Who Turned Out to Be Worth Every Penny? And Who Was a Waste of Space? Check Out Our List of the Best Premier League Signings From 2018/19…
Are you really a football fan if you don’t get excited by the transfer window? There’s something about the drama of your club capturing and selling their players that is almost as fun to follow as the action on the pitch itself. But for every good signing, there are two or three flops as well.
Let’s look back on last season and check out the best and worst signings of the 2018/19 season. Who blew fans away? Who failed completely? And who still has the chance to come good?
15. Naby Keita (RB Leipzig – Liverpool)
Now to be fair, Keita does look like he is starting to come good. The signs are there that next season could be much better for the Guinean as he began to finally make an impact for the Reds. However, right now there’s no argument that he underwhelmed for Liverpool throughout the 2018/19 season.
When you sign for £52.5 million you expect more than he’s given. Billed as a box-to-box attacking threat, 2 Premier Goals isn’t a particularly great return. It is harsh to write him off now as he is still 23-years-old and barely spoke a word of English upon arrival in England. He has it all to prove.
The young Turkish defender has lovely hair. We don’t know much else about him. Despite signing for a hefty £19 million, he was still unable to displace club captain and Premier League title winner Wes Morgan. The Jamaican is 35-years-old now and definitely not the powerhouse he still was.
While Soyuncu could still be one for the future, he definitely underwhelmed in his first season. A bigger impact was expected. He’s played more games for Turkey in the Nations League than for Leicester in the Premier League.
It’s easy to feel sorry for Danny Ward. He was Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper for a day before they signed Alisson Becker from Roma. Then he moved to Leicester City, under the mistaken belief that their firm first choice and fan-favourite Kasper Schmeichel was off to Roma. Nope.
Instead, he sat on the bench for a full season. He had a couple of cup appearances but that was it. Having broken into the Wales team the season before he would have hoped for more than another season of stagnation. £15 million is a lot for a back-up goalkeeper.
If Andre-Frank Zambo Anguisse represents money thrown away for no good reason, then Seri is just sheer disappointment for Fulham fans. The Ivorian’s capture was regarded as a massive coup by the Cottagers. He had been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Spurs and even Barcelona before moving to London.
While there were signs of his class, he was playing for one of the worst sides in English first division history and clearly lost motivation about a quarter of the way through the season.
He’s not been dreadful, but compared to Wolves’ other signings, he’s definitely been underwhelming. Traore is a physical specimen and possesses searing pace, but just appears to lack the footballing brain to operate at the highest level of the game.
1 goal in 26 appearances simply is not enough from a man who signed for a club record fee of £18 million. You get the feeling that if the right bid comes in for him this season he’ll be off to pastures new again. At the age of 23, there is still room for development, but next season will be make-or-break for the Spaniard.
This was another strange move by Sean Dyche who looked like he was building Brexit United. The club matched the Claret’s transfer record of £15 million when they signed Gibson from his hometown club. It was slightly strange though considering that the previous season James Tarkowski and Ben Mee had been ultra reliable at the back.
Gibson would finish the season as the club’s fourth choice centre back, even behind Irish international Kevin Long. For a man who was once regarded as a potential England starter, this was not the debut campaign he wanted.
Southampton fans must have cried when they saw Dusan Tadic tear Juventus apart as part of a vibrant and exciting Ajax side. They thought they were getting something special when they paid £16 million for the Serbian’s replacement Mohamed Elyounoussi. So far they really haven’t.
His decision-making is terrible. The Norwegian international had Champion’s League experience with FC Basel, but from watching him you’d assume it was only from playing the FIFA games. 15 appearances all season show just how little impact he made on a side that struggled for goals all season.
The Czech forward is one of those players who is phenomenal in the Championship, but just not quite good enough for the Premier League. There’s no shame in that. However, why Burnley decided to fork out £10.5 million on him we don’t know. You know things are bad when you sign a 36-year-old Peter Crouch as an option in your January transfer window.
Vydra went from being the top scorer in the Championship with Derby to scoring just once for Burnley. Definitely not what fans were expecting, but if they studied his form for West Brom in his last Premier League spell, maybe they should have.
Cardiff City gambled on Bobby Reid and it’s safe to say it didn’t pay off. You know things are bad when you’re playing Callum Peterson, a traditional right back, as your main centre forward. Of course, Cardiff’s transfer window would go from bad to worse with the tragic plane crash carrying Emiliano Sala.
It’s fair to say that Reid simply did not deliver for the Welsh side last season. The club needed more than his 5 goals in 27 appearances – the majority of which came from the substitute’s bench.
Some say that Chris Hughton’s sacking by Brighton was harsh. Not us. He made one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a Premier League manager: signing a prolific Eredivisie forward. They almost never work out. Afonso Alves, Vincent Janssen, the list goes on and on. And you can add Iran’s Alireza Jahanbaksh to it.
He failed to fire for the Seagulls after having a hand in 33 goals the previous season with AZ Alkmaar. Much more was expected of him. The Iranian would disappear for the Asian Cup and also miss an extended period of the season with a hamstring injury. Just not enough from him at all.
Who? You’d be forgiven for not knowing who the Huddersfield winger is, such was his negligible impact for the Terriers throughout last season. Huddersfield lacked an attacking threat in their epic debut season in the Premier League. Diakhaby was one of a number of players signed to solve this problem.
He didn’t. He really really didn’t. He made 12 appearances for the Terriers all season after signing on a three year deal for £9 million, with no goals or assists. Let’s be real: that’s an atrocious return.
We’ve said this before, but what is next for Joe Hart? It appears that his days as a top goalkeeper are long behind him. On the face of it, his move to Burnley appeared to be a strange decision by Sean Dyche, who already had two England internationals in Tom Heaton and Nick Pope.
He conceded 41 goals in 19 games. Burnley went into meltdown and looked like relegation was imminent. It was all the more damning for the former Manchester City keeper and title winner when he was taken out of the firing line and Tom Heaton was reintroduced. Improvements were immediate and Burnley reached safety.
The only reason why he’s not at the top of this list is that he didn’t actually cost West Ham a transfer fee. The story of Wilshere is tragic and depressing. Technically speaking, he’s one of the most gifted footballers England has produced in the last twenty years. Sadly, because of his continuous injury woes, we’ve only ever seen it in patches.
Wilshere’s injuries followed him on a free transfer from Arsenal to West Ham where he has since lost hope of a starting place to Declan Rice, the young defensive midfielder who won plaudits from fans and pundits last season. The game looks like its passing Wilshere by. Don’t be surprised if he retires sooner rather than later.
Fulham spent a cool £100 million on their return to the top-flight last season, and boy did it go wrong. Does any player symbolise their ridiculous blowout more than Anguissa, who became their record transfer signing? Why they bothered we really don’t know. This is a man who was left out regularly so that Callum Chambers – a centre back – could play in midfield.
The 23-year-old arrived from Marseille for £30 million. Now he’s set to play in the Championship unless Fulham can shift the Ivorian on. It was a totally disastrous piece of business.
What exactly is Fred’s position supposed to be? Is he a box-to-box attacking midfielder or a defensive shield that guards the back? The fact is that we don’t know. The Brazilian is unfortunate in that he joined when Jose Mourinho was having an existential crisis. However, Fred cost over £50 million. You need to show signs of making an impact.
Instead, he’s dropped behind Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira in the squad. Even with a new manager in Ole Gunnar Solksjaer he still hasn’t managed to impress and find form. He’ll probably get a chance next season, but he was a definite flop for the Red Devils.
The wheels fell off the bus for Arsenal towards the tail end of the season as they missed out on Champion’s League qualification and then lost the Europa League final. However, the signing of Lucas Torreira was one of the few things that they definitely did do right.
The little Uruguayan is a real terrier of a player. Arsenal has lacked bite in midfield since Gilberto Silva left, and while Torreira isn’t on the Brazilian’s level yet, he’s still a real tenacious footballer with a lot of quality. He did falter in the last few games, but so did the whole clubs. Fans won’t be happy that he’s being heavily linked to AC Milan.
It’s so rare that transfers like Fabinho’s move to Liverpool happen in today’s world. When the Scousers announced that they’d signed the Brazilian defensive midfielder from Monaco, it happened totally out of the blue. While Naby Keita was the more exciting signing on paper, it’s Fabinho who has had the biggest impact.
It took time for him to settle, but when he did it was like having a Bentley engine in the centre of midfield. He established himself as one of the first names on Jurgen Klopp’s teamsheet and freed up other players to play further up the pitch. There’s a reason Manchester City wanted him too.
A January loan signing from Monaco, the young Belgian added a new dimension to Leicester’s midfield. They’re desperate to keep him and after his scintillating displays in the latter half of the season, you can see why. If they do, then Leicester will definitely be a team to watch again next season.
The 22-year-old scored three goals for the Foxes, but it’s his composure on the ball and his wonderful distribution that has seen him linked to the likes of Manchester United. He’s also the youngest Belgian footballer ever to play in the Champion’s League.
It’s amazing that a team that had a fairly bleak season sees two players on this list. The young Brazilian forward Richarlison arrived for £35 million at Everton and it looks like money well spent. He was the Toffee’s leading light in attack for most of the season.
He scored 13 goals in his debut season for the blue half of Merseyside, which isn’t half bad considering Everton’s struggles through much of last season. He’s also forced his way into the Brazil squad. Just 22-years-old, he’s looking like a shrewd investment by Marco Silva, who managed him previously at Watford.
One of three goalkeepers on this list, Ben Foster was the most consistent English goalkeeper in the Premier League last season. Only Everton and Liverpool improved their defensive records more than Watford did in 2018/19 and the signing of Foster as a replacement for Heurelho Gomes was a big part of that.
Arriving under the radar from relegated West Bromwich Albion, Foster proved why he belongs in the top tier of British football with save after phenomenal save. An ultra-reliable sign, Foster shows how goalkeepers mature and develop later than other players. At the age of 36, he’s never been better.
Possibly the smartest piece of business by West Ham in the last couple of seasons, the Polish goalkeeper came in with little fanfare after being relegated Swansea’s most consistent performer. Once ridiculed for errors made while he was an Arsenal player, statistically, he’s one of the safest pairs of hands in the league.
Only Alisson Becker has a better save per game ratio than Fabianski, but the Polish keeper has actually completed more saves overall. With West Ham’s notorious inconsistencies, having a solid keeper like him truly makes a difference.
The giant centre back might not be the sexiest name on this list, but he’s helped to stabilise a Southampton defence that had struggled dramatically since losing Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool. The Dane stands 1.99 metres in height and uses every bit of that height to dominate his area.
He averaged 7.2 clearances per game, more than any other defender in the league. Bizarrely he fell out of favour under Mark Hughes but was brought back in when Ralph Hassenhuttl took charge of the Saints. There’s a lot more to come from this Scandinavian Viking.
One of the brightest lights in another underwhelming season for Everton, France’s Lucas Digne proved his quality to the Toffee’s faithful. Arguably if it wasn’t for another left back across Merseyside, he’d be considered the best in the league on current form.
Digne has an elegant toughness to him, as well as excellent set-piece delivery. He has the most accurate crosses in the league with a grand total of 68. He also created more chances than any other defender – including Liverpool’s widely vaunted pair – with 56 in total. Now they just need to sign somebody who can finish them off.
For a few seasons running, the Portuguese maestro was perennially linked with Tottenham Hostpurs. That never happened, but he finally found himself in England as part of Wolves’ contingent of players from the Iberian nation. And what a signing he was.
Costing a mere £5 million, Moutinho was the pendulum at the heart of the Black Country team’s midfield alongside Ruben Neves. He brought valuable experience and maturity to a young side. That fee is ridiculous in this day and age. He appeared in every league game for Wolves and was voted Player of the Season by their fans.
6. Salomon Rondon (West Bromwich Albion – Newcastle on-loan)
Newcastle fans are desperate for the club to sign up Salomon Rondon on a permanent basis, after a very successful season on loan from West Bromwich Albion. His physical presence allows him to hold the ball up and outmuscle defenders, giving them a focal point in attack.
Without Rondon’s influence, the Magpies would definitely have struggled to stay in the Premier League. Every one of his 11 goals was vital for the club who have traditionally struggled over the last few years. Other clubs have been linked to the burly frontman, including the likes of Wolves and Everton.
Momentarily the most expensive goalkeeper in the world before Kepa Arizzabelaga signed for Chelsea, the Brazilian was Liverpool’s best piece of business last summer. A massive upgrade on Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet, he played a huge part in their Premier League title challenge and was the man of the match in their Champion’s League final win over Spurs.
Alisson would win the Premier League Golden Glove award, keeping a total of 21 clean sheets. Vital saves against Napoli and Barcelona at different stages of the campaign that showed why you sometimes get what you pay for.
Not the most glamorous name on this list, but an excellent piece of business by Bournemouth. Eddie Howe has been criticised for overspending on young players in the past – cough, cough Jordan Ibe – but Brooks is one of the most exciting young talents in the league.
A full Wales international, the 21-year-old scored 7 goals in 30 appearances for the Cherries and has the ability to unlock defences in the blink of an eye. Signing for only £11.5 million, his value has definitely tripled since arriving on the south coast.
Another young player who has the world at his feet, Maddison arrived at Leicester City from Norwich with great fanfare. The hype was justified as he was superb in his first season in the Premier League. The 22-year-old signed for a fee of about £20 million and is probably worth at least double that now.
He scored seven goals in thirty-one appearances for the Midlanders. Maddison has also become renowned for his free-kick taking ability. It’s actually unnatural how good he is at taking them. Still maturing as a player – he was sent off for diving – his ceiling is as high as the Sistine Chapel.
James Maddison might get the headlines, but he wasn’t voted the club’s player of the season. No, that honour fell to their Portuguese right-back Ricardo Pereira, signed from Nice in a £20 million deal. It was smart business by the Foxes as they looked to upgrade a position held for a number of seasons by Danny Simpson.
Pereira is one of the best right-backs in the division, his signing was a coup by Leicester. His attacking threat is up there with the best, while he is also excellent defensively. He was one of only four players with over 100 completed tackles by April.
Move over Chicharito, there’s a new Mexican in town and he’s brilliant. There were question marks over Jimenez’s abilities when he arrived at Wolves from Benfica on loan, but they’ve been answered. A physical presence and a consistent goalscorer, Jimenez links up brilliantly with Diogo Jota to create a unique threat for the Wolves attack.
He completed a £35 million transfer to the West Midlands team in January which looks like a great bit of business. The Mexico international lashed in 13 goals in the league last season.