We’re not far away from seeing the Premier League returning to our pitches and our screens for a new season, and this could be one of the most fascinating seasons in a long time. With a six-week break for a World Cup in the middle, there are going to be plenty of sub-plots to get to grips with, and some of the league’s biggest sides have made impressive moves in the transfer market. So from the first whistle of the season to the last, and hoping to keep injuries to a minimum, there’s enough to keep us glued to the TV and the newspapers.
As transfers go, we know which ones have made the biggest waves: Erling Haaland has joined Manchester City, strengthening a club that was already pretty hard to handle. Darwin Nunez has landed at Liverpool, meaning that they can field a pretty tasty front three without calling on Firmino, Mane or Salah. Meanwhile, City have let Raheem Sterling join Chelsea, a move that it’s easy to see them regretting. But each of those transfers could really be called a “no-brainer” – top sides signing ready-made stars. Which are the signings that could turn the expected narratives on their heads? The following three are a few examples…
Aaron Hickey (Brentford)
It’s not that long ago that an ailing Scottish professional game could barely call on one Premier League player to show up for its national side. With Hickey’s move to Brentford, there are now three left-backs in the Premier League who could represent the Tartan Army with distinction. The former Hearts man spent a season at Bologna and looked very much at home in Serie A. Now he has a chance on the English stage to show how he matches up to Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney, his rivals for the Scottish left-back spot. For Brentford, his signing will hopefully shore up a defence that looked naive at times in their first Premier League season.
Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
Fulham are approximately one season away from having to officially change their name to “Yo-Yo Club Fulham”, so if they can avoid relegation this time around they’ll be happy. In recent spells in the top flight, they’ve been guilty of spending too freely (in 2018) and then not enough (2020). This time, they have aimed for something of a balance and have tried to spend wisely in a bid to stop people using this resource to bet on another relegation. Their standout buy is Palhinha, who shone at Sporting in Portugal last season and will now be tasked with linking defence with attack, a concept that has been missing from their recent stints in the division. Keeping Fulham up would be a huge tick on his CV.
Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)
Although he never seemed truly appreciated at Manchester City, Jesus is a Brazilian international with over fifty caps and a goal every three games for the Seleção. His extreme versatility may have condemned him with his previous club, as he never seemed to make any role his own. At Arsenal, he’s clearly slotted to be the number 9 (though he will wear 33, as always), and could be the jigsaw piece that brings Mikel Arteta’s overhaul of the playing side close to completion. He’s looked exceptional in pre-season, and while City fans will be enraptured with the arrival of Haaland, a good season for Jesus could make them regret his loss.