Top 5 underrated summer signings

Blog by: Ani

Norwich City v Southampton - Premier League

With no fewer than 10 premier league teams smashing their record transfer fees amidst an unprecedented total summer spend of £630 million you could be forgiven for thinking the days of picking a player up on the cheap were gone.

But blockbuster buys do not always provide you with the best return, Fernando Torres is testament to that. Of course, clubs will always pay a premium rate for proven class, but there is still a market for undiscovered diamonds in the rough, even in this internet age where we’ve all heard of the next big thing before he’s even made his debut.

Christian Benteke and Michu were relative unknowns when they arrived from Genk and Rayo Vallecano for a combined fee of £9 million but went on to become two of the Premier League’s most feared marksman last season.

Despite many fans regularly dismissing players they have not heard of or claiming playing in an obscure league means they will have little talent can often leave them with egg on their face. There is a wealth of options across a variety of European leagues that house a host of talent waiting to burst into the big time yet won’t break the bank. (Even though it is surreal we refer to a fee just shy of eight figures as a ‘bargain’).

Somewhat surprisingly, even in the middle of the boom currently experienced by the Premier League’s clubs following a rather lucrative broadcasting deal, many managers are scouring the market to unearth a talent that they can mould into a star or potentially sell on in a couple of seasons for a huge profit.

Here are five summer signings that could bring their team success on a shoestring budget.

5. Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus to Sunderland – £6.5m)

It is not every day you see an Italian international leave the Old Lady to join a club that barely scraped through a relegation battle last season, but that is exactly what Emanuele Giaccherini has done.

While Paolo Di Canio’s powers of persuasion and Juventus’ need for funds might have had something to do with it, Sunderland have undoubtedly landed a decent player.

Giaccherini may not be the most talented or flashiest forward but he is both dedicated and committed. The 28 year-old is willing to undertake any task for the team and can fill a variety of positions, proven by his unlikely header against Fulham. Don’t expect to see him throwing his toys out the pram in a strop like his compatriot Di Canio used to.

With 15 international caps and a string of impressive performances in the summer’s Confederations Cup, Giaccherini will prove vital to a new look Black Cats side.

4. Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon to Norwich – £8.5m)

Strikers win you games and as a result they come at a premium price. Most Premier League clubs are willing to part with extortionate fees for proven goalscorers but Norwich have negotiated themselves an excellent deal for the Dutchman at a relatively low price.

Canaries boss Chris Hughton has come out of the transfer window a real winner by earmarking his targets early on. Norwich purchased van Wolfswinkel back in March and got to the front of the queue by paying up the fee immediately with Sporting Lisbon in need of cash urgently.

The 24 year-old has two full international caps to his name and arrives with an impressive 45 goals in a two year period for a Lisbon side in decline.

The striker has all the attributes to succeed in England; with strength and heading ability paired with clinical finishing and a physical approach.

Norwich have also bought ex-Bolton forward Johan Elmander and if the pair can form a partnership Norwich will look like building on their 11th placed finish last year.

3. Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse Arnhem to Chelsea – £8m)

Chelsea have a tendency to purchase exciting prospects and immediately loan them back out to foreign clubs to gain experience.

But the club recently rejected an approach from Ajax to take the 20 year-old on loan, as the Dutch side look to fill the void left by Christian Eriksen’s move to Spurs.

Chelsea’s decision suggests that Jose Mourinho believes van Ginkel is ready to challenge for a place in his squad as early as this season.

The West Londoners are bursting at the seams with quality in midfield, so if the midfielder can force his way into the Portuguese’s plans he may well be something special.

He has already attracted glowing comparisons to legendary countryman Dennis Bergkamp and broke into the senior international squad following successive stand out performances at the Under-21 championships in Israel that meant Vitesse could not cling onto their prize asset.

2. Jores Okore (Nordsjaelland to Aston Villa – £4m)

Okore has experienced an unusual route to the Premier League via Nordsjaelland in the Danish league.

The powerful centre back, with Ivorian roots, has gone from an unknown quantity to his side’s most impressive performer in the Champions League in little over a year.

The 21 year-old has also muscled his way into the Danish national side and has seven caps to his name at present.

While bigger clubs than Villa were interested in his signature, including Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund, many turned him down due to a lack of height.

But at 6ft Okore possesses excellent timing and a strong leap that means Villa fans should not be worried that he will be overpowered by the best of the Premier League’s aerial talent.

Paul Lambert has made several outstanding signings from unusual locations for The West Midlanders and his judgement on Okore should not be underestimated.

1. Nathan Redmond (Birmingham City to Norwich £3.2m)

England players are often on the end of inflated price tags, especially young ones with potential.

So Norwich’s minimal fee that could rise to just over £3m with add-ons for Nathan Redmond has to go down as a coup for the Canaries.

When you examine the fees that have been paid for other leading players from England’s Under-21 squad, Redmond’s is way below average. Manchester United parted with a whopping £15 million for Wilfried Zaha while Tom Ince’s was offered out at roughly £8 million for example.

But while Zaha is set for a spell on United’s bench Norwich are at a level where Redmond will play a considerable amount of games this season and looks set to develop quickly.

The 19 year-old is direct, has plenty of pace and is not afraid to take his man on. All three of these attributes were exhibited in his stunning early season strike against Southampton.

The fact Hughton has two players in the bargain list shows just how astute his movements in the market have been and will leave Newcastle fans cursing the fact they are now stuck with transfer shy pair Alan Pardew and Joe Kinnear, while Norwich could be lauding the buy of the season come May.

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