With the Premier League only days from starting, we have decided to take a look at 10 senior players and 10 young players to watch. Although some in this article are only 20 or 21, they are all players that have proven track records, whereas the players in the young player category are unproven and have played at a lower level, or not been first team.
Wilfried Bony (Swansea)
Bony is an exciting prospect. An imposing goal scoring forward, he scored 31 goals in 30 games for Vitesse last season and has moved on for £12m to Swansea. At 24, and with his physique and presence in the box, we may see a different Swansea, who in recent times have struggled when “Plan A” hasn’t worked. Players from Holland can go either way, with Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves – both with better scoring records – have fallen by the wayside in the Premier League.
Loic Remy (Newcastle)
Remy came in for a lot of criticism in January after he turned down the seemingly done deal that was agreed with Newcastle for a ludicrous offer from big-spending QPR. 6 months on, with QPR relegated, he has done what seemed sensible months ago and joined Newcastle on loan. With 6 goals in 14 games for QPR, he has proven how good he can be, as long as he steers clear of the injury problems he is known all too well for, Newcastle have a gem on their hands!
Gary Hooper (Norwich)
Hooper has worked his way from non-league Grays Athletic to Champions League side Celtic. The Scottish league may not be all that, but he has banged in the goals regularly and often against great sides such as Juventus. 82 goals in 138 games for Celtic is an impressive return, and at 25 he has now felt the need for change. Norwich have snapped him up for around £8m – and a partnership with Ricky Van Wolfswinkel could prove to be rather tantalizing.
Steven Caulker (Cardiff)
Despite being only 21, Caulker is now a full England international, and impressed at Swansea in their first season whilst on loan, but last season chances came at a premium with Tottenham – so he has done what was best for his career and moved somewhere he would be first choice, and with an £8m fee Cardiff have provided that. He is a solid defender who looks the finished article, but only time will tell.
Jores Okore (Aston Villa)
Okore epitomizes the modern day Centre Back. Pace, Power and Strength in abundance as well as the ability to read the game well, and all at 20! He can play Right Back too. At £4.7m Villa have grabbed a bargain from Nordsjaelland – Chelsea were after the highly rated defender only 6 months ago, and now he has his chance to prove himself – Villa being the better move because with Cahill, Luiz, Ivanovic and Terry how likely is it he would ever play?
Leroy Fer (Norwich)
Fer, a Dutch international, was starting to stagnate in Holland. He needed a new challenge, and after a move collapsed to Everton, he seemed unlikely to get it. Cue Norwich to come in and snap up the imposing midfielder for £5m. In short, he is a defensive midfielder who scores goals. At 23, he could prove to be a bargain, but you feel much like most talented young players going to small team, they are merely a stepping-stone to get to greater things.
Victor Wanyama (Southampton)
Much like Fer, Wanyama needed a new challenge. 2 years at Celtic seemed an age, with a vast amount of top performances you got the feeling he wouldn’t be there long. 10 goals in 61 games as a defensive midfielder is a good return, but you doubt the caliber of the teams around them. At just 22, £12.5m is the record for the fee received by a Scottish club, beating the £9.5m Spartak Moscow paid for Aiden McGeady. Should he do well at Southampton, don’t be surprised to see a Man Utd or Chelsea waltz in and snap him up for £20m in a years time.
Nacer Chadli (Tottenham)
Another Twente player, Belgian International Chadli is well known around Europe for his ability. With 25 goals in 84 games, there is no doubt about his ability, Played mainly as a winger, the 24 year old is very pacey and as you know has an eye for goal. Belgians tend to do well in England – see Mirallas, Fellaini or even Romeu Lukaku – so at £7m we feel this could be a bargain!
Spurs have splashed £17.5m on the big Brazilian, and after impressive performances at the Confederations Cup you see why. A deep lying Midfielder, Paulinho chips in with more than his fair share of goals. At 25, he has already been in Europe with LKS Lodz of Poland and Vilnius of Lithuania – both rather unsuccessful. Having had spells with home side Pao de Acucar, Bragantino and Corinthians, we feel this time he is ready for the big stage.
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Although not technically new, Lukaku came in over a season ago from Anderlecht with an impressive record of 41 goals in 98 games despite being just 18. He spent last season at West Brom, mustering 17 goals and 8 assists in all comps, and with Mourinho coming back we get the feeling he will be first team striker after the failings of Fernando Torres. Despite still being 20, the new Drogba may have arrived and given a little time will torment defenders!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s guide to the top ten new youngsters.