The 2013/2014 Premier League season may only be a few matches old, but some summer additions are already standing out. Let’s take a look around the league for the new signings starting to earn their price tags.
Jesus Navas: Manchester City from Sevilla, £17.6 million
Manchester City made the majority of its transfer moves early on in the window. New manager Manuel Pellegrini must have been pleased with the work of Director of Football Txiki Begiristain who secured the signatures of Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, Martin Demichelis (towards the deadline), and Sevilla pair Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas.
In the early goings, Navas has established himself as the pick of the litter amongst the new crop of Citizens. Having managed at Villarreal, Real Madrid, and Malaga before his move to Manchester, Pellegrini would have been very familiar with the winger and has started him in all three of City’s Premier League fixtures.
With the club’s attacking play extremely narrow under Roberto Mancini, Navas was acquired to stretch play and provide some width in the final third. Thus far, Pellegrini’s faith in the Spaniard has been vindicated as Navas has proven to be a serious creative threat from his berth on the right flank.
Having created a total of eight chances, five of which coming from open play, Navas is on par with David Silva as City’s leading creative force. Interestingly, Navas’s three chances created from set pieces all came from City’s last match against Hull City. With the aforementioned Silva having picked up a recent injury, we could see Navas take on even greater responsibility from dead ball situations.
Despite Navas’s impressive build up play, he still owns a Stewart Downing-esque stat line of zero goals and zero assists. Considering how many chances he’s created, the failure to register an assist falls on the shoulders of his teammates. Meanwhile the lack of goals isn’t an issue unto itself – with Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, and Negredo around this isn’t Navas’s priority. However, when you note Navas has attempted just one shot and one dribble over three matches, it becomes apparent that the former Sevilla man should be more aggressive if he wants to take his game to even greater heights.
Modibo Diakité: Sunderland from Lazio, Free Transfer
Frenchman Modibo Diakité was linked with a host of Premier League clubs as his Lazio contract ran down last spring, so it was a bit of a coup for Sunderland to announce the center back’s signing in June. Paolo Di Canio has been vocal about overhauling the Black Cats’ roster (amongst other things), and used his Italian connections to bring in fellow Serie A players Emmanuele Giaccherini and Andrea Dossena. Despite the revamped roster, Sunderland have struggled to get out of first gear though Diakité has been one of the Tyneside club’s few bright spots in his two starts.
Diakité has been an absolute monster in the heart of Sunderland’s defense and a true steal as a free transfer. Attempting a tackle every 36 minutes and a ground duel every 20, Diakité is winning these challenges at remarkable clips of 80% and 100% respectively. Moreover, the ex-Pescara defender has successfully executed 21 out of 22 clearance attempts, being a perfect nine from nine with headed clearances.
Somewhat bizarrely considering his effectiveness with headed clearances, an area of Diakité’s game that could use work is his success with aerial duels. It may just be due to small sample size, but at 1.93 meters (6’4”) the center back should be winning more than just 54% of his aerial contests.
Etienne Capoue: Tottenham from Toulouse, £9.68 million
Another Frenchman making an early impact in the Premier League is Tottenham Hotspur’s Etienne Capoue. The former Toulouse anchorman has seamlessly slotted into Andre Villas-Boas’s new look side and alongside Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, and Sandro, forms one of the most athletic midfield corps in the league. Even though he has completed 90 minutes just once so far in his English career, Capoue still looks to be one of the best signings of the transfer window.
In Ligue 1, Capoue held a reputation as a serious midfield enforcer and he has more than lived up to that tag in his first three Spurs appearances. The Frenchman boasts a superb 88% tackle win rate and though a 57% ground duel rate is less impressive, he is still throwing himself into challenges at clips of 25 and seven minutes respectively. Perhaps most importantly to Villas-Boas, Capoue is not just a mindless physical presence chasing play all over the field. The new signing has already secured 13 interceptions at an impressive rate of once every 15 minutes.
When in possession, Capoue has been both accurate and positive with his distribution. A 90% pass completion rate is impressive unto itself, even more so when you look at where Capoue is directing play from his slot in midfield. The midfielder tends to spray possession to the flanks as evidenced by his 58% rate of lateral passes. That he sends a further 31% up field and is accurate over distance makes him a tremendous asset deep in midfield and shows him to be as accomplished technically as he is physically.
Nathan Redmond: Norwich City from Birmingham, £2.024 million
Saving the best for last, Nathan Redmond has been nothing shy of sensational since joining Norwich City over the summer. Norwich paid larger fees for the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkle, Leroy Fer, and Gary Hooper, but it has been Redmond’s rise from the Championship that has made the biggest impact for the Canaries thus far. The 19 year old Englishman had already played under manager Chris Hughton at Birmingham City and the boss’s decision to raid his former haunts is paying dividends.
Despite his early years and no prior Premier League experience, Redmond has been absolutely terrorizing opposition defenders from his role on the left wing. The winger’s rate of a dribble attempt every 12.5 minutes shows a confident player eager to take on defenders at every opportunity. Further, despite his aggression Redmond has been very efficient with his high volume of dribble attempts matched by a 65% success rate. He also boasts an 87% passing accuracy rate that is exceptional for any attacking player much less a teenager kicking off his first Premier League campaign. Toss in his 57% shooting accuracy, 14% chance conversion rate, and an early season goal to better see the youngster’s clinical nature in the final third.
While Redmond’s tasked with attacking the opposition, he has also been a sturdy defensive cog for the Canaries. A tackle win rate of 67% and ground duel success rate of 63% are numbers more befitting a defender or holding midfielder than a winger. Further, that he is attempting these challenges at rates of once every 28 minutes and six minutes respectively shows Redmond’s eagerness to throw his weight around.
It is certainly early in his Premier League career, but for a transfer fee of just over two million pounds Norwich have pulled off an absolute heist in bringing Redmond to Carrow Road.