SayNaija Sports: New signings, New challenges


The new season is well underway, as teams take shape and new signings hope to establish themselves as key contributors to the progress of the team. The transfer market has an inherent risk component and foreign signings coming into the Barclays Premier League (BPL) can be seen as a gamble made by the managers, to build on the ambitions of their respective teams to excel.

The BPL favours more of a dynamic style of play that is based on speed, technicality and physicality. Other leagues such as La liga is more about the technical aspect and places less emphasis on physical strength. Same can be said for the Bundesliga and Seria A that deals with tactical and defensive discipline of their teams and less reli­ance on the physical aspect. The Premier League has over the years witnessed star names acquired for substantial amounts but didn’t live up to their perceived expectations. Injuries, adapting to a new culture and inability to gel with one’s team mates are factors that could add to poor performances. Furthermore, a player coming in from any of the aforementioned leagues would have to deal with the issue of the fixture congestion during Christmas as op­posed to the holiday opportunity given in other leagues. Lastly, players from the Bundesliga would have to contend with having to play extra games, all of which puts its toll on the body of the player and affects his performance. As a consequence transfer success is based on making the right decisions and luck that an investment comes to frui­tion. This season has witnessed signings made across the four major leagues in Europe, and all hoping to make an impression to cement their names in history and the hearts of the fans. This article aims to break down the summer foreign transfers and what they could possibly bring to their respective teams.


Max Gradel

(Saint Etienne to Bournemouth):

Ivorian superstar Max Gradel returns to Bournemouth where he spent two separate loan spells in the 2007/2008 season. The skilful Ivorian would hope to replicate his form from last season in Ligue 1, where he ended the season with 17 goals in 23 appearances. The experience gotten from his loan spell and return to familiar faces could aid his adaptation and the cherries expect their star man to help keep them away from the relegation zone with his performances over the season.

Idrissa Gueye

(Losc Lille to Aston Villa):

The Senegalese international shone last year for Lille making 32 league appear­ances and contributing 4 goals. The defen­sive midfielder known for his good hold up play and defensive contributions as per (Whoscored) was one of the finest young players in France and he would expect to improve on his performance from last year and build on to become a real house­hold name among the villa fans.

Jordan Amavi

(OGC Nice to Aston Villa):

The 21-year old full-back is one of the highly rated young players in Europe. He is known for his ability to intercept and dribble down the left flank. However, he needs to improve on his hold up play. The left back would hope to build on his performance from last year.

Jordan Ayew

(FC Lorient to Aston Villa):

Jordan joins his brother in the BPL, having signed for Aston villa. The Villians hope he can help them stay up and avoid relegation after losing out on star striker Christian Benteke due to Liverpool acti­vating his release clause. Unlike Benteke, Jordan is weak aerially but would hope to influence proceedings with his efforts on the ground.

Jordan Veretout

(Nantes to Aston Villa):

The French international is yet to earn a cap for France, but has a wealth of experi­ence playing in Ligue 1 having made 140 appearances. The midfielder is prolific from set- pieces and has an eye for key passes and would hope to assist the team to push up the table.

Yohan Cabaye

(Paris Saint Germain to Crystal Palace):

The French international returns to the Premier League following a less impres­sive spell with the Parisians and would hope he can replicate his form at New­castle under his then and now boss Alan Pardew. The playmaker is expected to command the midfield and contribute to the attack with assists and goals especially from direct free kicks.

N’Golo Kante

(caen to Leicester City):

The Frenchman’s dynamic style of play was evident last year as he impressed with his performances over the season. He is a ball winning midfielder that is known for his hard tackling style. It is expected that he can become a midfield powerhouse for the foxes and improve as the years go.

Andre Ayew

(Marseille to Swansea city) :

The skilful Ghanaian star is expected to fill the boots of the departed Wilfred Bony and aid Swansea up the table to a possible European spot. He showed his goal scoring ability against a highly rated Chelsea team and West Ham. This outing is quite remarkable given the fact that he is coming from the French league that lacks pace and speed.

Franck Tabanou

(St Etienne to Swansea City):

The French International signed for the Swans following good performances in Ligue 1. The winger turned Left back would compete with Neil Taylor for 1st team action. His strengths include his aerial ability, tendencies to deliver accu­rate crosses and his concentration. All of which are key attributes of a fullback.

Clinton N’jie

(Lyon to Tottenham Hotspur):

The adroit Cameroonian joins Totten­ham hotspur following his time at Lyon. He is a player that likes to dribble and is deadly from long range. Spurs fans would hope he is an improvement from the dis­appointing Soldado.

Dimitri Payet

(Marseille to West Ham): The French international is a major coup for the Ham­mers having impressed during his time at Marseille where he contributed 17 assists the 2nd highest number of assists in Eu­rope’s major leagues just behind Kevin De Bruyne who had 22. They would expect he can replicate his form in the Premier League. His impressive showing against Arsenal was an indication of what a qual­ity signing he could turn out to be.


Jose Angel Crespo

(Cordoba to Aston Villa):

An experienced player following spells at Serie A and La Liga, the defensive midfielder expects to play a crucial role in anchoring the midfield as well as serving as an experience head in the locker room.

Adama Traore

(Barcelona B to Aston Villa):

The youth prodigy is a prod­uct of Barcelona’s famed La masia academy. He is a physi­cally strong player that balances this aspect with his pace and maverick- type of play. These qualities are essential to excel in the BPL and one would only have to be patient to reap the rewards of his contributions in years to come.

Gerard Deulofeu

(Barcelona to Everton):

Another La Masia product, Deulofeu returns to Goodison Park having had a loan spell in the 2013/2014 season. He is a skilful player that uses his burst of pace to unsettle defences but would hope to improve on his finishing in coming years. The youngster expects to have an im­pressive season and reward the manager for his faith in him.


(Malaga to Southampton):

The Spanish international joins Southampton following an average performance in La Liga last season where he recorded 8 goals in 34 appearances. He is a player that offers an aerial threat in attack, however he needs to work on his hold up play and offside awareness to enable him compliment the saint’s style of play that includes the use of a target man, whose duty is to hold up play and create chances for his other teammates.

Ibrahim Afellay

(Barcelona to Stoke City):

The Dutch international signed for the potters after his contract wasn’t renewed by Barcelona following his loan spell in Olympiakos. He offers flair and pace that could aid the potters as they progress in all competitions.

Allan Nyom

(Granada to Watford):

The Cameroonian right back is a good attacking fullback with a burst of pace and impressive defensive positioning. The fans would expect that he can sup­port the team in both attack and defence.


Yohan Benalouane

(Atlanta to Leicester City):

The 6ft 2ins Tunisian defender is a towering player endowed with pace, power and balances these attributes with his compo­sure, all of which are essential to thrive in the Premier League. He comes into Claudio Ranieri’s side with lots of international and club experience that would aid the fox’s campaign.

Matteo Darmian

(Torino to Man United):

The Italian right back was signed following an impres­sive campaign with Torino. He has made 146 appearances and scored 5 league goals at club level while also claiming 13 international caps for Italy. His remarkable defensive position­ing and tackling ability has seen him excel as a traditional full­back. This season has seen him being lauded for his defensive attributes and fans would expect him to continue improving sea­son after season.

Pedro Obiang

(Sampdoria to West Ham):

The powerful and athletic midfielder has all the attributes to compete in the Premier League. He is well known as a box to box midfielder that is hard working and doesn’t neglect his defensive duties and only time will tell how he would progress over time.

Sergio Romero

(Sampdoria to Man United):

The Argentine no 1 signed as a free agent after he was released by Sampdoria. The keeper who is acclaimed for his shot stop­ping ability would hope that his experience from other leagues can help him stake a claim for 1st team action. In order to adapt to the rigors of the premier league he has to improve on his aerial command and communi­cation skills.

Xherdan Shaqiri

(Inter Milan to Stoke City):

The Swiss speed merchant has had a rollercoaster 12 months having recently signed with Inter Milan; he then completed a quick fire move to Stoke City where he hopes he can cement a first team place and develop to the perceived expectations of his numerous fans.

Jose Holebas

(AS Roma to Watford):

The left back is a tough tackling defender and is very good when it comes to intercepting plays from the opposition. He would hope to contribute to Watford’s campaign, as they anticipate concluding their season above the relegation zone.

Miguel Britos

(Napoli to Watford):

The centre back comes to the Watford side with a lot of experi­ence having played in the Serie A for a while. Miguel is good at winning aerial duels as well as intercepting plays. The fans should expect a commanding performance from the centre back.

Angelo Ogbonna

(Juventus to West Ham):

The Italian defender joins the hammers having found game time hard to get in Juve. He is a physi­cally built athlete that would slot in nicely into the hammers defence and possibly showcase his talents in seasons to come.


Christian Fuchs

(Schalke to Leicester):

The 29 year old Austrian captain who operates as a left back brings a wealth of experience having played in the Bundesliga for a number of seasons. One would expect he adds a bit of quality defensive contribu­tions to the first team.

Shinji Okazaki

(Mainz to Leicester City):

The Japanese International has been impressive since his arrival. Scoring his first goal against West Ham, the striker would expect to build on his performance over the season.

Roberto Firmino

(Hoffenheim to Liverpool):

The Brazilian has made 140 appearances and scored 38 goals while at Hoffenheim. The Ma­ceio- born South American can be deployed as a centre forward and an attacking midfielder and would hope that with the help of fellow Brazilians, Coutinho and Leiva, he can settle in fast and help Liverpool meet their expectations for the season.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

(Bayern Munich to Man U):

He is the first German to feature in a united shirt hav­ing completed his move. The German International is a work horse as indicated by his per­formance in the just concluded world cup final. He is one that doesn’t shy away from making tackles at crucial points in the game. His duty as a midfield general plays to his strong point as he dominates the game from the centre circle. As well as of­fering a wealth of experience at club level, he is accomplished at international level having won the world cup in 2014. The Man­chester United fans would hope he can replicate his excellent form shown at Bayern Munich and stay injury free.

Kevin Wimmer

(Cologne to Tottenham):

The centre back signed from Cologne following an impres­sive performance last season in the Bundesliga after their recent promotion. He is a player that isn’t blessed with pace but has the mental capability to excel in the league.

Valon Behrami

(Hamburg to Watford):

The defensive midfielder who can also play in midfield is a tough tackler and would suit the BPL. His wealth of experience from spells in the Serie A and recently the Bundesliga would really help the hornets as they hope to avoid the relegation drop.



(Dutch League)

Memphis Depay

(PSV Eindoven to Man U):

The Dutch International comes into the Premier League having ended his previous cam­paign with the Eredivisie golden boot. He expects to represent the red devils at the highest level and give the fans that excitement that has been missing since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Georginio Wijnaldum

(PSV to Newcastle):

The box to box midfielder would expect to add pace, dyna­mism alongside a similar talent in Moussa Sissoko and both would hope to be steer the toons above the relegation drop come the end of the season.

Jordie Clasie

(Feyenoord to


The ‘Dutch Iniesta’ as he is known in his homeland would be expected to slot into the mid­field of the saints following the departure of Morgan Schneider­lein. Although he isn’t a big lad, he is an energetic and technical player that would hope to thrive when partnered with the more physical Victor Wanyama.


Salomon Rondon

(Zenith St

Petersburg to West Brom):

The record signing joins the hawthorns having had spells in La liga with Malaga and recently with Russian club Zenith. He is known for his aerial ability and his impressive physique that both combine to make him stand out as formidable striker.



(Anderlecht to Newcastle):

20 year old Mitrovic joins the toons from the pro league where he was known for his feisty and short- tempered approach. The new boy has been booked twice already this season in less than minutes of coming into the field. Nonetheless his talent cannot be ignored with the striker net­ting 44 goals in 90 appearances across all competitions in his two seasons at Anderlecht. He is a towering striker that is good in the air and on the ground and is certainly one to watch out for.

Chancel Mbemba

(Anderlecht to Newcastle):

Mbemba is a congolese inter­national centre back that joins the toons after impressing season after season in the pro league. He is an athletic centre back that could suit the Premier League. He has impressed in his two appearances since he was signed and only time would tell how far he progresses.



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