Bruno Fernandes, Gabriel Martinelli, and Ayoze Perez. PA images
Good Business

Do you agree with our signing of the Premier League season?

It’s been a pretty underwhelming year, but a few signings have stood out.

WE ARE USING this Premier League hiatus/prelude to voiding to reflect on the 19/20 season we have seen thus far, and yesterday we handed out our player of the year gong. 

Today, it’s time to pick our signing of the season. We made the decision to exclude anyone who signed permanently with a club for whom they played on loan last season, which instantly rules out most of the main contenders for this prize: Danny Ings, Youri Tielemans, Jordan Ayew, and Raul Jimenez. 

Looking at what’s left, it’s been a pretty underwhelming year for new signings, with no obvious Robin Van Persie of Mohamed Salah-style signing that has immediately transformed their club’s fortune. 

The lack of contenders here is probably a further testament to the growing respect for continuity. The best sides in the division are those who have worked within the same system under the same manager for a while: Liverpool, Wolves, Sheffield United, Leicester and, to a lesser extent this season, Manchester City. 

But some new signings have made an impact on their clubs, so here are the contenders before we unveil the winner. 

The Contenders

Ayoze Perez (Leicester City)

Jamie Vardy is naturally the focal point of the Leicester City attack, but he has been ably supplemented by Perez, a £30 million summer signing from Newcastle. Seven goals in 25 games is a decent return for a side set up to cater to Vardy’s strengths, and if Newcastle didn’t miss him at the start of the season, it won’t have taken too many lumbering Joelinton performances for their hearts to pang with thwarted desire. 

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

Ordinarily, a January signing wouldn’t make the cut here, but Fernandes makes it thanks to the twin realities of his impact on Manchester United and this being a pretty fallow year. How much better off might United have been had they signed him in the summer? His impact has been instant with two goals and three assists in five league games, including one for Anthony Martial in that adrenal win at home to Man City. 

He won the Premier League player of the month for February and has given United’s hitherto passive midfield a sense of direction and conviction. 

manchester-united-v-burnley-premier-league-old-trafford Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Nick Potts Nick Potts

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)

Manchester United have careened from clumsy to clueless in the transfer market under Ed Woodward, but they may have struck on a couple of success of late. Wan-Bissaka was expensive and is far from the best full-back in the division – his attacking qualities are a poor comparison to those of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Matt Doherty and Ricardo – but he is defensively excellent and has largely solved a big problem position for United. 

Neal Maupay (Brighton)

As Brighton go about changing their style of play under Graham Potter while walking the relegation zone tightrope, Maupay has been one of the few reliable correctives helping them to maintain balance. 

Aaron Connolly has shown great promise, but Maupay, signed from Brentford for £20 million, is as close to the Seagulls have to a reliable goalscorer. He is their top scorer with eight goals in 28 games, with Connolly next closest with three. 

Lys Mousset (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United have been a sensation this season, but that is primarily down to the clarity of Chris Wilder’s vision and the continuity in his squad. If there is one criticism that can be levelled at the Blades is that they are, occasionally, blunt. Mousset has remedied that to a degree this year, and is their top scorer with five goals. 

watford-v-wolverhampton-wanderers-premier-league-vicarage-road Ismaila Sarr. Adam Davy Adam Davy

Ismaïla Sarr (Watford)

After Watford were gamely beaten at Anfield in Nigel Pearson’s first game in charge, Sadio Mane was filmed in the tunnel telling Troy Deeney to look after his compatriot Sarr, as he is “a shy boy.” 

Fast forward a few months, and the scene is Sarr ripping undeterred through Liverpool’s undefeated record, scoring twice and assisting once in a 3-0 win. Having started slowly, Sarr has been showing the promise which contributed to his hefty £30 million fee from Rennes. 

The winner 

Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

Arsenal are responsible for some dreadful transfer activity last summer – Nicolas Pepe! – but they may have pulled off one of the greatest heists in years in signing Martinelli for all of £6 million from Brazilian club Ituano. 

Although only 18, he has already hit double figures for goals across all competitions for Arsenal, the first teenager to do so for the club since Nicolas Anelka. Jurgen Klopp has called him the “talent of the century”, and in the next few years we may look at the signing of Martinelli with the kind of wonder reserved for the shopping of the early years under Arsene Wenger. 

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