So with the Premier League season now over and Chelsea making room for another trophy at Stamford Bridge, fans can look back on a race for the title that didn’t quite ignite and a relegation battle that was decided before the last day of the season.
But there have been some outstanding individual performances this year – and many of them were from players in their first season at new clubs. But who has been the top Premier League signing of 2016/17?
Proving a Point
The English media had been downplaying Zlatan Ibrahimović’s achievements for years so it was perhaps predictable that he would go on to make them eat their words while firing United to an EFL Cup victory and scoring 28 goals in all competitions. With the way Mourinho’s men have played this season, fans can only wonder how unadventurous United would have been without him.
News that David Luiz was returning to Stamford Bridge was greeted with surprise from Chelsea fans – let alone those from other clubs – with many thinking back to his catalogue of mistakes when he last graced the Premier League. But Antonio Conte knew that the defender had put the horror show of the 2014 World Cup well behind him and Luiz has been integral as part of an exceptional back three this year, showing a much more disciplined and composed side to his game.
The Main Mané
With Liverpool qualifying for Europe many have seen a renewed confidence in Klopp’s side this season but this has been particularly noticeable when Sadio Mané has been in the side. The Senegalese powerhouse scooped all the club awards and was sorely missed when he was out through injury and at the African Cup of Nations at the start of the year.
In a season when Spurs almost made it close for Chelsea there have been a number of standout performances at the club from the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. A player that has been just as important – but has not received as many plaudits – is Victor Wanyama. A favourite of Pochettino who brought him to Southampton previously, the Kenyan midfielder’s power in the middle of the park has allowed his more creative teammates to shine.
With Wanyama and Dier providing backbone to a Spurs’ defence, the North London club are being tipped to go one better and offer a genuine title challenge in 2017/18.
The One and Only
But there can only really be one player considered the top signing this season and that is Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté. Other notable additions to clubs this year include Leroy Sané, Idrissa Gueye and Nathan Redmond, but the French international midfielder has been an absolute joy to watch this season and rightly took home the PFA and FWA player of the season awards.
While many last summer wondered how Leicester might cope if they lost Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez, it was Kanté’s absence that was sorely felt – as he went on to run the show at Chelsea. Any reservations fans had about Kanté possibly struggling on a bigger stage have been discarded as, if anything, his game has progressed this campaign.
Named in the PFA team of the year, Kanté is now arguably considered one of the best midfielders in the world and is one of the hardest working players in the Premier League. And with Champions League football on the menu next season fans can only wonder how much better he can get.