Karl Graham looks at seven players who are sure to make a splash in the big pond next season.
Despite many Baggies fans grumbling about their team’s capture of James McClean, it will please a host of others as his direct approach is something manager Tony Pulis is a big fan of. The 26-year-old Irishman burst onto the scene in dramatic fashion to win Sunderland’s Young Player of the Year Award in 2012, despite having only made his debut halfway through the season.
With energy to burn, a reported figure of £1.5m could prove a bargain for a player who scored 6 goals and 6 assists in 30 starts for a struggling Wigan last season.
The brother-in-law of cult hero Scott Parker, Harry Arter is a linchpin in the side that helped Bournemouth rise from the brink of extinction to the football promised land. It almost didn’t happen for the 25-year-old midfielder however, after a slow start to his Bournemouth career saw him fall into non-league obscurity but he showed a hard working mentality which could prove vital in the Premiership.
With 9 goals and 4 assists for Bournemouth last season, Arter could prove a shrewd move for any Football Fantasy enthusiasts.
Bournemouth’s captain could prove a crucial cog in Eddie Howe’s team if they are to avoid relegation this season. Although only Middlesbrough conceded less goals in the Championship last season, Bournemouth’s side is bereft of Premier League experience. With the classy Sylvain Distin now amongst their ranks, his partnership with Elphick could prove one of the League’s best.
At 27 he should be starting to hit his prime and a big season could lead to an England call-up.
This one won’t be a surprise to anyone, but it all depends on where the best place for him to flourish during the coming season is. With Chelsea’s reluctance to give youth a chance, except during dead rubber end-of-season games, a loan to another Premiership side could be the best solution. Newcastle has been heavily linked with a move, but I think a team like Bournemouth would better suit the exciting 21-year-old.
The Championship Player of the Year had Chelsea fans drooling at the sight of another young star staking a strong claim at a first-team chance. He showed his natural ability to score goals with 19 strikes last season, and whatever jersey he pulls on at the start of the season, expect to see plenty more of them.
If anybody had any doubts about the potential of Troy Deeney, the £11m bid it is believed Swansea recently had rejected should be enough to change their minds. Watford surprised a lot of people by finishing second to gain automatic promotion. However, this was due to the club’s managerial shambles and no reflection on the talent within the squad.
The 26-year-old’s personal life hasn’t been a smooth ride either. After serving two months of a ten month sentence for a drunken brawl, he got his life in order to bag 67 goals in the three seasons following his release. If Watford can add some quality additions to their midfield, then there is no reason why Deeney can’t do a Charlie Austin in the coming season.
As impressive as Deeney was last season, his strike partner Odion Ighalo wasn’t far behind, scoring just one goal less. The 25-year-old Nigerian started the season slowly but hit a rich vein of form during the second half of the season, finishing up with 20 goals to his name.
Ighalo is also an experienced performer having previously represented Udinese, also earning three caps for Nigeria. His powerful physique and eye for goal should cause Premiership defences plenty of problems.
Five years on from his two Premier League appearances for Portsmouth during their disastrous relegation season, 25-year-old Matt Richie has finally made his way back to England’s top tier. He had a sensational season in the Championship which resulted in 15 goals and 17 assists, as well as a call-up to Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad.
As a left-footed, right winger who uses his ferocious pace to terrorise defenders, his pin-point crossing should see him rack up the assists once again. Expect Richie to be one of the League’s star performers this season.