As we sit just days away from the start of the eagerly anticipated 2022/23 Premier League season, attention now turns to the action on the field rather than the domination of the transfer window ongoings that have been present all summer long.
Even though the window to do business remains open until the end of August, many English top-flight clubs have already made their biggest moves in order to gain the strongest possible results at the beginning of their respective campaigns.
But out of all the incoming transfers that have already been completed by Premier League sides, which player arrivals look like they’ve been the best piece of business so far?
In this article, The Sporting News picks out the five best Premier League signings made so far this summer, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive transfers or the best quality players.
Instead, our picks have been made in reference to how important the incoming player could prove to be for the club in question and how needed their addition was for that particular side. Bonus points might even be awarded for lower transfer fees.
Erling Haaland – Manchester City
We did just say that we won’t necessarily include the best incoming Premier League players in terms of quality or the most expensive signings, but, Manchester City’s Erling Haaland still makes this list even though his transfer definitely falls into both of those categories.
Regardless of that, it’s really not that hard to explain why we included the Norwegian international on this list for other reasons even if his competitive debut in the Community Shield didn’t exactly go to plan.
Let’s start with the cold hard facts – 154 goals in 186 senior appearances for club and country. That’s a truly phenomenal return for a striker who has only just turned 22 years of age.
It’s even more impressive when you realise that since his Borussia Dortmund debut back in January 2020, across all competitions Haaland is the third top scorer of any player in the top five leagues with 77 strikes. A figure that puts him behind only Robert Lewandowski (113) and Karim Benzema (81), though impressively in front of players such as Mo Salah (71), Cristiano Ronaldo (76) and Kylian Mbappe (74).
That’s scary to think about for Manchester City’s closest title rivals who haven’t been able to halt Pep Guardiola’s side’s march to the Premier League trophy in back-to-back campaigns, all without a recognised number nine in the squad.
But Haaland’s game is also so much more than just goalscoring. It’s his awareness to drag around opposition defences to create even more space for players like Kevin De Bruyne who can thrive on those opportunities, as he ranks highly for successful pressures in the final third of the pitch.
Haaland’s playmaking attributes are also usually undersold. Alongside his 62 goals in 67 Bundesliga matches for old side Dortmund, the Norwegian international recorded 15 assists, whilst he also created 59 direct chances for teammates – figures likely to inflate further whilst playing with a more talented City side this upcoming season.
In fact, last season he recorded seven assists in the league at an average of 0.33 a match. That’s a better average than all but two Manchester City players in the Premier League last season – Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko – and the same average as De Bruyne.
Lastly, we have to mention the transfer fee which stands at a reported £51million. That’s simply an unbelievable transaction fee for one of Europe’s best young players. Granted the true cost after factoring in wages and agent fees will be much higher but even still, a player of his quality is still surely worth the combined price tag.
Gianluca Scamacca – West Ham
Signing Gianluca Scamacca for a hefty fee rumoured to be over £30million, West Ham have finally made the big splash in attack that their fans have been longing for over a number of years now.
Back-to-back top seven finishes in the Premier League have proved mightily impressive for the Hammers but the club’s reliance on Michail Antonio in recent years has left them short on occasion upfront, something not plausible with more European football on the way in 2022/23.
⚒ West Ham have reportedly bid for Gianluca Scamacca.
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What Scamacca brings to West Ham is an upgrade in finishing prowess. Over the past two seasons, the Italian international has netted 24 goals in 62 Serie A appearances. Over the past five, he holds the third-best big chance conversion rate of all Italian top-flight strikers (60%).
That same stat stood at 70.6% in the league last season for Scamacca and when you compare that to Hammers striker Antonio in the Premier League last term (44.4%), that’s a significant and sizable upgrade.
It’s likely then that West Ham could become a freer scoring outfit next season with Scamacca’s addition, and if you’re somebody who likes a flutter, a bet on the London side to smash more than the 60 league goals they notched last season might be good value for money.
Standing at 6ft 5in, Scamacca isn’t likely to feel the difficult transition to Premier League from a physicality standpoint that some other strikers have previously felt. That said, despite his height, the 23-year-old doesn’t have the ability to play as a target man, a role that Antonio has found himself playing in recent seasons to an extent.
Instead Scamacca likes to drop deep to link up play, a playing style which could see winger Jarrod Bowen in particular extend his fantastic goalscoring form that saw him net 11 times last season.
Diego Carlos – Aston Villa
Diego Carlos’ move to Aston Villa was announced so long ago that you’d be forgiven if you’d forgotten that the Brazilian defender had joined Steven Gerrard’s side this summer.
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old has looked impressive during pre-season for the Villans who look like they’ve pulled off a very shrewd transfer here as they cast an eye towards European qualification this campaign.
From his ball-playing capabilities to his physicality, Carlos can seemingly do it all. His bravery and positional awareness saw him make 33 blocks in La Liga last season, whilst he’s made 83 blocks over the past three league campaigns combined, both figures acting as the most of any player by a sizeable margin which undoubtedly will have swayed Gerrard into making a move this summer.
Over the past three seasons he’s also made the third-most clearances of any player in the Spanish top-flight whilst for Sevilla in the league last season, he ranked top for most aerial duels won highlighting his vertical prowess.
Making five errors which led to shots last season – the most of any Sevilla player – question marks could still be asked of the defender’s concentration levels which could cause concern for the Villa faithful, though he at least made amends by netting three league goals.
Raheem Sterling – Chelsea
Few players have had such an impact on the Premier League over recent seasons than Raheem Sterling so it was perhaps a surprise to see the England international switch allegiances from Manchester City to Chelsea this summer.
Scoring 81 times in all competitions across the past four seasons, Sterling has netted more goals than players such as Heung-min Son, Luis Suarez and Neymar in that time frame whilst he’s added 34 assists on top of that goal count. That output is crucial for a team like Chelsea who this off-season have lost Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and look likely to let Timo Werner depart. On top of that, remember that the London club only had one goalscorer with double figure Premier League goals last season – Mason Mount with 11.
Last season alone, Sterling averaged 0.47 goals per Premier League game from an xG rate of 0.51 per game, as his finishing continues to become sharper than at the start of his campaign.
With perhaps the best close control of any player in England’s top-flight, Sterling loves to confuse opposing defenders by holding the ability to either take on his man on the inside or around the outside, completing 362 dribbles over the past four seasons, over 130 more than Cristiano Ronaldo for reference. He’s also fantastic at travelling with the ball into dangerous areas for his side, creating 90 chances following a carry, the third-most in the Premier League over the past four seasons.
His overall movement will also make Chelsea a much more dynamic side in the final-third this upcoming season, especially with his awareness to make key runs behind opposition defences. Winning possession in the final third 1.1 times on average last season in the league, Sterling also enjoys pressing the ball, something that felt underwhelming when watching Chelsea play last season.
The rumoured £47.5million fee to bring Sterling to west London isn’t cheap but for that price, Chelsea are getting one of English football’s brightest stars over the past ten years.
Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal
Joining from Premier League champions Manchester City during the off-season, Gabriel Jesus has had an electric start to his Arsenal career through pre-season.
Netting seven goals across five friendlies, Jesus is currently scoring a goal per 38 minutes of action in an Arsenal shirt and looks set to emulate that goalscoring success when the new top-flight gets underway this week.
After all, he did manage to strike 95 goals in 236 appearances for the Manchester club previously. In the Premier League, those strikes came at an average of 0.47 per match, a faster rate than Romelu Lukaku, Alexandre Laccazette and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to name a few.
Jesus will also offer Arsenal fantastic versatility as well though, with his ability to play out wide meaning that we could quite often see the Brazilian make way up top for Eddie Nketiah and play on the wing instead. His 46 assists for City point to a player who doesn’t just find the back of the net but one who creates chances for his teammates.
To further that, his 13.63 expected assists across all competitions over the past three seasons ranks him above players such as Kai Havertz, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo, all players who Jesus could play a similar role to this upcoming season for the Gunners.
Five honourable mentions
James Tarkowski – Everton
It’s safe to say that Everton have struggled to produce good and disciplined business in terms of incoming transfers in recent years but their move to bring centre-back James Tarkowski on a free to Goodison Park this summer could prove a masterstroke.
With 194 Premier League games and two England caps under his belt, the 29-year-old brings with him a wealth of experience after leading the back line in a defensively set-up Burnley side over the past six seasons.
In fact, since his Premier League debut back in 2016, Tarkowski has won the third-most duels of any player (1377), second-most aerial duels (859) and has made the fourth-most clearances (1034). As such, he could prove an invaluable presence in an Everton backline that could be flirting with relegation again this season.
Luis Sinisterra – Leeds United
Leeds United’s replacement for Barcelona bound Raphinha, Colombian winger Luis Sinisterra has joined this off-season from Dutch side Feyenoord.
Lightning quick and with the skill to get past his man on either the inside or the outside, Sinisterra could prove to be a ready made replacement for the former Leeds favourite.
With 12 goals and seven assists in the Eredivisie last season and with 11 goals and seven assists in the UEFA Europa Conference League, the 23-year-old winger has already emphasised his ability when playing against tough opposition.
Taiwo Awoniyi – Nottingham Forest
If a newly-promoted team is to survive in the Premier League then finding a player who can regularly hit the back of the net is about as crucial as it gets.
Nottingham Forest will be hoping that new signing Taiwo Awoniyi will prove to be that player and when you look at his previous stint with Bundesliga side Union Berlin, you see a striker who’s capable of scoring at a good level.
With 15 goals across 31 competitive club matches last season, Awoniyi punched his weight above his xG rate of 13.74 and he’ll need to produce more of the same in the Premier League this season if Forest are to avoid the drop immediately.
Ben Mee – Brentford
Similar to former teammate Tarkowski above, defender Ben Mee also decided to leave Burnley this summer for pastures new and move to Brentford on a free transfer.
The London side may have finished their maiden Premier League campaign in 13th spot with a reasonable minus eight goal difference last season, though many are predicting a much tougher second top-flight campaign for Thomas Frank’s outfit.
Their move for Mee will boost their survival odds though with his experience likely to be crucial in any potential relegation battle this campaign. Since his top-flight debut in August 2014, no player has made more blocks (255) or made more clearances (1321).
Cheick Doucouré – Crystal Palace
A strong showing last season saw French outfit Lens finish seventh in Ligue 1 and just four points adrift of the European places, an admirable campaign for a side who were in the second division just two seasons prior.
Much of that recent success has come from a foundation built around central midfielder Cheick Doucoure who has now departed for south London and the red and blue of Crystal Palace.
A player who will make Palace much stronger in midfield given their ageing core, Doucoure ranked number one in multiple statistics for Lens in Ligue 1 last season, making the most successful tackles amongst his teammates and the most successful passes into the final third.
The Malian international also added four assists to his name and made the second-most chances (42) for his side in league action.
The Premier League will undoubtedly prove to be a step up for the 22-year-old but under the tutelage of former Arsenal enforcer Patrick Vieira, Doucoure could prove to be a fantastic pick up for the Eagles.