MOVING UPWARDS AND ONWARDS

MOVING UPWARDS AND ONWARDS

The Premier League has come to a close and clubs have started to work on their transfers for the next season in full flow. Many big faces are projected to be moving in and out of the PL clubs and fans are excited as usual as the transfer window begins shortly, from 9 June 2021.

While clubs, their boards and fans are planning on the next season, we decided to look back and see the best deals of the 20/21 season in hindsight. Not many big names, big money signings took place last season due to the pandemic losses suffocating clubs’ budgets but the deal doesn’t need to be expensive to be good.

Here are FootTheBall’s Top 10 Premier League transfers of the 2020/21 season —

 

10. WESLEY FOFANA – LEICESTER CITY

Fofana joined Premier League club Leicester City from French side AS Saint Etienne on 2 October 2020, signing a five-year contract. The 20-year old cost his new team around £36.5 million in transfer fee.

The French centre-back was solid all season and got appreciation all around. Leicester came close to a Champions League spot but lost it to Chelsea on the final matchday, taking them to a second consecutive Europa League qualification.

 

 

He played a key role in Leicester’s first ever FA Cup triumph and his performances have led to rumours linking him to bigger clubs like Manchester United. Fofana won Leicester City’s Young Player of the Season award after being voted by the club’s supporters.

 

9. EDINSON CAVANI – MANCHESTER UNITED

Edinson Cavani was signed in a last-moment deal as a free transfer by Manchester United from PSG in October 2020 after failing to get Jadon Sancho caused fan fury. The 33-year old coming into Old Trafford received mixed reactions because of his increasing age and injury problems the previous season, while also acknowledging his unmatched goalscoring ability.

 

 

The Uruguayan was given the iconic number 7 jersey, which was a big responsibility in itself. The signing eventually turned out successful, and El Matador was recently given a one-year extension, keeping him at Old Trafford until 2022.

His league goal tally reached double figures with a stunning 40-yard strike against Fulham in the 37th match day, his first in front of a crowded Stretford End. A brace against Southampton to complete a 3-2 comeback win is fondly remembered. Another clutch moment came in the Europa League semifinal against Roma where Cavani scored and assisted 6 goals over two legs in the 8-5 aggregate victory for the Red Devils.

 

8. OLLIE WATKINS – ASTON VILLA

Ollie Watkins was signed by Aston Villa in September 2020 from championship side Brentford for a club-record fee of £28 million + add ons. The 25-year old reunited with manager Dean Smith who originally signed him at Brentford during his time there.

 

 

Watkins greatly impacted the club since his arrival scoring on his club debut in the EFL cup. His first league goal came against Liverpool, and he added two more in the same match as Villa thrashed the Merseyside team 7-2.

He scored a total of 14 league goals and finished 8th in the Premier League golden boot race. Watkins also assisted 5 goals in the league, while scoring 2 more goals in the EFL Cup, taking his G+A total to 21 for his debut top-flight season. He has recently been named in the provisional squad for England in the Euro 2020.

Ollie Watkins arriving in good form turned fruitful for Aston Villa as they improved their Premier League standing from 17 to 11 and secured another season in the first division as Villa fans desire more progress with more new transfers coming in this window.

 

7. VLADIMIR COUFAL – WEST HAM UNITED

The Czech fullback was signed by the Hammers in October 2020 and he reunited with his former Slavia Prague teammate and compatriot Tomas Soucek. The £5.4 million deal turned out high-yielding for the London club with Coufal’s impact in their journey to qualify for the Europa League.

 

Vladimir Coufal in West Ham jersey

Image Source – West Ham United / Website

 

The 28-year old provided 7 assists in the league from the right-back position, the second-most by any defender in 20/21, topped by only his Hammers counterpart on the left side Aaron Cresswell.

Coufal also provided defensive solidity to the team and helped them keep 11 clean sheets during the season, improving from seven last season.

 

6. RAPHINHA – LEEDS

Raphina joined Leeds United on the deadline day of the transfer window in a £17 million deal from Rennes. It took no time for the Brazilian to get used to Marcelo Bielsa’s fast-flowing flawless football as he became an integral part of the team right at his arrival.

 

Raphinha celebrating in Leeds third kit

Image Source – Leeds United / Twitter

 

The winger provided nine assists and scored six goals in the league for Leeds, contributing approximately one-fourth to their total goals in 20/21 helping them finish in the top half of the table right after getting promoted.

The 24-year old scored the winner against Everton which secured Leeds’ first-ever win at Goodison Park. He became the fifth-highest assist provider in the league, behind only the big names of Kane, Fernandes, De Bruyne and Grealish.

 

5. PIERRE EMILE HOJBERG – TOTTENHAM

Hojberg joined Tottenham in early August and soon became Jose Mourinho’s key player at the White Hart Lane thanks to his defensive acumen and unmatched work rate.

 

Pierre Emile Hojberg holding Tottenham jersey after transfer

Image Source – Premier League / Website

 

The 25-year old defensive midfielder earned wide praise from pundits and experts for his solid performances in the midfield providing a buffer to Spurs’ not so praiseworthy defence.

He made the third-highest number of tackles and the second-most passes in the Premier League 20/21 season while also providing four assists and scoring two goals including a 20-yard strike against Liverpool. The Dane became one of the few silver linings in a disappointing season for the North London club.

 

4. EDOUARD MENDY – CHELSEA

Chelsea announced the signing of Mendy in September 2020 from Rennes, after a disappointing season from their world-record keeper signing Kepa Arrizabalaga. The deal cost the Blues approximately £22 million compared to Kepa’s £71 million move.

 

 

Mendy became the knight in shining armour for Chelsea, keeping 16 clean sheets in 31 league appearance, saving everything that came towards the goal. Lampard’s sacking didn’t affect the 29-year old’s position in the team with Thomas Tuchel also preferring him over the Spaniard.

He came second in the Golden Glove race behind Manchester City’s Ederson who kept 19 clean sheets and became one of the best Premier League transfers of the season.

With his brilliant goalkeeping ability, Mendy took Chelsea to the Champions League final which is to be played against Manchester City.

 

3. JESSE LINGARD – WEST HAM UNITED

After sitting out the first half of the season at Old Trafford, Lingard got his chance to showcase his talent when West Ham signed him on loan till the end of the season in late January 2021. David Moyes had managed him previously at Manchester United and thought he will be the perfect fit for the Hammers in their bid to qualify for European football. It turned out well as West Ham did finish sixth and qualified for the Europa League next year.

 

Lingard played an active role in the club’s progress by scoring nine goals and providing five assists in 16 Premier League appearances, averaging a goal/assist per 101 minutes. He also broke his own goalscoring record in the Premier League which was previously eight.

He introduced himself to the new club with a brace on his debut against Aston Villa. He also won the Premier League Player of the Month award for April along with the Goal of the Month for his brilliant solo goal against Wolves.

 

2. EMILIANO MARTINEZ – ASTON VILLA

After an outstanding cameo for Arsenal last season, Martinez was bound to be a first-choice keeper, be it at the Emirates or elsewhere. Arsenal decided to continue with Bernd Leno as first choice and many clubs lined up to acquire the Argentine number one Martinez.

 

 

In September 2020, Martínez transferred to fellow Premier League club Aston Villa in a deal worth up to £20 million in a four-year deal. He marked his debut for the new club by saving a penalty against Sheffield United in a 1-0 victory.

The 28-year old kept 15 clean sheets and came third in the Golden Glove race behind Ederson and Mendy but with a much inferior squad. His influence among other new transfers played a major role in Aston Villa’s improved league position and comfortably staying up in the Premier League unlike last season.

 

1. RUBEN DIAS – MANCHESTER CITY

Pep Guardiola, infamous for his defence spendings, spent another £61 million on the Portuguese centre-half in late September 2020. Ruben Dias signed on a six-year contract for the Blue side of Manchester and instantly became a hit in the Premier League.

 

He played a major role in his side keeping 19 clean sheets in the league this season. City also were the least conceding side with just 32 goals conceded from 38 matches.

Manchester City were crowned champions and Dias was credited for bringing composure, leadership and stability at the back for Guardiola’s side. He was recently given the Football Writers Association’s Player of the Year award ahead of Harry Kane and teammate Kevin De Bruyne. The 24-year old is also a strong contender for the Premier League Player of the Year. He will soon be seen leading the back-line of defending European champions Portugal at the Euro 2020.

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