From Depay to Firmino: Five Premier League debutants we can't wait to watch
Depay is not the only one who is primed to make his Premier League debut. Apart from Manchester United, Liverpool have been pretty active in the transfer window too, and so have Newcastle United — which has surprisingly attracted some top talent.
The Premier League kicks off on 8 August and as it happens, the most attractive fixture of the week is the first one — Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur - which kicks off at 5.15 PM Indian Standard Time.
The match will possibly see one of the season's most anticipated debuts as Memphis Depay — whose exploits European football fans have been reading about for a couple of years now — may be slotted in behind Wayne Rooney in attack.
But Depay is not the only one who is primed to make his Premier League debut. Apart from Manchester United, Liverpool have been pretty active in the transfer window too, and so have Newcastle United, which has surprisingly attracted some top talent.
Here are the five debuts we just cannot wait to watch:
Memphis Depay - from PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United for €27.50 million
With 28 goals and eight assists last season, a freekick conversation rate of 21.21 percent (second best in Europe), and a reputation of being wonderkid — United have managed to snare one of the most sought-after young attackers on the continent. Just 21, it is going to be very exciting to see Depay thrust into the most competitive league in the world after great success in Holland. With Angel di Maria gone, Depay won't have to compete for a starting spot and could be deployed either on the left or in the hole just behind Rooney. He's also got a bit of arrogance about him. It will be up to Louis van Gaal to channel this into performances on the pitch.
Roberto Firmino - from Hoffeinheim to Liverpool for €41 million
Similar in positional ability and skill to Northwest rival Depay, Firmino will help make up for the lost flair of Luis Suarez, who left Liverpool in 2014 for Barcelona. Raheem Sterling has departed, but a combination of Firmino and Christian Benteke in attack, and the superbly talented Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho in midfield, should make up for Liverpool's two high-profile departures. With the industrious James Milner and Jordan Henderson there to do the running in midfield, Firmino should have the freedom to focus on the attacking end of the pitch.
Firmino scored 10 goals and created another 12 in the Bundesliga last year and was a vital cog as Hoffeinheim finished eighth. The 23-year-old also filled in for Neymar in the Brazilian side during the Copa America and showed a penchant for pulling off the unexpected.
Dimitri Payet - from Marseille to West Ham for €15 million
He's not as young as Depay or Firmino, but expect 28-year-old Payet to make an instant impact in Slaven Bilic's team. With 57 goals and 82 assists in 305 matches in Ligue 1, Payet fits in perfectly behind Bilic's preferred two-striker attack. In fact, he's already made his competitive debut for the Hammers, setting up Enner Valencia in their Europa League qualifier against Astra Giurgiu. Payet also comes in following a season that saw him provide 17 goals — so the strike force of Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Valencia should look forward to more goals with such a creative force behind them.
West Ham have also brought in centre-back Angelo Ogbonna and 22-year-old Argentine attacker Manuel Lanzini — this is no lightweight team and have made their intentions clear this season. Payet though, should feature heavily in any success.
Bastian Schweinsteiger - from Bayern Munich to Manchester United for €18 million:
Needs no introduction to be honest. Schweinsteiger is the sort of midfield powerhouse that combines dependability, a never say die attitude, experience and leadership — all personified in his performance in the World Cup 2014 final against Argentina. This is the type of character United have lacked since the departure of Roy Keane, and while he doesn't have that level of aggression and eccentricity, he is a fighter, who if remains fit, will make United genuine contenders for a top three finish. The mere presence of him in midfield will make oppositions rethink their strategy — and he is also a rare receiver of love and respect from Van Gaal.
Schweinsteiger has been one of Bundesliga's biggest stars — and even if he is 31 — fans of not just Manchester United, but even of the Premier League will be salivating at the prospect of seeing Basti in action week in week out.
Aleksandar Mitrovic - from Anderlecht to Newcastle United for €18.5 million
It still beats us how Steve McLaren managed to attract such a fine talent to Newcastle given owner Mike Ashley usually makes the headlines for ridiculously woeful treatment of staff and players (Alan Pardew and Jonas Gutierrez). Either way, Mitrovic's signing from Anderlecht (the club that also provided the Premier League with Romelu Lukaku and Vincent Kompany) is a huge step forward for the Magpies (they've also signed highly rated Dutch winger Georginio Wijnaldum).
Mitrovic has four full seasons under his belt, which means he's been playing top level football since the age of 16, and has 157 pro appearances in his career so far. In these games, he scored 67 goals (nine in the Champions League) and created 16. Last year was especially prolific, with 27 goals in 50 appearances. The Serbian stands 6 feet two inches and is an imposing figure in the box (40 of 42 league goals in scored from inside the box) — a targetman that will benefit from energetic attack partners like Papiss Cisse, Wijnaldum and Mousa Sissoko. He's already said that he can be this team's Alan Shearer.
Anyone Southampton sign becomes a hit so Spanish forward Juanmi is expected to be among the goals this season. Stoke have added a fourth ex-Barca player to their roster in Ibrahim Afellay — the Dutchman never realised his potential in Spain with so much talent in the squad but still retains some pace and excellent crossing ability. In-demand left back/winger Andre Ayew set back Swansea €13 million but his return of 60 goals and 25 assists in 207 matches for Marseille is proof of brilliance. Young Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford is under Pardew at resurgent Crystal Palace and also slammed in a hat-trick in a friendly — if the goalscoring continues, then Jose Mourinho can afford to remain as inactive in next year's transfer window as he has been this year too.
Japanese Shinji Okazaki has scored 43 times for Japan in 91 matches and Leicester will hope he bangs them in in England too. Sunderland have added tricky winger Jeremain Lens — and Dick Advocaat advocates attractive football — so that move will stand the Black Cats in good stead. Some of these names are unheard of — but expect them to be well known as the season passes.
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