Each season plenty of new arrivals join the Premier League and adapt quickly. There’s obviously plenty who don’t and are labelled, understandably, as ‘flops’. In this article, I’ll list a few players in no particular order who’ve stood out and taken to the Premier League with relative ease.
Signed for a reported £32 million from Russian side Anzhi, Willian’s controversial move to Chelsea has been a relatively comfortable one. We all know the controversy surrounding his transfer as he was supposedly close to joining Tottenham, only for Chelsea to nip in at the last minute and snap him up. Thankfully, for Chelsea, they made the right call, with Willian impressing in the Chelsea attack and keeping Juan Mata, who’s now departed the club, out of the side. Willian is good on the ball, has chipped in with a few goals already and looks set to play a crucial role for Chelsea in the coming years.
The big Spanish striker who, unusually for a Spaniard, has all the attributes of a traditional target man has been a huge hit for Manchester City. At a reported £16.4 million, Negredo could easily be classed as a bargain, especially in today’s market. The Spaniard has taken some of the responsibility off Sergio Aguero this season and has contributed with some important goals, not just domestically but in cup competitions too.
Signed by Everton on-loan from Chelsea for the season, Lukaku has been ever present for Roberto Martinez’s side this campaign. Martinez’s Everton require a big, strong target man who’s able to lead the line by themself, and at the tender age of 20, Lukaku has coped with the highly pressurised role with ease, helping Everton progress further and have a tremendous season in the process. His impact has been so huge that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has been hammered for allowing the talented Belgian to depart Stamford Bridge in the first place. Chelsea’s loss is definitely Everton’s gain.
Injury prone Huddlestone seems to have put his series of setbacks behind him at Hull after joining the Tigers from Spurs for a fee believed to be in the region of £5 million. Calm, composed and classy on the ball, Huddlestone has stood out in a Hull side that has defied the odds and shone this season. The supposed relegation candidates are playing superb football under Bruce, with Huddlestone impressing hugely. Thankfully for Huddlestone, injuries have been scarce this season and he’s been able to make a big impression.
The Belgian shot stopper who joined Liverpool from Sunderland for a reported £9 million in the summer has coped with such a big transition comfortably and has numbed the pain of losing fans’ favourite Pepe Reina to Napoli. He’s had a few shaky moments this season, but in a Liverpool team that has come on leaps and bounds under Rodgers, Mignolet has produced some excellent saves at crucial times to help Liverpool well on their way to a Champions League place.
Returning to Arsenal after his release from AC Milan has not only been a romantic move, but a highly successful one. In an Arsenal midfield that has been labelled as lightweight and lacking any real grit or steel in recent years, the return of the French enforcer has helped the Gunners sure up their previously leaky defence and allowed players such as Ramsey to get themselves higher up the pitch in the knowledge that Flamini will cover. His experience has been vital and Arsenal have benefitted greatly from what can only be described as a bargain.
Signed from Lyon for a reported £8.5 million, the Croatian centre-back has been immense for an impressive Southampton this campaign. The Saints were vulnerable in that area last season, but the addition of Lovren has made them the complete opposite. The beefy Croat has proved a real threat from set-pieces and, more importantly, has formed a superb partnership with Jose Fonte.
Hard-working, tenacious and rarely off form, McCarthy has been one of Everton’s standout players this season. Eyebrows were raised at a reported £13 million fee paid to Wigan for his services, and understandably so, but those doubters have surely been silenced now. The Goodison faithful have grown to love McCarthy, who’s the sort of player you’d love to have on your team due to his consistency and passion for the shirt. The Irishman is certainly one to keep an eye on.
The Brazillian holding midfielder joined Manchester City from Shakhtar Donesk in the summer and hasn’t looked back since. It’s unclear how much he joined for, but regardless, he’s filled a gap in the City midfield and allowed the ever-present Yaya Toure to bomb on and have arguably his best season in a City shirt so far. Tidy on the ball, reasonably quick and reliable, Fernandinho’s transition from the Ukrainian league to arguably the toughest league in the world has been a successful one.
By Martin Crain – Notts County fan