EPL

Haaland, Nunez, Martinez and the other exciting Premier League newcomers

By Sports Desk August 05, 2022

Just 11 weeks have passed since Manchester City lifted the Premier League title to bring down the curtain on the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, yet plenty has changed ahead of the start of the new season.

City have undergone a facelift of sorts, with Erling Haaland their marquee arrival of the window, while last term's runners-up Liverpool have replaced the ever-reliable Sadio Mane with Darwin Nunez in attack.

The chasing pack have also been busy as they desperately attempt to keep pace with City and Liverpool, but the exciting signings of the close season to date have not been solely reserved by those competing in the upper echelons.

With the 2022-23 season getting underway on Friday, Stats Perform picks out 10 players we are most looking forward to seeing in action in the Premier League for the very first time.

 

Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Arguably the highest-profile signing of the transfer window, Haaland arrives at City with a reputation of being one of Europe's most ruthless goalscorers at the age of just 22.

Haaland was prolific during his short time at Salzburg and scored 86 goals in 89 appearances in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund.

That is a tally bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (122) and Kylian Mbappe (89) across the same period, both of whom played 19 games more.

Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

Liverpool will also have a new frontman this campaign after spending an initial £64million (€75m) to bring in Nunez from Benfica.

While not a direct like-for-like replacement for Mane, the Uruguay international will have to both score goals on a regular basis and also help to get the best out of his fellow attackers, such as Mohamed Salah. 

The figures suggest Nunez should be well up to the task, with his conversion rate of 27.2 per cent being the highest of all players with 55 or more non-penalty shots in Europe's top-six leagues last season.

Ivan Perisic (Tottenham)

Tottenham were successful in getting the majority of their transfer business out the way early on, giving Antonio Conte a chance to integrate the likes of Clement Lenglet, Djed Spence, Richarlison and Yves Bissouma into his squad.

Each of those will add something different, but it is Perisic who is the most intriguing signing of the lot. Regularly linked with a switch to the Premier League, the former Dortmund, Inter and Bayern winger finally gets a chance to test himself in England's top flight. 

Among many other qualities, Perisic created the most chances following ball carries – defined as any instance when a player moves five-or-more metres with the ball – of any player in Serie A in 2021-22 (26), showing he can still be a menace out wide even at the age of 33.

Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United)

New head coach Erik ten Hag has largely stuck to what he knows when it comes to Manchester United's transfer activity in his first window in charge. Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Martinez have all either worked under Ten Hag or have strong connections with the Eredivisie.

Eriksen is already an established name in English football, whereas Malacia and Martinez are gearing up for their first taste of the Premier League. While Malacia is expected to be used as a squad player, Martinez will surely be a regular in the heart of defence if his £48m (€57m) price tag is anything to go by.

Despite concerns being raised over his lack of height, Martinez boasted an aerial duel success rate of 70.2 per cent in the Eredivisie last season, which was fourth-best return of any player.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)

Another perennially linked Premier League player, Koulibaly has joined Chelsea after eight years as a Napoli player. Following the departures of centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger after the expiration of their contracts, Koulibaly will have to hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge.

If his time with Napoli is anything to go by, Chelsea will have a solid and reliable player in the heart of their defence for the next few years. Across his time in Naples, no defender in Serie A won more tackles (344) or made more successful passes (14,528) than the Senegal international.

Fabio Vieira (Arsenal)

Arsenal mean serious business ahead of Mikel Arteta's third full season in charge. The Spaniard has used his Man City links to recruit Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, having already added Vieira to the squad earlier in the window.

Central midfield was not exactly an area Arsenal were light, yet Arteta felt the need to strengthen and in Vieira he has a player with experience of winning a couple of league titles with Porto prior to turning 22.

In contrast to legendary Arsenal namesake Patrick, the Portugal Under-21 international is more accustomed to playing high up the field and recorded the most assists (14) of any Porto player in the league last season, while also chipping in with six goals of his own. 

Tyler Adams (Leeds United)

Leeds escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season – now they must do so again without their most important player following Kalvin Phillips' move to Man City. 

Plenty of eyes will be on Adams in the holding midfield position, the United States international having arrived at Elland Road on the back of three years with New York Red Bulls, followed by three more years with sister club RB Leipzig.

Adams recovered possession an average of 5.69 times per 90 minutes across his 24 Bundesliga appearances last season, which is nearly half the number Phillips (10.2) managed in the Premier League – the best return of any player with 900+ minutes in the competition.

Boubacar Kamara (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has quietly gone about his transfer business ahead of his first full season in Premier League management. The signing of Kamara, a defensive midfielder by trade, went somewhat under the radar given it was announced just a day after the previous season finished.

Kamara was a big part of Marseille's strong 2021-22 campaign, which saw them finish second in Ligue 1 and reach the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League.

Of midfielders in the French top division in last season, only Johan Gastien and Jordan Ferri made more than Kamara's 2,383 passes, while of those who made over 1,000 passes, only five players had better accuracy than his 90.68 per cent.

Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham)

It says an awful lot about the work carried out by David Moyes at West Ham over the past two seasons that finishing seventh last time out – a drop from sixth the year before – was considered a disappointment.

If Moyes' men are to once again challenge on multiple fronts this coming season, bringing in a player who knows how to find the net was always going to be imperative. In Scamacca, West Ham appear to have exactly that.

The Italy international scored 16 goals in 36 Serie A appearances for mid-table Sassuolo last season and converted 70.59 per cent of his big chances, a figure only bettered by Gianluca Caprari (83.33) and Dusan Vlahovic (73.91) among players to hit double figures.

Aaron Hickey (Brentford)

Brentford have broken their transfer record multiple times this window to help build on an impressive first ever campaign in the Premier League. Christian Eriksen may have departed, but other areas have been strengthened, including in defence.

The £14m (€16.6m) signing of Hickey from Bologna arguably strengthens Brentford in both full-back departments, given the Scotland international's versatility with both feet. 

He also has an eye for goal, having netted five times in the Italian top flight and assisted another last season. Among Serie A defenders in the 2021-22 season, only Genoa's Domenico Criscito (six) and Nahuel Molina (seven) of Udinese scored more goals.

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    Fikayo Tomori will recognise the bricks and mortar, but plenty has changed at Chelsea since he packed his bags and took a punt on an Italian odyssey.

    While Milan have been in an ascent, the Roman empire has crumbled in west London, Russian oligarch Abramovich effectively becoming persona non grata in London following Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.

    Four days after Tomori went to Milan, Chelsea sacked head coach Frank Lampard, and last month his Champions League-winning successor, Thomas Tuchel, has been run out of town.

    Boehly-ball is flavour of the day at Stamford Bridge, with long-term thinker Graham Potter entrusted by the new owners with delivering short-term improvements for the Blues.

    On and off the pitch, it's been a dizzying 21 months in west London since Tomori, in the midst of the pandemic, said farewell to Chelsea and 'Ciao!' to the Rossoneri.

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    Born in Canada but raised in southern England, Tomori left Chelsea for Milan on January 22, 2021.

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    In this corresponding midweek four years ago, Tomori was lining up with Mason Mount for Lampard's Derby in a Championship game against Norwich City, the two Chelsea loanees helping the Rams to a 1-1 draw.

    Now he is a major figure at the heart of Milan's title-winning backline, trusted by coach Stefano Pioli and admired by that great Rossonero, Paolo Maldini.

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    Milan have kept 14 clean sheets in domestic league action since the turn of the year, the joint-fewest of all teams in Europe's top five leagues (Serie A, Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga).

    Only Barcelona can match that total, while Chelsea have managed a relatively modest eight shut-outs.

    Milan's goals-against tally of 18 in 27 Serie A games this year is five better, or meaner, than any side who have been in the Italian top flight throughout 2022, with Napoli next on that list.

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    Tomori only played 17 games for Chelsea, starting 15 of those, before the Premier League club decided his services were expendable.

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    Perhaps he will have something to prove to Chelsea on Wednesday, but Tomori has arguably moved beyond that point. He is a Serie A champion, recently signed a contract that runs through to 2027 at San Siro, and could hardly be happier in Italy.

    He has learned the language and is a starter with a long-standing giant of European football.

    Tomori netted against Liverpool in the group stage last season, becoming only the third English player to score a Champions League goal against an English opponent while playing for a non-English side. How he'd love to put one past Chelsea on Wednesday, too.

    If there is anyone Tomori might want to impress, it could be Gareth Southgate. He looks to rank among the possibles rather than the probables in terms of Southgate's England World Cup squad plans, having won just three senior caps so far.

    Tomori has been "excited" by the trip to London, saying: "It's obviously an important game in this round of the Champions League, and going back to Chelsea and Stamford Bridge is going to be a great game for me."

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    Milan took his eye; he's been a hell of a buy. That's Tomori.

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    Chelsea v Milan

    This is the first time these two teams will meet in the Champions League since they were in the same group in 1999, with both of those matches ending in draws. They have not met in a competitive game since, with all four of their 21st-century contests coming in the International Champions Cup (Chelsea won three of those with Milan recording one victory).

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    Milan's record in England also gives no reason for optimism, with only one win from 20 tries in European play (D7 L12). 

    Olivier Giroud was subbed off in Milan's dramatic 3-1 win over Empoli on Saturday. The France striker could become the 10th player to score for and against Chelsea in the Champions League, and first since Loic Rémy for Lille in December 2019, should he net in this meeting.

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