There are just a few weeks to go until the new Premier League season kicks off. With this in mind, you can bet that all 20 teams have been busy in the transfer market.
We all know what Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ilkay Gundogan and Sadio Mane are capable of – but what about the lesser-known signings? Here are four relative unknowns to look out for in 2016-17:
Age: 23 Cost: £35 million From: Borussia Monchengladbach
Granit Xhaka is a creative, yet combative midfielder. Many rate him for his vision and passing ability, as well as his hard tackling. The 23-year-old Switzerland international describes himself as “aggressive and a leader” on the Arsenal website.
Having been second only to Xabi Alonso for completed passes in the last Bundesliga season, his creativity more than makes up for his 23 yellow and five red cards during the 2015/16 campaign.
Age: 22 Cost: £30 million From: Villareal
Eric Bailly is an aggressive, fast and strong defender who cut his teeth at Espanyol before moving to Villarreal for around £4.8 million in January 2015. At 6’ 2”, the 23-year-old centre-back is just the type of player that Mourinho likes. Bailly certainly has the physical presence to be a success in the Premier League, and all the early signs are good.
You may not have heard much about Bailly before his low-key move to Manchester United in June this year. Yet he put in effective displays against Messi, Ronaldo, Benzema and Neymar last season.
Manchester United have suffered defensive frailties over the last few seasons. But with Bailly on board, we reckon this will change. If you’re a United fan, now maybe the right time have a punt – bet on your team to win the league today.
Age: 22 Cost: £33 million (estimated) From: Marseilles
Michi Batshuayi is a classic striker, blessed with both pace and power; much like Blues hero, Didier Drogba. Despite not being too tall at 5’ 11”, he is great in the air.
However, some consider him to be a selfish player who will never pass to a teammate if he can see even a slim chance to score. That said, he was top scorer in Ligue 1 last season and has all the qualities managers look for in a striker. Definitely one to watch.
Age: 29 Cost: £13.8 million From: Celta Vigo
Nolito is a 29-year-old left winger who joined Barcelona B at the age of 22, having begun his career in the lower divisions of Spanish football. After playing just twice for the Barcelona first team, he had a spell at Benfica in Portugal, before returning to Spain to play for Granada and then Celta Vigo.
Over the last three seasons, Nolito was the most prolific scorer in La Liga. Barcelona even tried to resign him in January 2016. Players used to the slower pace of La Liga often find it hard to adapt to the Premier League.
With this in mind, it remains to be seen whether Nolito will prove a success at Manchester City. Yet having played under Pep Guardiola before, City’s new manager clearly believes he’ll be fine – and who are we to argue?