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Ranked! The 12 best Premier League signings so far this summer

From an England U21 star to a bargain Liga goalscorer, Greg Lea counts down the 12 smartest transfers of the window.

12. Vicente Iborra (Leicester)

A shoddy summer of recruitment contributed to Leicester’s poor start to last season, so the Foxes have understandably been keen to avoid similar mistakes in the current window. Former Hull defender Harry Maguire is an exciting addition, but Iborra could prove to be even better value at £12.75m.

Capable of playing in a number of different midfield roles, the 29-year-old former Sevilla captain is strong, powerful and an efficient passer, not to mention a natural-born leader both on and off the pitch.

11. Will Hughes (Watford)

West Brom were the only Premier League outfit with a higher average age than Watford in 2016/17, so it’s no surprise that the Hornets have focused their latest round of recruitment on youth. The 22-year-old Hughes is one of four new faces at Vicarage Road, with no member of that quartet over 26.

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The ex-England Under-21 international is a tidy passer and skilful dribbler, and he’s not afraid to stick a foot in when it comes to midfield duels. At an initial cost of just £7.75m and with plenty of re-sale value, the former Derby player looks like one of the bargains of the summer.

10. Ahmed Hegazy (West Brom)

With Jonas Olsson having departed earlier this year and Gareth McAuley approaching his 38th birthday, fresh centre-back blood was required at The Hawthorns this summer. Hegazy may seem like a left-field choice due to his lack of European experience – just 14 games in Serie A and Serie B for Fiorentina and Perugia – but two seasons with Egyptian giants Al Ahly isn’t the worst preparation for life in the Premier League.

Named in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations team of the tournament, the towering 6ft 5in defender is rugged, aggressive and dominant in the air. In other words, he’s the archetypal Pulis centre-back. (So he’ll probably play at right-back.)

9. Steve Mounie (Huddersfield)

“I love the city, it’s a beautiful countryside and I love how quiet it is… the people are very good and kind so it’s all I could want from a city,” Mounie told Huddersfield Town Television last week, going above and beyond in his attempts to endear himself to fans of his new employers.

Captured for a club-record fee of £11.4m, the 22-year-old striker scored 15 goals in 38 outings for Montpellier last term. Mobile, hard working and able to link up play, Mounie should be well suited to David Wagner’s high-tempo, hard-pressing game.

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8. Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea)

Swapping Nemanja Matic for Bakayoko, which is essentially what Chelsea have done this summer, seems like a very good deal. The former Monaco man certainly didn’t come cheap at £40m, but he’s already proven himself to be a fantastic talent and at 22 is young enough to be a key player for the Blues in years to come.

Strong in the tackle, quick across ground and an adept passer, Bakayoko is a midfield all-rounder who looks like a perfect fit for Antonio Conte’s tactics at Stamford Bridge.

7. Kurt Zouma (Stoke)

Champions Chelsea benefited from a settled side last season, with centre-halves Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta all virtually ever-present in Conte’s three-man backline. That meant Zouma didn’t have much of an opportunity to play his way into contention, even after he’d fully recovered from cruciate knee ligament damage.

Stoke will be providing a home to the France international in 2017/18, a move which could inspire envy among fellow mid-table teams as time goes on. After all, it’s not too long ago that Zouma was being heralded as one of Europe’s most talented young defenders.

6. Javier Hernandez (West Ham)

In many ways, the type of centre-forward play embodied by Hernandez is dying out. Single-minded, one-dimensional and unmoved by matters such as pressing from the front and getting involved in the build-up, the Mexican is a bona fide poacher whose list of qualities doesn’t extend far beyond putting the ball in the net.

All of which needn’t be a bad thing, so long as Slaven Bilic is willing to play to his strengths. With an average of a goal every 134 minutes of league action since moving to Europe in 2010, a fit and focused Hernandez could feasibly repay his £16m transfer fee in a single season.

5. Mikel Merino (Newcastle)

One of the advantages of having a high-profile manager like Rafa Benitez in charge of your newly promoted club is the access he gives you to players who would otherwise be out of reach. Newcastle have plenty going in their favour besides their current boss, but landing Merino from Borussia Dortmund would have been tougher under, say, Steve McClaren or John Carver.

Able to play at centre-half, as a deep-lying playmaker and in a box-to-box midfield role, the 21-year-old Spaniard completed a season-long loan move to St James’ Park last week.

4. Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace)

Riedewald may be approaching the fourth anniversary of his senior debut, but he’s still very much in the early stages of his career. The 20-year-old has moved on from his native Netherlands this summer, swapping Amsterdam for London and reuniting with his former boss at Ajax, Frank de Boer.

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The £7.6m man has been deployed as a left-back and a holding midfielder in the past, but centre-half is where he looks set to shine in the Premier League. With De Boer keen to install a three-man defence at Selhurst Park, Riedewald will be a vital asset with his progressive passing and astute reading of the game.

3. Roque Mesa (Swansea)

Swansea have gradually shifted away from their possession obsession, which was at its apex during Brendan Rodgers’ time as boss. The arrival of midfield metronome Mesa could signal a move back towards their Barcelona-lite style of play, however.

The 28-year-old completed 91.4% of his passes for Las Palmas last term, a figure which underlines his aversion to losing the ball. With Jack Cork having joined Burnley and Leon Britton almost 35, Mesa is ready to receive the deep-lying playmaker baton at the Liberty Stadium.

2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

It would be unfair to label Salah a Premier League flop for his unfruitful spell at Chelsea, which yielded just six top-flight starts in 12 months. The Egypt international has since rebuilt his reputation in Serie A, first with Fiorentina and more recently at Roma.

A return of 15 Serie A goals and 11 assists last season is evidence of the winger’s productivity in the final third, while his electric pace will help Liverpool transition from defence to attack in an instant. A price of around £35m doesn’t seem over the odds, either.

1. Sandro Ramirez (Everton)

Five million pounds doesn’t buy you much these days, with mere potential often costing two or three times that amount. At 22, Sandro certainly has time on his side to develop even further, but the fact that he’s ready to slot straight into Everton’s first team makes him the signing of the summer so far.

The Spaniard found the net 16 times in 31 appearances in all competitions for Malaga last term. A Lukuku-less Everton, who were able to land the Barcelona academy graduate for such minimal outlay after triggering a release clause in his contract, will hope for more of the same in England.

 

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