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From ‘the Bulldog’ to ‘the Next Busquets’: 10 Premier League Signings to Watch | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lewis Cook

1) Lewis Cook: Leeds to Bournemouth

The 19-year-old Football League young player of the year, arguably the brightest rising star in the Championship, signed a four-year deal with Bournemouth for an initial £6m, potentially rising to £10m.
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A central midfielder who, as the Leeds’s best player, gave even the most cynical, dejected fans at Elland Road reasons for hope last season, is a product of the Yorkshire club’s academy, where he followed Fabian Delph, now at Manchester City, off the production line.

Cook, who is from York and had been tracked by Eddie Howe, Bournemouth’s manager, for some time made 47 appearances in all competitions for Leeds last season and is an England Under-19 international. He is 5ft 9in and lacks scintillating pace but is wonderfully composed on the ball and possesses the happy knack of making things happen. Can also operate in a right-sided attacking midfield role. Elegant with the ball at his feet, Cook looks very much a Howe player.

2) Marten de Roon: Atalanta to Middlesbrough

Aitor Karanka has invested around £12m in the Dutch enforcer from Atalanta, who during his debut season in Italy made more tackles than any other Serie A midfielder. With many such interceptions of the wince-inducing variety the 25-year-old is likely to collect his fair share of yellow cards while adding some of the power and physical presence Boro arguably lack in the holding midfield roles.

Expect one of last season’s two anchors, Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton, to lose their place. It was a lot to pay for someone who is not yet a full international but Italian fans did not dub De Roon “the bulldog”, “the wave-breaker” and “the terrier” for nothing.

3) Ramadan Sobhi: Al Ahly to Stoke City

The 19-year-old Egypt left winger is a wizard of the dribble blessed with pace, vision, technique and a varied passing range. On swapping his native Cairo and life with the Egyptian champions for the Potteries, Sobhi was given a most practical leaving present: an umbrella.

The £6m recruit promises to prove a key element in Stoke’s transition from the pragmatists of Tony Pulis’s day to the more subtly sophisticated model being constructed on Mark Hughes’s watch. Martin Jol, Al Ahly’s manager, has no doubt that the winger, widely regarded as the hottest young talent in African football, possesses the ability to make a serious impact on the Premier League.

Sobhi broke into Al Ahly’s first team as a 16-year-old, earning full international honours a year later.

4) Joël Matip: Schalke to Liverpool

The Germany-born Cameroon centre-half – although Matip can also operate as a defensive midfielder – joins Liverpool on a free transfer determined to prove the answer to the Anfield club’s longstanding defensive vulnerability. The 24-year-old is 6ft 4in and, in recent seasons, has established himself as one of the most admired central defenders in the Bundesliga. Jürgen Klopp knows all about his tackling ability, pace and mobility.

Comfortable on the ball, Matip also possesses a calm temperament, his long fuse ensuring he collected only two yellow cards and one red during his top-level career in Germany.

A cousin of the former Middlesbrough forward Joseph-Désiré Job, Matip is confident he can establish himself as one of Klopp’s most important players.

5) Andros Townsend: Newcastle United to Crystal Palace

By activating the £13m release clause in Townsend’s Newcastle contract, Crystal Palace’s Alan Pardew looks to have secured excellent value for money. In a summer when less gifted players are changing hands for more than twice that amount, Palace have gained a two-footed winger who enjoys life on the left wing but remains very comfortable on the right flank. Quick, direct and an excellent crosser of the ball and set-piece despatcher, the 25-year-old also has the incentive of wanting to regain his England place in time for Russa 2018.

With Sam Allardyce a fan, the recent bumpy patch in Townsend’s career that saw him sidelined by Tottenham following a fall-out with Maurcio Pochettino and then relegated with Newcastle looks to be over. Despite his ultimate failure to keep the Tyneside club out of the Championship last season, Townsend impressed greatly once Rafael Benítez succeeded Steve McClaren at St James’ Park. Had Roy Hodgson’s England been a genuine meritocracy he would surely have gone to Euro 2016.

6) Johann Berg Gudmundsson: Charlton Athletic to Burnley

Part of the Iceland side that knocked England out of Euro 2016, the winger represented a rare bright light in south London as Charlton were relegated from the Championship last season. Sean Dyche, Burnley’s manager, had been tracking the 25-year-old well before Gudmundsson started every game during Iceland’s stunning European Championship sojourn and is delighted to have paid only £2.5m.

Despite Charlton’s travails, he created 11 Championship goals last term – making him the second tier’s joint-top assist maker – and is unlikely to be perturbed by the chill Pennine winds blowing in from the moors above Burnley. Born in Reykjavik, Gudmundsson moved to England as a teenager, where he had stints in the youth development systems at Chelsea and Fulham. A brief spell in the Netherlands, with AZ Alkmaar, followed before the switch to Charlton.

7) Ahmed Musa: CSKA Moscow to Leicester

The holder of 58 Nigeria caps at the age of 23, the forward has been long coveted by Claudio Ranieri, who has finally got him for £16.6m. Musa’s change of pace is almost certainly speedier than that of Jamie Vardy and in some respects he is similar to his new club-mate. Musa’s rapid acceleration makes him particularly dangerous when operating off the shoulder of the last defender and he is rarely outstripped in a one-against-one sprint.

Unlike Vardy, he is as comfortable on the left flank as in a central striking role but remains rather more raw in front of goal than the England forward. Although 18 goals in 44 appearances for CSKA Moscow last season was far from shabby, Ranieri will hope to see a little more composure at times from a player who also contributes his fair share of assists. Only time will tell whether Musa and Vardy will complement each other but that searing pace can only enhance Leicester’s counterattacking style.

8) Matt Phillips: QPR to West Brom

The winger, captured for £5m, has impressed everyone at The Hawthorns during pre-season, confirming a general impression that he was far too good for the Championship. Sometimes underrated, the 25-year-old possesses both pace – as a junior athlete he specialised in the 100m – and close control. Moreover, at 6ft 1in he is capable of overpowering full-backs.

Although Phillips has slotted into the right wing position vacated after Stéphane Sessègnon’s release, Tony Pulis may also use him in a more central attacking role, thereby plugging West Brom’s striker shortage. The Scotland international scored eight times for QPR last season and can finish incisively but Hawthorns regulars would probably prefer to see him concentrating on his dribbling and crossing. Many observers suspect Pulis’s side will become embroiled in this season’s relegation scrap but Phillips’s arrival at least allows West Brom fans to dream of something a little better.

9) Isaac Success: Granada to Watford

At £12.5m the boy from Benin City in Nigeria has become Watford’s record signing. Walter Mazzarri, the latest manager at Vicarage Road, has high hopes for a quick, strong, direct striker who scored 37 goals in 63 appearances for Granada and is blessed with sufficient versatility to be comfortable on both wings. Having helped the Spanish side narrowly avoid relegation from La Liga last season, the 20-year-old is looking forward to playing alongside Odion Ighalo and company. “Yes, the Watford fans will want to see success,” he joked shortly after signing. “But I’m Success.” A headline writer’s dream.

10) Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: Bayern Munich to Southampton

Claude Puel’s marquee £12.8m midfield signing, the Dane has long been regarded among the hottest prospective talents in Europe and was expected to flourish under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. Instead Hojbjerg – whose progress faltered following the death of his father – fell out with the now Manchester City manager and was loaned to first Augsburg and then Schalke.

Primarily a defensive midfielder, the 21-year-old from Copenhagen can also operate in a box-to-box role and as a wing-back. In happier days Guardiola hyped him as “the next Sergio Busquets” and raved about the accomplished passing and intelligent reading of the game that the Catalan felt equipped Hojbjerg to become the perfect “pivote”. Bayern’s unfulfilled talent could prove Puel’s ace card.

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