The top-5 signings in EPL this season

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The top-5 signings in EPL this season

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Amlan Majumdar

10/09/2016

After all the hype surrounding the new arrivals in the buildup to the season, only a handful have lived up to their billings. On one hand, world-record signings have faltered, while on the other hand, free agents have made their mark. Here is a look at 5 of the best new signings so far this season.

5. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)

Crystal Palace broke their club record while signing Christian Benteke for a whopping £27 million in the summer. After making his name during his stint at Aston Villa, Benteke failed to have a similar impact at Liverpool due to injuries and bad form in front of the goal. However, he now has a chance to redeem himself at Palace, albeit, with a big price tag around his shoulder.

People might not have noticed, but Palace are currently placed eighth in the points table, and Benteke will take a lot of credit for that. He has scored three goals in five appearances so far, but most importantly, all of those three goals have arrived at important times for his club side. In the 1-2 win over Middlesbrough away from home, Benteke gave his side an early lead, he scored the last-gasp winner against Sunderland away from home last month, and then he followed that up by scoring the crucial equalizer away from home against a high-flying Everton side to earn his team a total of 7 points on his own!

“I’m not the only striker in form, but I’m good. I’m happy to be in this vein of form, I’m going to take advantage of it. After the bad luck, I’m trying to make the most of my good luck.

I’m trying to repay through my performances the price they paid for me,” Benteke said very humbly on Saturday. Palace will hope that his run of luck continues.

4. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Liverpool have not been the most shrewd investors in the transfer market in recent times, so when they splashed £34 million to sign Sadio Mane, which made him the most expensive African player in the history, from Southampton, most were sceptical about him succeeding at Anfield. However, seven matches into the season, and Mane is looking like one of the best buys Liverpool have made recently.

The 24-year-old has contributed to four goals (3 goals and 1 assists) in his six appearances so far, but even those impressive statistics fail to highlight the impact he has had at the club. Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have transformed into a free-flowing attacking unit, and his partnership with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Adam Lallana has been flourishing since he took to the pitch for the first time against Arsenal in the opening day.

Liverpool are suddenly looking like title contenders again, and most of the experts have singled out Mane to be the reason behind this transformation.

“If you're looking for a player who has transformed a side and injected what they needed then it's Sadio Mane. People talk about this Liverpool team suddenly challenging for the title but what's the difference really been? I think it's all about Mane and the pace he has injected,” Liverpool legend Phil Thompson said recently.

3. Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)

There was a time when Mustafi could not force his way into the Everton defence. But almost seven years later, he was signed by Arsenal for a fee believed to be in excess of £35 million. With Per Mertesacker suffering an injury, Mustafi was drafted straight into the Arsenal backline, and although, there were initial doubts about his partnership with Lorient Koscielny, given how similar they are as defenders, all those doubts have been squashed in the past two matches.

The Gunners have kept four clean sheets in their last four matches, which includes the London Derby against Chelsea, and Mustafi has been immense in all these games. His tussle with Diego Costa, a player who has tormented Arsenal in the past, in the derby was pretty one-sided. Mustafi is strong in the air, hard in tackles, and his 'no nonsense' approach has earned him praise from Martin Keown. Many are already calling this the best Arsenal defence since the 'Invincibles', and they might not be too far off the mark.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

When the 35-year-old arrived in England, a lot of questions were raised. Is he past his best? Can he succeed in the fast-paced Premier League? Nine starts for his new club later, Zlatan has already scored 6 goals—not a bad return for someone who was a free transfer. In fact, his goalscoring form, combined with the need to use Paul Pogba in the side, has meant that Wayne Rooney has lost his place in the team under Jose Mourinho.

Zlatan is not the quickest of footballers anymore, not that he ever was, but he uses his experience, and the know-how of getting into open spaces has helped him have a considerable impact on United's fortune this season. In fact, he has directly contributed to nine points in the league so far, and United would be in the relegation spot if you take out his goals.

1. Idrissa Gueye (Everton)

The 27-year-old did not have the best of starts to his Premier League career when he signed for Aston Villa last season. Villa were relegated in a campaign where Gueye was an ever-present fixture in the starting lineup, and he even suffered the indignity of being substituted at halftime when Villa traveled to face Everton. So a lot of eyebrows were raised when Ronald Koeman activated the £7.1m release clause in Gueye's contract to make his first outfield signing of the summer. As it turned out, it could very well be his own Wenger-Vieira moment.

The Senegalese international, who won the French league title with Lille in 2011, is turning out to be the signing of the season so far. Gueye has formed a delightful partnership with Gareth Barry at the center of the park for the Merseyside club, and the hard-tackling, quick-passing midfielder has drawn comparisons with Leicester City's N'Golo Kante (not the one which has turned up for Chelsea this season). Everton have conceded just 5 goals in the league so far—second best after Tottenham—and it is not a coincidence that Gueye is leading the tackling stats in the league. He helped Everton get a point away from home against Spurs on his debut, and then he followed it up with man-of-the-match performances against Sunderland and Middlesbrough. What a bargain he is turning out to be!

Honourable mentions: Nacer Chadli, Leroy Fer, Steven Defour, and Ashley Williams

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