to the style of one-time Arsenal target Luis Suarez in his ability to create goals as well as deliver an impressive return himself.

Okay, 39 goals in 88 games for Barcelona isn’t exactly a ground-breaking ratio, but for a player denied a prolonged run of games in Spain due to niggling injuries, Alexis still managed to deliver on big occasions and produce some memorable moments in the process.

His performance in Brazil this summer paid testament to the calibre of player the Arsenal faithful can look forward to seeing in their colours this season. Despite the glamour of his playing style, he appeared to thrive in a side not afraid to get their hands dirty. He possesses the work-rate to match his on-the-ball ability, a trait that will go a long way to establishing him as a star in the Premier League.

 

Diego Costa – Atletico Madrid to Chelsea FC – £32 million.

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Perhaps some people’s prime candidate for flop of the season – Costa arrives in England with a sizable monkey on his back in the shape of his reputation, a reality that certainly didn’t help the likes of Shevchenko and Kezman in times gone by.

Indeed what partially makes this signing so exciting is the potential for a huge flop and subsequently egg on the face of the special one. The big Brazilian/Spaniard hardly set the World Cup alight and possesses a notoriously-short temper that could well be found out in the pressure situations.

With this in mind, there is a fine line between realism and pessimism and for all Costa’s potential problems he also possesses an incredible talent for playing football. His goals fired Atletico to their first domestic title in 18 years and it can’t be disputed that the big forward has the qualities to become a force to be reckoned with in England.

Big, pacey, powerful and domestically (at least) a big-game player, Costa is sure to generate a lot of excitement as he settles in to life in the English game.

 

Lazar Markovic – S.L. Benfica to Liverpool FC – £20 million.

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Out of the plethora of fresh faces at Anfield, perhaps the one arousing the most excitement is Serbian wonder-kid Lazar Markovic. Blessed with frightening pace and dribbling ability, the forward is sure to thrive in Rodger’s attacking style, while his ability to operate in a number of attacking positions makes incredibly versatile – a quality Rodgers openly looks for when recruiting players.

Markovic is far from the finished product and he has a lot of learning to do before he realises his full potential, however under Rodgers he is lucky enough to work with a manager renowned for optimising the talent of budding footballers i.e. Sterling, Henderson & Flanagan.

The more cautious of Liverpool fans may detect elements of past young flops such as Ryan Babel or Mark González in the signing of Markovic, however fans just as realistic will also respect the need for patience when nurturing a young prospect.

If Rodgers can replicate his influence on Sterling when working with Markovic Liverpool could well have a top class player on their hands.

 

Cesc Fabregas – FC Barcelona to Chelsea FC – £27 million. 

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The most underreported signing of the summer?

The timing of the transaction really did serve to reduce the volume of this deal. Taking place just days before the World Cup began, the news was somewhat overwhelmed by the giddy hype surrounding the world’s biggest sport tournament and England’s imminent glory, of course.

Make no mistake about it, Chelsea have signed one of the generation’s must gifted and decorated footballers for a very modest price.

There is much to be said for the political side of the deal, too.

Once upon a time Fabregas was Arsenal’s much-beloved baby boy – he could do no wrong and would always go down in club folklore despite his move to the Barcelona in 2011. This long-distance love affair was too good to be true, it seems…

‘I’ll never join another English club’ – Oh Cesc, what are you like?

Drama aside, Fabregas is a proven top-bracket Premier League player meaning there is no real risk involved in his acquisition. Providing Cesc doesn’t succumb to a Torres-esque transformation for the worse, he should be a sublime signing.

 

Bojan Krkic – FC Barcelona to Stoke FC – £3 million estimated fee.

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In 2007 Bojan dethroned Lionel Messi as the youngest player to ever feature for Barcelona in La Liga when sent on by Frank Rijkaard against Osasuna. From that point the young Spaniard was tipped to become a legend of Catalonia, however his career soon experienced a downward spiral of sorts.

Bojan joins Stoke having spent underwhelming seasons at Roma, AC Milan and Ajax; failing to make any real impact at any of the clubs. However having already netted a handful of goals for his new English club in pre-season, perhaps the time has come for the one-time Spanish prodigy to reignite his career?

Indeed Bojan may not have done the business on the pitch recently, but his origins and footballing-upbringing alone make him an absolutely huge coup for Stoke City. The deal is almost surreal in nature; the side once dubbed ‘the rugby team’ have recruited a graduate from arguably the most prestigious footballing academy on the planet.

The nature of the deal completely compliments the effect of Mark Hughes. In his first year in charge Hughes oversaw a revolution of sorts, successfully changing the playing style of the side and leading the team to their highest ever Premier League finish. Frankly, Hughes was unlucky to come up against so many impressive candidates for the manager of the year award; he didn’t do a bad job himself.

Ultimately, there is an element of ‘win win’ when it comes to this transfer. If Bojan manages to turn the clocks back and hit the ground running at Stoke, the deal becomes a complete and utter masterstroke for an embarrassingly-low price.  If Bojan’s struggles continue, Stoke have made no notable financial loss in the context of today’s market, and have still made a hugely impressive statement in just acquiring his signature.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Arsenal

What can Arsenal supporters expect from Unai Emery?

The 46-year-old looks set to be named as the next Arsenal manager.

Jake Jackman

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Unai Emery
Photo: Getty Images

There has been much speculation about who would be the manager tasked with following Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Former player Mikel Arteta has been the bookmaker’s favourite for a long time, but BBC Sport report that Unai Emery is set to become the new boss at the Emirates Stadium.

There has been a widespread search for the next manager, with the Arsenal hierarchy keen to make the right appointment and avoid the deep that Manchester United suffered after Sir Alex Ferguson.

The report goes on to say that Emery was the unanimous choice and an official announcement and press conference could take place as soon as the end of the week.

Emery arrived after leading PSG at the end of the French season.

Although it will be remembered as an underwhelming spell in Ligue 1, he did manage to win a league title and four domestic cups.

(Photo by Christophe Simon/Getty Images)

His performances in the Champions League weren’t great and he struggled to manage a squad full of big characters.

However, the club from the French capital are now part of Europe’s elite and no coach has managed to be a total success there.

The job at Arsenal seems more suitable to Emery and comparable to the situation he found himself in at Sevilla. He wasn’t in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the league, but he was expected to challenge for Champions League qualification and trophies.

During his time with the Spanish outfit, he oversaw impressive recruitment and won three successive Europa League trophies.

Considering the strength of the Premier League, it could be that the second European competition could be Arsenal’s best route into the Champions League.

In Emery, they will have one of the most successful coaches in the competition’s history. That can hardly be considered a bad thing.

There won’t be a tactical revolution at Arsenal after Wenger, with Emery likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that the former manager used for the majority of recent seasons. That bodes well for Mesut Ozil, as he isn’t a great fit for other formations.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Although the formation won’t be a huge change, Arsenal are likely to be more functional under Emery.

He is less likely to produce scintillating attacking football, with the focus being on control and small margins. That especially plays strongly in cup competitions and his record reflects that.

The Gunners are currently at a low ebb after finishing in 6th without a trophy, but the incoming manager looks to offer hope for a better future.

There is a desire for instant gratification in football now and there will be a lot of Arsenal fans that will be wanting to see immediate progress on the pitch.

Considering the size of the job that Emery is inheriting, it would be unwise to expect the club to be challenging for major honours next season.

This needs to be seen as a long-term project and time needs to be given to the 46-year-old.

His success with Sevilla bodes well and he will be stronger for the experience at PSG, even if he didn’t fare as well as he would have expected.

Emery looks to be a safe appointment and is capable of getting the club back to challenging for a top-four finish.

In addition to that, Arsenal will be a bigger threat in cup competitions with improved game management.

It may not be the most exciting appointment and Arsenal fans will be disappointed to be giving the job to a manager that has just failed with PSG.

However, considering their current position, he looks to be the best man to lead the club forward.

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It is too soon for Mikel Arteta to be considered for Arsenal job

The 36-year-old has been linked with the Emirates hot seat.

Jake Jackman

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Mikel Arteta
Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal have a huge summer awaiting them as they will need to appoint a successor to Arsene Wenger and rebuild a squad that has missed out on Champions League football for the second season in a row.

It won’t be an easy task and the board must act swiftly to make sure the club are prepared for the 2018/19 campaign.

Considering Wenger’s departure was announced weeks ago, Arsenal should have made progress in their search for a replacement.

There will be a number of names under consideration and it is important that they do their due diligence to ensure they can start to move in the right direction again.

BBC Sport report that Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta is one of the options being considered by the hierarchy at the Emirates Stadium.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

As a former player, he would be well received by the fanbase, but it would represent a huge gamble by the club.

The 36-year-old was part of the playing staff under Arsene Wenger as recently as 2016.

Although he will know the problems that exist at the club, he may struggle to exert the authority to correct them considering many of the current squad were his peers.

It has only been two years since the Spaniard retired from playing and he wouldn’t have expected to be in the running for a job of this size this soon.

Upon retiring, he took up a coaching role at Manchester City and the experience will stand him in good stead to move into management one day.

After all, he is working with one of the best managers of all-time in Pep Guardiola and Arteta will have played a role in the team’s record-breaking Premier League season.

That coupled with his history with Arsenal makes him an attractive left-field option for the Gunners.

However, the size of the risk attached to an appointment means that the club should look elsewhere this summer.

The club will want stability, but first and foremost, they will want success.

The fact that Arteta has no managerial experience means that he would be learning on the job and the North London side can’t afford to allow that.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Arsenal are a huge club and as the man following Arsene Wenger, the next manager will be scrutinised closely.

It would be a job better suited to a manager with experience and know-how at the top level.

The article goes on to mention both Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri. Either of them would be a better appointment for Arsenal at this time, as they have both managed big clubs previously.

For Arteta, the fact that he is being linked to a job like Arsenal shows how highly he is thought of within the game.

If he wants to go into management, he needs to leave Manchester City and gain experience as a number one.

If he does that, whether it be in England or abroad, he could be ready to take the hot-seat at the Emirates Stadium at a later date.

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Exclusive: Havard Nordtveit – Hoffenheim move, Julian Nagelsmann and facing Liverpool

The Norwegian international discussed his time at Hoffenheim and his experience of English clubs.

Mathew Coull

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Havard Nordtveit
Photo: Getty Images

This summer West Ham United utility man Havard Nordtveit called time on his career with the Hammers, after just one season.

Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer he suffered from the London outfits’ own struggles, the change of stadium and being asked to play out of position at right-back.

After just 21 games for the Hammers, he headed back to Germany, where he had such success previously.

Now, speaking exclusively to The Boot Room, the Norwegian international has discussed working under an exciting new manager, facing Liverpool in the Champions League and coming through the ranks at Arsenal.

Plenty of teams in Germany would have wanted Nordtveit this summer.

He built a fine reputation in the Bundesliga during his time with Gladbach.

In fact, just hours before his July transfer was announced, he was being linked with Bundesliga rivals Hamburg.

In the end, it was Hoffenheim who snapped up the Norwegian. They had just finished fourth in the Bundesliga and it was a brilliant move for the 27-year-old.

(Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)

But, as the former Hammer explained from Germany, it has been a topsy-turvy season:

“It went well in the first couple of months. But then my games weren’t as good as I was hoping for,” he admitted. “Then obviously I was not good enough for the team. I have been training hard and lately, it has been back to normal again.

“It’s good to be back in Germany and also I needed half a season to get to know the new coach and the new system. I am looking forward to the rest of the campaign.”

Nordtveit started the season playing in the Hoffenheim back three, but found himself out of the squad entirely from mid-December until last month.

Despite his problems, he did not sulk and simply worked hard to get back into the first-team:

“I am not that person,” proclaimed the Norwegian international. “I have been in that situation before with West Ham and Gladbach. It’s all about giving everything you can instead of moaning.

“You have to be positive,” he continued. “This is a team sport. You have to give your best for the team. If that means you are playing or not you know that you will get the chance in the end.”

This season Hoffenheim and Nordtveit were challenging for the Europa League.

However, at the start of the campaign, the Bundesliga outfit were in Champions League action for the first time in their history.

They took on Premier League side Liverpool in the qualifying rounds, with Nordtveit playing in both games.

Liverpool were not yet working under Mohamed Salah power but still proved far too strong for their German opponents over two legs:

“We knew they were strong. With their attacking forwards they are brutal. We had a very good home game. But in the end, it is a little better a feeling to know we went out of the play-offs against a team that reached the finals,” Nordtveit explained, with a sense of vindication for his club’s exit.

“What Klopp has done with the club is massive and also Salah, at this time, maybe is Europe’s best player.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Hoffenheim’s entrance to the Champions League was masterminded by their brilliant young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The 30-year-old is just a few years older than the Norwegian but has proven himself a top manager:

“He is fantastic,” said an excited Nordtveit. “He has great experience and his own style of play. It is a lot of tactics for every new player. Also when I came in then there was a lot of new things I had to learn quite quick.

“I am now starting to see that I learn something in myself to get into the rhythm that he wants. He is like a young, bright, football professor.”

He then gave him high praise, by comparing him to his former Gladbach boss Lucien Favre:

“He reminds me a little bit of Lucien Favre. He thinks about football 24/7. Small details, always, which can mean we take the three points.

“If I could compare him with someone it would be Lucien Favre, which is not a bad comparison.”

Nagelsmann’s clear ability has seen him linked with taking over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Norwegian came through the ranks at Arsenal, but made it clear that he spent most of his time working with the current Arsenal assistant Steve Bould:

“I spoke with him of course but he was more observing the training. I was more with the reserve team.

“I was more with Steve Bould, the legend. He was quite important for me, a really good guy. I think he was one of the more important guys in Arsenal when I was there.”

Working under the Arsenal legend as a young defender must have been a big learning experience for the Hoffenheim player, who speaks highly of his time at Arsenal:

“I went quite early, about 16,17,” remembered the talented utility man. “It was perhaps the most important choice I did in my career because there I learnt how to do the basics in football.

“I did not play much with the first-team but the experience of training with the first-team and getting to know English football and a really high standard was really important to me.

(Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images)

“From there, when I moved to Germany, I had the perfect base to have an OK career.

“Jack Wilshere was there before he finally broke through to the first-team. We had Wojciech Szczesny now second goalkeeper for Juventus. Many of the players are having big careers.  

“For me and a lot of the players we were quite lucky to have this opportunity.”

But Nordtveit still remembers his time fondly. He still follows the club, where good friend Granit Xhaka is also playing.

The Gunners have been unable to put a smile on the face of Nordtveit by picking up the Europa League trophy in Arsene Wenger’s final year.

However, with London outfit set to compete in the competition again next season, under a new manager, the two could well come face-to-face. 

That would be an opportunity Hoffenheim’s intrepid Norwegian would relish.

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