Eden Hazard had fun toying with his suitors this summer, but will he prove as creative for Chelsea? Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
The so-called silly season is nearing completion, and while there’s sure to be a flurry of last minute wheeling and dealing as deadline day approaches, many major clubs have already made big moves in the market. These are just a few of the new faces you can see as the new EPL season kicks off, from a few of the more high profile players in the transfer market this summer.
The swirling transfer saga of Robin van Persie, and its less than satisfactory conclusion, have taken some of the wind out of Arsenal’s summer signings, but Gunners can be optimistic about some of the new faces they’ll be seeing around the Emirates this season.
Santi Cazorla may well be the steal of the summer, as Malaga’s financial crisis allowed Arsene Wenger to hold them over a barrel and score a cut-rate transfer fee. Cazorla will fill the creative midfield role that Cesc Fabregas’ departure left empty last season with the ability to get forward and supply ammunition for forwards. He averaged 58.5 passes per game last season for Malaga, with an average 2.2 key passes per game. He also gives Arsenal the option they desperately need to attack from distance, scoring 8 of his 9 goals from outside the box.
The acquisition of Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski now looks to have been an obvious move to soften the blow of van Persie’s transfer. And while it’s impossible to replace the sheer number of goals the Dutchman produced for Arsenal last season, their new forward options should spread the burden of scoring around.
Giroud will be the replacement in the central forward role, one he filled well at Montepllier where he scored 24 goals in 41 appearances. He averaged 4.5 shots per game, just behind van Persie’s 4.7 per game, and will provide an aerial threat, ranking 10th among all players in the top five leagues for aerial duels.
No one accused United of being a one-man team last season, but Wayne Rooney’s goal haul of 34 in all competitions left any other contributors in the dust (Danny Welbeck was the second highest scorer on the team with 13).
It makes sense, then, that a player like Robin van Persie could provide much needed support for Rogaine’s new poster boy. Even if van Persie produced half as many goals as he did last season it would take a heavy weight off Rooney’s shoulders.
The big question hovering around the high-profile signing has been where will van Persie possibly fit in. Ferguson chose to play a 4-4-1-1 the majority of last season, with Rooney sitting back and Welbeck taking the forward role. The signing of Shinji Kagawa this summer seemed to suggest that he would take the withdrawn role, pushing Rooney forward to compete with Welbeck, while Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov represented Plan B.
Van Persie’s presence crowds that field even further, even if there are rumors that Hernandez is looking for an out. In fact, the apparent wastefulness of bringing the Arsenal man into that same system has led some to believe Ferguson might have his eye on an attacking loadout not unlike fans saw in the 2007-08 season, one in which Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez all rotated up front.
Such a formation would sacrifice the wing play of pieces like Antonio Valencia and Nani, but could represent the best way to incorporate all of United’s attacking options. That is, if van Persie can stay fit.
Roman Abramovich’s capture of the highly sought after Belgian, Eden Hazard, was one of the early dramas of this transfer season. The former Lille man clearly had fun playing with his English suitors, dropping cryptic hints like “I’ve made up my mind” and that he would wear blue in the coming season via Twitter. That hype comes with an equally hefty price tag, a transfer fee of £32 million.
The song and dance comes on the heels of a stellar season in France’s Ligue 1, in which he netted 20 goals and provided 16 assists for his teammates. Roberto Di Matteo will hope those assists can support Juan Mata, who assisted 20% of Chelsea’s goals last season, a higher proportion than any player in the EPL.
Chelsea fans should be cautious about their young up and comer, though. With Mata likely to play in the center, Hazard will be pushed out to the left. His wing play has not been the strongest part of his game, completing 23% of his crosses last season for Lille. That’s certainly nothing special in the Premiere League, and Hazard will be forced to step his game up in order to excel against top opposition.
What new players are you looking forward to seeing on the field for your club? Be sure to check out FootballrRating all season long to see how your favorite players stack up.