With Europe’s leagues reaching their halfway mark and several of them going into the winter break, here – in my opinion – are the five best players signed by clubs in the Barclays Premier League:
Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
Arriving from Spanish club Malaga, who were suffering a cash crisis, the arrival of the diminutive Cazorla went a long way in satiating Arsenal fans who were still wringing their hands over the departures of Robin van Persie and Alexandre Song.
Cazorla took to the Gunners’ style of play like a duck to water, scoring in his third game against Liverpool at Anfield. He then went on to notch up six more, coupled with five assists. An ambidextrous footballer with a terrific long-range shot and the ability to instantly change play, all of which have already been showcased at Arsenal, Cazorla became only the third Spaniard in the Premier League to score a hat-trick, doing so against Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
But his time at Ashburton Grove has not been without controversy. Against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium, the two-time European Championship winner drew criticism for diving to win Arsenal a penalty against the Baggies.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United
“We’ve already recruited to replace him” was what Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said over the departure of last season’s talisman to Manchester United. At odds over the direction in which the Gunners were moving, the Dutchman has taken his red-hot scoring form into this season, notching fifteen goals in 21 games for the Red Devils.
Despite the ire directed towards him by former Gunners, who claim he moved to Old Trafford just for the money, van Persie showed his class by not celebrating when he scored against his former club when they travelled to the Theatre of Dreams.
Having established a deadly partnership with United fan-favourite Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson‘s men have won every game the duo have started together.
Van Persie has already established his name in the annals of Manchester United’s history, scoring the winner against bitter foes Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium off a deflected free kick in stoppage time. His goals have propelled United to the top of the Barclays Premier League table, with 42 points from 17 games.
Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham
A significant portion of Manchester United fans were rather sorry to see their Bulgarian striker leave Old Trafford this summer.
But Dimitar Berbatov had no place in the new Manchester United, which was based on quick movement, rapier-like thrusts and lightning-fast counter attacks. Berbatov was too lazy, to languid, too laid back to fit into the plans of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Nevertheless, Old Trafford’s loss is Craven Cottage’s gain. Berbatov made a deadline day move to Fulham, with several clubs circling for the former Bayer Leverkusen striker. The man once called ‘not a great scorer of goals but a scorer of great goals’ has scored five goals in ten league games for Fulham, averaging one goal every two games in the league for Martin Jol’s men. His most memorable moment for Martin Jol’s men came against Arsenal, against whom the former Tottenham Hotspurs man scored two and assisted one to help his side come away with a point at the Emirates.
Fulham may be 13th in the table, but should they climb upward, a significant portion of their goals will either be scored or provided by the 31-year-old.
Mohamed Diame and Jussi Jaaskelainen, West Ham United
Alright, technically not one player but the duo who arrived at the Boleyn Ground this summer have been instrumental in cementing West Ham United’s return to the English top flight after securing promotion via the play-offs, beating Blackpool in the Championship.
What sweetens the deal for Sam Allardyce is that both of them cost nothing.
Senegal international Diame joined the Hammers after being released by Wigan Athletic at the end of last season, and has been solid in the centre of midfield, forging a partnership with Kevin Nolan. The midfield dynamo brings verve and drive to the Hammers’ centre and only enhances the physical style of play that Big Sam’s men are known for. He’s also chipped in with two goals for his new club, his most memorable being the one that give his side the lead against Chelsea in a 3-1 win at Upton Park.
Jaaskelainen joined the Hammers to work alongside the manager with whom he had spent eight seasons at Bolton Wanderers. With bags of experience in the Premier League, Jaaskelainen brings calm and composure to the West Ham back-line which has helped the side climb to 12th in the Premier League table. His razor-sharp reflexes and astute saves have time and again gotten the former Finland international’s club side out of a sticky situation.
Yes, you saw this coming, and don’t be surprised to see him at the top of this list. Swansea boss Michael Laudrup was familiar with the 26-year-old’s exploits when the Dane was manager of Mallorca in Spain, and decided to swoop for the 6ft1in attacker.
In addition to adapting to the physicality of the Premier League, Michu’s arrival from Rayo Vallecano has seen him undergo a conversion from attacking midfielder to striker. Being the highest-scoring midfielder of the season in his first year at Rayo, Michu’s performance in the white of the Swans has turned heads from all around the footballing world.
The tabloids have linked the man, whose full name is Miguel Perez Costa, to several clubs, including 18-times Premier League champions Liverpool.
Michu has found the back of the net 13 times for the Welsh side this season, hitting the ground running on his league debut against Queen’s Park Rangers, scoring two and providing one in a 5-0 win at Loftus Road.
He is currently joint top of the Premier League with 12 goals, two of which gave Swansea a memorable win at Arsenal.